Kenya Power plans to replace oil in transformers with gas to bar vandals
Aug 26, 2016: In a bid to fend off vandals from accessing fuel and cushion consumers from power interruptions, Kenya Power has decided to replace the oil in transformers with gas.
The utility firm inked a deal with a subsidiary of Japan’s Toshiba Corporation to install several gas-insulated transformers on a pilot basis before going full scale.
The transformers will use carbon dioxide instead of oil. The toxic oil from the transformers is reportedly used by vandals for frying food in roadside stalls.
The pact will also see the India-based subsidiary, Toshiba Transmission & Distribution Systems (TTDI), install more efficient units dubbed amorphous distribution transformers, to reduce electricity losses due to equipment inefficiencies.
“These efforts aim to strengthen power supply and reduce losses as the network grows in tandem with increased [numbers of] customers,” Ben Chumo, managing director, Kenya Power said during the signing ceremony in Nairobi.
Kenya Power incurs a loss of Sh17.5 billion annually through electricity thefts and leakages from an ageing transmission network, resulting in lost earnings to shareholders of the listed utility.
The company is now looking for more efficient transformers and a reduced length of transmission lines to cut the losses to below 10 per cent.
Bringing the gas-insulated transformers is one of the latest in a string of initiatives by the utility to stop the theft. Earlier, the power distributor had also started placing transformers above live wires to curb their theft.
According to World Bank, Kenyans stay without power for 25 days a year on average due to blackouts.
“This deal reflects Kenya Power’s positive evaluation of TTDI’s high quality products and of our proposal to contribute towards achieving stable electricity supply,” Katsutoshi Toda, managing director, TTDI said.