Aston University will be a key player in a world-class consortium, including Western Power Distribution, Schneider Electric, Exception EMS, Turbo Power Systems and Anvil Semiconductors, that will work together on a three year Innovate UK funded collaborative research and development project, worth over £1 million.
The project will look to increase the UK’s energy network capacity to tackle residential and commercial needs thus addressing an important issue in the UK energy industry.
One of the key challenges currently facing the UK energy network is the increasing demand for power being placed on residential networks which is being driven by the increasing use of electric vehicles and electro-heat. It is expected that this challenge will only magnify as by 2020 it is estimated that the UK will have 10 million homes with solar panels and the number of electric vehicles sold will rise to 6.4 million by 2023. Presently, the only long term solution to this problem is to reinforce the network that involves replacing an enormous amount of underground cable, which would be both costly and disruptive to businesses and the public.
A successful feasibility study, involving Aston University, Anvil Semiconductors and Western Power Distribution, highlighted that one way to solve this problem would be to use a power electronic converter (PEC) incorporating Anvil’s innovative, low cost Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology. This would allow Network Operators to increase the local network phase voltage, to increase capacity, and the PEC, which would be installed in the meter box of individual properties, would be used to bring the voltage down to the usual 230 V with very high efficiency. Therefore this concept will increase network capacity at a significantly lower cost than reinforcement, whilst it also could be incorporated in to any low voltage network where existing capacity is limited making it potentially a global product.
The consortium represents a complete supply chain, through to the end user, putting them in a perfect position to exploit and develop the technology. Anvil Semiconductors have world leading patented technology in SiC which will be pivotal for the PEC. Exception EMS and Turbo Power Systems will undertake the initial prototyping of the PEC, Schneider Electric will market the PEC to the international community and Western Power Distribution, as the largest individual distribution network operator in the UK, are a potential end customer for the PEC.
Aston University’s Power Electronics and Power Systems Group will be significant contributors to this project. Their expertise in areas such as power electronic convertors, power electronic system simulation and design, and power distribution networks will be used to investigate and devise solutions to the protection and safety of both the power electronic convertor (PEC) and the network.
Dr Andrew Cross, lead academic from Aston University on this project, “This is an exciting opportunity to apply our latest findings on power systems and power electronics to a project that could make a real difference globally to the energy industry”.
Peter Ward, Managing Director of Anvil Semiconductors, “We are delighted to be a part of this world class consortium that will put Aston University’s leading research in to practice, and are looking forward to the trialling of our technology on a real electricity network”.
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