EWE NETZ GmbH and MR undertake large-scale VRDT (regulated local grid transformer) project
Efficient voltage regulation in the distribution network
300 new regulated local grid transformers will go online at EWE NETZ GmbH until 2017 across the entire network. Following a pilot phase in 2013, 200 of these transformers were successfully commissioned in 2015. The VRDTs are equipped with regulation technology from Regensburg-based Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen (MR).
As a result of this large-scale installation across the EWE NETZ GmbH network, the VRDT is the first smart grid technology in serial use. EWE NETZ GmbH, one of the largest distribution network operators in Germany, and MR, a technology pioneer, are jointly setting standards in the economical integration of renewable energies into the grid through VRDT. According to calculations from dena, VRDTs could help to achieve savings of around EUR 1.4 billion in grid expansion in the low-voltage grid alone by 2030.
Using VRDTs significantly increases the distribution networks' ability to absorb renewable energies, enables economical and stable operation even with very large amounts of feed-in, and therefore reduces the need for grid expansion. As a reliable, cost-effective technology, VRDTs fully meet the energy industry's three requirements for security of supply, cost-effectiveness, and environmental compatibility.
EWE NETZ Managing Director Heiko Fastje said: "The new controllable transformers are an important step on the road towards a smart grid. Our calculations show that simply expanding the grid would result in huge costs for the general public. The use of smart solutions is a much cheaper and more effective solution. EWE NETZ is therefore specifically investing in new technologies. This includes working with MR to install VRDTs as well as the installation of modern measuring technology, use of new software in the grid control center, and consolidating IT and the fiber optic infrastructure with energy supply systems."
Thanks to extensive pilot projects over the last few years, in September 2012 MR was the first company anywhere in the world to launch a VRDT solution ready for series production. Since then, it has provided a system comprising on-load tap-changer, regulator, and sensor for the low-voltage grid under the name GRIDCON® iTAP®, which together with the distribution transformer produces a VRDT. At the start of 2015, the technology was further enhanced with new functions such as local capture of measured values and alternative control algorithms.
As world market leader in voltage regulation, MR has satisfied the stringent requirements of grid operators and at the same time is providing an economical alternative to expensive and complicated grid expansion measures – such as laying additional cables and lines. VRDTs with MR technology can be used in all compact stations because the MR engineers have developed a solution which doesn't increase either the width or depth of the transformer. What's more, GRIDCON® iTAP® is a maintenance-free technology, which has no electronics in the transformer tank, ensuring a long life.
By working together closely, the engineers at EWE NETZ GmbH and MR managed to complete the rollout in 2015 with minimum additional cost and effort compared with regular transformers. The project proves that VRDTs are a highly attractive and economical alternative to grid expansion for distribution network operators.
The two partners EWE NETZ and MR also hope to work together closely over the next few years on the showcase project "enera". The Federal Ministry of Economics intends to fund a consortium of 75 partners led by energy provider EWE AG to the tune of around EUR 50 million. Through "enera", the partners will demonstrate in a model region in Eastern Friesland the reality of how the use of smart technologies can make the energy system fit for the future and make its operation more efficient.
The aim is to reduce the expenditures involved in conventional grid expansion and eliminate costs for consumers. Given the large amount of wind power fed into the grid in the model region in north-western Germany, it is an ideal place to conduct the investigation. "enera" will use smart grids, smart markets, and supportive technologies to provide the general public and industry with electricity. This will serve to further develop power supplies in all areas from generation, transmission, and distribution to the marketing of energy to consumers.