Solid-state transformers aid smart grid

Smarter technologies are needed to handle issues due to smart grid growth; solid-state transformers could be the answer.

12/30/2010


Jaymi Heimbuch, of TreeHugger.com, discusses solid-state transformers.

As the smart grid grows, smarter technologies are be needed to handle issues like incorporating renewable energy, fast charging times for electric vehicles, and energy flowing into the grid from homes and businesses with their own solar arrays or wind turbines. In response to this need, companies are coming up with ways to beef up the "muscle" of the smart grid -- transformers. And that includes making them solid-state.Solid State Transformers

Kevin Bullis and Technology Review reports on the research:

The new solid-state transformers are much more flexible. They use transistors and diodes and other semiconductor-based devices that, unlike the transistors used in computer chips, are engineered to handle high power levels and very fast switching. In response to signals from a utility or a home, they can change the voltage and other characteristics of the power they produce. They can put out either ac or dc power, or take in ac and dc power from wind turbines and solar panels and change the frequency and voltage to what's needed for the grid. They have processors and communications hardware built in, allowing them to communicate with utility operators, other smart transformers, and consumers.

Such smart transformers will enable car owners to charge their vehicles at home in under an hour with less wasted electricity, and several cars on the same block could all be charging at the same time without overloading the circuits. That means solid state transformers could enable the growth of affordable all-electric vehicles.

That's not the only financial boon solid-state transformers that can handle two-way power flow could provide to consumers and businesses. In terms of allowing electricity generated by businesses to be added to the grid, Technology Review reports that "Smart transformers could coordinate this potentially rapid change from buying to selling power, while keeping the grid stable and preventing neighbors' lights from dimming. They could even allow people to buy electricity from their neighbors."

While the new generation of solid-state transformer is still being developed by a range of companies, it's likely we'll see them begin to roll out in just a few years as part of trials and pilot programs. But in the long term, those in the industry are confident that solid-state transformers will be a significant piece of the smart grid puzzle.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.