A Proven Solution for an Aging Steel Electrical Grid in New South Wales

By: Ben Rowland, Induron T&D Sales

Queensland TowerElectrical utilities are working hard to fight corrosion on their aging steel infrastructure all around the world. Induron Protective Coatings offers proven protection for weathered galvanized and previously-painted T&D structures at the lowest applied cost per square foot per year with Induraguard 9200, which can be calculated based on experience and proven results

The problem: An aging steel electrical grid

Galvanized steel, electrical transmission towers have a service life of around 70 years with the galvanized layer beginning to break down and rust at 30 years. 

Approximately 70 percent of the power grid’s transmission lines and substations were erected prior to 1995, which means utilities are facing imminent pressure to decide how to support their existing steel infrastructure in order to avoid the revenue loss that comes when failing towers create outages. 

Furthermore, the expansion of the grid to accommodate new generation resources, such as solar and wind, will still rely heavily on the existing infrastructure. Failing towers cause outages and revenue loss for utilities, just as it creates inconsistent service to ratepayers. Treating an aging steel tower before it fails yields continuity of service for customers and continuity of revenue for utility companies.

Induron’s solution: Induraguard 9200

In fighting the corrosion attacking these steel structures, Induron found the efficiency of the solution to be just as imperative as the effectiveness of the solution. Many parts of the world are far behind in keeping up with an inevitable problem that is corrosion. Consequently, the solution must afford electrical utilities efficiencies in both time and cost, while still offering an effective solution. To compound the issue, electrical utilities must remain cognizant of the environmental impact of the solutions. For instance, it is necessary to avoid systems that use sand blasting and other methods that require huge amounts of water, gasoline, power, and other resources. 

Project spotlight: Painting a tower in New South Wales

Recently, the TEN Group, a large distributor of solutions in the electrical transmission and distribution industry in Australia and New Zealand, painted a tower in New South Wales with Induron’s Induraguard 9200. Prior to this project, the Australians used systems that were effective, but not necessarily efficient. They used multi-coat systems of multi-component products, only after the steel substrate has been abrasive air blasted. Induron’s proposed solution of using barrier pigment laden, surface-tolerant coatings provides not only an effective solution, but also an efficient one that has the least environmental impact.

Queensland TowerDespite challenges and delays due to the coronavirus pandemic followed by detrimental flooding events in Australia, the first tower was painted with Induraguard 9200 by SP Power Contractors on the Essential Energy network in November of 2022. 

“This was the first time a full tower application had been completed in Australia with the Induraguard 9200,” said Corey Scott, owner of T.E.N. Group. “Due to this, extra time was taken to ensure the application was to specification as trained and specified by the manufacturer, Induron.” 

The towers are located in the coastal areas of Northern New South Wales and experience large volumes of chloride build up, so time was allowed to thoroughly wash down the towers prior to beginning the coating process. Because Induraguard 9200 is a one-coat system, the tower was painted within 3 days, including the wire brush and chloride wash. Queensland Tower

“This system has already introduced significant savings to the network owner compared to traditionally used zinc rich coatings that require bare metal blasting as part of the preparation process and multiple coats,” Scott said. “The time to apply will only continue to improve as we move forward using these products.”

As a high-solids, high-build, single-component, self-priming coating, Induraguard 9200 is extremely surface-tolerant and provides unmatchable wetting. Induraguard 9200 requires minimal surface preparation, puts very low stress on aged coatings, and creates a hydrophobic surface that resists water penetration to prevent further substrate deterioration. Induron coatings are designed for maximum forgiveness on marginally-prepared substrates. The linseed oil within the coating soaks into inaccessible areas where it is needed, while the barrier pigments provide 4-way barrier protection and maximum corrosion protection.

Queensland tower Queensland tower 

“Not only is Induraguard 9200 designed to last, but its use also significantly cuts application cost by more than half of current costs incurred in Australia today,” Scott said. “Plus, it allows significantly more towers to be maintained in a given period. It was also important in the region the towers are located in to achieve minimal environmental impact, which bypassing the blast allowed us to do. This was a significant tick to Essential Energy’s environmental mandate working in the community. We have two more towers to paint as part of the trial with Essential Energy. So far, the client could not be happier with the productivity, cost and technical outcomes!”

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