Fri, May 12, 2006 - Page 12 News List

ITRI providing 7-Eleven with power-saving devices

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) yesterday signed a cooperation agreement with President Chain Store Corp (統一超商) that would allow the institute to transfer its energy-saving technology to help the nation's largest convenience chain store dramatically reduce its electricity bill.

The energy-saving devices to be offered to President Chain Store over the next three years include velocity and inverter controllers for open refrigerated display shelves, inverter controllers for air conditioners, high-efficiency lighting and energy-saving space designs.

The total solution is expected to help a heavy user like President Chain Store save 150 million kilowatt-hours in electricity and NT$300 million (US$9.54 million) in energy bills a year.

Competitiveness

As of the end of last month, President Chain Store had a total of 4,191 7-Eleven outlets nationwide, which operate 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Intro-ducing power-saving facilities is expected to enhance the com-pany's advantage in this highly competitive industry.

Residential and commercial uses of electricity account for about 20 percent of the nation's total electricity consumption, and consumption by convenience stores make up about 8 percent of the share, according to the institute's statistics.

"We hope we can further introduce our power-saving technology and know-how to other convenience store chains after this cooperation [with President Chain Store]," Wade Hsieh (謝文德), a researcher at the institute's thermofluids technology division, told reporters on the sideline of the signing ceremony.

ITRI started working with President Chain Store four years ago under the auspices of the Bureau of Energy. However, at the time, ITRI was still developing and testing its power-saving technology and devices, Hsieh said.

As its research efforts began bearing fruit, ITRI expanded its partnership with President Chain Store.

Energy efficient

The cooperation will start with the installation of inverter controllers in the open refrigerated display shelves -- where prepared food such as sandwiches, lunch boxes and milk are stored shelved -- of 7-Eleven stores by the end of the year.

These open refrigerated display cabinets, which require an air curtain to keep out higher temperature, account for up to 35 percent of a 7-Eleven outlet's electricity bill per month, according to Hsieh's estimate.

The first inverter controller for open refrigerated display shelves developed by the institute was employed by an outlet of Hi-Life International Co (萊爾富), another convenience store chain, on a test basis, Hsieh said.

The long-term field test of the inverter yielded an energy efficiency rating of 20 percent, which is estimated to save the store NT$5,000 per year in energy expenses, he added.

While the progress of promoting this power-saving device has been quite slow due to the high cost of acquiring the facility, the cost can be offset by savings in electrical bills after one-and-a-half years at most, Hsieh said.

ITRI plans to form further alliances with local consumer electronics makers to develop and expand the usage of power-saving devices in various appliances and businesses, Hsieh said.

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