Selection and rating of the step-up transformer for renewable energy application

Bonginkosi A. Thango, Jacobus A. Jordaan, Agha F. Nnachi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In the past decade, South Africa has acquired more renewable energy (RE) generation capacity than the rest of the Sub-Saharan countries. This development has led to increasing concerns about problems associated with electrical equipment connected with the RE technologies, especially in wind and solar. These RE technologies have intermittent generation profiles and are connected to non-linear loads. The fundamental electrical equipment including the step-up transformer, with respect to which, high harmonic losses, abnormal temperature rise and gassing problems have been extensively reported within the last 10 years and remains a precedence for many Independent Power Producers (IPPs). A requirement of the step-up transformer is that IPPs are required to provide a technical schedule clarifying the harmonic and distortion content at the plant's point of common coupling (PCC). A lack of this knowledge to the transformer manufactures thereof leads to under-designing or over-designing cases if the harmonic content has been underestimated or overestimated respectively. In hindsight, it may be beneficial for the Independent Power Producers and transformer manufactures to collaborate to assure the transformer design philosophy for the intended RE application is aligned with the technical requirements. In this paper, a method of de-rating the transformer when supplying non-sinusoidal loads is presented. In this method, the continuous power rating of the transformer is reduced to treat the additional losses as a result of harmonic penetration. Initially, a harmonic spectrum supplied by the IPP is used to calculate the transformer load and service losses. Secondly, the harmonic load spectrum is employed to compute derating factors ascribed to as "K-Factor" and "Factor-K", indicating the amount of de-rating necessary for the transformer under study when serving the considered harmonic spectrum. Lastly, the thermal considerations under the harmonic spectrum are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalTransactions of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Abnormal Temperature rise
  • De-rating
  • Gassing
  • Harmonic and distortion
  • Harmonic losses
  • Step-up transformer
  • Thermal requirements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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