The importance of innovation
Core values should be at the cornerstone of every business and define how a business needs to behave to achieve its vision and goals. That’s why continued innovation remains firmly fixed at the centre of Powerstar’s actions. Knowing that the environment in which Powerstar operates never stands still, every member of its team prides themselves on prioritising innovation and constantly developing and improving its portfolio of products and services. This ensures it can continue to meet the needs of its customers as the energy landscape, and the challenges it presents, continue to evolve.
Thriving in such a fast-paced industry requires a focus on addressing problems now as well as investing in the future of its workforce and cutting-edge R&D methods.
One such investment was in a purpose-built research and development centre in 2018, where the R&D team develop new technologies and test solutions. By establishing the innovation laboratory which has grown into its own entity and named the Delta Lab, Powerstar has brought multiple new products and upgrades in recent years including:
- 2015 – Powerstar VIRTUE launched, a revolutionary new energy storage system
- 2016 – Powerstar VIRTUE EV launched, a rapid/fast EV charging station with energy storage and integrated renewable generation
- 2018 – Powerstar SO-LO launched, a super low loss amorphous core smart distribution transformer with online remote monitoring capabilities
- 2018 – Development of Powerstar EOS, a smart algorithm-based software integrating and optimising energy management
- 2019 – Powerstar MAX upgraded with Remote Monitoring system replacing HMI
- 2019 – Powerstar HV MAX optional upgrade available with remote monitoring for transformer metrics
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Since 2016, Powerstar has been involved with Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) with the first being Dr Olivia Zeng, a Control & Power Electronics PhD graduate from University of Sheffield, working alongside Sheffield Hallam University. Olivia is now working in a product development engineer role at Powerstar since the KTP came to an end in October 2019. Shortly after, in 2018, Dr Rui Zheng joined Powerstar, and embarked on a KTP project to develop Powerstar’s smart energy optimisation systems further, through exploring machine learning for Powerstar VIRTUE EV.
A KTP is a three-way working relationship between a company, a recent graduate, and a university, which has Government backing from Innovate UK. The scheme encourages companies to innovate whilst also providing graduates with the opportunity to hone their skills through the application of their specialist knowledge in a commercial environment.
Dr Olivia Zeng’s KTP project: Portable PV
Throughout the KTP, Olivia has focused on developing a portable solar photovoltaic (PV) inverter project. Solar PV inverters are an existing mature technology in the market; however, there are still some gaps for the modulated portable inverter with battery energy storage system.
Olivia’s project involves developing a 100-200W PV inverter alongside battery energy storage and is aimed at the consumer market as the system is designed to be modular and adaptable, and could come in a range of power levels for powering/charging devices from mobile phones to small refrigerators. The system is designed to fit within a backpack, so potential applications for the technology include outdoor pursuits such as camping and hiking. Olivia and the team are also looking at using the system as a model for demonstrating Powerstar VIRTUE on a small scale.
The PV panel will be foldable and only require opening to charge the batteries, which can be discharged when required. For smaller specifications, the panel could be around the size of a sheet of A3 paper when in use.
A modular approach is the foundation of the system and will enable customers to fully customise the product for their needs by adding or removing modules as required, in a simple plug in/out system. Some modules are only a little larger than a sim card, demonstrating the portability.
The system is still in the concept stage currently approaching technical prototype stage. Once the technical detail is complete, the augmentation and functionality of the product will be developed.
To ensure that the product meets expectations and is 100% safe and fit for use, as with every Powerstar product, extensive testing will be carried out. Depending on which direction development takes the product, and on changes in the market, a product launch in 3-5 years is a possibility.
Olivia says she really enjoys working on the KPT project at Powerstar to develop a prototype of the new product and commented “I have great support, good skills training, and gain valuable industrial experience. I like the values and culture of Powerstar and I am happy to continue to contribute to Powerstar as an engineer in product development and innovation, as well as project management and coordination.”
6 December 2019