A Low Cost, High Capacity, Smart Residential Distribution Network Enabled By SiC Power Electronics

Lead Participant: Exception Ems Limited

Abstract

A key challenge facing the UK Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) today is the increasing demand for power being placed on residential networks e.g. by the proliferation of electrical vehicles (EVs) and the move to electro-heat. Also, the increase in distributed generation (DG) is now resulting in unacceptable local voltage rises. This project follows on from a TSB Feasibility Study which showed that a cost effective solution to these problems can be achieved on the existing infrastructure by increasing the local network phase voltage to 400 V (existing cable is rated at 600V). To step the voltage back down to 230 V at each house, DNO-owned, low-cost, 99% efficient power electronic converters (PECs) will need to be installed in the meter-box. Our previous study showed that the 99% efficiency was essential to avoid over-heating in the meter-box and hence new, low-cost 3C SiC devices were mandatory. This system will not only increase network capacity, but also provide optimised connections for emerging EV charging, DG and energy storage - the “smart-grid”. The project will develop a PEC prototype which will be deployed by Western Power Distribution in a small-scale demonstration of the project.

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