This improved network comes in the form of a Smart Grid which can provide a more sustainable, reliable and affordable electricity supply. Smart Grids are intelligent networks that monitor the distribution of electricity and enable a two-way dialog where energy can be exchanged between utilities and their customers. This in turn facilitates a demand-supply balance and helps distribution networks deliver electricity more efficiently and sustainably

Up to £50 billion investment is required in the distribution network to address EVs and electrified heat. Two thirds of which is to reinforce network cables underground and a third needed for overhead lines and transformers. There will always need to be some traditional reinforcement but power electronics can enable the Smart Grid of the future, facilitating the release of additional capacity from existing networks or by creating additional capacity from efficient micro networks.

The Next Generation Power Quality Improver or Soft Open Point (SOP)

Enabled by SiC

Latest Silicon Carbide (SiC) power semiconductor technology enabling more practical implementation:

  • Ultrasonic switching for silent operation.
  • Highly efficient power conversion.
  • Compact design.

Both designs uniquely deploy a neutral leg converter to achieve individual phase balancing.

2 Terminal Design

  • On Street meshing of 2 Low Voltage Feeders.
  • Slimline Design.
  • 240 kW power transfer possible.
  • Air Cooled.

3 Terminal Design

  • Sub Station meshing of 3 Low Voltage Feeders.
  • 400 kW power transfer possible.
  • Air Cooled.

Soft Power Bridge (SPB)

Meshing at HV

Creating a 5 MW mesh would involve using a Modular Multi Level Converter (MMC) if using SOP approach:

  • Expensive and Large piece of equipment.
  • Doesn’t appear viable for the application.

A new approach using Unified Power Flow Controller principle has been developed – the SPB:

  • More compact and cost effective than a fully rated MMC.
  • 1 MW Power Electronics to achieve a 5MW mesh.
  • Voltage & Phase imbalances between feeders less at HV than LV.
  • SPB therefore sized to control a voltage difference between feeders.

Active Response

  • Using power electronic devices to move electricity from heavily loaded substations to nearby substations with spare capacity.
  • Creation of Soft Open Points (SOPs) between distribution substations for capacity.
  • Sharing which, like a valve, can be fully open, fully closed, or at a setting between these limits.
  • Project 2 – install in 2023.

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