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Features Zurich, Switzerland 12-05-2020

5 min read

Enabling Chile to efficiently integrate renewables with digital transformers

ABB Power Grids’ digital transformers improve reliability of major new wind and solar power projects in Chile, improving access to reliable and clean energy

6,000 kilometers of Pacific coastline and the world’s longest continental mountain range, The Andes, define Chile’s unique borders and diverse climate. This diversity includes the driest place on earth, in the north, the Atacama Desert, which has the highest solar incidence in the world, the ideal location for the development of solar farms. Plus, abundant potential for wind power is driven by the spectacular elevation change between the mountains and the sea, providing Chile with unique opportunities for renewable power.

Described in its “Roadmap to 2050: A Sustainable and Inclusive Strategy”, Chile aims for 70 percent of its electricity generation to come from renewable sources by 2050. This process has already begun with an announcement in 2018 that no new generation would come from coal, and a plan to phase out the coal generation that exists today. Yet these targets face an additional challenge, the growing economy in Chile has driven the country’s electricity consumption per capita to more than double since 2000, driving an enormous investment in new power generation.

How is the power industry addressing this challenge?

Mainstream Renewable Power’s 1.3 gigawatt (GW) wind and solar platform Andes Renovables represents a large step towards overcoming this challenge. ABB Power Grids’ power transformers will contribute to the integration of this sustainable electricity into the grid across nine of Mainstream’s Chilean projects using digitally enabled transformers, to enhance their operation in this critical application. We also provided power transformers for three additional wind energy projects in Chile (Cuel, Sarco and Aurora), with total capacity of 332 megawatts, which are owned by Aela Energía and its subsidiary Aela Generación. Aela Energía is a joint venture between Mainstream Renewable Power and the global investment company, Actis.

These twelve projects total over 1.5 GW of renewable power capacity, enough electricity to provide for over 1.3 million people, over 7 percent of today’s total consumption in Chile.1

“Driving the world with sustainable energy is one of our top priorities, and we are proud to be part of these major projects that will integrate renewables into Chile’s electrical grid,” said Bruno Melles, Managing Director of ABB’s Transformer Business Line. “By deploying ABB Power Grids’ digital transformers, Mainstream Renewable Power will be equipped to turn transformer health data into actionable intelligence for optimized asset performance and active network management for increased renewables integration – meaning more of this sustainable electricity can reach the end consumers.”

Mainstream Renewable Power, a global developer of renewable power based in Ireland, is a major player in Chile’s evolving electricity market and, worldwide, has over 16,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable power installed and in planning stages.

“To achieve our vision of electrifying the world with renewable energy, it is essential that the power our projects generate is always available,” said Manuel Tagle, Mainstream Renewable Power Latam. “The power transformers in our wind and solar farms are critical, so this technology must be of the highest quality and designed to never go offline unexpectedly. The digital devices integrated into these transformers will enable us to constantly monitor the health of the transformers and take preventative action before any issues become critical. This remote monitoring is especially important for our systems, which can be isolated and difficult to access.”

How are digital transformer technologies revolutionizing the power industry?

Research published by CIGRÉ, a leading, global nonprofit organization in the field of high-voltage electricity, found the benefits of transformer monitoring has the potential to deliver 75% reduction in repair costs due to early detection, 60% reduction in revenue loss due to unanticipated, problems/outages, 50% reduction in risk of catastrophic failures and annual cost savings up to 2% of the price of a new transformer. 2

The digitalized transformers will be equipped with CoreTec 4 units, enabling real-time management of their condition by analyzing data coming from different sensors to provide early warnings and recommendations to avoid unexpected downtime. These sensors include ABB Power Grids’ CoreSense, a digital device for tracking the level of dissolved gases, which can indicate a potential problem inside the transformer. This will allow service engineers to remotely provide experts anywhere in the world with key information needed for maintenance planning, ensuring that these critical assets are always available.

Advanced technologies built upon a solid foundation of experience

ABB Power Grid’s local presence in Chile is an important part of supporting the installed base of transformers, as well as providing region-specific expertise, such as the special seismic requirements of this location, whilst leveraging our TrafoStar platform to deliver proven technology, with world-class reliability and quality.

TrafoStar is ABB Power Grids’ technology platform for transformers, which implements the same design and manufacturing processes globally. This ensures that products have the same standard of high quality, high reliability and low maintenance requirements across ABB’s global manufacturing facilities.

ABB Power Grids is the world’s leading supplier of transformers, providing a complete range of liquid-filled and dry-type transformers as well as components, replacement parts and services, since 1883.



Guide on Economics of Transformer Management. CIGRE, Technical Brochure 248.
Economical aspects and experiences of power transformer on-line monitoring. Boss P., Lorin P., Viscardi A., et al. (2000). CIGRE Session.