CORDIS - EU research results

Feasibility of an INnovative, Efficient, Solid State Energy saving system

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FINESSE (Feasibility of an INnovative, Efficient, Solid State Energy saving system)

Reporting period: 2014-11-01 to 2015-04-30

EU electricity supply standard EN 50160 has been harmonised at a single phase line voltage of 230Vac ±10%, consequently actual voltages differ significantly across Europe with from 220Vac, through 230 to 240Vac. Power distribution companies prefer to maintain supply voltages near the maximum upper tolerance limit to minimise current and maximise income. This gives rise to Incoming single phase grid voltages up to 253Vac. Whilst initially perceived as a UK issue all EEA countries have an upper nominal limit of 253 volts (230V +10%). The Business Opportunity is that virtually all European electrical equipment is designed to operate most efficiently at 220Vac. This ‘over voltage’ leads to inefficiency and losses, (heat, eddy currents, magnetic hysteresis), increased energy bills, increased maintenance, down-time and reduced equipment life.

These problems can be solved by reducing and stabilising the line voltage at the point of use. Stabilising at 220V for a 240V input results in energy savings of 12% or as much as 20% if the input line voltage is 253V(230V+10%), thus representing a significant opportunity to reduce electricity bills. Conventional solutions and the current state of the art, do not fully solve this problem and have a number of limitations. There is therefore an urgent, unmet need for a system to reliably optimise electrical energy savings and provide a rapid return on investment for the customer. Whilst at the same time providing a stable power system in an era of multiple electrical inputs due to renewable energy inputs to the electrical grid.

The overall project objective is to successfully develop and to scale up for market readiness, a sophisticated voltage optimisation system that can reduce electrical energy consumption by up to 20%. Our breakthrough solution is novel and patent protected. If successful we will unlock a market opportunity of €500m, create 70 jobs in 5 years post project completion and help Europe achieve demanding 2020 targets.
During the reporting period (SME Phase 1) we assessed the project’s technical, financial and commercial risks. The result of this work was a risk management strategy, formulating suitable contingency and mitigation plans for each risk ranked low/medium/high in terms of impact and probability. A SWOT analysis was undertaken for commercial factors and critical path analysis to control and schedule project work-flow whilst mitigating against delays, failure or overspend caused by critical paths.

A market study was carried out in order to identify the regions/countries whose supply voltage characteristics (>220Vac) are most suitable for our solution. From this, we were able to draw up a comprehensive list of key regions for market exploitation of our technology. Additionally, we were able to identify those markets (both European and Global) that were prime for initial exploitation of our system. To further validate our customer needs and verify our technical specification, our commercial manager was able to engage with group energy managers, facility managers, site managers for a number of large energy consumers. During this engagement process a range of key questions were posed. The results our user validation study confirmed our system addressed our user's needs and its specification allowed for integration with existing customer equipment. To make our exploitation strategy more robust, we engaged the services of an expert IP advisor. We will now be taken a number of steps to make our technology and brand more secure any the competition.

Finally, we were able to undertake a series of validation tests. The results of these tests have been overwhelmingly positive and a superb affirmation of our belief in the potential of our FINESSE system for delivering significant energy and costs savings for our customers.
The expected final result will be a voltage stabiliser developed to technology readiness level 7. Our technology innovations allow us to use smaller, lower power rated electronic switching components with lower production costs, smaller size and reduced losses. Another key aspect of Finnese is our unique capacity to both Buck and Boost the power supply by as much as 50 volts. This has become increasingly important due to the development of renewable energy resources, which offer variability of renewable generation and are also located far from population centres. Additionally there is less heat dissipation, higher efficiency, smaller footprint, zero maintenance and lower total harmonic distortion (THD). The impact and benefit on the customer is the following:

• A buck/boost system capable of delivering maximum, quantifiable repeatable energy savings
• Step-less output voltage adjustment with high reliability, availability, low downtime and zero maintenance
• A capital payback of between 18 months and 3 years depending on supply voltage, load and installation
• A small system footprint to ease retrofit into existing electrical switch-rooms.

FINESSE offers the potential for significant economic impact. Reducing electricity bills by 8-20% (compared to 4-12% for a fixed ratio unit).Our unit will also increase the reliability and life of electrical equipment due to fewer voltage transients, electromagnetic shock, and less heat dissipation. There will thus also be a reduction in maintenance and replacement costs. For large non-domestic electricity users the price per kWh in Q4 2013 was approximately €0.1116 therefore a site that uses €620,000 of electricity equates to 5.55 GWh p.a. For such a demand, a 1MVA unit would be recommended, with a €72,000 total installed cost, (€56,000 unit, plus €16,000 installation and commissioning costs). Since the unit would not be used with all loads, we would conservatively expect an 11% saving, i.e. approx. €68,200 per annum. This would provide a payback period of 13 months. Over a 20 year service life our customer would save €1.36 million. Cumulatively over a 5 year post project period based on sales of 1338 units the savings in electricity cost would be €228m.

On average, most sites will benefit from a saving of 8-12% and this will yield a payback period of between 14-20 months. In relation to CO2 emissions, we would estimate a reduction of 272,270 tons over five years. Clearly savings depend on the voltage dependent load and the incoming voltage level. Our product will also improve the green credentials of our clients in terms of corporate social responsibility and mitigate against the potential for additional costs due to (for example) the UK CRC scheme where an additional 10% is levied on electricity bills.
FINESSE - Step Change Energy Reduction