The company plans to install the product in South Africa in one month, initially importing systems from Israel ,with a long-term plan of creating a manufacturing facility in South Africa, says CES CTO Lupu Wittner.
CES's ultimate aim is for the computerised electric unit system to replace the electric distribution boards that occupy most homes. Once installed in a home, State-power utility Eskom will have the capacity to control DSM requirements from its base. Homes that consume the highest amount of electricity are the targeted clients for the product, says Wittner.
"If two-million electricity customers with high consumption accept a 20% saving structure through this system, Eskom could potentially save to 4 000 MW."
Wittner says that CES's system marks the first time that electricity can be controlled remotely, which allows for ‘real-time' monitoring of a house's electricity. Development on the system started six years ago, in Israel, as CES wanted to overcome the difficulties associated with single-phase homes, whereby one phase is normally overloaded, resulting in only 50% to 60% of a house's electricity infrastructure being used. The company developed a computer system that could handle three phases simultaneously, which ultimately results in more electricity being used from within the same infrastructure.
Wittner believes that the units will upgrade the services and the connection between Eskom and its customers.
"This system will open up new horizons between the customer and the utility, as the utility can advise on such matters as consumption and demand, " he notes.
He says that the system will only function at its full capacity if the customer is brought on board as a partner in the process, understanding fully how the system works, and the benefits that it can offer. An example of this is that, potentially, customers who maintain a low consumption of electricity could obtain a rebate from Eskom.
The system, which is designed to cope better with DSM, is a central unit that is connected to all the electrical systems in a household, automatically measuring how much energy is being used. A customer will prioritise certain appliances in the house, and when demand is too high Eskom will send a ‘comment' to the system, which will examine the priority of the customer, and turn off a system according to a customer's priority preferences. There is also automatic DSM activation when detecting a power supply shortage.
Wittner says that the system could save customers money, as there is no need for an individual connection for every appliance in a house, and it reduces infrastructure costs, as there is no need for surplus power infrastructure. The system also allows one to connect multiple energy sources, such as solar power and generators, in real time, based on cost and availability.
Wittner notes that the unit was designed to be installed in every home, and will be, therefore, inexpensive when it enters the market. He adds that it incorporates all the safety features and capabilities of an existing electricity panel, and has added features as well, including protection against lightning, electricity shutdown in case of fire, fire prevention by detecting bad connections, and voltage protection through disconnecting loads when the standard supply voltage is exceeded.
The system has a ‘smart-switch specification' which will automatically disconnect electrical loads in case of overload, short circuit, leakage, currents, sparks, overheating and fire. Further, CES could potentially take over Eskom's administrative duties, as the system provides billing and metering with detailed bills, revenue generation (extra services for a fee), and proactive maintenance, with immediate response to breakdowns.
Users of the system can communicate easily with the computer base through the Internet and their cellphones, being able to monitor and control electrical output by text messaging. All user-related data is available on the CES display. Using a user-friendly manual, the electrician or homeowner can configure the system and obtain real-time data on the system's status, consumption and maintenance alerts.
When installing a CES panel, an electrician, together with a homeowner, can define the functions of the system, including the basic system configuration, the load priorities between appliances, the basic setting for every channel, and the advanced settings for every channel.
The basic system configuration will determine aspects such as the number of phases required and the real-time clock setting, while the advanced setting for every channel will cover aspects such as grouping channels to simplify home electricity operation, and an automatic command to either reconnect or not reconnect after an electrical break.
The product has been tested in Israel by the Israeli Electric Corporation, in South Africa by Eskom, and in the US by the Energy Power Research Institution, and has successfully passed all product tests, says Wittner. He adds, however, that it is still subject to certification by the South African Bureau of Standards.