Short-Circuiting the High Cost of Transformer Upgrades

When it comes to the material used in the windings of a well manufactured retrofit, copper is a superior conductor to aluminum because copper offers less resistance, hence less heat.

Ameren’s Rush Island generating station use of retrofitted transformers offers insights for any plant that seeks to increase capacity on a budget.

Increase capacity! When the call comes from upper management to produce more energy a plant manager faces the challenge of upgrading the infrastructure, and upgraded power transformers often represent the biggest ticket item.

Adding to the expense is the fact that such change-outs usually require completely reworking the connections to and from the transformer. When spatial constraints that require rebuilding a new enclosure or pad mount are factored in, the prospect of increasing capacity can explode into a budget-busting endeavor.

In response, many plant managers are discovering the advantages of new retrofit transformers. These fully customized power transformers provide the benefits of increased power capacity while duplicating the form and fit of the originals. The option of a perfectly matched, plug-and-play transformer holds the potential for capacity upgrades that meet regulations, timelines and budgets.

The experience of one major power utility shows that plant managers can successfully balance demand for upgrades against cost constraints set by the controller by retrofitting.

Saving Money in the “Show Me” State

Since “first fire” over 40 years ago, management at Ameren Missouri’s Rush Island Energy Center in Festus, Mo., has run a tight ship. The plant’s two, coal-fired generating units have often scored one and two in the nation for the lowest NOx produced by units without selective catalytic reduction, while producing 1,242 megawatts of electricity.

Retrofit transformers represent a large cost savings for plant managers seeking to reduce capital expenses primarily because of the plug-and-play advantage of a perfect fit.

Here, the upgrade impetus stemmed from a larger project that required more power for added in-house load.

“We were upgrading our bottom ash system, changing from a wet sluicing system with bottom-ash clinker grinders to a submerged flight conveyor, and the existing auxiliary boiler stood in the way of the conveyor,” explained Herb Fischer, Consulting Engineer, Rush Island Technical Support. “So, we demolished the old aux’ boiler and put in a new one.”

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Posted by on May 1st, 2018 and filed under Feature Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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