German researchers look at DC residential power grid

October 27, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
Researchers at the Flexible Electrical Networks (FEN) Research Campus at Aachen University have been exploring the development and implementation of a DC-based smart grid residential area mostly powered by renewable energies (RE).

An essential advantage of DC technology lies in the efficient energy supply of households where AC-DC conversion is not needed, for example with solar or wind power, cutting costs. This makes the business model development particularly interesting for potential stakeholders such as home owners as service providers, residential developers as well as grid operators, say the researchers.

The feasibility study was carried out for Innovationsregion Rheinisches Revier (IRR) GmbH to look at the “all-electric house“. Combining a photovoltaic (PV) system and a local battery system, which are incorporated in a DC grid, not only the overall electric energy supply but also warm water heating and general heating are carried out electrically. The business model of the DC residential area sees ten of these all-electric houses connected by DC street lighting. Further versions of the DC residential area include a DC mini wind turbine, a central battery, a fleet of electric cars and hydrogen production as additional supply and storage components. 

As part of the feasibility study, FEN Research Campus considers different aspects such as regulatory requirements with no feeding into the public grid as well as the investment and acquisition costs.  As a result, both positive and negative feedback as well as potentials and need for optimization in terms of further research and development can be shown.

The transdisciplinary research of FEN Research Campus focuses on the integration and development of direct current (DC) technology in six research topics: grid planning and operation, automation and control, standards and regulations, cloud platform for smart energy services, power conversion and components and non-technical aspects such as social acceptance as well as urbanistic and economical aspects.

fenaachen.net