I'd like to share with you my humble experience as a senior electrical engineer in HV T&D lines, and also as an end-user of different brands of coatings and NOW as head of the global business development of Midsun Group, an RTV Coating, and silicone product manufacturer and applicator.
RTV Coating is a state-of-the-art practice that is single-handedly tackling costly maintenance repairs our industry has gotten used to over the years and turns them into something of the past. But, if that is the case, then why is RTV Coating not already the so-called “industry standard?”
CUSTOMERS DO NOT CARE ABOUT RTV COATING.
What does this mean in reality? The customer does not care about the “nitty-gritty” details of the coating formulation or accurate application procedure. They are busy. Busy worrying about if their machines will work, so their business can continue to make a profit. But that is exactly why RTV coating should be so important to them.
Costs – it is all about the money in the end.
Initial costs of RTV coating are insignificant in comparison to the long-term cost of maintenance and repairs due to not implementing RTV coating. If this was clear, probably every utility in the world would be applying it, just to prevent flashovers. An issue for this not being common knowledge is the amount of misinformation spreading around in the field. Authorities in the field are often guilty of reinforcing this behavior by providing contradictory information about packaging, formulation, manufacturer origin, thickness measurement, and so on. As engineers, it is our responsibility to tackle this issue.
Back in 2019, we had a very large project where the end-user, even having the approved budget for implementing RTV Coating, was still washing year after year the insulators rather than applying the RTV. Why? Because they did not have enough trust in the technology as they were not familiar with it. It somehow worked in the past, why change now even if results would be better? After meeting directly with the engineers, sharing other similar case studies and answering every technical concerns, the project finally was completed with success for all the parties involved.
Chile, T/Lines 500KV
When an end-user is heavily invested in their project, financially and personally, every dollar counts. No one wants to take a chance then on an emerging technology that might turn out to be nothing more than a passing gimmick. Even if that technology could save thousands in the long run.
Egypt, New Substation 500 kV Power Plant
And in the worst-case scenario, they have to worry about the risk of flashover and explosion at fully new installed substations.
Currently, Midsun Group is heavily involved in post-installation application of RTV coating, on existing lines which are suffering outages and trips due to contamination and the harsh environments where the constructions were installed. Post-installation application of RTV coating is significantly more costly, difficult, and time-consuming than pre-installation coating. And, if you are in this stage, it typically means that there already have been maintenance and repair costs to cover in addition to the post-installation application costs. If RTV coating of HV insulators had been considered during the planning and design phase of the process, no one would be running after the facts.