EPM announced last week a new milestone in the development of its Ituango Hydroelectric Project with the commencement of the installation of the first of 25 high voltage transformers. In total there will be three transformers for each of the eight power turbines, and one spare that can be switched in and out for maintenance.
The transformers each have a capacity of 112 MVA (million volt amperes) and will transform the generator output from 18 kilovolts to the grid distribution voltage of 500 kilovolts. Each is 4 meters high and weighs 110 tons when filled with oil.
The transformers arrive at Ituango from EPM’s Tenerife warehouse in the town of Tarazá, where 7 of them have been since 2017 due to the flooding and tunnel collapse that delayed construction and mired EPM in lawsuits with its construction contractors. The remaining 12 are still under construction in Ghunzou, China and are scheduled to be delivered later this year.
When the catastrophic flooding occurred on April 18, 2018, 18 transformers had been installed, but were submerged for 9 months when engineers had to flood the power generation chamber to save the rest of the structure. This left the transformers completely destroyed, necessitating their replacement. The 7 transformers being installed now are those that had not yet been installed at the time of the flooding.
Once complete, the Hidroituango hydroelectric project is expected to generate 17% of Colombia’s total electrical consumption. According to acting general manager of EPM, Mónica Ruiz Arbeláez, EPM expects power generation from Hidroituango to come online in the first half of 2022.
Each turbine generator is connected to a transformer through isolated phase power bars to a bank of three single phase transformers with a nominal capacity of 112 million volt amperes.