Transformer Market and Component Developments

Market Report for CWIEME Global Transformer Day

By Saqib Saeed and Hassan Zaheer, Power Technology Research

Clean energy is a key pillar to achieve a low-carbon future for many governments around the world. CWIEME Transformer Day, held June 22, provided updates on innovative components and transformer solutions, exclusive insights on transformer and energy market developments and expert discussions on renewable and smart grid technology. Following are excerpts from a white paper commissioned for the event.
Covid-19’s influence on the transformer market has been multidimensional, intricate and far-reaching, impacting the global economy and trickled down to the energy sector, particularly the power grid market. In absolute terms, the global transformer market is expected to bounce back nearly to the 2019 level by the end of 2021. Moreover, delays in lead times and supply chain constraints experienced in 2020 have mostly returned to normal, providing an optimistic outlook for 2021.
Eco-sustainability, digitalization and solid state technology, or SST, are the key trends in transformer market nowadays. Grid dynamics are changing drastically owing to aggressive penetration of renewables and EVs, forcing the utilities to opt for active power control technologies. Anticipating this, OEMs are investing heavily in developing cutting edge technologies for transformers.
Digitalization enables utilities to operate transformers for short or long-term above nameplate rating by utilizing optimal thermal conditions, monitor vital parameters using smart sensors and make informed management decisions, thus preventing overcapacity specification of transformers during tendering process.
Factoring the removal of fire safety systems, reduction in civil engineering costs and longer lifespan of ester oil-based transformers, PTR anticipates aggressive penetration of ester oil-based solutions in the coming decade.
Despite the flexibility and potential benefits being offered for grid modernization, higher cost and reduced lifespan have limited wide scale adoption of SSTs. OEMs have been researching to justify the additional cost and complexity of SSTs by offering features and services to add value for one-to-one conventional transformer replacement.
2021 Outlook
While the global health crisis lingers in the first half of 2021 with second and even third waves of the virus in many regions, accelerating vaccine rollouts and major stimulus packages in many advanced economies have provided a beacon of hope. PTR anticipates the global transformer market will grow 10 percent in 2021, propelled by growth in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East.
• China limited the virus spread at early stages and was one of the few economies to report a positive economic growth in 2020. Dynamic growth for transformers is expected to continue through 2021, driven by exports, but especially by domestic demand, including policy-sponsored infrastructure projects. The outlook significantly improved at the end of the year, driven by recovering industrial production.
• Early estimates project India’s transformer market growth in 2021 to compensate for the 2020 decline, although significant uncertainties remain linked to the evolution of infections and the rollout of vaccines.
• The U.S. transformer market is projected to reach pre-pandemic levels owing to the American Rescue Plan, “the Biden stimulus,” and a successful vaccine program.
• Major European markets Germany, France, and Spain, are anticipated to remain below 2019 levels, failing to fully make up for the declines in 2020. On a positive note, industrial production in the Europe is back to pre-Covid levels, owing to a recovery in international trade.
Saqib Saeed is executive director research and consulting, and Hassan Zaheer is executive director client relations and advisory, of Power Technology Research