GE Power Conversion has announced the successful trials of PassiveBoost™—its technology to allow remote power networks to go DC. According to GE, this is an important step in lowering the cost of power delivered from offshore installations and increasing the electrical output delivered from renewable energy sources in distant, inhospitable places.
The trials, performed at GE's full-scale power system test site near Leicester, in the U.K., brought together new technologies, which GE has been introducing over the past four years. The solution on test provides a straight replacement, on the same footprint, for the AC transformer inside every wind turbine and allows direct connection to an efficient, high-voltage, DC power collection grid while reducing cable cost and without the need for an expensive and complex DC breaker.
“Whether extracting fossil fuels or capitalizing on renewable energy resources, we find ourselves working further offshore or in inhospitable desert locations," said Keiran Coulton, senior executive, global industry at GE Power Conversion. "In either case, the energy wasted in AC transmission systems is costing the energy consumer too much. The technologies behind PassiveBoost will enable these costs to be cut.”
Since Edison, electrical engineers at GE have recognized the effectiveness of DC in the transmission of electricity from the sites where it is generated to the homes and businesses where it is needed. Modern power electronics have made it possible to realize that efficiency gain for power transmission, and PassiveBoost extends its potential for use in the distribution or collection grid.
The PassiveBoost project has been supported by Scottish Enterprise, with parts of the trial system being manufactured in GE’s Glasgow plant. In PassiveBoost, GE has used a new power device packaging technique with a novel cooling system. Crucially, GE also has its ActiveFoldback™ fault protection system, which has allowed it to protect the DC network at equivalent or lower cost compared to AC.