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Electrical energy at airports

Picture of Jean Calvin Yoke

Jean Calvin Yoke

AERTEC / Airport Planning & Design


New energy efficiency requirements for the design of power transformers: “EcoDesign Transformers”


Air traffic hasn’t stopped growing, making airports progressively larger. Electric power is one of the essential factors to ensure that all the necessary infrastructures needed for airport activities function properly. Electricity demand is growing progressively due to the size of airports and the increasing needs inside them. In order to cheapen costs, airports tend to buy mid, high or very high voltage electricity power supplies on the basis of their needs.

The EU Executive expects to save 16 TWh (terawatt-hour) per year as from 2020.

That is why today it is very common to see electricity substations and power transformer centres at airports to cater for their own consumption. As a consequence, these electricity infrastructures need to use electrical equipment known as “power transformers”.

The European Commission (EC) has published Regulation 548/2014 on implementing Directive 2009/125/EC of the Parliament and of the European Council, which sets forth that newly installed power transformers have to meet new minimum energy efficiency requirements as from July 2015. The EC expects to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions through this measure.

More specifically, the EU Executive expects to save 16 TWh (terawatt-hour) per year as from 2020, which would avoid the emission of 3,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

This regulation affects all small, medium and large power transformers used in electric power transmission and distribution networks or for industrial applications.

This regulation does not apply to transformers designed and used specifically for applications like, for instance: earthing or grounding transformers, measuring instrument transformers, etc.

These requirements apply as from 1 July 2015 and will become stricter as from 1 July 2021, a transition period the European Commission considers sufficient for manufacturers, electricity companies and industrial users to adapt to these requirements, which will be “profitable and technologically feasible”. The EC’s aim is to remove from the market models providing worse results and to promote the development of more efficient transformers, while expecting that the gradual replacement of already installed transformers will contribute to savings.

The demand for energy hasn’t stopped growing and climate change will continue to be a problem that mankind will have to deal with. As airport designers, the various engineering disciplines are one of the key players involved in this cause, since airports are industrial users of power transformers, which are a key element in the configuration of airport electricity systems.

The less efficient transformers existing in the European market currently lose a lot of energy, which is dissipated into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Furthermore, equipment has to be added to the electricity system to offset the energy thus lost in order to maximise the power supplied by a traditional transformer.

Taking into account that a transformer operated under normal conditions tends to have an average useful life of between 20 and 30 years, these losses can be highly significant.

The new transformers will not only allow for a reduction in CO2 emissions they will also cut down on users’ costs, since they will significantly reduce the need to install ancillary energy offsetting equipment. The EC hopes to reduce these transformers’ current emissions by around 20% with this measure.



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