24 April 2013 – ABB has launched the world’s first low-voltage circuit breaker with integrated energy management functions. The company says that replacing existing traditional breakers with the Emax 2 breaker has the potential to achieve annual savings of 5.8 million megawatt-hours (MWh), or the electric consumption equivalent of 1.4 million US households a year.
These energy savings would reduce emissions by four million tonnes of CO2, or the emissions of over a million cars, per year. For an individual building installation, a peak power reduction of up to 15% can be achieved by using Emax 2 in place of traditional breakers.
Breakers like the Emax 2 are used where protection and control of large amounts of energy are used in a low-voltage environment like industrial and commercial buildings, data centres or ships. The breaker contains a protection trip relay with an integrated power controller that measures and evaluates energy consumption, then manages the loads to maintain or reduce the peak power usage as determined by the user. This will also help prevent blackouts since the root cause is often peak demand exceeding supply.
To manage energy, the electricity supply to non-essential equipment is switched off and back on again as soon as acceptable power levels are reached. Intelligent decision making is achieved by a built in controller and software that uses complex algorithms to decide when it is appropriate to switch the power while maintaining the overall functionality or productivity of the connected equipment.
The breaker also has a communication module that allows it to share vital consumption and system reliability data directly with smart grid and other protocols.
“Breakers provide one of the largest untapped opportunities in the electric system to achieve energy savings. Breakers have been used to increase safety and protect electric circuits, but now for the first time we use them to save energy too,” Tarak Mehta, head of ABB’s low voltage products division says.
“Because breakers are all around us, the total energy savings potential is massive. It’s a great example of how we can use smart technology to reduce energy wastage. This is good news for the environment and for our customers who can achieve significant cost savings by switching to our new device.”
The development of the new Emax 2 breaker took several years and was led by ABB’s development centre in Bergamo, Italy.