24 October 2018


24 October 2018

Benefits of SK Formulations XLC 0767  

  • New water-based paint could eradicate the need for hydrocarbon releasing white spirit-based paint on assets
  • Rapid dry solution drastically reduces asset downtime – improving resilience for homes and businesses
  • Thinner paint uses third less raw materials 
  • Drying temperature reduces from 20c to 6c – making new innovation more suitable for UK climate and allowing painting to be carried out throughout the year  

We've become the UK’s first distribution network operator (DNO) to trial an innovative new eco-paint.

Every year we uses 1,000s of gallons of paint to protect our network assets and we're working with the North East’s Rosh Engineering to lead the way in using a newly invented sustainable paint that replaces the need for polluting white spirit-based paints.

Rosh Engineering and Northern Powergrid have successfully applied the new formula paint to a large power transformer in Darlington. The application has now completed its initial three-month performance assessment – marking the first critical milestone for the trial to see how it has performed over the summer months. Teams at Rosh and Northern Powergrid are set to continue monitoring the performance of the paint over the coming autumn and winter months.

The new paint offers three interconnected core benefits to us and our 8 million customers across 3.9 million homes and businesses in the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

Firstly, it is rapid drying even at low temperatures. It can dry in less than an hour, changing the time it takes to disconnect, paint, and reconnect a transformer to the network from two days to less than one.

Geoff Earl, our Director of Safety, Health and Environment explains the significance: “Our transformers usually work in pairs so if one is out of service, the other keeps the lights on. Taking an asset offline for any period of time, even for essential maintenance, temporarily reduces security of supply for customers. Halving the downtime for a transformer could help us maintain network security for our customers and significantly reduce the unavoidable decrease in network resilience that comes with some essential maintenance works.”

Putting this into context, Northern Powergrid is responsible for more than 1,200 transformers across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire. Each transformer requires several paint applications in its lifetime, the reduction from 48 to less than 24 hours of downtime equates to real-time savings of more than 4,000 hours per year.

Secondly, its water-based nature is better for the environment and local air quality. Northern Powergrid has wanted to explore switching to water-based paint for some time, however, until now water-based paints have needed temperatures of 20C+ to dry – an impossible aim for an operator battling the inclement weather of Northern England. The new paint can dry as low as 6C, meaning the new solution is not only beating the drying conditions of previous water-based options but also of white spirit-based paints, as most would take a prolonged period to dry at 6C.

Finally, the new paint needs a much thinner coat to protect an asset, reducing raw materials by up to a third. “It’s early days for assessing the long-term benefits of the paint,” added Geoff. “but we anticipate this could have measurable effect on the life of our transformers – leading to a positive impact for both the environment in terms of materials use, and our customers as we reduce system security risks during maintenance work and speed up work programmes to protect the assets that power their everyday life.”

“Climate change issues are not to be taken lightly, but a lighter coat of paint could bring us one step closer to supporting a more stable future climate. If proven in this trial, this is a fantastic example of the small steps we can all take to improve our environment,” commented Ian Dormer, MD of Rosh Engineering, the North East firm who had brought this global innovation to the UK’s shores. “Initial laboratory trials as well as work with EA Technology using accelerated tests have given us positive results – but to have a network operator like Northern Powergrid which is open-minded, environmentally proactive and prepared to carry out a live trial is potentially game-changing.  We can really see how the paint performs and how it could help Northern Powergrid - and wider industry - better protect the country’s power network whilst taking positive steps to eradicate the use of hydrocarbon emitting spirit-based paints on infrastructure.”

Geoff concluded: “At Northern Powergrid we are always looking for innovative ways to reduce the environmental impact of what we do for the communities we serve and to boost the economic strength of our region. Our assets are key to powering the millions of people every day; we want to ensure that we protect our network so it operates safely and efficiently for as long as possible for our customers.  We are looking forward to seeing the results of this trial and how the paint could be used more widely across our business to keep our assets in peak condition for as long as possible whilst reducing our environmental impact.”