Architecture of the Future Low-Carbon, Resilient, Electrical Power System (2021)
The electrical grid which enables our modern way of life was conceived more than 100 years ago. The industrial and consumer loads and generator technologies of the past were all based on alternating current (AC), leading to today’s AC electrical network. However, new generation technologies like solar and wind power, as well as electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage all use direct current (DC). Our appliances, computers, smartphones, heatpumps and more, as well as common industrial loads, such as variable speed drives, are also mostly DC based. Because of this, many converters are needed to interface generation and loads to the AC grid, creating inefficiency and causing compatibility problems. A more efficient and sustainable electrical grid is needed which can easily accommodate new renewable technologies. Conveying electrical power by DC reduces losses and lessens voltage drop. A partial transition of our electrical grid to DC has many technological benefits, including more flexible and efficient systems for generation, conveyance, storage and use, as well as easier integration of renewable generation and technologies such as EVs and battery storage. The electrical grid is a critical player in reducing emissions of both greenhouse gases that lead to climate change, and other pollutants. There is a need to quickly adapt how we produce, use, transport and manage energy, to minimise the impact on the environment. Changes have begun worldwide with initiatives to increase renewable and sustainable electricity generation, uptake of EVs, and electrification of industrial processes. All these reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. However, further initiatives are needed to address the impact on the environment. Many of these initiatives will require a hybrid AC/DC grid — a system which integrates DC conveyance with the existing AC electrical network. The major research challenge is to determine the future architecture, topology and a transition pathway. As part of the government’s Strategic Science Investment Fund on Advanced Energy Technology Platform, the 7-year project “Architecture of the Future Low-Carbon, Resilient, Electrical Power System” has been awarded to address these questions and to develop capability to deliver the transition. This paper will describe the primary workstreams, their research objectives and expected outcomes. Our team comprises of researchers from the New Zealand (Universities of Canterbury, Auckland, AUT, Victoria, Waikato) and overseas, and dozens of overseas collaborators. Together, the key challenges of the future grid is tackled and technical capability is built, ultimately benefitting every New Zealander.
CitationWatson N, Mukhedkar R, Nair N, Lie T, Lapthorn A, Rayudu R, Le Quellec I (2021). Architecture of the Future Low-Carbon, Resilient, Electrical Power System. Wellington, New Zealand: EEA Conference & Exhibition 2021. 02/08/2021-04/08/2021.
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ANZSRC Fields of Research40 - Engineering::4008 - Electrical engineering::400805 - Electrical energy transmission, networks and systems
40 - Engineering::4008 - Electrical engineering::400803 - Electrical energy generation (incl. renewables, excl. photovoltaics)
40 - Engineering::4011 - Environmental engineering::401102 - Environmentally sustainable engineering
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