Distributing renewable energy into the power grid

The European iPLUG project, under Horizon Europe, is developing power electronics solutions to integrate renewable energy, energy storage systems, and loads in to the distribution grid.

Led by the Centre for Technological Innovation in Static Converters and Drives (CITCEA) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – BarcelonaTech (UPC), the project aims to enhance the integration of renewable energy into the grid through multiport converters.

The proposed converters, installed in several optimal locations, can facilitate a massive integration of renewables, avoiding grid congestion and allowing the provision of functionalities to both end users and the distribution grid.

iPLUG is part of the Horizon Europe programme and is led by professors Oriol Gomis Bellmunt and Marc Cheah Mañé at CITCEA. With an overall budget of almost €2.5m, of which €600,000 are managed by CITCEA, the project involves a consortium made up of five universities and research centres and three companies from Spain, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy and Serbia. The kickoff meeting of the project took place in the Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering (ETSEIB) on 22 and 23 September 2022.

Updating the power grid

The European Union aims to reach a 40% share of renewables by 2030 and much higher shares by 2050. Modern distribution grids are increasingly integrating renewable energy sources, which are reaching unprecedented levels of penetration. In particular, small power plants are being installed within the distribution grid to sell energy to markets and several large industries are integrating renewables into their facilities.

Moreover, many domestic, commercial, and industrial consumers are switching to renewables to reduce their demand and become self-sufficient. Consequently, the modern distribution grid is facing significant challenges, such as the need to integrate massive amounts of renewables and storage units and loads in the low and medium-voltage distribution grid and to connect alternating or direct current generators, which requires solutions to enable hybrid connections.

Multiport convertors for a new generation of power

The iPLUG project aims to design a new generation of multiport converters and develop methodologies to locate, size, operate, and control multiple converters in distribution grids with high penetration of renewables and several alternating or direct current loads.

The results are expected to have a positive impact not only on the power sector but also on transportation and buildings, among others.

The UPC’s CITCEA is developing methodologies to optimise multiport converters’ sizing and location within specific use cases, in which business opportunities may exist. In addition, researchers will implement dynamic models and controls for different types of multiport converters and study their impact on the stability of the power grid. Finally, multiport converter controls will be validated on real-time simulation platforms.

As the coordinator of the project, the research centre is also responsible for organising dissemination and technology transfer activities to consolidate the multiport converter technology once the project ends.

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