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Smart Synchronous inverter for grid’s stability

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - SYNCHRONVERTER (Smart Synchronous inverter for grid’s stability)

Période du rapport: 2018-03-01 au 2018-08-31

The global climate change challenge together with the volatility of the fossil fuel prices are pushing the society towards the renewable energy era. In addition, the global renewable energy sector is continuously pursuing to achieve the cost effectiveness of renewable energy power systems to deliver in a future a competitive price of electricity. The integration and management of the electricity coming from renewable energy sources into the grid is representing a big challenge to address, considering that by 2020 the 20% of the global renewable energy generation will be fed to the grid. Worldwide, the electricity generation coming from renewable sources is expected to reach 7000TWh, representing 26% of the total power capacity installed across the globe.

The Smart grid and its technology evolution to optimize its service quality, costs, operations and management is the key for an efficient use of renewable energy sources (RES) and distributed energy storage (DES). One of the goals of a smart grid is to promote active customer participation and decision making as well as to create the operation environment in which grid operators, electricity users and producers influence each other. Utilities can improve reliability through the demand response programs, adding distributed generation or energy storage at substations, and providing automated control to the grid. When the proportion of decentralized generation exceeds 15-20%, large fluctuations in frequency, grid voltage and power flow occur thus the grid can become unmanageable and lead to power outages.

With the wide spread introduction of renewable energy sources into traditional and smart grids, a new grid-stability challenge is being realized by grid operators, inverter and energy storage manufacturers. While renewable generation sources are increasingly playing a role in goals related to emission reduction, energy independence, and efficiency, they fall short in the proven grid-stability functionality offered by traditional synchronous generators. As a result, when the proportion of renewable energy sources in a grid is sufficiently high, the lack of stabilizing functionality, together with the intermittent nature of renewable generation devices, may cause large fluctuations in power angle, grid voltage and power flow. Such fluctuations can cause frequent disconnects of renewable sources – thus reducing yield, and, in more extreme situations, may lead to a cascade reaction and cause damages on both utility operations and on load-side equipment alike. These grid stability concerns limit the utilization of renewable generation in traditional grids, as well as in micro solar/ wind topologies, considering that all this has a very high cost for the electricity consumers and grid operators.

By the end of the project, we intend to develop an improved inverter which will allow higher volumes of renewable energy sources to be implemented to the grid while maintaining stability.
The SYNCHRONVERTER project is in its mid-stages. In period 2 of the project we have finished the firmware design adaptation and scale up. We have also continued first stages of manufacturing of the inverter’s prototype. We intend to continue the development and adaptation in the following period. We have also adapted firmware to incorporate externally the SynchronverterTM solution.
The global inverter market for renewable energies has been growing at a huge rate during the past few years. It generated a revenue of €4.5 billion in 2010 and had a positive growth rate of 102.4 percent, and is likely to grow at a CAGR of 15.8% from 2011 to 2017. Among the three renewable energies (solar, wind and fuel cells), the solar inverter market accounts for 97% of the share.

The most interesting market for us is Europe due to its position in the global market and the expectations for the following years. Germany, with its retrofitting program, is one of the most attractive market and where we will start introducing our solution. The lower power ranges (below 200 kW: for residential and commercial sectors) represents our primary target market.
Our solution is being developed with the needs of several groups of end users in mind. The final steps before commercialization will be designed in close collaboration with those groups aiming to adapt the SynchronverterTM to their expectations.
PV installed capacity in 2014 (MW)
Revenues and growth rate of USA, EU and Asia markets for solar inverters