The limitation of the primary energy sources and the carbon dioxide emissions are two of the most important societal challenges at present. In order to solve them, we need to significantly increase the usage share of renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaics, and to introduce local storage capacities. CONNECT investigated concepts, technologies and components that support enhanced integration of renewables and storage into the supply grid combined with intelligent management of the energy flow. It facilitated a decentralized energy infrastructure. This effort allowed to reduce the demand for primary energy, as well as to decrease the carbon dioxide emissions.
CONNECT researched new solutions for power conversion that were specifically developed for bidirectional power exchange with the grid.
The project developed high efficiency, low-cost, low-weight, and compact high-power density converters with embedded communication capabilities, for different application levels of the grid. Power quality optimization was also explored in order to avoid unnecessary energy flows in the grid. Thus, extended integration of local storages and renewables such as photovoltaic are supported by CONNECT. Moreover, CONNECT focused on developing monitoring approaches and advanced energy management algorithms, which take into account renewable energy sources, local storages and electric vehicles. As a key result, the peak power demand from the distribution grid could be reduced by at least 50% and the use of local generation, consumption and storage was optimized.
In order to fully exploit the advantages of the technologies mentioned before, it was necessary to enhance the data transmission capacity and security of the smart grid communication infrastructure. For this purpose, CONNECT developed solutions for high interoperable, high data rate local and wide area communication in the grid, which were complemented with enhanced security in order to protect this critical infrastructure against attacks and to ensure privacy and integrity. Particular effort was spent to minimize the power consumption of the developed solutions.
CONNECT aims to provide concepts, technologies and components that support enhanced integration of renewables and storage combined with intelligent control of the power flow. The demand for primary energy and the carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced and a decentralized energy infrastructure will be facilitated by these solutions.
CONNECT investigates new concepts and technologies for power conversion that will be specifically developed for bidirectional power exchange with the grid and for controllable power flow in order to support the extended integration of renewables like PV and local storage. Power quality optimization will be explored in order to avoid unnecessary energy flows in the grid.
The enhanced capabilities of the power conversion fit seamlessly to the smart energy management systems researched in CONNECT applicable for single/multiple buildings and quarters. Monitoring approaches and advanced control algorithms will be developed which take into account renewable energy sources, local storage and electric vehicles for peak demand reduction and optimization of local generation, consumption and storage. In order to fully exploit the advantages of the aforementioned technologies it is necessary to enhance the data transmission capacity of the smart grid communication infrastructure. For this purpose, CONNECT will develop solutions for high interoperable, high data rate local and wide area communication in the grid with enhanced security in order to protect this critical infrastructure against attacks. Particular effort is spent to minimize the power consumption of the developed solutions. Selected results of CONNECT are planned to be demonstrated not only in a laboratory environment but also in close to real-life scenarios.
The power infrastructure of tomorrow requires highly sophisticated, deeply connected and automated energy grids – so-called smart grids. The CONNECT project has demonstrated novel solutions across Europe. Intelligent technologies are crucial for all parts of a power system – from generation, transmission and distribution, to consumption. The result is a more responsive, efficient and environmentally friendly system. The CONNECT initiative has achieved significant peak demand reduction by integrating photovoltaics and battery storage to reduce dependency on primary energy sources, therefore reducing the CO2 footprint.
Smart and efficient power to the people
“In four CONNECT use cases throughout Europe - Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, bidirectional converters achieved up to 98.5 % efficiency,” says Holger Schmidt, CONNECT project coordinator. Bidirectional energy flows optimise distributed generation, such as photovoltaic panels on building roofs. “Even small efficiency improvements have a huge impact due to the high power involved, up to 300 kW,” he explains. CONNECT smart energy management was able to reduce the power demand, especially in peak demand periods. Strategies included effective load scheduling, smart use of energy storage and efficient utilisation of renewable energy sources matching demand and supply. The CONNECT communication infrastructure achieves the highest level of communication security (end to end) and, at the same time, interoperability at high and scalable data rates. This provides the vital basis for realisation of both the optimal utilisation of converters and the execution of energy management procedures.
Energy flow control at a ‘park and ride’ in the Netherlands
CONNECT showcased controllable energy flow at the Transferium in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. Where energy-conscious commuters and shoppers leave their cars and continue their journey with public transport or bike, the focus was on grid optimisation and stabilisation in a real-life microgrid infrastructure for electric vehicle charging. Peak power reduction through load scheduling was demonstrated through the cooperative interaction of the subsystem photovoltaics, battery system, fast charging for buses and slow chargers for cars. Measurements showed that the overall system can reduce the active power taken from the main grid (particularly by the new 100-300 kW fast high-power bus charger) during charging intervals. A battery setpoint, which can be optimised for different kinds of grid services, is therefore effective in following the charger demands and its effect on the grid connection. “Our data suggest that it’s feasible to achieve at least 50 % power reduction if stationary battery converters combined with PV are added to complement the microgrid,” Schmidt notes.
Cooperative energy management
For monitoring energy demand control, CONNECT looked at a group of buildings in Poblenou, Barcelona. Two residential buildings, two schools, a civic centre and an office building with diverse power consumption profiles were monitored throughout the seasons – in summer, a weekday and weekend, as well as a winter weekday and weekend. Demand reduction, the percentage of the total power use apart from the main grid, ranged from 32 % up to an impressive 71 %, while during peak demand hours, the demand reduction ranged from 34 % to 46 %. Schmidt explains: “The high reduction was achieved during summer days as power generated from photovoltaics was at its greatest.” The future for CONNECT work is bright and partners will exploit the achieved results at component and subsystem level, for example by integrating the achievements to improve products or generating new ones. “Second, building on the CONNECT results, we were able to develop the follow-up proposal PROGRESSUS, also EU-funded, which started in April 2020 and will run for 3 years,” concludes Schmidt.