Sustainable Innovation at an Energy Company

Interregional Distribution Grid Company of Urals

6. Clean Water and Sanitation 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 15. Life on Land 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

Polymer coating innovation that is used in electrical substations' equipment prevents leaks of insulating oil, which happen quite often. This technology saves soil, animals and people from possible pollution and poisoning.

Authors

Ilya Adamov

Ilya Adamov

Vito Agatov

Vito Agatov

Vladislav Kozlov

Vladislav Kozlov

Andrei Zeivald

Andrei Zeivald

Artemiy Kovin

Artemiy Kovin

School

National Research University Higher School of Economics

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Professor

Olga Isopeskul

Olga Isopeskul

Innovation

The innovation at IDGC of Urals is its polymer coating technology, which is aimed at improving the surface quality of equipment by providing superior adherence and protection from corrosion. For the most part, polymer coating is applied to the oil receiving devices to form a coated surface to prevent the premature wear and tear of equipment. This is particularly important since leakages of insulating oil caused by corrosion are quite common. It always results in oiling of gravel, which is commonly used as a surfacing material for substation yards. This is not only environmental pollution, but high utilization cost. Environmental pollution runs counter to IDGC of Urals environmental policy of promoting environmental management. The company is focusing on environmental issues as one of its top management priorities. That was the main reason why IDGC's innovation department was asked to address the problem. After a while, they found that the best solution was to introduce the polymer coating technology that helps the company preserve the environment and manage utilization costs.

Sustainable Innovation at an Energy Company

Inspiration

Three years ago, the innovation department of IDGC of Urals received an important task to minimize the costs of the oiled gravel disposal. Specialists from the innovation department found and analyzed best practices of oiled gravel disposal. It was not possible to adopt the methods of other organizations in IDGC of Urals for two reasons. Firstly, there were no such technologies in our region, and secondly, their implementation was too expensive because of the budgetary constraints of the project.

"We have tried to calculate the costs of the project several times, but we didn’t have a result agreeable. And at one moment it just dawned on me! We are fighting with the result, not the cause. If we solve the problem of oiled gravel, then we do not need to dispose of it. In addition, we can prevent oily water seeping into the soil," said the interviewee.

The innovation department specialists accumulated international experience on this topic and started working on the idea of the polymer coating of the oil receivers. The coating protects the oil receivers from corrosion, which is the main cause of wastes leaking to the ground.

"We have concluded that the polymer coating of oil receivers will significantly reduce the costs of oiled gravel disposal. The project will pay off in just 5 years," reported the specialist.

Overall impact

А polymer coating technology is profitable for ecology, society and business. We managed to interview one specialist from the innovation department at IDGC of Urals. He agreed to tell us about all benefits which polymer coating technology delivers to ecology, society and business.

Firstly, the technology allows reducing costs of oiled gravel utilization. This is a business benefit of the technology.

Secondly, by using a polymer coating technology, IDGC of Urals reduces environmental pollution. Soil cannot absorb the insulating oil, so this innovation prevents animals and birds from poisoning.

Finally, oiled gravel is toxic. It might be harmful for the staff who work on the substation yards. The fact that the company reduces the amount of oiled gravel means that fewer people are going to be exposed to it.

The interviewee said, "We have introduced using this technology quite recently. We do not have even short-term effects yet." Also he added that the most important incentive for the company was the business one. "This innovation delivers significant, but not tremendous benefits for the environment. When our company is taking actions against the pollution, we mainly follow the legislative requirements."

Business benefit

The usage of a polymer coating helps to prevent possible insulating oil leaks in the equipment installed at electrical substations. As a result, the unforeseen costs are reduced, because there will be no need for unplanned maintenance in case of the leakage at all, or at least this need will be decreased.

Due to the introduction of this innovation, the number of leaks has been significantly reduced, and the number of accidents that may occur due to leaked insulating oil is reduced accordingly. These accidents can cause either a breakdown of the equipment or even harm both the substation itself and the nearest facilities. In any case, accidents mean that companies will have to purchase and install new equipment and eliminate the causes of the incident, which results in additional costs. Possible leaks and accidents can also harm the environment, and the company will have to spend additional funds to eliminate pollution, and dispose of the waste and oiled gravel. All these costs can be avoided with the help of a polymer coating.

One more benefit that can be thought of is the positive impact on the reputation of this company among investors and the staff of IDGC of Urals.

Social and environmental benefit

The introduction of a substation device system using polymer coatings on oil receivers allowed the company not only to reduce equipment maintenance costs, but also to improve the environment around the substations. The sepage of waste oil into the soil led to the gradual contamination of nearby water bodies, which made them unsuitable for drinking. This led to the suffering of wild animals living in the vicinity of the substations, since the oil is a toxic substance. Also, the reduction of oil leakage led to the elimination of the need to dispose of contaminated rubble, which was previously dumped in the landfill and continued to pollute the soil. As a specialist from the innovation department stated, the introduction of this improvement minimized the impact of the company's activities on the environment and increased the intervals between equipment maintenance. He also added that this technology is just the beginning, and the company plans to minimize their impact on the environment in the future. The actions of the company have received approval from the public, since the problem of environmental pollution is increasing every year.

Interview

Incognito, Innovation department specialist

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Interregional Distribution Grid Company of Urals

Interregional Distribution Grid Company of Urals

Perm, RU

Business Website: https://www.mrsk-ural.ru/en/

Year Founded: 2005

Number of Employees: 10000+

Interregional Distribution Grid Company of Urals provides electricity transmission, distribution, and sales services in Russia. The company offers networks connection, power equipment and safety control testing services. In addition, it is involved in the operation of technical management and control over energy-saving and consumption.