The local transformer manufacturing facility of the Zest WEG Group has supplied 36 specialised photovoltaic (PV) transformers to a solar energy generation plant in the Northern Cape.

This heralds Zest WEG’s entry into the local production of transformers for the renewable energy sector.

Sales team leader Stuart Brown emphasises that conventional ‘off the shelf’ distribution transformers are not adequate for these applications. Distribution photovoltaic (DPV) solar energy transformers and generator step-up (GSU) wind turbine transformers are specially designed.

Specialised transformers for renewable energy projects 1

Two WEG PV transformers leaving the manufacturing facility to be delivered to site.

Brown says, “This exciting step into the renewables sector is supported by our technical collaboration with WEG’s extensive research and development resources in Brazil. We see great potential for renewable energy solutions in Africa, particularly as generation technologies evolve with the harnessing of solar and wind energy.”

Ronaldo Bertoldi, Engineering Manager at the Zest WEG manufacturing facility, says the design for the new transformers was reviewed by an international, independent consultant, to ensure the highest standards.

For the project in the Northern Cape, the dual-system PV transformers were manufactured to the customer’s specification of 3800/1900-1900 kVA and 22/0.66-0.66 kV. The units were also subjected to routine and type testing, including heat run, impulse and partial discharge tests. They were delivered to the project in batches between July and November 2019.

Bertoldi says the increasing use of renewable energy creates new demands and challenges for transformer design.

Specialised transformers for renewable energy projects 4

Active part assembly on a WEG PV transformer.

“Transformers for wind and solar energy generation have particular installation and operation characteristics that strongly affect their design,” he says. “The design must also continue to meet the requirements for quality and cost in the finished product.”

One of the specific factors affecting transformers in distribution photovoltaic (DPV) power generation systems is, obviously, solar irradiation. “This directly affects the load profile and the thermal stress in the transformer materials,” he says. “A wide range in transformer temperatures must be accommodated – from minus 25 to plus 50 degrees Celsius.”

Transient overvoltage is also an issue to consider, he says. On the high voltage (HV) side, overvoltage transients may occur due to multi-stage capacitor banks switching, or from the circuit breaker operation. On the low voltage (LV) side, voltages are controlled with high frequency inverters which create harmonics and pulsed voltages.

“An electrostatic ground shield is required between the primary and secondary windings to eliminate capacitive coupling and transient overvoltage transfers,” Bertoldi says. “This also filters harmonics of high frequencies and pulsed LV voltages.”

He points out that the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRÉ) are working to update standards related to this equipment. A number of international standards already apply.

“These include IEC 60076-16 standards for wind turbines, for transformers from 100 kVA to 10,000 kVA, as well as dry-type and liquid-immersed transformers up to 72.5 kV,” he says. “The IEEE standard P57.159/D6 guides the design of transformers in DPV systems.”

The CIGRÉ standard WG A2.50 also applies to distributed energy sources and induced reverse power flow on transmission and distribution transformers.

In addition to the local design and manufacture of transformers for renewable energy projects, Zest WEG can provide a range of integrated solutions for these projects. These include substations, e-houses, switchgear and inverters.

For more information contact Zest WEG Group:  www.zestweg.com

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