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SC’s first environmentally friendly transformers to be installed

Community-owned network company Alpine Energy is trialling 10 environmentally friendly transformers at Fonterra’s Clandeboye plant, near Temuka.

The new transformers use vegetable oil as an insulating medium rather than traditional mineral oil and are the first of their kind to be used in the South Canterbury district.

Aurecon engineers and Fonterra approached Alpine Energy about the environmentally friendly option of using vegetable oil transformers to assist with its future power requirements.

Alpine Energy network delivery manager John Dillon said the opportunity to use a product which uses biodegradable oil was appealing to Alpine which is continually looking at more environmentally sustainable options.

“One of the advantages of using a vegetable oil transformer is the higher ignition point making it a very hard product to burn. Another advantage is reduced environmental impact in the rare event of a leak to soil or water.”

Each transformer has about 1,230 litres of vegetable oil and a longer life expectancy than the traditional units.

The transformers are made recognisable by being a lighter green colour than the mineral oil versions, along with signage, which helps ensure the correct fluid is used for top-ups.

Mr Dillon said Alpine will monitor the new transformers and is actively considering how they might be used elsewhere on the network, providing the price stacks up.

Fonterra has contributed to the capital outlay of the transformers which will be installed later this year.

Additional information:

Compared to mineral oils, this natural fluid:

  • Can extend the life and maintenance requirements of the transformer.
  • The transformer substations occupy less area due to lower fire risk.
  • It is 100% biodegradable.
  • Is less hazardous to those handling it and has 0% mortality on aquatic life (trout fry tests).