After the awards: Interview with Turbo Power Systems

The Turbo Power Systems team with their award at the UK Energy Innovation Awards 2017.

The EIC’s celebration of the best innovation in the utilities sector, The UK Energy Innovation Awards, returns in 2019. Awards are open for entries now.

Turbo Power Systems (TPS) won the Losses Award at the UK Energy Innovation Awards in 2017. Its innovative Power Electronic Devices enable distribution network operators to proactively move spare capacity around their distribution systems in a more efficient, more automated way that minimises losses.

Having won the Best Electricity Network Improvement award in 2015 for its pioneering work on load balancing for low voltage power grids, TPS began extending the application of its innovative power electronic devices (PEDs).

The initial trial, in conjunction with UK Power Networks and across multiple test sites in the London and Brighton areas, had successfully improved load balancing while maintaining supply voltage within statutory limits across low voltage applications.

Dr. Nigel Jakeman, Engineering & Business Development Director at Turbo Power Systems, explains, “We had this wonderful project, the first of its kind, and we wanted to raise awareness and use the learnings from it to extend its use from low voltage applications to manage medium voltage requirements as well.”

An Innovative Solution

Turbo Power Systems’ PEDs are converters for smart grid reinforcement that enable the connection and capacity sharing between two or more substations.

By creating soft open points on the low voltage network and soft power bridges for the medium voltage network, TPS’s solution enables power in each substation feed to be balanced whilst maintaining supply voltage within statutory limits.

As well as intelligent load balancing with ultra-low transfer losses, the solution offers a number of other advantages, says Dr. Jakeman. The PEDs feature a design which uses less energy and is less noisy. Plus, TPS have used silicon carbide technology for improved energy efficiency and reduced losses.

Entering the Award

The company used the learning from the original project to advance the existing technology, and it was this new innovation that it entered into the 2017 awards.

In 2017, the judges praised the entry for the tangible and immediate benefits it demonstrated in regard to minimising losses; making it possible to use existing assets more efficiently.

“Winning two awards in a row was quite an achievement for us,” says Ioana Briciu, Marketing Assistant at Turbo Power Systems. “It meant our innovations aren’t going unnoticed. As well as receiving support from our DNO partners, including UK Power Networks, we are gaining recognition from the Energy Innovation Centre. This increased exposure helps us to secure more funding and gain further recognition from other distribution network operators. For us, it’s a big win.”

What Next?

Dynamic load balancing is of increasing importance in today’s rapidly evolving energy systems. Future grids will be characterised by the feed-in of small-scale and domestic generation, renewable energy sources, and an increased number of electric vehicle charging points. These changes will make intelligent load balancing more important.

The awards win is just the beginning for Active Response: Turbo Power Systems are already working on a series of practical applications and trials, including:

  • A four-year programme with UK Power Networks that will trial a responsive and automated electricity network which releases spare capacity to where demand requires, for supporting the use of electric vehicles – Active Response.

  • E-LOBSTER, a consortium working on “Electric LOsses Balancing through integrated STorage and power Electronics towards increased synergy between Railways and electricity distribution networks”.

  • Work with Northern Powergrid to increase the resilience of local power networks through the implementation of battery storage solutions and other low carbon technologies.

TPS is continuing to develop the solution and we expect the trials to commence in 2020. The company is currently assessing which project will return more value, because it plans to enter the Energy Innovation Awards 2019.

Turbo Power System’s tips for would-be innovators

The first thing any innovator within the Smart Grid arena should consider are the challenges on the network of both today and tomorrow and how they can help DNOs overcome them easily. It helps to take a bird’s eye view of the system you’re proposing – consider how it gets implemented within the network and what improvements your solutions bring over the systems that have traditionally been used to date. Think of the commercial benefits that can emerge. This is one aspect that we’ve always had in mind from the beginning – we focused on reducing losses and reducing cost over the long term for our customers.

Ioana’s tips for would-be award entrants

Awards are great for getting your name out there. Don’t be afraid to showcase your innovation. Be proud of what you’ve built and achieved, but also keep in mind that you can continuously improve the solutions you’ve developed, particularly as technology is always evolving. Get your best product recognised!


Subscribe to Updates from the EIC

©2020 EIC (Energy Innovation Centre Ltd)