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Power Health Factor

08 June 2011

Mersey Care NHS Trust has reduced its maintenance costs, made energy efficiencies and reduced CO2 emissions by voltage optimisation. Alex Mardapittas explains how this was achieved

Powerstar interface

TODAY, MORE THAN EVER, organisations large and small are looking at technologies to help them reduce their overheads, with an everincreasing number also recognising the benefits of reducing their carbon emissions, particularly bearing in mind the impending introduction of central government’s CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, which has set allowances at £12 per tonne of carbon dioxide in March’s budget.
One proven, quick to install, cost effective technology that many organisations are implementing to lower carbon emissions and reduce energy costs is voltage optimisation.
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.
Due to the Climate Change Act, which has set legally binding targets to reduce carbon emissions by 34 percent by 2020 and 80 percent 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 Chancellor’s spending review in
October 2010 and the subsequent budget in March 2011, if an organisation doesn’t surrender enough allowances, they will now be taxed directly by central government for every tonne of carbon dioxide they don’t 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.
Mersey Care NHS
MITIE uses its extensive experience in managing and controlling buildings to deliver a range of proven energy strategies that combine to benefit businesses as well as the environment. Working with its clients the company works to help them respond to increasingly stringent environmental obligations and to save money by proactively managing their energy supply and usage. One such customer is Mersey Care NHS Trust, for who MITIE has installed voltage optimisation systems in a number of different sites.
With limited budgets and the impending launch of the CRC combined with new emerging healthcare policies, NHS executives are seeking reliable, proven energy saving technologies that can not only help reduce carbon emissions, but can also make significant savings on energy consumption. Working with the manufacturer of voltage optimisation systems EMSc UK Ltd, MITIE engineers installed the company’s solution, Powerstar, at Ashworth, Mossley and Rathbone Hospitals as well as Scott Clinic.
Before making any recommendations and before any of the systems were installed, MITIE engineers together with EMS engineers, carried out full on site surveys at each of the locations to ascertain the electrical loading characteristics.
The process involved calculating the savings that could be achieved and data logging the voltage. The surveys also identified any energy consumption where voltage optimisation could achieve zero or reduced savings (e.g. highfrequency lighting, inverter drives). By analysing the data logging information, the optimum voltage for the site was then determined.
It is the site survey that determines how much of a total site’s electricity load (as a percentage) will benefit from the full reduced or zero percentage saving. When specifying the percentages it is important to take into consideration the operating load and the operational period of the equipment. By dividing the voltage drop into the original voltage figure it was possible to ascertain the voltage percentage saving. The figure was then doubled, because according to the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), on average a 1 percent reduction in voltage will produce a 2.1 percent reduction in electricity consumption. Site loads that would yield less than optimum savings were then taken into consideration and a guaranteed saving, as a percentage of KwH was calculated.
Once completed all the initial on-site calculations and work was completed, MITIE then commissioned bespoke Powerstar units to be manufactured to meet the specific requirements for each of the sites, ensuring the maximum level of energy savings were guaranteed.
A draft Project Installation Plan (PIP) was initially presented to Mersey Care NHS Trust with all the parties including MITIE and EMS engineers reviewing and agreeing the proposed plan, this also included assigning responsibilities. The progress of the PIP was tracked throughout the installation process to ensure all the timescales were met with any deviations highlighted and communicated.
As part of the EMS’ Quality Management System, which is applied to all activities and which has been developed on principles defined within BS EN ISO 9002:1194, the company worked closely with MITIE engineers throughout the installation process to ensure all the customers’ requirements were adhered to, requirements that had been communicated and documented to MITIE during the tendering process.
Engineers were on site at all the locations, to ensure a smooth operation including: systems being delivered, testing and commissioning, equipment being lifted and taken to the selected area, positioning of the unit – including preparing the working area – isolating and locking-off the existing circuits, connection into the distribution board and energising the terminated circuits. Once the installation was completed all the respective sites were issued with the appropriate manuals, certificates and as fitted drawings.
All the Powerstar solutions were custom wound to meet the exact specifications of the site and by reducing energy usage Powerstar also enabled Mersey Care NHS to lower its CO2 emissions and so lessen its carbon footprint.
So far total savings across the sites have reached an average 18 percent on annual energy consumption. At Rathbone Hospital annual kWh savings are 65,796, the equivalent of £6,974, whilst Scott Clinic has benefited from annual kWh savings of 51,573 kWh, or £5,446.
A spokesperson for MITIE Engineering Maintenance, commented: “We would highly recommend Powerstar voltage optimisation systems. The Powerstar installations at the Mersey Care NHS Trust have achieved an 18 percent saving on total electricity consumption.”
Duncan Agnew, Powerstar consultant to the NHS commented: “The NHS has highlighted its commitment to cutting carbon emissions and meeting the government’s targets to cutting emissions by 80 percent, by 2050. Solutions such as Powerstar are allowing Trusts to not only achieve these targets but plough back money saved into improved patient care and services.”
As the UK faces worsening power quality issues with harmonic, transient, power factor and phase balancing issues, voltage optimising is emerging as one of the most secure technologies for FM companies to adopt as part of their strategy to support their clients with implementing effective sustainability plans.
In today’s world of spiraling energy costs, companies are focusing on improving energy efficiencies by introducing sustainable, highefficiency energy saving devices, which not only safeguard the environment, but also result in welcome energy cost savings and reduced maintenance costs.
● Alex Mardapittas is MD at EMSc (UK) Ltd


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