Transformer market outlook: Supporting the growth in the power industry

With demand for electricity on the rise, transformers play a critical role on the grid, but how and where is the market set to grow?

Siemens transformers in Zeebrugge

Growing demand for electricity coupled with a global scaling up of renewable energy efforts is seeing demand for power transformers increase, with the market set to be worth a staggering $31.5billion by 2025. That equates to a year-on-year growth of 5%.While transformers are needed in all corners of the globe to support growing power consumption, particularly in emerging economies such as India and China, the US is seeing the greatest increase in demand. This surge is fueled by a number of factors, from an ageing power grid to wider market adoption of electrification and the continued transition to renewable energy.

Greater investment in infrastructure to support US demand

A stable grid is about more than just keeping the lights on. With remote working accelerating the use of technology, ensuring everyone is connected is essential to keeping the wheels of the economy turning.

Despite being one of the largest power grids in the world, delivering more than $400 billion of electricity each year across approximately seven million miles of transmission and distribution lines, the US is poorly equipped to cope with the pressure or pace of modern-day living.

Decades of under investment has resulted in an unreliable grid that is struggling to keep up with growing power consumption, which shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, electricity consumption is forecast to rise by 2.2% in 2021 (following a drop of almost 4% in 2020), and a further 1% next year, according to the US Energy Information Association. As a result, we’re now seeing greater investment in infrastructure and transformers to support this increasing demand.

8 Trafos in Zeebrugge (21)

Transformers ready to be shipped from Zeebrugge

Tannhauser in Baltimore

Our vessels are designed to safely carry oversized products such as transformers

Slide 2.4 - Royal Smit Transformers in Zeebrugge (1)

Specialized handling equipment ensures the safe shipment of transformers

8 Trafos in Zeebrugge (11)

Moving heavy transformers by wheel rather than by crane reduces the risk of damage

8 Trafos in Zeebrugge (8)

Products are securely lashed to the vessel deck for the duration of the sea voyage

Impact of climate change on the grid

Climate change is also fueling the need for greater investment in infrastructure and demand for transformers. According to research by Reliability Engineering & System Safety, more than half of major US power outages from 2000 to 2019 were caused by natural hazards like hurricanes, heat waves and wildfires. With global warming showing little sign of abating anytime soon, the US is expected to experience more power outages as the ageing grid struggles to cope, meaning updates and refurbishments to make it resilient to climate change are imperative.

Add to this the growing appetite for renewable energy and increasing numbers of electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads, and it’s clear big changes – and big money – are needed to improve generation and transmission infrastructure.

Shipping transformers from Asia and Europe to the US

With demand for transformers on the rise, the power industry in the US requires an experienced shipping partner with the expertise to safely transport such high-value products from manufacturing locations in Asia and Europe.

Given that some of the more powerful transformers can weigh up to 400 tonnes, the minimal lifting involved in a RoRo shipment means it’s well-suited to transporting such oversized products.

“Moving heavy transformers by wheel rather than by crane reduces the risk of damage, while using a wide stern ramp with a simple driveway to indoor stowage position effectively removes many obstacles,” says Fredrik Hedin, breakbulk project manager, Wallenius Wilhelmsen.

Equally important for big energy projects is ensuring products arrive on time to meet project deadlines. RoRo offers peace of mind to the customer by providing on-time delivery and good schedule visibility.

“High schedule frequency, service stability, fleet capacity and safety are all characteristics of our Europe to North America, and Asia to North America liner services, which allows us to meet demand for reliable services to this growing industry and deliver the best possible solutions to the market,” says Carsten Wendt, senior manager for global breakbulk business development at Wallenius Wilhelmsen.

3 reasons to choose RoRo for transformer shipments

Providing shipping and logistics services to all major transformer manufacturers/project forwarders worldwide, we have developed significant expertise in this segment. Here’s how we are able to support the safe shipment of transformers:

  • We regularly invest in assets and competence development to ensure the growing market requirements are met and that we remain a forerunner in developing innovative and safe handling solutions for transformers.
  • Our specialist handling equipment for transformers includes 30ft 160 tonne roll trailers, 40ft trailers, Samson Light trailers with 140 tonne capacity, Samson heavy lift trailers with 220 tonne capacity, and blocks and beams with 400 tonne capacity.
  • Our highest capacity vessels, which have a 7.1m entrance height, 12m width and a ramp capacity of 500 tonnes, are deployed in the Europe to North America and Asia to North America trade lanes making it a perfect match for increased demand in this market.

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