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Power Transformers Economics of

Refurbishment vs Replacement

Presenter: Mohammad R Siddiqui

National Grid, Saudi Arabia

Co Authors: Abdullah O Bamousa

National Grid, Saudi Arabia

This paper is based on

Data obtained from the Grid
Interaction with some Transformer
Technical Papers published on the
different components of Power
Ongoing Projects in the Grid
The Need to Refurbish/Renovate

In the early seventies, Utilities went

for a H V Transmission Level of
110kV/132 kV.

In the Western Region Grid , 238 of a

total of 730 Transformers were
commissioned between 1975 to 1985.
They would be 30 to 40 years by the
year 2015
Transformers Commissioning Details from 1975 to 1985 in WOA National

Year of Commissioning

Area From To From To Total

1975 To 1980 1981 To 1985

JEDDAH 79 52 131

MAKKAH 19 27 46

TAIF 10 14 24

MADINAH Nil 25 25

TABOUK Nil 12 12

Specific Precedence

In 1971 the first four 110/13.8 kV Transformers

were put in service . Two each in City
Substation and DSP Substation in Jeddah

The two Transformers in City Substation were

serving on full load and had to be replaced 2
years back near

The 2 Transformers in DSP Substation were

not fully loaded and are still in service.
This raises the following issues

To determine the aging effect on the units

Steps to be taken to make a decision whether

replace or refurbish the Units.
Aging depends on

The loading cycles that the

transformers have been subjected to
over the years and

The Number of Through faults that

the Transformer has suffered
Aging is best established by

External inspection of the Transformer and its Auxiliary


Insulating Strength of the Transformer Oil.

DGA Analysis of the Transformer Oil

Frequency Response Test (Previous Reference Results


Bipolar Test
Planned study and timely
replacement/refurbishment will
prevent sudden deaths of
Transformers that result in
unplanned outages and possible
extended damages.
A Power Transformer is a stationary
device and does not contain components
that require precision Engineering.
Dismantling a Transformer and
replacing the components is relatively an
easy procedure.

The pictures in the following slides show

different stages of assembly and
dismantling of the Transformer in
different locations
In Workshop
Generally the components that remain intact
over the years are:

The Main Tank

The Core and Frame
The External Metallic fittings Conservator,
Piping, Radiator
The Mechanical Protection Devices and
Control Cubicles
The components that need inspection
before deciding replacement / reuse:

Tap Changer / Diverter Switch.

Cooling Fans.
Protection Devices.
Current Transformers.
Major Components to be replaced:

The Coils forming the H V /LV Windings

have to be replaced

New Gaskets for sealing and consumables

Press board material used for insulation

and spacing.

The cost of a new 40 MVA 110/13.8 kV Transformer,

including Design Manufacturing, Transportation,
Installation Testing & Commissioning in 2012 is 2.8 to
3.2 mSR and a 67 MVA trafo costs 3.5 to 4.0 mSR

Refurbishment of an existing 40 MVA Transformer

will cost about 1.5 mSR. The cost of refurbishment of a
Transformer is about 50 % as compared to the cost of

Below is a cost comparison Table based on

information exchanged with some manufacturers.
as % of total cost
Item Description For New To
Trafo. Refurbish
1 Design 5 0

2 Project Monitoring, Installation

Testing & Commissioning 15 5
3 Transportation + Duty 15 5

4 Transformer Components
4.1 Coil 20 12
4.2 Core 7 0

Tank, Conservator, Radiators,

Piping, Gaskets, Consumables,
fans and Control Cubicles 12 2
as %
Item Description To
For New Tr.
4.4 Coolant - Trafo Oil 8 5

4.5 Mech Protections, CTs 5 2

4.6 Tap Changer 10 5
5 Factory Tests 3 3

6 Dismantling and Assembly 0 10

Total 100% 49 %
In 2006 a 100MVA 13.8kV/132kV
Transformer had all its Winding
HV and LV, replaced for 1.3 mSR.
The cost of such Transformer then
was about 5mSR.
238 Transformers in the Western Region will be 30 40
years old by 2015. If 10 % of these 238 Transformers are
identified for refurbishment each year over the next
ten years , it will be required to refurbish one
Transformer every 2 weeks.

If extended to the entire Country that has 4 such

Regions in all, the refurbishment rate can be
estimated as 4 Transformers in 2 weeks that is 2
Transformers per week.

More Transformers will fall in this category with each

passing year.
An Assembly plant sponsored by the Utility
would be ideal to take up this work as the order
book will be full for the next so many years. It will
be a first step towards indigenous Heavy Industry
for production of Transformers and generate
employment for skilled and semi skilled workers
in the country.
A New Team will have to be set up.

Alternatively it can be outsourced to one of the

companies working with the required facilities
within the Kingdom
Cost Saving.
No design cost.
Environment friendly.
No Civil Work required.
Control and Indications remain unchanged.
Short cycle operation Can be aimed for 16 weeks.

The Rating of the Transformer has to be retained, it cannot be
Facilities needed

1. A workshop with suitable unTanking facilities of the

Live Part and replacement of coils by new ones.
2. Arrangement of Washing and Cleaning of Main Tank
and Core and retightening of Core.
3. Oven facility for drying the assembly before sealing for
4. Testing facilities for the Transformer and its
5. Sufficient Storage and handling facility.
6. Oil regeneration unit(at site) with Oil Tanks for
treatment and storage.
The Transformer oil will have to be
regenerated. The cost of regeneration
is about 60 % as compared to the cost
of new oil. This is an environmentally
friendly procedure and the success rate
as experienced in the existing
substations is 100%.
Paste picture
The refurbished Transformer will have a life
nearly as good as that of a new Transformer, as
studies of the silicon sheets used to form the
core of the Transformers have revealed no aging

The purpose of this paper is to initiate a healthy

discussion on this subject to take timely steps to
tackle the situation that would arise in coming