Turbo Power Systems develop ground breaking technology for flexible urban networks

About the Project and Challenges
The UK faces an ever increasing demand for electrical power supply, especially in the areas of electric vehicle (EV) charging, PV panels for solar power and heat pumps, which is countermanded by the requirement to reduce the carbon footprint of electricity generation. Hence efforts to decarbonise energy generation, heat and transport will place increasing demands on distribution networks and its operators.

This is particularly so for the low voltage (LV) networks where distribution network operators (DNOs) have the obligation to supply electricity to customers within tightly defined voltage limits and at a sufficient quality (harmonics, sags, swells and flicker). From a recent industry study by Imperial College (London) it has been predicted that an increasing trend of voltage issues and demand rises that could potentially overload transformers and underground cables, requiring large investment from DNO over a period if reinforced by conventional means. UK Power Networks (UKPN) is one such DNO who is facing this challenge and with support and funding from Ofgem and collaboration with various key stakeholders including Imperial College and Turbo Power Systems is trying to provide a sustainable and reliable low voltage flexible urban networks (FUN-LV). UKPN has selected 36 trial sites for this project.

Objective of the FUN-LV Project
The overarching aim of this project is to explore how the use of power electronics can enable DNOs to defer reinforcement and facilitate the connection of low carbon technologies and distributed generation in urban areas, by meshing existing networks which are not meshed, and by breaking down boundaries within existing meshed networks. Power electronics devices (PEDs) will be used for the first time, in combination with remote configuration and informational tools, to access latent/spare capacity that already exists, in shorter timescales than conventional reinforcement. The smart grid technology of FUN –LV will enable DNO to meet their obligation towards enabling the growth of Government led initiatives for low carbon technologies as there is no major re-structuring of the grid system and this greatly minimises the impact on infrastructure capital cost.

There are three objectives to this project and they are as follows;
• Optimise capacity on the low voltage (LV) network closest to customers
• Improve connection offers (time & cost) in urban areas
• Advance the future network architecture debate for the sector
UKPN chose TPS to supply the PEDs and this was underpinned by the proven experience and pedigree of TPS in the supply of power electronics to the energy sector.

Solution Offered
The technology proposed by TPS utilises Power Electronic Devices (PEDs) which can enable the meshing of low voltage urban networks and these devices act as soft open points (SOPs) between distribution substations for capacity sharing and which like a tap can be fully open, fully closed, or at a setting between these limits. The solution uses a cutting edge and novel bi-directional PED developed by TPS to integrate with the transmission network to enable UKPN achieve the objectives of this project. The proposed PEDs come in two formats, with two and three terminals, allowing power flows of up to 400 kVA between 3 substations, thus making use of spare network capacity at existing substations rather than building new capacity. The bi-directional PED achieves transfer of power both from supply to consumer and consumer to supply, enabling power sharing between consumer loads. Thus the resultant network becomes ‘smart’ with the reduction of load on transformers and a faster response to Low Voltage demand changes.


Key Benefits to the DNO and its customers:
• Flexibility to manage uncertainty
• Control functionality
• Maximise the use of existing assets
• Faster and more cost-effective connection offers
• Improved quality of supply
• Reduced disruption and logistical benefits
• Flexible network architecture
• Better enabled distributed generation connections
• Connection and sharing of generation or loads across two or more circuits’ ‘incompatible feeders’ –
• A significant saving in money and infrastructure – potentially £2.36M across the 36 trial sites which could be upscaled to to £112.8M across the UK

TPS – UK Energy Innovation Awards 2015 finalist

Turbo Power Systems (TPS) has been shortlisted as a finalist in UK Energy Innovation Awards 2015. This shortlist is a proof of TPS’s continued investment in developing cutting edge technology products for the energy sector.

Organised by Energy Innovation Centre, the UK Energy Innovation Awards celebrate the projects, technologies and talent at the forefront of innovation within the energy sector. The awards have the backing of energy leaders from across the UK’s gas, electricity and offshore renewables sectors – all of whom are committed to identifying new technologies that have the potential to benefit customers, increase efficiency and improve health and safety. Further information available at http://www.energyinnovationcentre.com/uk-energy-innovation-awards/

Saving money and going green, the TPS way

The majority of electricity consumed by TPS for test of its electrical products has, up to recent times, been burnt off as waste heat in load-banks. To address this, a novel power electronic converter capable of re-cycling this energy has been developed by TPS’ engineering team to reduce electricity consumption by up to 90%; significantly reducing energy costs whilst improving the company’s green credentials.

Beyond these savings, the innovation has eliminated the need for an additional generating set to meet factory demand at times of peak consumption, creating a further saving through the avoidance of additional power plant hire.
Energy recycling unit
Power to the people…..
The energy recycling project was suggested by TPS employees through the Stakeholder Forum – a quarterly meeting seeking out the opinions and involvement of employees in the day to day running of the business. Illustrated below, the recycling unit uses one of our modified variable speed power electronic motor drives to feed energy back to the incoming supply.

Contact Turbo Power Systems to see how we can help you reduce your electricity bill at a time of ever increasing energy costs.

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