City gets mo­bile to keep the power on through win­ter

The Star Early Edition - - METRO WATCH -

THE City of Joburg launched South Africa’s first mo­bile on-site test­ing of high-volt­age power trans­form­ers at a Sand­ton sub­sta­tion last week.

In light of the city’s R69 bil­lion back­log in devel­op­ment and main­te­nance of elec­tric­ity in­fra­struc­ture, it needs to be in­no­va­tive to keep up with in­ter­na­tional trends, which have proved suc­cess­ful in ad­dress­ing in­fra­struc­ture fail­ures, said Nico de Jager, mem­ber of the may­oral com­mit­tee for en­vi­ron­men­tal and in­fra­struc­ture ser­vice de­liv­ery.

Maschi­nen­fab­rik Rein­hausen South Africa re­cently bought a mo­bile high-volt­age power trans­former test­ing trailer, and part­nered with City Power and Eskom to per­form spe­cialised tests on high-volt­age power trans­form­ers.

City Power pur­chases elec­tric­ity from Eskom at the Delta sub­sta­tion, which is then dis­trib­uted to three large power trans­form­ers, which, in turn, sup­ply many sub­sta­tions across the city.

As such, th­ese power trans­form­ers are crit­i­cal as­sets in City Power’s elec­tri­cal net­work.

“Over the course of the past year, and to the in­con­ve­nience of many res­i­dents, City Power has ex­pe­ri­enced nu­mer­ous power trips at one of th­ese power trans­form­ers,” said De Jager.

To en­sure that ex­tended power out­ages be­come a thing of the past, City Power will retest this faulty power trans­former with new tech­nol­ogy rather than con­ven­tional test­ing meth­ods, which have not yielded ad­e­quate re­sults, he said.

Mo­bile on-site high-volt­age tests on trans­form­ers are in­creas­ingly con­sid­ered a ne­ces­sity to carry out quick on-site re­pairs, run­ning of di­ag­nos­tics, in­stal­la­tions and qual­ity con­for­ma­tion.

The US, Aus­tralia, China and many Euro­pean coun­tries al­ready use this tech­nol­ogy.

This type of test­ing will en­sure that down­time is re­duced as re­pairs will be done speed­ily, en­sur­ing res­i­dents don’t spend long pe­ri­ods of time with­out elec­tric­ity, es­pe­cially dur­ing the cold win­ter months, De Jager added.

Mak­ing use of mo­bile test­ing on-site will also en­able City Power to make in­formed de­ci­sions about the re­pair of the power trans­form­ers based on proper di­ag­nos­tic anal­y­sis and al­low for pos­si­ble re­pairs to be con­ducted on-site with­out hav­ing to trans­port the power trans­former to a work­shop.

“Due to the sheer size of the power trans­form­ers, and at a cost of about R35m each, it is ex­tremely ex­pen­sive and time-con­sum­ing to trans­port and ‘un-tank’ them in a work­shop. In this re­gard, mo­bile on-site test­ing is also cost ef­fec­tive.”

Elec­tri­cal in­su­la­tion also ages over time, de­pend­ing on its op­er­at­ing con­di­tions, and it is essen­tial for City Power to ex­tend the re­main­ing life cy­cle of this faulty trans­former to at least an­other 40 years.

The city was com­mit­ted not only to de­liv­er­ing the qual­ity ser­vices that res­i­dents de­manded and de­served, but also to set the stan­dard for other met­ros and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across the coun­try in terms of in­no­va­tion and find­ing long-term so­lu­tions to the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity woes, De Jager said.

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