DC technology to advance charging infrastructure

DC technology to advance charging infrastructure

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Electromobility poses new challenges for the infrastructure: stations for charging batteries must be seamlessly integrated into the existing stationary energy grid. A development project by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the University of Bayreuth (Germany) aims to explore this integration. In doing so, the developers are focusing on the possibilities of DC grids.

For a sustainable transportation turnaround to succeed, very different vehicle systems, from passenger cars and trucks to tractors and construction machinery, must be integrated into an overarching energy infrastructure that promotes electromobility. Commercial companies and private vehicle owners as well as public transport operators must be able to use this infrastructure. This requires forward-looking concepts that can be implemented without great expense: this is the task description for the “eMobiGrid” development project, in which the University of Bayreuth, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and several commercial companies are working together.

In order to increase the degree of utilization of renewable energies, the project is focusing on local DC grids. These enable low-loss coupling of battery storage, photovoltaic systems, wind turbines and hydrogen technologies. By allowing electric vehicle batteries to be used to charge other devices, they also buffer renewable energy production peaks. In addition, the DC grids are to be coupled with a higher-level AC grid. Another key aspect of eMobiGrid is the sole use of standardized and intelligent metering systems that comply with existing energy legislation.

Programmable Logic Controllers instead of PCs 

However, the envisaged overall concept must be extensively tested before it can be applied in practice. In the course of these tests, methods such as hardware-in-the-loop and digital twins are to be used, among others. The Bayreuth’s University’s Chair of Measurement and Control Technology, which is a member of the Center for Energy Technology (ZET), can look back on many years of experience in earlier collaborations with two other “eMobiGrid” partners: the Richter R&W Steuerungstechnik company and Fraunhofer IISB in Erlangen.

Bernd Zeilmann of R&W emphasizes the necessary practicality of all solutions to be developed: “We will gear all our solutions to industrial-grade resources: programmable logic controllers instead of desktop computers, real-time operating systems instead of Windows, smart meter gateways instead of insecure Internet communication.” Prof. Fischerauer from the University of Bayreuth comments, “There needs to be a compromise between what is feasible in engineering terms and what is practical. We understand something about measurement and control technology, optimization strategies or AI-supported data evaluation. But if the resulting solutions cannot be easily installed, parameterized, maintained and operated later on, there will be no nationwide energy transition.”

The company Richter R&W Steuerungstechnik in Ahorntal/Upper Franconia is the consortium leader of “eMobiGrid”. Together with the company eCharge Hardy Barth in Birgland-Schwend/Upper Palatinate, it will work on the systemic tasks that arise in connection with a new grid interconnection facility to be designed. This device is intended to enable batteries used in a wide variety of vehicles to have access to the same stationary DC grid. The Fraunhofer Institute IISB is primarily concerned with the necessary power electronics and battery technology. The Chair of Measurement and Control Technology (MRT), a member of the Center for Energy Technology (ZET) at the University of Bayreuth, together with the company EnQS in Karlsruhe, is taking on the research and development work in the field of intelligent measurement and automation technology.

eMobiGrid is one of six new collaborative projects funded by the German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV) to expand electromobility. In total, these projects are being funded with around € 10 million. These funds come from the BMDV’s Electromobility Funding Guideline, which is coordinated by the Berlin-based National Organization for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW GmbH) and implemented by Project Management Jülich (PTJ).

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