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An overview from Solon Mardapittas, Lead Project Scientist for Powerstar VIRTUE: With innovation at the heart of Powerstar’s ethos, we are always looking for new ways to improve our offering within the energy efficiency market. When we learnt about the KTP programme in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University we were keen to be involved.

Our Associate, Dr Olivia Zeng, interviewed for a position with the company before we were aware of the project and she was an exceptional candidate so we were keen to recruit her. When we learnt she could enrol to the KTP programme we knew it would be a great opportunity for her to gain professional experience whilst being of mutual benefit to the business.

Olivia has full control over her project and has developed it from her own initial concept and will take it right through to completion with the full support of the company and all our expertise, skills and resources.

Project Title: A Portable PV Inverter System with Battery Energy Storage
Project Brief: This project aims to develop a single-phase PV inverter system with battery energy storage. The prototype is designed to be portable with a 100W-200W power capacity and dc/ac inputs/outputs.

It can energise and recharge devices such as; lights, smartphones, tablets, notebooks, TV sets, and portable fridges. It is in high demand for outdoor events such as camping or outdoor living; as well as for condominium or apartment dwellers that are unable to install permanent PV systems due to lease restrictions. For example, when the grid fails or is not available, people can roll out this equipment from the closet and then use extension cords to power their devices.

This portable, small power device will fill a gap in the company’s energy storage portfolio which is currently designed between 50 kW to 10 MW power under the VIRTUE energy storage solution product line. It will create new business development opportunities and offer customers a comprehensive range of options to meet their individual requirements. Additionally, it can be scaled up or used as a test/development/demonstration platform for the high power VIRTUE energy storage system, which is safe, flexible and economical.

About the KTP associate, Dr Olivia Zeng: After graduating from a Masters degree in Control Science and Engineering within the top 5% of her class at Central South University in China, Olivia continued her education by enrolling onto a PhD in Sheffield studying Control & Power Electronics. Upon completion of her degree, in which she specialised in the droop control for the parallel operation of inverters, she accepted the KTP Associate position with Powerstar.

Olivia is the project manager of the KTP project on Solar PV inverter with battery storage. Olivia works alongside her company supervisor, Dr Steve Yang and is an asset to the R&D department at Powerstar.


A knowledge transfer partnership, or KTP, is a three-way working relationship between a company, a recent graduate (Associate) and a university and lasts from 12 months up to three years.

It is a government-backed (Innovate UK) national scheme designed to help companies innovate and develop new products or services to gain a competitive advantage whilst providing a recent graduate (Associate) with the support to deploy their specialist knowledge and skills through real-life applications throughout the lifecycle of a project.

The Scheme – in association with Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) and Innovate UKThe KTP Process

The Associates come together at specific stages of the project to meet and network with fellow KTP’s and report on progress. Facilitated by the Sheffield Hallam University, the KTP’s are given a platform to present to peers and other companies their concept, aims and progress throughout.

On 10th May 2017, a KTP Associates day and dinner was held which saw over 10 companies, Associates and supporting teams in attendance, in addition to a mixture of SHU and Innovate UK staff.

Held across two of the University’s high quality facilities the first year associates delivered their updates through a poster presentation (pictured above), whilst second and third years gave a more in-depth presentation surrounding their organisation, project, results and next steps.


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