Minimising carbon emissions to the max

Published:  26 February, 2014

PWE spoke to Dr Alex Mardapittas, managing director at green technology company, EMSc UK Ltd, who explains how new voltage optimisation technology could play a pivotal role in helping companies hit their increasing energy efficiency targets.

Reducing carbon emissions, whether through compulsory or voluntary schemes, now forms an important part of most organisations’ everyday operations. Many companies have looked to voltage optimisation as a proven, reliable, and cost-effective way of addressing their environmental responsibility and reducing energy consumption and emissions. But how has the technology advanced since it was first introduced over a decade ago?

Dr Alex Mardapittas, managing director at green technology company, EMSc UK explained that his company’s Powerstar HV MAX, unlike ‘traditional’ voltage optimisation technology that optimises the voltage on the low voltage (LV) side at the distribution point, actually optimises the supply of electricity on the high voltage (HV) side before it even enters a site; allowing a company to continue operating at its optimum level yet reducing its energy consumption and carbon emissions.

PWE: How does it work?

PN: He explained that the Powerstar HV MAX is a super low-loss HV transformer with an amorphous metal core. It utilises electronic-dynamic intelligent technology to provide a stable voltage output which will achieve high efficiency and save huge amounts of energy for a site. It has an input of 11,000V and provides an electronically regulated 380V, or user defined, output.

Older transformers that are still in use have high levels of losses and the majority of modern conventional transformers generally use cold rolled grain oriented steel within their core - which also results in significant losses for buildings.

The amorphous metal used in the HV MAX core contains ferromagnetic elements alloyed with a glass former. These materials have high magnetic susceptibility, with low coercivity and high electrical resistance. This high resistance leads to low losses when subjected to alternating magnetic fields which, when used in transformers, reduces standing losses and delivers greater efficiencies.

The intelligent voltage optimisation system then uses ‘electronic-dynamic technology’ to ensure that voltage is supplied to a site at a constant, stable level regardless of the input voltage instability.

PWE: Why optimise on the HV side?

PN: While LV side voltage optimisation is still a secure, reliable and proven method for correcting incoming voltage issues to a site, if there is an opportunity to correct the voltage before it even enters the site then it makes sense to do so; optimising the voltage at the source of the issues - the HV side.

By employing a HV voltage optimisation system the potential to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions is maximised, as are the savings on energy bills.

Optimising on the HV side will not touch the on-site supply or affect site impedance, and will provide all the associated benefits of LV voltage optimisation, such as improved appliance efficiency and life expectancy by reducing the amount energy lost through heat and vibration.

PWE: Who can benefit from HV voltage optimisation?

PN: HV voltage optimisation technology can be implemented into new build developments or it can replace an older building’s existing transformer. And as most commercial building owners in the UK actually own the high voltage side transformer that supplies the building there will be plenty of eligible sites and businesses that can benefit. The system can also be adopted by utility companies.

It is a novel solution to buildings that have previously been faced with physical space restrictions that made the implementation of voltage optimisation systems difficult. As it is a flexible application, it can be adapted for inside or outside installation across numerous commercial buildings such as factories, storage, warehousing, and manufacturing and production sites.

The stabilised voltage output offered by the electronic-dynamic technology is a vital feature for sites with critical loads, secure data and important operations that require high levels of reliability and security.

PWE: What are the expected savings in energy consumption?

PN: The super low-loss transformer will reduce standing losses by up to 75% when compared to conventional steel core transformers. And, a low-loss transformer alone will offer average electricity consumption savings of 3-10%, but coupled with the intelligent electronic-dynamic voltage optimisation technology it will provide further average savings between12-15%; resulting in a total average saving of around 17%.

PWE: Are there any other benefits to this technology?

PN: Along with the obvious energy saving benefits, an HV voltage optimisation system will assist existing sites and new build projects in achieving sustainability marks and high energy efficiency ratings through voluntary and compulsory measurement and monitoring schemes such as BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.

The most innovative voltage optimisation systems are equipped with intelligent real time monitoring interfaces and targeting systems that enable companies to monitor energy usage and savings as well as target further energy reductions.

The leading voltage optimisation systems today are manufactured to the highest standards using high quality components and are also over 98% recyclable - which all adds to an organisation’s green credentials.

Companies that invest in energy saving technology will not only improve their energy efficiency and save money in the long run, they will also improve their reputation.

PWE: How easy is it to install an HV voltage optimisation system?

PN: It’s relatively simple and cost-effect to install the Powerstar HV MAX system. Whether replacing an existing transformer or being included in plans for a new site, installation can be completed in three to four hours and the new transformer and voltage optimisation technology will begin reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions immediately.

However, it’s important to ensure that the project is properly evaluated to determine the best possible solution for the site in question as there is no ‘one size fits all’ installation when it comes to voltage optimisation. But with a life expectancy of around 50 years it’s worth taking the time to ensure the right system is installed, in the right place, and by the right people to provide the optimum voltage output for the site for years to come.

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