Smart transformers could make a reliable smart grid

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smart solid-state transformers

Using complex computational models, a new study finds smart solid-state transformers (SSTs). The new system used to make a stable, reliable “smart grid” allowing the power distribution system to route renewable energy from homes and businesses into the power grid.

Smart grid would improve the efficient use of renewable energy and storage. But, to date, the smart grid has been mostly conceptual. The new study indicates to move from concept to reality in the near future, using technology that already exists. The key technology is the SST.

smart grid

Generally, transformers found in substations at distribution points within the larger power grid. Conventional transformers convert the high voltage power to lower voltage power that can use safely in homes and businesses.

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In previous studies, researchers unveiled the first SST, which not only performed the functions of a traditional transformer, but also redirect power as needed to address changes in supply and demand.

Iqbal Husain from NC state university, said, the SST is a fundamental building block in the smart-grid concept. It can scale down voltage for use in homes and businesses, but also scale up voltage from solar panels or other residential-scale renewable sources in order to feed that power back into the grid.

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“We know how the individual SSTs work, but how they might work as part of a microgrid and how those microgrids may work in the context of the larger grid,” say researchers.

To that end, researchers developed a complex model that simulates the behavior of a power distribution system, accounting for the SSTs, renewable energy sources, and energy storage.

The model is scalable, used to predict the behavior of power distribution systems of any size.

Researchers said, using this model, SSTs can greatly enhance the functionalities of tomorrow’s power grid. However, certain operational boundaries need to maintain.

Our next step is to develop the algorithms necessary for SSTs to make the split-second decisions needed to keep a system within its operational bounds.

More information: [IEEE]

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