IPS take EXERON, the “Off-Grid Beast” to new levels

New partnerships, manufacturing lines and storage solutions

Read this article to learn:

  • Characteristics of EXERON particularly suited to the telecoms sector
  • How the system can run virtually maintenance free
  • What the partnership with METKA will bring to the business
  • Features of IPS’s new storage solution being developed
  • IPS’ and EXERON’s credentials within and outside the telecoms sector

International Power Supply (IPS), the manufacturer of the military grade off-grid hybrid power solution, EXERON has made some exciting new developments in the past 12 months. In addition to building a new manufacturing facility, the company has entered into a strategic partnership with leading international contractor METKA and is also developing a new storage solution in partnership with an alternate chemistry battery manufacturer which delivers lithium-ion qualities at a price close to lead-acid technology. TowerXchange speak to CEO, Alexander Rangelov to find out more.

TowerXchange: In addition to your existing investors PostScriptum Ventures and BlackPeak Capital a new shareholder has joined the IPS family. How do you expect their recent involvement to impact IPS’s strategic development?

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

In December 2016 IPS entered into a strategic partnership with METKA, a leading international contractor and industrial manufacturing group with an over 50 year history and track record in providing EPC services for energy and infrastructure projects.

METKA was attracted by our unique and innovative power conversion system EXERON which provides reliable power in remote and hardly accessible areas with harsh ambient conditions. The involvement of our latest investor METKA is recognition of our achievements in the off-grid sector and a clear sign to continue developing our R&D capabilities for global expansion in this direction. Currently we have presence in 56 countries across all seven continents and believe that with METKA‘s involvement our market entry will steadily expand with the ability to provide full initial and after sales support.

TowerXchange: Tell us more about the scale of projects in terms of the kW load to which EXERON is best suited

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

We are extremely flexible and are proud to be able to offer custom made solutions which are not limited to any power output. Our beliefs are that solution providers in the energy sector need to be flexible and capable to adapt to changing client requirements.

The whole EXERON system structure is based on power modules of 2kW or 4kW and due to the unique IPS communication protocol, our systems can address up to 16,300 modules simultaneously, which means 16,300 modules x 2kW or 4 kW. A large number of modules are used in our mini grid applications, but for telecom applications typical numbers would be 2kW, 4kW, 6kW or up to 36kW in some special cases.

TowerXchange: You mention flexibility, could you elaborate more on the IPS EXERON system and how it meets towercos’ current and future needs when additional tenants are added and the power capacity at cell sites is increased as a requirement?

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

The modular system structure offers great scalability and flexibility. There is only one unit (MCU – Main Control Unit) that monitors and controls all system modules (rectifiers, solar charge controllers, inverters, DC-DC converters); all of them are hot pluggable. The power capacity extension for any power system component is easily done by simply adding new plug & play power modules. The advantage of having only one MCU for the whole system, and sourcing all modules from only one manufacturer is great efficiency, redundancy and self-control. It is the base for intelligent mini-grid systems. It is unique because the same EXERON technology with the same control unit that is used for telecom towers can also be deployed as a mini-grid electricity solution for villages controlling and monitoring over 16,300 power modules corresponding to 65MW of power. That is why we call it EXERON – The Off-Grid Beast!

TowerXchange: Towerco and their contractor’s requirements in relation to Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are very demanding regarding reliability and autonomy. Could you tell us more about your solution in that respect?

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

The EXERON system was developed initially for military applications in remote areas. It is NATO certified with the AQAP 2110 military standard for quality, so every single component meets higher requirements than usual. This includes deployment of the technology at locations characterised with very harsh ambient conditions with temperatures between -40°C and +80°C, heights above 4000m above sea level, high humidity and salinity, acid environments et cetera. Although for civil applications these features are not essential, for the telecom companies in some areas of Africa, Asia and South America this would be a major requirement.

TowerXchange: Considering the remote nature of towerco cell sites how do you ensure successful delivery, installation and maintenance of your systems?

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

Having METKA on board together with our previous investors facilitates us in expanding the logistic hubs we have in Africa, Asia, Australia and America.

The ease of installation is guaranteed in a few simple steps, since everything is included and pre-installed in the system. The EXERON runs basically maintenance free, however if some of the modules need to be exchanged, it doesn’t take more than ten seconds, because every single system module is hot pluggable (rectifiers, solar charge controllers, inverters, DC-DC converters, the MCU – Main Control Unit, surge protection devices et cetera). Another big advantage is that an outage in one of the modules or more of them cannot lead to a full system stop. Even in case of main control unit failure, the system will continue its operation unchanged.

Following military standards for quality during the development phases and manufacturing, a high system availability and robustness is guaranteed. It is a clear advantage and of crucial importance for remote, hardly accessible and long-distance site locations, which leads directly to reduced OPEX costs.

Following military standards for quality during the development phases and manufacturing, a high system availability and robustness is guaranteed. It is a clear advantage and of crucial importance for remote, hardly accessible and long-distance site locations, which leads directly to reduced OPEX costs

TowerXchange: Previously you have offered the ESCO business model only for residential applications. Has this changed with the involvement of your new investor METKA?

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

IPS is an R&D and manufacturing company and in that respect, we are mainly a solution provider. However, our strategic investor METKA along with our other investors support us with the provision of ESCO financing.

TowerXchange: Tell us about your main differentiator and how you compete against other modular hybrid energy solution providers?

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

In just a few words: better performance, faster ROI, robustness, advanced features and functionality, a global all-in one scalable solution, leading to outstanding OPEX savings.

The fact that IPS is a developer and manufacturer gives us the capability to offer custom made solutions, which match the client’s requirements to the largest extent. We can satisfy unique client needs and are willing and capable to adapt our solutions for specific projects. The components of our EXERON system talk to each other in the system via a unique communication protocol, developed by IPS and delivering optimal performance and efficiency which is our major differentiator. We are not an of the shelf solution provider, we are innovative developer and manufacturer of a hybrid energy conversion system – EXERON which does not have any restrictions in terms of scalability.

EXERON is a multi-talented beast! It can be used for grid connected sites in the way of a customised outdoor cabinet with a purely modular rectifier. At the same time EXERON can be deployed to control and optimise not only hybrid diesel genset-battery sites, but also PV-diesel-battery sites. The good thing is that it can start as a grid connected or hybrid configuration and then at any time new power modules can be added – solar charge controllers and/or inverters; all within the same architecture, and under the same MCU control unit.

There are multiple good solutions and products on the market, but they have limitations.

Back in 2014 in Germany, EXERON won the world innovation EES Award for innovative off-grid power systems with energy storage. EXERON is patent pending in USA. We haven’t stopped developing and improving the system since then and believe that this is the only way to break limits and create innovative functionalities and features.

IPS designs and manufactures not only the power systems, but also the proper environment – enclosures and outdoor cabinets with many options, heat exchange options, but also with our own developed air conditioning module. We have even built a redundant air conditioner for cooling and heating, it’s virtually maintenance free!

TowerXchange: What comes next and what are your ambitions for the future?

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

Off-grid applications represent a quickly growing segment of the global power solutions market and IPS will continue developing its product solutions to match the current demand and requirements of the industry.

In 2017 we have started the construction of a new IPS factory with an annual production capacity of about €120mn in Bulgaria. The new IPS factory building, with a total floor area of 16,800 m2, will be the first 100% self-sufficient, zero emission manufacturing facility of its kind in Europe. The 240 kWp solar modules and 24kW wind turbines and battery storage for 3 days back-up time will enable completely autonomous and uninterrupted production of electricity to meet the facility’s needs. EXERON will take care of the power supply management and the energy storage.

In addition, we are partnering with a big battery storage manufacturer in the development of a revolutionary product, combining all the benefits of EXERON power management, together with a remarkable new battery chemistry. This new storage solution will feature all the major advantages of lithium batteries, such as 100% DoD, 10 years’ warranty and high cyclability, at a price close to conventional lead-acid technology. We are confident that this joint product will revolutionise the off-grid power sector.

Last but not least, we will continue to increase IPS’ market penetration worldwide and continue to prove ourselves as the leading solution provider for the off-grid area.

TowerXchange: Are there any other areas where EXERON could be applied successfully? 

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

Yes, EXERON has numerous applications. Our main focus apart from telecom hybrid off-grid is mini-grids for rural electrification, oil & gas and military projects in remote areas. We have recently signed a frame agreement with one of the largest oil & gas companies in the world for a significant number of EXERON units. Their primary purpose will be to provide autonomous power for the cathodic protection of oil pipelines in a completely isolated, off-grid location. We have developed a state-of-the-art technology that can run in the most extreme desert conditions with little to no maintenance required. This is thanks to the rigorous in-house R&D over the past years. The feedback from the client has been very positive so far with the system exceeding all performance expectations.

TowerXchange: IPS is famous for its advanced R&D department. Any new developments?

Alexander Rangelov, CEO, IPS:

Our R&D department is working continuously on new developments. As an excellent reference, IPS was invited to be part of the rLoop team during the Hyperloop Competition, organised by Elon Musk. IPS R&D developed a special modular charger for the batteries of the Pod. We are proud to announce that our team received the Award for Innovation. There were 1700 participants, 30 finalists and 6 awarded. There are more awards to come!

 

METKA IPS are diamond sponsors of the 5th Annual TowerXchange Meetup Africa & Middle East, being held on 3-4 October at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg. Visit the website for more information

Leave a Reply