In the UK BRITISH Gas chairman Sir Roger Carr recently warned homeowners and businesses that they should be prepared for further price increases in gas and electricity, as suppliers look to pass on wholesale power price increases to their customers. His statement came just weeks before the companys announcement of an 18% increase in gas prices and a 16% increase in electricity prices.
The increase in UK energy costs has been blamed on a number of factors including surging wholesale power costs, the increased burden of legislation, such as increasing demand from emerging economies and the Governments Carbon Emissions Reduction targets.
Due to the Climate Change Act, which has set legally binding targets to reduce carbon emissions by 34%, by 2020 and 80% by 2050 - based on 1990 levels - the UK government is keen to introduce schemes to encourage organisations to reduce carbon emissions. One such scheme is the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.
A mandatory scheme, it features a range of reputational, behavioural and financial drivers which aim to encourage organisations to develop energy management strategies that promote a better understanding of energy usage.
The scheme was originally launched to encourage organisations across the UK, to monitor carbon dioxide emissions and for every tonne emitted they would have to surrender an allowance, which would be bought at the start of the financial year. Allowances could, under the original scheme, be sold on to other organisations at a price determined by the buyer, should they have too many.
However, following the Chancellors spending review in October 2010 and the subsequent budget in March 2011, if an organisation doesnt surrender enough allowances, they will now be taxed directly by central government for every tonne of carbon dioxide they dont submit allowances for. It is therefore, in the best interest of the organisation, to lower energy usage, not only to save money on their electricity bills, but also to reduce their carbon emissions to ensure they are not taxed by central government.
Today, more than ever, companies large and small are looking at new proven technologies to help them reduce their overheads, with a growing number recognising the benefits of reducing carbon emissions. A quick, cost effective, and proven method that many companies are implementing to lower carbon emissions and reduce energy costs is the installation of voltage optimisation systems.
Voltage optimisation is an electrical energy saving technique, in which a device is installed in series with the mains electricity supply to provide an optimum supply voltage for the site's equipment. Interestingly, it is also proven to improve power quality by balancing phase voltages and filtering harmonics and transients from the electricity supply, leading to reduced maintenance costs as less demand is placed on electrical equipment.
The reason voltage optimisation can have such a significant impact on energy used is because on the whole, the National Grid supplies a higher voltage than is generally required. Although the nominal voltage in the UK is 230V, the average delivered is actually 242V. This over-voltage means that energy consumption is not only higher, but as a result, the lifespan of equipment is shortened. Voltage optimisation can therefore improve the life expectancy of equipment.
EMSc UK Ltd, manufacturer of the market leading voltage optimisation solution Powerstar, is celebrating 10 years of continued business success having recently reported on another year of outstanding growth. The company, which manufactures all its products in the UK includes ASDA, Coop, Punch Taverns, London Stock Exchange, Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, Sheffield University, Bristol University and a large number of other Blue Chip clients, alongside government departments, Local Authorities and the NHS as its customers.
EMS has come a long way since its early days when founder and designer of the companys market leading product Powerstar, Dr. Alex Mardapittas, set up the company in his study at home.
In the last 12 months the company has seen turnover increase by 50%, to £12.4m and has doubled its workforce to 70 people. To accommodate the growth the company has also moved into larger premises.
Internationally EMS is also expanding its presence with distribution agreements to supply Powerstar in Australia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and Holland as well as the development of its own operation in Cyprus.
EMS has always been at the forefront of the latest energy saving technologies and is constantly looking to launch new products that will allow companies to reduce not only their electricity bills, but their carbon emissions as well. It is this vision which has allowed the company to grow at the rate it has.
There are two types of voltage optimisation system available on the market today: simple step-down transformers that drop the voltage only, and voltage optimisers that optimise the voltage as they reduce it. In doing so, true optimisers tackle poor power quality issues such as harmonics and transients, therefore allowing for greater efficiency and savings.
Powerstar optimises the voltage as it is being reduced, as the system is installed in series with the mains electricity supply to give an optimum supply voltage for the site's equipment. It improves power quality by balancing phase voltages and filtering harmonics and transients from the electricity supply. As such it is the most efficient system available and can save up to 26.1% of electricity bill.
Powerstar is a uniquely designed voltage optimisation system that also gives the end-user the ability to optimise their supply locally, correcting power quality problems from the grid, and is designed to do so very efficiently enabling total energy savings of up to 26.1%. Powerstar has extremely high efficiencies, up to 99.91% at maximum load.
Each Powerstar system is custom wound to the exact requirements of each site and therefore offers unrivalled efficiency and savings. As a result of continual growth and success, Powerstar has become the energy management system of choice for blue chip companies, government departments, organisations with critical services and many other companies of all sizes that form its ever-expanding client base.
Powerstar has been installed in buildings across the entire public sector, including at educational establishments. Two such establishments that are benefitting from the installation of the solutions are Sheffield Hallam University and Richmond Adult Community College (RACC).
Sheffield Hallam University has always striven to reduce its impact on the environment through a variety of projects, both in environmental as well as energy efficiency.
The University identified that the voltage into the student union building was particularly high and that the power quality delivered was poor. It was left to the EMS team to design a Powerstar system, which would not only reduce the energy consumption, but also the high levels of harmonics (electrical distortions) from the supply. Powerstars unique design provided both the energy savings as well as the reduction in harmonics, improving the power quality into the building.
The Powerstar system has saved 16% of the total electricity consumption at the student union building and has reduced the failure of the lights by an amazing 75%. I have no hesitation in recommending Powerstar, said Stephen Ward, senior electrical and mechanical engineer, Sheffield Hallam University.
RACC in London is a centre of learning that provides students with the opportunity to extend their existing skills. It actively promotes sustainability and eco-friendly practices and has already worked with the Carbon Trust to reduce its carbon footprint. As part of its green commitment the college recently up-dated its heating systems at one of its main sites and will achieve BREEAM excellent rating for one of its new build properties, which will incorporate recycling and sustainable energy strategies.
Against this backdrop the RACC called in EMS to ascertain whether the installation of Powerstar voltage optimisation systems could help save money on energy costs, whilst also making a further contribution to reducing its carbon footprint.
Following an initial on site survey EMS recommended that RACC install a Powerstar 210kVA unit at the two sites. Each Powerstar unit is built to meet the specific electrical loading characteristics of each establishment - as load levels can vary from 150kVA to 1000kVA. An important additional benefit of Powerstar is that it comes with an online monitoring and targeting tool which enables users to monitor the overall energy usage and take further steps to reduce consumption, which can be as basic as simply turning off unnecessary lighting.
Our electricity usage has dropped on average by 16% since the installation of the voltage optimisation units. Overall we are very pleased with the service provided by EMS, said Monika Quayle, corporate services administrator, Richmond Adult Community College
RACC and Sheffield Hallam University are not alone in discovering the benefits of Powerstar with a large number of units having been installed as far a field as Torquay to Perth.