Fraunhofer solves power grid converter station problem

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 8:37pm

Scientists and researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology (IISB) in Erlangen, Germany, said they have solved a major challenge that stumped them while building converter stations for power grids of the future.

Markus Billmann of the IISB said that a converter station, which is needed at each end of a power grid transmission line, consists of some 5,000 semiconductor cell modules and a glitch in more than one module could prompt a chain reaction that would destroy the entire station.

“We have now solved this problem. With our cooperation partners we are working on tailor-made materials and components so that in future the equipment will need less energy," Billmann said.

Grid operators are increasingly looking into using direct current to transmit electricity over vast distances in grids of the future due to the lower system losses compared to alternating current. High-voltage direct-current transmission, or HVDCT, systems, however, require additional converter stations to reduce the voltage of the direct current and make it available to consumers.

"For the converters we use interruptible devices which can be operated at higher switching frequencies, resulting in smaller systems that are easier to control," Billmann said.



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