Test bed system for investigating the energy usage of variable speed drive systems.
As South Africa's electricity consumption increases, Eskom is promoting Demand Side Management (DSM) to aid control of both the electricity consumption and its more effective usage, thereby delaying the need to construct new power stations, which pose large economic and environmental problems. Eskom has investigated various DSM strategies, such as load shifting, co-generation, alternative fuels and energy efficient processes, and has targeted the areas of load shifting and energy efficiency as prime areas for energy savings as they are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. Pumps and fans form a large part of the industrial load. By improving the power usage of these devices with the use of variable speed drives, large energy savings may be achieved. To enable the energy usage of industrial loads to be evaluated, a test bed system which enables a variable speed drive to be loaded with a configurable load, was constructed. The test bed system forms a tool for evaluating and demonstrating the energy savings that are possible, by replacing fixed speed drives with variable speed drives when controlling the flow rate of pumps and fans. Results from the test bed system show that by using variable speed operation of pumps and fans, some energy savings are achievable when compared to existing methods of flow control. The achievable energy savings are dependent on the system properties and the duty cycle of the pump or fan system.