Electrical power networks need to evolve if they are required to meet the demands for lower carbon emissions and higher reliability. At distribution level this can be helped by using embedded, sustainable generation, and/or reducing distribution network power losses. The use of embedded generation and the need for higher network reliability requires a “smart” grid, which can cope with bi-directional power flows and provide a more intelligent allocation of power on the network during normal and faulted operation.
The Power Engineering and Power Electronics group is interested and involved in a variety of projects that demonstrates the concept of such a smart-grid as summarised by the following figure:
The figure shows a ring-main distribution system that is fed from the main grid. Individual loads are distributed through smart units with intelligence, the ability to communicate with other parts of the network and the accurate measurement of voltage and current at the nodes.
Embedded generation is represented by wind turbine symbols in the above figure. However this could also represent Combined Heat and Power (CHP), fuel-cell energy storage, PV arrays etc.
To achieve their research aims the group are currently working in conjunction with Tata Motors (through TMETC), Western Power Distribution, Alstom Grid and others to study aspects of the grid system from Hybrid vehicles up to large HVDC systems with a key emphasis on control, chain link converter technology and energy storage. Project under development: