Innovator Support: Extreme Low Energy

Introduction

Innovation is critical to unlocking value from decentralisation, maximising the use of renewables and enabling more efficient operation of the whole energy system.

Extreme Low Energy (ELe®) has developed low voltage power infrastructure systems that eliminate the waste of AC/DC conversion to run DC-powered electronic devices directly from DC renewable generation and storage.

Energy Systems Catapult is helping ELe to explore wider applications for their innovations through our Innovator Support Platforms and Consumer Insight team.

The Challenge and Opportunity

All modern electronic devices (such as computers, TV’s and LED lighting) are run via Direct Current (DC) power and require AC/DC adapters that convert Alternative Current (AC) power delivered by our electricity networks into DC power. Yet that AC power has itself already been converted from DC electricity generated by power stations, wind turbines and solar panels.

Each conversion from DC to AC and vice-versa results in inefficienciess, generally showing up in the form of wasted heat energy. Heat sometimes also needs to be moved away through cooling systems or fans, which themselves require more energy to run.

ELe offers low voltage power infrastructure systems to eliminate the waste of AC/DC conversion. So buildings, lighting and electronic devices can run from DC power delivered directly from on-site renewables energy or storage -providing significant energy cost and carbon emission savings.

Yet this value proposition focused on saving energy costs – with ROI timeframes of five years or more – was often viewed as a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than a ‘must-have’. But there we’re additional propositions that ELe were not exploiting.

The Innovation

Extreme Low Energy (ELe®) developed a system that distributes DC power safely and efficiently through a building’s existing Ethernet cabling (used for globally standard computer networks and internet cabling).

This ‘plug and play’ low voltage power infrastructure allows lights and electric devices like computers and televisions in houses and offices to be powered using computer cables, cutting out the need to install normal yet additional power cabling. ELe’s system also delivers energy efficiencies and enables the use of renewable power on-site or locally without AC/DC conversion losses.

ELe’s aim is for their system to become a default global power standard for installing lights and electronics devices into properties – either houses or office blocks.

The ELe system is patented in Europe, Australia, Africa and the US.

Our Approach

Energy Systems Catapult is home to the Innovator Support Platform (ISP) that draws on Catapult capabilities and assets, along with those of our partners.  The ISP provides innovators with tailored incubation and acceleration support to selected SMEs to help address systemic barriers, de-risk innovation, help businesses scale and secure investment.

Incubation Support

Tailored support for selected SMEs utilising Catapult assets and capabilities, and delivery partner offerings, such as Business Sprint’ workshops, Business Model Development, Energy System Integration assessment, Consumer Insights, Concept testing and validation, Identification of candidates for Acceleration support.

The ISP critically scrutinised the technology that ELe had developed, before independently testing and validating Ele’s value proposition with the marketplace.

While ELe’s low voltage infrastructure system can be viewed as a medium term cost and energy saving solution for businesses and new housing developments, the value proposition testing revealed a more immediate benefit in the technologies ability to reduce maintenance costs.

The Ele system can to monitor the power levels of individual devices in order to predict if a component – such as a ventilation fan – is using more power than usual, which could indicate that it has a problem or is in need of replacement. The system can then send an email or text to facilities teams, enabling them to schedule maintenance visits in advance.

Support offered to Extreme Low Energy, includes:

  • Technology Benefit Mapping: Catapult partner Cutland Consulting has been commissioned to advise Ele on the (i) Function, Feature & Benefits (FFBs) of its DC power-over-Ethernet (POE) system identifying key strengths and potential blind spots that the technology offers across the targeted user market, this work being use to help build the Customer Value Proposition.
  • Customer Value Proposition: Catapult partner Duffin Associates and Specific, from Swansea University supported ELe to evaluate these FFBs within their target market to develop a Customer Value Proposition.
  • Consumer Insight: Catapult partner Duffin Associates conducted in depth market testing of the CVP to verify its value across key market and life cycle players. Outputs being used to develop pitches to future customers.