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Tuesday, 10 December

Shocks May Await For Businesses

A recent voltage reduction trial hints that the non-residential sector may find itself unwilling to continue to invest in voltage optimisation technology.

A year's trial by Electricity North West to reduce the mains voltage by up to 3% to simulate the effect of wind and solar power generation, has been successfully concluded but although domestic customers appeared not to notice the voltage changes, businesses that have installed their own voltage reduction equipment may have a reason to be concerned.

Many in the non-residential sector have installed voltage reduction technology to achieve substantial savings in energy costs, since the mains voltage is generally higher than their equipment needs. This is a legacy from when the nominal mains voltage was harmonised across Europe at 230V in 1995.

However, some types of equipment reduce the voltage by a fixed percentage while others keep the output constant irrespective of the input voltage. Electricity North West believes there is a risk with the former type that the voltage could fall too low when the mains voltage is reduced, with the risk of equipment malfunction or damage.

Due to the variable nature of low carbon technology, it is expected that mains voltage regulation on the National Grid will become increasingly commonplace as a more efficient alternative to keeping conventional power stations on standby.

“Companies should check whether they have installed fixed voltage reduction equipment," said Martin Ward, MD, Claude Lyons, voltage optimisation specialist. "If so, they might want to consider changing to voltage stabilisation equipment where the voltage is dynamically optimised.”

A further claimed advantage of using voltage stabilisation equipment is that voltage reductions of more than 12% are possible, compared with 5%-8% for fixed reduction equipment with consequent savings in energy.

Picture: Electricity North West has warned businesses in its area that have installed their own voltage reduction equipment that they may have reasons to be concerned

Article written by Mike Gannon

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