Power electronics solutions to modernise the distribution grid

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CITCEA of the UPC is coordinating the European project iPLUG, which is part of the Horizon Europe programme, to develop power electronic solutions to improve the integration of numerous renewable sources, energy storage systems and loads in the distribution network.

The European project iPLUG, led by the Centre for Technological Innovation in Static Converters and Drives (CITCEA) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech (UPC), focuses on the development of a power electronics solution based on a multiport converter to improve the integration of many renewable sources, energy storage systems and loads in the distribution network. The proposed converters, which are installed in several optimal locations, can facilitate massive integration of renewables, avoiding grid congestion and allowing the provision of functionalities to end users and the distribution grid.

iPLUG is part of the Horizon Europe programme and is directed at CITCEA by professors Oriol Gomis Bellmunt and Marc Cheah Mañé. With a total budget of almost 2.5 million euros, of which 600,000 euros correspond to CITCEA, project participants are a consortium comprised of five universities or research centres and three companies in Spain, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy and Serbia. The kick-off meeting took place at the Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering (ETSEIB) on 22 and 23 September.

Modernisation of the distribution network

The European Union target is for renewables to make up 40% of electricity consumption in 2030, to obtain much higher objectives in 2050. The modern distribution network is increasingly dominated by renewable energy sources. The trend is to increase the penetration of renewables to unprecedented levels. Specifically, within  the distribution network, small plants are being installed to sell energy to the markets and several large industries are incorporating renewables in their facilities.

In addition, many domestic, commercial and industrial consumers are installing renewable energies to reduce their demand and become self-sufficient. Consequently, the modern distribution network faces considerable challenges, such as the need to integrate massive quantities of renewables and storage units and loads in low- and medium-voltage power distribution, and to connect alternating or direct current generators. Therefore, solutions need to be found that enable hybrid connections.

New generation of multiport converters

The aim of the iPLUG project is to design a new generation of multiport converters and develop methodologies for locating, sizing, operating and controlling multiport power converters in distribution networks with high penetration of renewables and loads of alternating or direct current (AC or DC). The results of iPLUG are expected to have a positive impact on the electricity sector and on transport and construction, among others.

CITCEA of the UPC is responsible for developing methodologies for optimising the dimensions of the multiport converters and their location in specific use cases where business opportunities may exist. In addition, dynamic models and controls will be implemented for different types of multiport converter and their impact on the stability of the distribution network will be studied. Finally, the multiport converter controls will be validated in real-time simulation platforms.

In addition, this research centre, as the coordinator of the project, will be responsible for organising dissemination and technology transfer activities to give continuity to the multiport converter technology once the project is completed.

iPLUG partners

In addition to CITCEA, the project has the following partners: the Universita Degli Studi di Padova (UNIPD), ChalmersTekniska Hoegskola Ab (CTH), the Fundación Instituto de Investigación de la Energía de Cataluña (IREC), the University of Strathclyde (UoS), Infraestructuras de la Generalitat de Cataluña (ICAT), Estabanella y Pahisa Energía SA (ANILLO), Tajfun Hilio Drustvo Ogranienom Odgovornosc Uno Za Istrazivanje Proizvodnju, Trgovinu y Usluge Novi Sad (TPYH).

The project implementation and all iPLUG project innovations can be followed on social networks (LinkedIn and Twitter).


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