Flexible Electrical Networks (FEN) Research Campus is developing an underground demonstration grid
For the first time, FEN Research Campus is implementing a local medium-voltage (MV) grid which is exclusively based on direct current (DC). This underground demonstration grid will operate as a private grid within the infrastructure of RWTH Aachen University and will distribute electric energy between several large-scale test benches. The primary objective of implementing the grid is to analyze the efficiency and benefits of DC and its components, e.g. DC converters. Thereby, the technical maturity of DC applications in public MV grids is expected to be verified. On March 19, 2018, the beginning of the construction was initiated with a groundbreaking ceremony at RWTH Aachen Campus Melaten.
The research grid will be built with a voltage of 5 kV, an installed capacity of approximately 6.2 MW and a total length of about 2.3 kilometers. Upon its final expansion, five stations will be connected, working as consumers as well as feeders. Also, energy storage and renewable energies will be integrated. The grid is planned to go into test mode in late 2018.
Direct current as key technology
DC technology is becoming a stronger focal point within the context of energy transition, especially due to its numerous advantages regarding to energy distribution. It simplifies a number of tasks, e.g. the coupling of distribution grids and supplying quick charging points for electric vehicles, that alternating current (AC), which is used in our current system, can only accomplish with additional expenses and efforts. Given the requirements of energy transition, DC grids are also more suited for the flexible, bidirectional energy flow between producers and consumers since they react considerably less sensitive when energy is fed in at various different points simultaneously. Moreover, they are easier to operate.