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“Smart” Transformers Prepared for Smart Electricity Grids

September 13, 2017

Technologists have devised a computer model to show how smart solid-state transformers can form a stable, reliable “smart grid” for the supply of electricity to businesses and homes.

The newly created smart solid-state transformers are designed to make a stable, reliable “smart grid.” This is to enable the power distribution system to route renewable energy from homes and businesses into the power grid. The use of the transformers in this fashion is based on a new study, from North Carolina State University, that uses advanced computational models. This development is certain to appeal to the business sector; there has been considerable discontent from businesses with the fact that, worldwide, grids have not kept up with the growth in demand for power. Businesses are increasingly expecting grids that are more responsive, interactive and transparent. In addition, industry expects grids to be able to cope with new sources of renewable power, as well as providing businesses with more information about power usage. With this latter point, this is so that businesses can adapt when power is used. In addition, smart grids aid utility companies as well, allowing utility providers to monitor and control their networks more effectively.

Central to the way grids operate are transformers. These devices are found in substations and at distribution points. Here, transformers function to convert the high-voltage power used in power lines to lower-voltage power, which can be used in a safer form at businesses and in homes. The new research has modeled a so-called “smart transformer” which can, in addition to the normal functions, redirect power as needed to address fluctuations in supply and demand. These smart solid-state transformers, according to lead researcher Professor Iqbal Husain, “can scale down voltage for use in homes and businesses” and, in addition, “scale up voltage from solar panels or other residential-scale renewable sources in order to feed that power back into the grid.” The university plans to work with U.S. utility providers to introduce the technology and offer smart power solutions to businesses. The new smart transformers are described in the publication IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 2017. The peer-reviewed research paper is titled, “Equilibrium Point Analysis and Power Sharing Methods for Distribution Systems Driven by Solid-State Transformers.” 

 

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