The publication of commission regulation (EC) No 548/2014: Ecodesign requirements for small, medium and large power transformers regulation (EC) 548/2014: Ecodesign requirements for small, medium and large power transformers came into force on 10th June 2014.

These are the first regulations of their kind for transformers and from July 2015 they will set minimum efficiency requirements for 3-phase transformers from 1kVA upwards for use in transmission, distribution and industrial applications. There are a number of exclusions from the scope, mostly covering special applications. There are two efficiency levels, Tier 1 and Tier 2, with specific maximum permitted losses related to the size and type of transformer for each Tier. Tier 2 allows roughly 10% less loss that Tier 1. From 1st July 2015 transformers within scope will have to meet Tier 1 and from 1st July 2021 they must meet Tier 2.

John Parsons, deputy director of the BEAMA Power Sector commented, “We welcome these regulations which the European Commission estimates will save 16TWh per year across Europe. However, we will be working with network companies and OFGEM to ensure that regulation supports the use of these transformers and does not act as a deterrent to investing in new transformers. There must also be robust market surveillance to ensure that all transformers placed on the market meet the Regulations.”

As we approach July 2015, BEAMA will be publishing industry guidance on the application of the Regulations. Although most transformers are sold to power networks, who have their own programme around the introduction of the Regulations, there is a sizeable industrial sector, where awareness of the Regulations is not so good. BEAMA will be working to ensure that all purchasers fully understand the requirements of the regulations and the energy savings to be made.

There are more than one million transformers in use across the UK’s power networks, changing voltages from generation through transmission and distribution networks and finally down to the domestic supply voltage. Transformers generally have very high levels of efficiency but, because they are ‘always on’, small increases in efficiency can yield significant energy savings. This simple picture is complicated by the different loss mechanisms in a transformer, some of which are continuous, regardless of load and some that increase with the load.

This means that identifying the energy use of a transformer depends on understanding its duty cycle. The EcoDesign Regulations address this by specifying maximum load and no-load losses and from July 2015 all transformers (including those excluded from the scope) will have to be labelled with their load and no load losses.

BEAMA and its members have been working with other experts via T&D Europe on the development of these Ecodesign Regulations, and with CENELEC to develop two new standards; prEN 60076-19 covering test methods and prEN 60076-20, which includes the Tier 1 and Tier 2 efficiency levels with the intention of creating a world market for these high efficiency transformers.

All purchases of these transformers by the Distribution and Transmission companies will fall under the new regulatory regime, RIIO ED1 and T1 respectively. The purchase of more efficient plant is somewhat distorted because the networks companies do not have to pay for the energy losses from their equipment. However, OFGEM has put a general duty on them to ensure that the networks are efficient and has allocated £38m in ED1 for discretionary spend by the networks on measures to reduce network losses. The DNOs have all been examining the issues around the Regulations and have made some allowance for the higher costs for replacement assets.

BEAMA, however, is concerned that RIIO regulations should support measures which increase energy efficiency. Parsons commented that, “When a transformer is close to the end of its life, lifetime costs can be reduced by replacing it early with a more efficient transformer and DNO cost benefit analysis must reflect this.”

Market surveillance falls under the NMO in the UK and will need to be managed differently compared to consumer products such as light bulbs and washing machines. Verification for the larger transformers will mostly be carried out at the manufacturer’s facilities and, as these transformers are often bespoke, only a single product can be tested, rather than a batch. BEAMA will be working with the NMO to represent any concerns from industry and ensure that market surveillance in the UK is fully effective in catching non-compliant transformers.