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Energy Quality Episode 4/7

by Sensix Team

This is the very fourth episode of the blog series we hope it will shed some light on energy efficiency, more specifically, on the efficiency of electrical equipment. So, if you are a maintenance/building/production manager, this one’s for you. If (and only if) you want to lower energy usage and costs, of course.

In the first episode we talked about what Power Quality is, we defined particular Power Quality Indices, and more. Find them out right here. In the second one, we talked about B-B-B-B-Bad Power Quality and its negative effects. In the third one we talked about the Power Quality measurement, how it can be done and by whom. Right now, we’re gonna talk about the importance of Power Quality for an industrial end-user. Let’s!

Losses and increases

As we already stated in the previous episodes of this blogpost series, operating an energy boundary in the presence of bad Power Quality Indices (such as the Total Power Factor, Current / Voltage Unbalances, Harmonic Distortion etc.) generates avoidable energy losses. This translates into an increase in operational costs (energy cost & maintenance cost) and, unfortunately, an increase of the environmental impact of the energy boundary.

Balance is the key

If an industrial end-user has a three-phase system which operates at a current unbalance of more than 20-25%, then this system will bring losses up to 18% more than a balanced system. The higher the unbalance, the higher the losses.

Similarly, higher than 20-25% values of Total Current Harmonic Distortion Factors increase the energy losses in both the Neutral (by 3rd Order harmonics) and in the phases (by 2, 5 and 7th Order). These losses can increase to the point of insulation failure on the wiring of the system or in the Power Transformer windings.

We don’t want no problems

Talking of the (really) bad situation of the insulation failure on the wiring, Voltage Sags and Spikes can also generate major problems in an industrial end-user. For example, electrical motors are the most exposed end-users to these events, as they always keep their electrical absorbed Power constant. This means that if the voltage drops, the current increases in order to compensate for the drop. If the voltage drops significantly but not to the point of becoming an interruption though, the current increases to a point in which the insulation of the windings of the motor can fail and result in a short-circuit, thus completely compromising the motor. And we don’t want that, do we?

It’s all about the money?

Bad values of the Power Factor directly translate into financial losses, as the Reactive Energy is directly billed. In Romania if the Power Factor is smaller than 0.65, you end up paying three times the legal fee for the absorbed/injected Reactive Energy. Three times! Yes, that’s a lot.

On the other hand, as we mentioned in the beginning, it’s also about the environment and the impact on it, so “It’s not all about the money, money, …”. But about this in another episode. Stay tuned and follow us for more energy stuff.

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