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Our Vision of the DC Smart Grid

   

We already live in a DC world without realizing it. By recognizing this, the energy world will become sustainable faster, and then we will achieve a more reliable, a more affordable and efficient grid. 

 
DC is NOW!

A safer, more efficient, controllable DC infrastructure "smart grid" with:

  • Safety - avoiding electrocution - because we developed a Protection against Current leakage. This is one of the Innovations by Direct Current BV which was one of the missing links why DC grids until now were not possible.
  • More capacity in the existing cables, so no extra costs for replacement for "grid reinforcement", resulting in lower social costs.
  • Privacy guaranteed by so-called data retention, so we have no arms race about data security or hacking.
  • Automatic local congestion management without the requirement of central big data (so there is no need of a permit for big data usage).
  • Higher availability of energy because the system does automatically congestion control and is therefore avoiding system overload.
  • Managing devices in the outdoor area, because the DC smart grids have standard feature of communication, which is an innovation by Direct Current BV.
   

 

Current DC Projects Developments

Direct Current BV is working hard to develop the components for the DC world in the picture posted above, consisting of the following areas:

Smart outdoor

A single DC infrastructure, a DC system developed by us, connected with street lighting, Sola Road Biking paths with integrated solar panels, sound barriers with solar panels, battery storage for grid support, and security components, a security monitoring service provided by Luminext.

Smart cities

Sensor integration with street lights on our DC system, which can be monitored, for example, the level of fullness in the waste glass container. CO2 sensors in the street lighting or detection of people in order to automatically change the lighting level. The possibilities are endless.

Homes on DC

Heat pumps, ventilation, lighting, USB sockets C, and solar panels, all connected to a DC smart grid we have developed, in homes, which can be connected to a DC grid in the streets in a later stadium.

Offices in DC

Heat pumps, ventilation, lighting USB sockets C, solar panels, all connected to a DC smart grid, we have developed, in offices, where we can realize smaller connections with congestion management.

Horticulture

DC grow lights where the CHP is also linked to the DC grid we developed, where the connected gas engines may have a variable speed.

Solar parks

Solar Parks fully on a local DC grid and connected to the DC grid of net operators. These DC grids are also made possible by our DC systems.

Network operators

The future DC Grid Station in which we are developing the AC/DC converter, which we connect directly with our medium-voltage transformer, for which we are developing a new earthed DC grid.

 

Our Vision of the Future of DC

DC has special properties that emerged from recent developments in power electronics. During the war of the currents between Tesla and Edison, this technique was not available. It was a good thing that Tesla won, because this has led to a global roll-out of the electricity grid which had not been possible with the technique of Edison.

It is always good when you are going to make major renovations or adaptation to an old building, to ask yourself at least the following questions:

  1. Are the choices and arguments of the past still valid with the knowledge and technology of today in mind? 
  2. Is a new construction cheaper than a renovation? 
  3. Is the new structure suitable for a long-lasting future? 
  4. Are the users better off? 
  5. Is it possible to do maintenance with the knowledge and people in the future?

 Our Vision of the DC Smart Grid

When these questions are taken into account with our existing electricity network, then I come to the following answers: 

Because the society is electronicalizing, as well as the use of our energy network, it shows that more and more electronics are coming into the network. For generating energy, we have solar, wind, fuel cells and blue energy. These sources make extensive use of electronics and work on DC. On the user side, there is an increase of demand by heat pumps, electric vehicles, computers and many other consumers. These are all direct current users. So it is an obvious choice for the user to switch to DC. 

At the top of our network, the transmission systems, we see more and more HVDC instead of AC, for example, the connections between Norway and England. Furthermore, the discussion of overhead connections plays a large role in society, because nobody wants to live between the pylons. HVDC can play a major role in this in the future as this is easier to be placed underground. So at the top, we see more and more DC emerging and eventually the transmission systems will all be HVDC. 

At the bottom of the network, the distribution side, more and more congestion are being caused by the further electrification of the energy chain and by generation at the bottom of the net. There is a need for greater controllability and intelligence, in other words electronic transformers that can regulate the flow of energy. This is difficult with current transformers because these must be managed at the very lowest level. This affects the society when it comes to privacy and affordability. DC gives a whole new possibility in distribution where much more is possible. And since we need to change, communication can be implemented without the handicap of the past, with the result that privacy and manageability are fully integrated. 

Summary: We see DC at the top and at the bottom of the grid converging to each other.

Substantial savings and lower costs

Because many parts of our network no longer meet in capacity or need to be replaced because of old age, the switch to DC can turn out to be cheaper in many cases. The discussion on materials plays a major role here. Copper is a scarce metal but is now extensively used in transformers and low voltage distrubution. By using DC there is a substantial saving in copper (40% is feasible). The medium voltage is mostly using aluminum but here as well more energy can be transported by DC.

Because a lot of reactive power are produced by all the electronics in the network, this is included in the so-called network codes. For this, a surcharge is included in the price. This phenomenon does not exist in DC, so lower rates are possible. Because intelligence is working on priorities rather than supply and demand, the user will be rewarded for smart application. This is an essential key component of DC grids.

Future education

Colleges and universities face a sharply declining number of students. It is a pity to see that energy technique loses in popularity. It will eventually occur that electronics and energy will be merged. For DC this an advantage because the necessary knowledge for DC lies between electronics and energy. And specific knowledge about cables etc. is more about physics and this generates a logical choice for the future of education.

 

Harry Stokman

CEO Direct Current BV

 
DC is NOW!