Savings in Use
One of the primary advantages of utilizing hot-dip galvanized (HDG) steel elements throughout power generation, transmission, and distribution is its durable corrosion protection that will withstand the effects of time, damage, and weather. Contrarily, alternatives such as concrete or painted steel are not equipped for the harsh conditions of constant exposure to sun, rain, snow, and/or abrasion from wind debris.
Unlike hot-dip galvanizing (HDG) which provides impervious protection to steel, the pinholes in paint coatings and porous nature of concrete allow corrosion-accelerating electrolytes to penetrate the material and attack the underlying or reinforcing steel. This attack leads to cracking, peeling paint, and spalling, all of which require costly, regular maintenance throughout the life of the structure.
One of the biggest factors in determining cost during use is the time to first maintenance of the facilitys, equipment, or structures steel elements. For instance, a coal power plant can be designed with an intended service life of 90 years or more. Similarly, most hydro-electric dams are developed to last 50 100 years. Throughout those decades, the frequency and depth of maintenance required are added costs for the facilitys owner. HDGs extended time to first maintenance of 70 years or more in most environments, compared to a 10-20 year cycle for most paints, equals significant cost savings during use.
Though often forgotten or not considered when thinking about costs during use, the indirect costs incurred during maintenance can substantially increase the overall price tag of your energy project. Indirect costs are often considered hidden costs, as they are not as easy to identify or quantify as direct costs.
Things such as customer switchover due to inconsistent or expensive power lost revenue due to maintenance-related power outages, and transportation costs to access remote locations for upkeep are considered indirect costs. Indirect costs for repairs are approximately 5-11 times the direct maintenance cost.
Because of the extensive time to first maintenance, which is often the entire life of a generation facility, utilizing hot-dip galvanized steel already spares utility companies the indirect costs of loss of functionality for maintenance or repair shutdowns. However, utilizing hot-dip galvanized steel can also avert indirect costs in generation expansion or changes, transmission, and distribution because of its stockability.
For common parts throughout the power sector (lattice towers, distribution poles, fasteners, rebar, etc.), utility companies can actually purchase and stock additional replacement or expansion parts. These parts can easily be erected to replace structures that have reached their service life or have been damaged or knocked over by storms, vehicles, trees, etc., or for a quick expansion or sudden restarts of the construction schedule within a facility. Stocking an inventory not only decreases the indirect cost of shutdown time, but also allows utility companies to keep costs to a minimum by purchasing more material when prices are lower.