Reigate & Banstead Borough Council is addressing its carbon management programme through a variety of measures, including the installation of Voltis voltage optimisation units from UK manufacturer Marshall-Tufflex Energy Management. 

The first Voltis unit, a 300Amp system, has been installed in Reigate Town Hall where it is returning electricity savings of 9-10%. A second 300Amp Voltis unit is shortly to be installed in the Harlequin Theatre, Redhill. The council is also considering a third installation into a leisure centre.

The Surrey borough has adopted the challenging target of reducing its carbon emissions by almost 30% by 2014 (based on 2008/9 figures) and is keen to investigate technologies that offer meaningful savings and achievable pay back periods.

Environmental Initiatives Officer Raymond Dill: “We had looked at voltage optimisation previously but were uncertain whether it worked. We therefore researched the system more thoroughly. I still had my doubts but looked at the savings predicted from Voltis and considered that even if it delivered half of those savings it would achieve the required five year pay back criteria. We trialled it and were pleasantly surprised – I am happy with it and the savings are good.

“My view now is don’t hesitate to put voltage optimisation in at the first stage of any carbon reduction programme. Other initiatives such as energy saving lighting may lessen the impact of voltage optimisation but by the time you have installed them you will have already made significant savings with Voltis.”

Voltis distributor Switch FMS of Beckenham, Kent, specified the system. Director Andy Stanley: “We’ve looked at all the voltage optimisation systems on the market and Voltis is far and away the best solution. It is better technically than anything else available because of its automatic bypass system. This is important because we know of situations where manual bypass has failed or the incoming mains voltage has dropped and the whole system has shut down, cutting power to site. Voltis automatically goes into bypass if there is a problem, which is a major benefit.”

Installation of the Voltis system was carried out over a weekend to minimise disruption to the 250 or so staff working at Reigate Town Hall. Public sector energy efficiency fund Salix provided 50% of the project funding.

Voltis is a ‘next generation’ logic-controlled ‘intelligent’ voltage optimiser that constantly monitors incoming voltage and power demand, adjusting itself to maximise potential savings. Unlike many systems it also incorporates an in-built automatic bypass function that prevents power being cut to site by the optimiser should a problem occur with mains supply. The system is manufactured in the UK and offers many advantages over basic step down transformer technology, better matching power input with power demand to deliver higher savings. Voltis returns power/carbon savings of up to 20%. It will also reduce maximum demand levels, refine power quality by improving the balance across the phases on three phase supply, reduce harmonic distortion (this is particularly the case of three phase systems utilising single phase auto transformers), suppress transients and improve power factor correction.