NC State says solid state transformers are ready

2017-07-07 - Smart Grid Today article - July 6, 2017
Plans to build algorithms to manage power next

A new study using complex computational models found smart solid-state transformers (SST) could be used to let power distribution systems route renewable energy from homes and businesses into the grid, said the North Carolina State University (NC State) yesterday in publicizing the results of the study. Such a grid would improve efficient use of renewable energy and storage but, to date, this version of the smart grid has been mostly conceptual, it added.

The study indicated the approach could move from concept to reality in the near future using technology that already exists and cited SST as the key technology. Solid-state transformers developed at NC State can make this smart grid concept a reality, the school said.

Researchers at the National Science Foundation's FREEDM Systems Center at NC State in 2010 unveiled the first such SST, which not only performed all of the functions of a traditional transformer but could also redirect power as needed to address changes in supply and demand.

"The SST is a fundamental building block in the smart-grid concept," says Iqbal Husain, ABB distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and director of the FREEDM Center, in prepared remarks. "It can scale down voltage for use in homes and businesses, but it can also scale up voltage from solar panels or other residential-scale renewable sources in order to feed that power back into the grid.

"And because the SST is a smart technology, it can switch back and forth between those two functions as needed," he added. Husain co-authored a paper on the school's new modeling work.

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