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HEART Report Summary

Project ID: 616344
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Germany

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

The increasing penetration of the distributed energy resources and new sizable loads (electric vehicles, heat pumps etc.) have posed many technical and operational challenges in the electric distribution grid. The role of the end-consumers in the local grids changes from the conventional electricity consumer to consumer/producer of electricity, and even becoming distributed energy storage. This could result in many instances of short and long-term expectancy and emergency loadings and reverse power flows in local grid. This results in the bottlenecks of conventional power grid in the form of over/under voltages, network congestions and power quality issues that affect the reliability and stability of the power grid, limiting the hosting capacity of the distributed generation resources and new sizable loads.

The goal of this project is to provide the modern electric distribution grid a new durable heart: ST to manage the distribution grid with new functionalities which are absent in the conventional “passive” transformer-based distribution grid.

After 2 and half years, new functionalities of the ST to improve the LV side distribution power grid has been proven. A futuristic multi-frequency distribution power grid in low voltage side, which allows to better usage of the power electronics and reduces the cost has been postulated. New methods have been introduced in journal publications and protected through a patent to identify the power grid load and to build real-time load modelling, enables soft load shedding for the constant impedance load by the ST, where no real load is disconnected from the power grid. These methods are currently investigated to be applied in large scale scenarios through a German national strategic project “ENSURE” which involves major companies like ABB, Siemens, Tennet, Eon, and several scientific partners and it will have a 10 years’ framework.

New methods to optimize the power management inside the ST and the fault tolerant operation with minimum hardware requirements have been proposed to extend the lifetime of the components of the ST. Active thermal control through two step drivers have been proposed to further improve the reliability of GaN-based power converters which are accounted to be the future frontier of power electronics in term of high efficiency. A high efficiency (98.5%) dc/dc converter operating with SiC components in the range of 10 kW has been built. Several other prototypes have been built and are expected to produce breakthrough results in the following years.

The research group of the Chair of Power Electronics in Kiel, which in its history did reach maximum 10 PhDs, is after only 3 years doubled and feature almost 8 MEuro projects (European, national, regional and direct company funding), and three large scale facilities (Real-time digital simulator hardware-in-loop and Power-Hardware-in-loop, thermal setup and MV laboratory) have been built or are under construction. Several guest Professors did support the research activity:

Prof. Costas Vournas is currently a Professor in the Electrical Energy Systems Laboratory, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, NTUA. He has published more than 100 papers in International Journals and Conferences and has co-authored the book “Voltage Stability of Electric Power Systems”. His research interests are in the area of power system dynamics, stability, and control and include voltage stability analysis and security assessment, wind generator integration in power systems, novel control applications in the distribution and transmission grid, as well as the effect of deregulation on power system operation and control. He is Fellow of IEEE since 2005, member of CIGRE and the Technical Chamber of Greece.

Prof. Alex Huang is an IEEE Fellow and the Progress Energy Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He was a professor at Virginia Tech's Center for Power Electronics System (CPES, an NSF ERC) before joining NCSU in 2004. At NCSU, he established the NSF Engineering Research Center, the FREEDM Systems Center in 2008. Under Dr. Huang's leadership, FREEDM Systems Center and NCSU's ECE department has grown to be one the best places for power and energy electronics research. Dr. Huang is a world renowned expert of power semiconductor devices and power electronics and has published more than 400 papers in journals and conferences.

Prof. Tamas Kerekes is currently an Associate professor at the Institute of Energy Technology, Aalborg University. His research interests include grid connected applications based on dc–dc, dc–ac single- and three-phase converter topologies focusing also on switching and conduction loss modeling and minimization in the case of Si and new wide bandgap devices.

A series of activities related to the ERC project such as workshops, tutorials and special session in the top journals and conferences, and industrial presentations have been hold by PI and key members.

The final outcomes of the ERC project are new concept and definition for the distribution power grid with ancillary functionalities to improve both the low and medium voltage side power grid, new design and control methods combing the active thermal control to ensure the safety operation and to prolong the lifetime of the ST. These methods improve the power grid performances, solve the distribution power grid problems caused by the high penetration of distributed generator resources, and increase the reliability and stability of the system.

The group in the first three years has published 18 journal publications and 29 conference papers as direct outcome of the HEART project and in total 41 journal papers and 66 conference papers as results of the overall research activity. Some of these papers are highly cited and much downloaded in some data-bases. Moreover, the overall number of papers shows clearly the consolidation of the career of the principal investigator, who has been publishing more journal papers in the last 3 years as in the previous 15 years of career.

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