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How to comply with the new legislations?

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How ABB complies with the new Eco Design Directive and future DOE 2016 rules?

ABB has been closely monitoring the development of the new regulations during the preparation phase and has taken actions needed to ensure compliance with local requirements for every transformer product it delivers. This includes amending the design criteria as well as amending the designs for a number of standard products.

Do the changes in requirements mean that I have to change my specification?

No, usually this is not necessary. The exception would be those cases where the specification is written in a way that would directly lead to a non-compliant product. It is primarily the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that the transformers are compliant with the regulation. However it may be recommended to make reference to the relevant regulation as the minimum required efficiency level.

Do these changes mean that transformer prices will increase?

Increasing transformer efficiency and the reducing the environmental footprint usually includes the use of either higher grade materials or more materials or both. Usually this leads to a cost increase which results an initial price increase. However, it should be noted that the increased energy efficiency brings savings during the lifetime of the transformer.

Are materials available for the “Tier 2” Eco Design Loss levels?

ABB ​supplies products that meet “Tier 2” requirements as well as products with efficiencies beyond future minimum levels. Several transformer customers are already changing their procurement policy and moving directly to the 2021 / Tier 2 levels of efficiency.

How can I as customer be sure the supplier is delivering products that are in compliance with the European eco directive?

All the transformers have to bear a CE-marking as a sign of compliancy with the prevailing directives. An easy way to verify compliancy is by checking whether the transformer has the appropriate marking on the main rating plate. The manufacturers have the responsibility of making a duly signed EC Declaration of Conformity document available.

Are the European Eco Design / US DOE 2016 transformers the best what the technology can offer?

The regulations are a considerable step forward in ensuring the reduction of transformer losses. From a pure technical point of view lower losses can be achieved. The values are a compromise between reducing transformer losses and what can in short-term be realized with reasonable and moderate efforts. Too ambitious target setting might result in a short term shortage of some materials, eg, high grade core steel. The losses can be reduced further. As an example, the new EN 50588 standard for distribution transformers contains a very low AAAo class for no-load loss. Its values are only about half of the European eco design 2015 required Ao loss values.

How do Eco Design / DOE 2016 transformers differ from amorphous transformers?

Amorphous transformers use a core which is made of amorphous instead of the regular crystalline electrical steel. Eco Design / DOE 2016 do not require the use of amorphous core steel. By using a high grade, grain oriented steel, the required no-load loss values can easily be achieved. When using amorphous steel, the no-load loss of the transformer can be only half compared to the requirements of the European regulation and of the US regulation.


What are the advantages / disadvantages of amorphous core transformers?

The main advantage of amorphous distribution transformers (AMDT) is their very low no-load loss. Since no-load losses and related costs of the energy losses are always present when a transformer is connected to the grid, reducing losses also has an economic benefit, especially in case of high energy costs.
A disadvantage of an AMDT is its somewhat larger size, higher weight, higher sound level as compared to a standard transformer. Amorphous core transformers are available as liquid-immersed or dry-type transformers with ratings up to 4 MVA and for all voltage classes up to 36 kV.

How mature is the technology for amorphous transformers?

Amorphous distribution transformers are a well-established technology and have been in operation for many years. ABB has offered liquid-immersed and dry-type AMDT for five years.

What do I need to consider for amorphous transformer installations?

Not so much; installation and connection is done in the same way as for a standard distribution transformer. The footprint and the weight of an AMDT may be slightly higher and needs to be considered with regards to transportation. If very low sound level is a critical, it is not recommended to install an AMDT.

What needs to be considered in order to minimize transformer energy losses in a specific application?

The typical load profile of the transformer should be known. If the average load is rather low, it makes most sense to minimize no-load loss, whereas for a transformer operated at high average load, the main focus should be on minimizing the load loss.

How can I calculate the financial benefit of a low loss transformer in operation?

The loss values (no-load loss, load loss) of the transformer need to be known, as well as the load profile of the transformer or at least its average load, together with the electricity costs. The no-load loss occurs as soon as a transformer is connected to a network. The load loss has a square dependence on the load. Since the costs of the losses occur in future, the present value (PV) of the losses during the expected lifetime should be considered. Different methods exist. The most common one is the total cost of ownership (TOC) approach, which will be recognized by the new upcoming transformer standards. ABB is providing an easy-to-use, free access web tool for TCO analysis.

Low loss transformers may have lower losses, but they need much more materials for manufacturing. So, is it really an environmentally sustainable solution?

A life cycle analysis (LCA) has shown that the determining factor for the environmental load are the losses of the transformer over its lifetime. Details can be found in a paper presented at the 2011 CIRED conference.

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