Horsell Electrical
Horsell Electrical

Does Power Factor Correction (PFC) Reduce Industrial Energy Costs?

All large businesses and industrial operations in Newcastle, NSW consume substantial amounts of energy, making power one of their biggest expenses. In addition to regular daily power charges, many network providers impose additional fees based on the demand these businesses place on the electricity grid. The answer is ‘Yes!”, so read on:

For owners and site managers aiming to reduce power bills, managing the site’s power consumption and particularly the Power Factor (PF) has become more critical than ever. Here, Horsell Electrical in Newcastle explores how Power Factor Correction (PFC) can lower power and maintenance costs by improving load balancing and site Power Factor, along with various types of PFC.

Understanding Power Factor And PFC

Power Factor is the ratio of active (real) power (kW) to total (apparent) power (kVA) in an AC system. Expressed as a value between 0 and 1, Power Factor can be either ‘leading’ or ‘lagging’ depending on the system load’s impedance. Total power (kVA) represents the power available to the system, while active power is the power ‘consumed’ by system loads such as motors, transformers, and lights.

How Power Factor Correction Lowers Energy Costs

In an ideal system, all devices and components are 100% efficient, meaning the active power consumed equals the total power supplied, resulting in a Power Factor of 1 (unity), indicating no power losses. However, in real-world scenarios, all loads experience some losses, reducing system efficiency and increasing the power needed to run the loads. These losses, known as reactive losses, can be inductive (lagging PF), capacitive (leading PF), or a combination of both, typically expressed as kVAR. The greater the reactive losses, the poorer the Power Factor and the more power is required to perform the same work.

A high Power Factor (close to 1) indicates efficient power use, while a low Power Factor (<0.8) suggests inefficiency, with more current drawn to achieve the same power output, thereby consuming more power than necessary. Improving system efficiency can be achieved by installing a Power Factor Correction (PFC) unit or active harmonic filtering.

The Benefits Of Power Factor Correction

There are two primary benefits of PFC for large businesses and industrial operations: reduced power costs and maintenance costs. PFC reduces the total power requirements on the power network and increases site electrical capacity. By improving Power Factor, PFC directly reduces electricity costs. Additionally, installing PFC improves power quality, reduces plant downtime, and lowers maintenance costs.

  • Reduced Power Costs
  • Reduced Maintenance Costs
  • Reduced Carbon Emissions

Importance Of Reliable Power Supply

Reliable, consistent, and high-quality power is crucial for large businesses and industrial applications. Poor power quality due to interruptions, voltage dips, or harmonic pollution is a leading cause of downtime, equipment malfunction, and damage, all of which are costly to manage. Since a significant percentage of these disturbances result from equipment installed at the facility, PFC helps improve a facility’s Power Factor and maintain power quality by stabilizing electrical networks and balancing loads during disturbances.

Types Of PFC Units

PFC units can be installed at a building or facility to enhance power quality, ensuring more efficient power use and reducing demand charges. One of the most common, practical, and economical methods to improve Power Factor is by installing passive PFC, such as adding a capacitor bank to the site’s distribution system.

Adding correctly sized capacitors to the power system generates leading reactive power that offsets or balances the lagging reactive power, thereby reducing overall site power requirements. This can be achieved through individual load compensation or centralized compensation.

Individual Load Compensation - This method applies to motors, transformers, and other loads with high operation times. Capacitors are connected in parallel to the terminals of these loads, reducing the power requirements of specific equipment. For new installations, this allows for smaller switchgear and power cables, reducing capital expenditure. For existing installations, adding individual load compensation improves specific sections of the plant, helping to lower overall power costs.

Centralized Compensation - This method uses automatically switched capacitor banks at the feeder or substation to provide PFC and reduce low Power Factor penalties. By automatically adjusting capacitance in the system, the exact amount of PFC is provided for the entire site, eliminating over-capacitance and overvoltage. It typically has a lower cost per kVAR correction than individual load compensation.

For more information on Power Factor Correction and how it can benefit your industrial or commercial operations in Newcastle, NSW, just get in touch or give us a call.

About Horsell Electrical

Horsell Electrical are the best Electricians servicing Maitland, Newcastle and surrounds. We are reputable, reliable & affordable with free quotes for all large or small commercial & domestic electrical work

Contact Us
Contact Us