Reactive power is a waste of energy and money
Within installations, it’s the cables, lines and transformers that ensure transmission of electrical power. If in addition to the active power, reactive power runs through the installation, this might have a negative effect on the energy efficiency and the capacity of your installation. This may even result in an imposed fine by your network operator. By removing the reactive power from your installation – to compensate with capacitor banks – the efficiency of your installation will see an increase, while your costs and CO2 emissions will be reduced.
What is the difference between apparent, active and reactive power?
A portion of the electric power is always utilized usefully. This is called the active power or true power (kW). The active power is converted into mechanical energy in the plant (motor), light (lamp) or thermal energy (heating or cooling). However, a certain portion of the power always gets lost. This is the reactive power (kVAr). This capacity is required for the generation of magnetic and electric fields necessary for the proper operation of devices such as transformers, switchgear and gas discharge lamps.
Reactive power charges the net (cables, transformers, distributors) unnecessary and causes higher energy bills due to high energy losses within the system. Increasingly often energy suppliers invoice the costs created by the consumed reactive power to the end user. You may find these costs on your electricity bill.
Where does reactive power appear?
Reactive power often occurs in a system where many linear inductive loads (motors, transformers, reactors and gas discharge lamps) and inductive non-linear loads (motor drives, welding equipment, rectifiers, UPSs) are present.
What can be done against reactive power?
Reactive power can be compensated with capacitors. The capacitor bank compensates the reactive power directly at the device, making it no longer run through the entire electric system. As a result, the energy losses are reduced and the efficiency improved. By compensating the reactive power more equipment (load) can be connected to the existing system, without extension of the installation. Also, less heat will occur within the components when applying a capacitor, which has a positive result on the component’s life span and efficiency. If you paid a fine to your network operator, you earn the purchase and installation of a capacitor bank back within 1-2 years, not even counting the profits earned through the increased energy efficiency and capacity.