Sam Davey, sales manager at Forum Group, offers an overview of the current state of play for the technology.
Voltage Power Optimisation (VPO) is by no means a new product in the energy saving solutions market. It has already experienced a market boom in the UK and high adoption rates with facilities managers.
The popularity of VPO in established overseas energy markets is due in part to the uncomplicated and effective nature of the solution, which typically delivers energy savings of eight to 15 percent. However, until recently its growth in Australia has been constricted by the high financial outlay needed to install and maintain the solution.
The benefits and challenges to VPO technology
While the proliferation of the technology in Australia is still three years behind the UK adoption rate, VPO technology is starting to gain a stronghold within the food retailers, accommodation and clubs industries in Australia. Yet awareness of VPO in other sectors is still relatively low.
Part of this problem rests on the limited number of vendors in Australia that offer VPO solutions and also the geographical concentration of vendors around the east coast of Australia.
VPO is different from more well-known energy saving solutions, such as Variable Speed Drives or LED lighting, because it benefits the entire electrical supply – as it comes into the site. This is different from the majority of other applications that address energy consumption on the demand side.
What we see around the world is that most buildings are overpowered with voltage from their grid systems. VPO works by optimising the supply of energy from electricity grid systems, so real cost savings can be realised from the moment of installation. VPO technology also helps to clean and regulate the electricity flow for buildings with a volatile electrical supply from the grid.
With changes to the way VPO solutions are financed, these systems can now be offered as a cheaper alternative to solar or energy efficiency options, which can often be expensive and price smaller enterprises out of installing them.
There is also a significant time lag and difficulties associated with calculating the ROI from renewable energy applications. Comparatively, now that some VPO vendors have minimised the financial capital outlay required for VPO, and provided a monthly payment option, VPO units are accessible to facility managers across a far wider range of sectors and business sizes.
Challenging the energy optimisation market
The one factor impacting on VPO as a mainstream tool for energy saving is the drive in Australia to reduce carbon emissions. This has been met with some resistance, particularly within the private sector, around the uncertainty following the recent abolition of the carbon tax and the uncertainty regarding its replacement. This has left the private sector unsure of how to address the long-term impacts of the new policies and their own emissions.
It’s likely that the public sector is the most likely area to experience strong growth VPO adoption in Australia. To date, it has been held back by the complex and overriding particulars of different states’ legislations on energy saving practices. However, from a combined public and private sector perspective, it is up to government and vendors to work together to support the solution in its growth and to educate how both private and public market sectors can adopt VPO technology to help meet their emissions and energy use targets.