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"The Highly Efficient And Reliable smart Transformer (HEART), a new Heart for the Electric Distribution System"

Final Report Summary - HEART (The Highly Efficient And Reliable smart Transformer (HEART), a new Heart for the Electric Distribution System)

The Project HEART had as goal to investigate the benefits of a power-electronics-based Smart Transformer for the electric distribution system and overcome the technological barriers related to the expected lower efficiency and lower reliability in comparison to a standard transformer. The Smart Transformer has been proven to be the enabling technology for an electric grid where the voltage and frequency profiles can be varied dynamically depending on the need to integrate highly variable energy production of renewable sources and consumption of charging stations. Moreover, the Smart Transformer has been proven to allow the creation of hybrid (ac and dc) and meshed grids (through the possible connection to other distribution grids) and even the use of more frequency carriers to allow a controllability of the power distribution similarly to those of the information flow. The challenges of achieving high efficiency and limit the need of maintenance has been tackle through the use of WBG-devices, modular power converters and a revolutionary approach defined as “power routing”. The “power routing” allows controlling the internal power flows in the modular structure to take into consideration the remaining lifetime of the single modules. The “power routing” has allowed the real-time control of the system lifetime opening a new frontier in the control of power electronic systems.
After 5.5 years, the ERC Project, HEART, has outputted more than 168 technical papers, including 66 high-quality peer-reviewed journal/magazine papers and 102 conference papers, and 6 pending patents as well. The research team members have received 13 awards. Prof. Marco Liserre received 3 awards from IEEE, including the highly prestigious IEEE-IES Mittelmann Award in 2018, which is the top award of the IEEE-IES and he was listed in ISI Thomson Reuters report on “Most Influential Minds”. Two Postdocs and one visiting professor, received the Humboldt Research Fellowships.
Based on research outcomes and achievements, the team members have organized 14 special sessions, and presented 11 tutorials and 6 keynotes, all in the top international conferences in the field. Moreover, 4 special issues in the high-quality journals and 3 workshops have been organized by the team members. A course on Smart Transformer has been successfully organized in 2017, 2018 and 2019 at Kiel University.
Based on the research achievements and outcomes from the ERC project, 15 projects with total funding about 8 Million Euro, were originated from the HEART project. Three advanced protypes of the Smart Transformer have been tested in two ad-hoc developed unique experimental environments (thermal characterization setup and power hardware-in-the-loop setup) and in one world-class level new Medium Voltage laboratory with connection to a real Medium Voltage Point of Common Coupling. Moreover, a new laboratory focused on battery technology and energy conversion for batteries is in the realization phase, enabling cross-disciplinary research with colleagues in material science. These infrastructures have been possible thanks also to the financial support by Kiel University, by the Society for Energy and Climate Protection Schleswig-Holstein EKSH GmbH, by the German Research Foundation DFG and by the European Regional Development Fund.
The ERC project team members and their research outcomes have been reported by the press releases more than 15 times. Due to the ERC project, the Chair of Power Electrics, Kiel University, has been dramatically growing in terms of employees (200%) and in terms of cooperation with industry and academy (500%). Notably among the others is the cooperation with a world-leader company which will test Smart Transformer solutions in the electric grid in the next 3 years.