Awards spotlight: Wilson Power Solutions
Erika Wilson, managing director of the company, talks about the power industry’s future and winning IEMA’s Award for New Product, Service or Technology
How does Wilson Power Solutions support innovation, and was it a difficult journey to create the e2 Amorphous Transformer?
All companies want to stand out. We chose to be a responsible power engineering company, and decided to do something about transformer energy losses. We have been in the business as a family company for more than 70 years, and we understand how massive the potential is.
We came up with the idea even before the EU decided to regulate transformer losses. The average age of transformers in the UK was a shocking 64 years old, which says much about their efficiency.
Innovation inside Wilson Power is actually a smooth process. As an SME, decision-making is faster than it would be in big companies – but taking this product to the outside world was not easy. Many decision-makers care more about what they pay now than the total cost of ownership. Gradually, we convinced organisations to take a leap of faith; once they installed our transformers, they saw the difference in energy consumption.
"2.9% of all energy generated across Europe is wasted through transformer losses"
What would the energy saving potential of the e2 Amorphous Transformer be if it was taken into widespread use?
Some 2.9% of all energy generated across Europe is wasted through transformer losses – enough to power Denmark for three years!
We launched Wilson e3 just over a year ago and it has even lower losses than Wilson e2. But it’s a difficult question, in that we do not know the exact number of transformers in the UK. By our calculations we could be looking at replacing 23,000 UK transformers. Compared against Wilson e3 Ultra Low Loss amorphous transformers, these could collectively save 894.8GWh of electricity every year. Considering the total cost of ownership, that results in more than £83m in savings every year.
How much CO2 can be saved by using the transformer?
Our latest Wilson e3 transformer exceeds the ECO design directives (Tier 2) that are coming into force in 2021 for transformer losses. We have different scenarios for comparison for the most common rated transformers. This number can stretch to 920 tCO over 30 years if the transformer size is 2.5MVA. There is no easy answer, but you can tell that the scale of carbon reduction is huge.
What makes sustainability important to Wilson Power Solutions as a company?
We are frightened by the impact of climate change and want to do something about it. This is what drives us to become more sustainable as a business and to help other organisations run sustainably, too. Internally, our operations and offices are zero waste-to-landfill, and we have solar panels to run part of our operations, too.
Is sustainability important to your big clients, or is it mainly about cost savings for them?
It became important in recent years. Most big organisations now have sustainability professionals and strategies, but there is still a disconnect between decision-making and purchasing.
Public sector organisations are interested in sustainability but mostly don’t have the funds. The Carbon Trust did not include replacing transformers in its Energy Technology List, and there is a lack of incentives from the government to be greener in this aspect.
Private companies are now obliged by regulations and customers to show environmental responsibility. Most realise that the more eco-friendly they are, the lower their energy costs are. Replacing a 1990s transformer with an ultra-low loss one is equivalent to generating energy from 100 solar panels, and is 60% cheaper.
What did you think of last year's awards ceremony?
It was fabulous! Everyone in that room cared about sustainability. There was a great atmosphere, and superb food. We didn’t expect to win. We have confidence in our product and we have proved the environmental impact it has had, but it is a rare thing for transformer innovation to be appreciated by other sectors. People don’t know much about transformers, they are grey boxes that get tucked away with a “danger” sign. Not as sexy as solar panels or wind turbines!
- A typical Wilson e2 amorphous transformer can pay back the investment within three years and achieve lifetime savings of over £75,000 in saved electricity.
- An average amorphous transformer saves at least 507 tons of CO2 emissions over 30 years by reducing energy losses.
- Power transformer losses are responsible for 25% of electrical network losses in the UK. The EC estimates that using more efficient transformers should lead to more than 17% energy savings.
For further information on the IEMA Sustainability Impact Awards 2020 visit: www.iemaawards.net