Advancing the technology of voltage optimisation

Published:  03 June, 2013

EMSc (UK), voltage optimiser
Stabilising the HV side of the power supply to a building as well as the LV side advances the technology of voltage optimisation — Dr Alex Mardapittas.

Dr Alex Mardapittas of EMSc (UK) describes how his company has developed an approach to voltage optimisation that addresses issues on high- and low-voltage supplies.

An incoming voltage supply that massively outweighs usage demand has been a problem for large-scale buildings for decades. One way sites can rectify the problem is through voltage optimisation (VO), which has firmly established itself as a secure, reliable, and proven method of correcting incoming voltage issues to a site.

Powerstar HV Max is a new approach that combines a highly efficient low-loss transformer with enhanced VO technology to maximise energy saving potential.

Following a decade of developing voltage-optimisation systems and years of market research, specifically for sites with their own transformers, we created the Powerstar HV Max, a very-low-loss amorphous core combined with electro-dynamic voltage-optimisation technology.

Most voltage-optimisation devices work by systematically managing the peaks and troughs in power generated in the building to reduce and stabilise the high-power supply on the low-voltage (LV) side, at the distribution point, to provide the optimum voltage. The HV Max still does this, but also optimises the supply of electricity on the high-voltage (HV) side before entry to a site.

The potential to reduce energy consumption, costs and CO2 is maximised by employing the technology on the HV infrastructure and correcting the issues of excess power at the source.

Old buildings tend to have old transformers, which use cold-rolled grain-oriented steel in their core, resulting in significant losses for buildings.

The Powerstar HV Max works by reducing these loses. The amorphous metal core used in the HV Max 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. As a result, 99.91% efficiency can be achieved and standing losses reduced by up to 75% compared to conventional steel-core transformers.

The intelligent voltage-optimisation system then ensures that the voltage to a site is at a constant, stable level — regardless of input-voltage instability. This guarantees that when the grid voltage varies, the site voltage is held at the optimum level — allowing the building to operate more efficiently and maintain a higher level of savings.

The system is the only one the market that takes 11 kV input and provides a fully electronically regulated 380 V, or user-defined, voltage.

The low-loss transformer alone will offer average electricity consumption savings of 3 to 10%, but Powerstar Max technology can then provide a further 12 to 15% saving by optimising onsite voltage. The total average saving is around 17%.

The stabilised voltage output offered by the electronic-dynamic technology also reduces the effect of harmonics and transients, or ‘spikes’, which is a vital feature for sites with critical loads, secure data and important operations that require high levels of reliability and security — such as data centres, hospitals, and hotels. Though continuing to operate efficiently, electrical loads will draw less power; this reduces heat and vibration which decreases the chance of failures and information loss.

The system is also equipped with a remote real-time monitoring interface and targeting system that enables buildings to monitor energy usage and savings already made, as well as target further energy reductions in line with measurement schemes such as BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.

The system is ideal for newer, modern buildings and should be considered in the development of new-build projects. However, it can also be implemented into older buildings by replacing the existing transformer.

It is a flexible application that can be adapted for inside or outside installations, so a lack of physical space is no longer the restriction it once was for buildings considering installing a voltage-optimisation system. A full installation can be completed in four to six hours at little cost, without touching the on-site supply. Site impedance (ZE) and type testing is also unaffected.

We offer a consultancy service to provide a tailor-made solution for buildings and businesses that are keen to take steps to reduce the energy consumption and emissions associated with their operation.

Dr Alex Mardapittas is managing director of EMSc (UK).

For more information on this story, click here: June 2013, 70

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