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    Energy storage technology powers buildings at the right time (and cost)

    Nathan Johnson

    A new way for large power users to store excess energy has made it to the Australian market and could be incorporated into building designs to save on annual power costs.

    Currently, large energy users across commercial, industrial, educational and government sectors negotiate power contracts comprising a mix of peak and off-peak tariffs. However this new in-house energy storing technology could see the burden of peak time energy prices significantly lessened.

    Presently, when excess voltage is supplied to a building that has Voltage Optimisation (VO) technology it will be returned to the grid to generate energy savings according to that time period’s tariff.  New systems are now coming to the Australian market that will work with existing VO systems to harness that excess at the lower tariff price, store it, and then reuse it at peak times when energy requirements (and cost) are higher.

    Powerstar Australasia has recently introduced Powerstar Virtue, a patented version that works with their own VO system to store excess energy and [re]provide it when it is more cost-effective.

    According to Powerstar’s Australasia operations director Sam Czyczelis, their system works a bit like a virtual power system: 

    “With the system’s ability to reliably forecast the amount of power available at all times, the facility can make informed decisions on when the stored energy should be used, allowing organisations to reduce electricity costs significantly.

    “By storing the excess power generated when the power is priced at low tariff, and deploying it when the high tariff kicks in or during the maximum demand period, the facility will have sufficient stored power to go off the grid completely for two hours or reduce kilowatt usage to 50 per cent ‘new’ power for four hours.”

    ^The University of Melbourne uses a 1150-kVA (kilo volt ampere) voltage optimisation unit for the mechanical services supply of its Law Building. It expects to save 12 per cent per annum on electricity costs.

    The Green Shaded section (left) indicates where the facility would be best to avoid incurring highest costs and inconsistent supply. The empty space shows where a VO system can control how much energy is purchased during that peak tariff time period.

    VO systems aren’t all that new to Australia however and when quizzed on why their uptake has been slow, particularly in the design sector, Czyczelis noted that most architects aren’t across this new technology.

    “I am not aware of architects and designers specifying VO, but they should be, so this could be an opportunity,” he says.

    “Architects should be across the latest technology in energy efficiency and those that are abreast with VO & energy storage could create a point of difference for themselves.”

    The technology can also be integrated with on-site renewable energy generation systems such as solar and wind, and can eliminate the need for inverters on renewable energy installations which could further reduce the cost to power a building and see the power losses associated with inverters avoided.

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