Mobile Transformers Help Lower Carbon Emissions


Vector is determined to reduce our carbon emissions to support New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon economy. One of our latest decarbonisation initiatives tackles the issue of network maintenance. Vector owns and operates around 19,000km of poles and power lines across the Auckland region, which is the distance from New Zealand to England, and regular network maintenance ensures the safe, reliable, and resilient supply of electricity to our customers. 

Some of our network maintenance requires diesel generators to ensure the power stays on for customers while we do the work. Generators are not only expensive to set up and run but there’s also carbon emissions, street-level pollution, and loud noise to consider. 

Together with partners Northpower and Downer, Vector have started using mobile transformers, like those big green boxes you see on the side of the road, to supply power instead. This works by temporarily routing the area’s power supply through the mobile transformer, instead of isolating the section from the distribution network and supplying power by diesel generation. When we’re finished, we connect the area back up again, switch the connections over and disconnect the mobile transformer before taking it away. 

The first four trials in central Auckland saved an estimated 242 tonnes of emissions (in CO2e), which is the equivalent to driving 915,000 kms in an average petrol car or travelling the length of New Zealand 442 times. It’s equal to the annual emissions of 34 New Zealanders.* It also helped us to reduce costs and disruption for our customers. 

While we can’t use mobile transformers for all our maintenance projects, we intend use this as part of our standard planning practice where possible and are sharing this knowledge with other electricity companies as part of our carbon handprint. This Vector-led initiative is another step towards a low-carbon future for New Zealand.