A steel processor supplying the British aerospace industry is installing an energy storage system developed by UK company Powerstar to provide its manufacturing operations with resiliency.


The 1MW battery storage system, which will be installed by early January 2018, will help the company reduce financial losses due to brown-outs that impact its manufacturing.

The company processes steel into rolled steel blocks and is paid around €40,000 for each processed block for the aerospace client. In 2016 it incurred losses of around €2 million due to interruptions in manufacturing. This is down to the growing frequency of brown-outs which cause sags or reductions in voltage.

Powerstar’s managing director Alex Mardapittas says pharmaceuticals, chemicals, robotics and any manufacturing based on continuous processing are all showing interest in how on-site energy storage can provide energy resiliency.

A unique characteristic of Powerstar’s energy storage technology, Virtue, is that uninterruptible power supply (UPS) functionality is included in the system. “Clients are getting that functionality for free,” says Mardapittas.

Powerstar founder and MD Alex Mardapittas talks about the company’s energy storage technology at EMEX London in November [Gridchangeagent.com]

The energy storage system that Powerstar is installing for the aerospace industry customer will also achieve payback through triad – peak demand tariff – and distribution use of system (DUoS) charge avoidance, as well as earn revenues by providing firm frequency response (FFR) balancing services. A potential future application is arbitrage.

Other clients include energy supplier Centrica, which is rolling out energy storage in a pilot among local business and domestic energy customers in Cornwall, south-west England and will deploy Powerstar’s technology within part of the pilot.

Another client includes a nationwide retailer which will install a 1MW Virtue battery storage system at an automated facility west of London. The battery’s key function for the site is UPS.

The reason the retail group is not simply investing in a conventional UPS system is that these batteries are only about 70% efficient, whereas the battery in the Virtue energy storage system is 96% efficient, which translates into a longer operational lifetime.


Poor power quality and the impact on business

In a report on energy resiliency published by Centrica, power failures can affect all aspects of businesses. In addition to operational downtime, which affects 39% of UK firms surveyed by Centrica, 23% of businesses suffered equipment damage whilst 14% reported having lost inventory. Energy-related failures have affected 81% of the organisations surveyed.

The insurer Allianz, discussing power outage risks and impact, states that there is a much greater burden on companies to evaluate their exposure to power failures since there is very little available coverage in the insurance market to offset the risk. While some policies do cover business interruption, usually these have to be triggered by physical damage, such as a fire on site.

Recently Powerstar expanded its range to include electric vehicle fast-charging infrastructure, incorporating energy storage. BT is an early customer, which plans to install the systems on the Isle of Wight where it is converting its entire fleet on the island to EVs, as part of a wider rollout.

Mardapittas set up Powerstar initially to provide voltage optimisation equipment for business energy users, which can achieve on average an 8% reduction in energy costs, as any excess current from equipment in a facility or building, due to higher voltage from the grid, can be used by the facility.

Between 2011 and 2015 Powerstar developed the software controls and power conversion technology for its energy storage system. The Virtue system uses lithium-ion batteries from Samsung SDI and LG Chem. Since then the company has emerged as the largest supplier of behind the meter battery storage systems in the UK.