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Several universities and companies are working together on a new future-proof electricity network. The Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) is the leader of this EU-Horizon program called iPLUG. The UPC reports this in a press release.

Distribution is a major challenge

The EU targets a 40 percent share of renewable energy by 2030. Distributing this energy will be a major challenge. Many storage methods for these renewables need to be connected to the grid, and energy feed-in can also cause difficulties and overloads.

There are also problems in the distribution of energy supply and demand. Large energy consumers who, by investing in renewable power, have virtually eliminated their energy needs are occuring more and more. There, these formerly large users may actually now have energy left over, forcing the flow of energy in the other direction.

In particular, the stability of the power grid is under pressure. This is partly because, with renewables, there is no continuous supply of power. When the wind is strong and the sun is shining, there is plenty of power. If it is windless and cloudy, there is little. This requires a form of flexibility that was not needed before and therefore is not there.

Power conversion and storage

The iPLUG project is working on several solutions to these problems. In particular, they will do research on power conversion and options for (temporary) storage. It will also look at how a system with many conversions and storage works.

This will make hybrid connections possible and make it possible to work with different types of power in a single power network. Ultimately, this project should also ensure that a system with a lot of renewable energy becomes reliable and controllable.

Finally, this project is also looking at the optimal location for placing converters. By implementing these converters in the right place, the power grid does not become congested and households are not left without power. The project, due to the knowledge required on energy conversion, is being led by the Center for Technological Innovation in Static Converters and Drives (CITCEA), part of UPC.

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