Eskom partners with Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to seek innovative ways to reduce treatment of the oil used to insulate transformers.

In South Africa, state-owned power utility Eskom signed a memorandum of understanding last week Thursday with the IDC to establish alternative insulating fluids for transformers.

SA News reported that over the past year Eskom has been researching the possibility of using alternative insulating fluids such as Esters, also known as vegetable oil, in its transformers.

“The two bodies have partnered to establish a sustainable value chain that may involve farming of the seed crops, processing the oil and distributing it to transformer manufacturers.

“Engineering research will also be conducted to answer all related technical questions,” the utility said in a statement.

Transformers: new oil for ‘greener’ electricity

The IDC said it was attracted to the technology as there is the potential of expanding the local oil-seed value chain.

IDC’s Head of New Industries Christo Fourie, commented: “What attracted us to this technology is the potential of expanding the local oil-seed value chain upstream through additional farming and agro-processing activities.

“By producing this high value, renewably sustainable and environmentally friendly input, it will ensure a ‘greener’ electricity distribution network, whilst also facilitating new industry development opportunities.”

Esters to displace importation of mineral oil

Media quoted Fourie who said that this development has the potential of displacing four million litres of imported mineral oil at an annual cost of approximately ZAR88 million ($64 million) while creating much-needed jobs.

It is reported that the initiative also supports government’s biofuels strategy while taking into account food security.

The memorandum was signed at an Eskom workshop that was held to discuss the modalities of adopting natural esters as the preferred insulating fluid for transformers, media reported.