In a continuously innovating modern world, in which technology advancements seem to have no boundaries, rail stations are now facing increasing pressure to deliver on expected energy requirements and carbon footprint reduction.

A recent announcement of the 25-year plan to protect the environment has indeed triggered our awareness for the desperation of ‘A cleaner greener Britain’: the next ambitious milestone to de-carbonise the UK.

While the country has been a world leader in cutting emissions so far, and strives to reduce emissions further, it could still fall short of its ambitions unless solid plans are put into place and soon. Lord Deben, chairman of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change, stated this year that: “All departments now need to look at their contribution towards cutting emissions – including the Department for Transport.”

Ministers have been warned that pledges must now be turned into reality. “The strategy doesn’t deliver enough action to meet emissions targets in the 2020s and 2030s,” Lord Deben commented.

The Climate Change Levy (CCL) was introduced in 1997 and is essentially a carbon tax that adds around 15 per cent to the energy bills of all businesses, with the aim of reducing carbon footprint and increasing energy efficiency. Some businesses can negotiate discounts with the likes of Climate Change Agreements (CCA) – a voluntary agreement between the Environment Agency and UK industries. On behalf of the country, the scheme aims to reduce CO2 emissions and improve energy efficiency.

With that said, the country could still miss set targets for 2020; it is evident that more needs to be done. Some companies are beginning to realise that, not only do they need to meet expected targets, but they can also, in fact, make a considerable difference by taking actions into their own hands to contribute towards the Clean Growth Strategy.

Chart showing the load and usage of the Energy Vault in blue (approximately 25-30W of usage). The charging periods are displayed in orange.

Chart showing the load and usage of the Energy Vault in blue (approximately 25-30W of usage). The charging periods are displayed in orange.

Station infrastructure challenges

It is safe to say that low-voltage devices have gradually been introduced into modern rail stations with the introduction of IP (Internet Protocol) devices. Low-wattage equipment for stations, such as IP CCTV cameras, are now being designed and implemented across the country. Emergence of these IP and PoE (Power over Ethernet) devices has very much challenged the traditional cabling architecture; not forgetting the focus on renewable energy solutions and carbon footprint reduction too.

Merseyrail has been testing out Quality Essential Distribution’s Energy Vault (EV) for a considerable amount of time now at Bank Hall Street station. Network Rail standards state that a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) system must be capable of supporting the entire system for a minimum of one hour. The problem is that the rack providing SISS (Station Information and Security System) equipment provides only one-hour autonomy and, thereafter, any PoE devices will shut down.

The Energy Vault battery storage system is not only in the process of obtaining PADS approval from Network Rail, but also provides autonomy that exceeds the basic standards; stretching above and beyond expectations. QED’s own tests have proven that the EV can run 96 cameras whilst providing autonomy of the rack and cameras for 19 hours.

Additional benefits that the Energy Vault provides are carbon efficiency and the capability to distribute electricity off-grid throughout the day, eliminating the requirement for a UPS back-up system. The EV’s ability to reduce CO2 emissions stems from the efficient elimination of AC-DC conversion. Due to the device being based on a DC infrastructure, it is not required to convert, meaning it can plug directly into renewable energy sources without losing any power.

Impressive results

Paul Collins, asset project manager at Merseyrail, stated: “The EV has performed better than anticipated. We operated the load off-grid all day and night to then charge it back to 100 per cent capacity between midnight and 1:30am. It was consistently reliable and supplied continuous electricity to our cameras, NVR (network video recorder) and Network Switch. In the near future, we are looking to implement the device into larger stations with renewable sources.”

Quality Essential Distribution (QED) has been monitoring the system from 5 to 22 January 2018 to demonstrate the Energy Vault’s performance. Whilst running the station cameras, NVRs and switches from the device, the unit operated beyond expectations due to low load demand. The 1.2kW system only required 500 watts for 1.5 hours of recharging time.

Not only does the Energy Vault reduce carbon footprint and allow users to operate off-grid, it can ensure the continuous operation of SISS and other low voltage devices that are a necessity for the day-to-day running of a modern railway station.

As mentioned previously, there is an increasing pressure for the Department for Transport to deliver on expected energy requirements and carbon reduction. More and more people are becoming aware of the need for ‘a cleaner, greener Britain’, while more and more people are taking matters into their own hands and doing their part to contribute towards the future of the proposed Clean Growth Strategy. Could Energy Vault be the missing link between renewable energy sources and all up and coming new low voltage technologies?


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