The reduction in Joule losses during the transport of electricity from power station production to users necessitates the use of high voltage and low amperage. Distribution electricity for domestic users, on the other hand, requires low voltage. Distribution transformers (DT) reduce the voltage of the electricity between the transport and the distribution. Two losses occur in DT: no-load losses, simply due to the fact that the DT is on the electric grid, and load losses, a function of the electric load.
Amorphous transformers use amorphous steel, instead of grain oriented steel. This change allows a significant decrease of losses in DT, resulting in energy savings. They are currently used in the USA and in India but not in the European Union. This situation exists because amorphous transformers are produced for voltages other than that used in Europe. Transformers are a local market, and amorphous DTs are therefore not produced in the EU. Furthermore, electric utilities prefer technologies they have already tested to those, which however promising they may be, are unfamiliar.
The future of efficient and very efficient DT lies partly in a three step change: firstly, choosing the most efficient transformers from existing models (22 TWh savings have been estimated for the European Union), secondly, opting for amorphous transformers, and thirdly, switching to new technologies not yet industrially developed (as supra-conductive transformers).
Distribution transformers, new and old (Photo AERE)