Schneider Electric to participate in a £9.5 million government initiative to modernise the UK energy infrastructure

The project, trialled on Western Power Distribution’s residential network, will increase local network voltage through the production and installation of high-performance power electronic converters into the meter box of individual properties.

Specifically, this project will look to increase the UK’s energy network capacity to tackle residential and commercial needs. Schneider Electric is joined by Western Power DistributionAnvil SemiconductorsTurbo Power SystemsAston University and Exception EMS in the design and delivery of this project. Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is funding projects that drive innovative ways in how energy is supplied and used to address the energy trilemma of sustainability, security of supply and affordability.

Due to multiple factors in consumption, generation and storage, the UK’s energy network is set to become increasingly complex. By 2020 the UK is expected to have 10 million homes with solar panels and the number of electric vehicles sold will increase to 6.4 million by 2023. As a result the existing energy infrastructure, designed for a one way flow of energy, will have to deal with unprecedented patterns in network load. The challenge of integrating distributed power generation, with traditional larger scale energy generation presents new risks in terms of voltage control and predicting load and demand. distribution network operators (DNOs) are facing significant challenges in modernising existing infrastructure -- and investing in smart technologies -- to cope with this transformation.  

The trial aims to deliver a dramatic increase in the capacity of our existing residential energy infrastructure, by increasing the local network voltage. This approach will allow the grid to simultaneously deliver different voltages for different requirements (i.e. charging an electric car and simultaniously providing a constant 240v for a residential building). This project will trial the installation of high-performance power electronic converters (PECs) into the meter-box of individual properties. In order to achieve the required level of performance, efficiency, stability and sustainability at the cost demanded, these PECs will use innovative low cost silicon carbide (SiC) switching devices built using Anvil’s unique SiC-on –silicon technology.
“Silicon carbide switches have been prohibitively expensive to manufacture and deliver to UK homes and businesses," noted Barrie Cressey, smart grid director  at Schneider Electric UK. "This project will look at how we can utlise highly innovative manufacturing techniques to break down the barriers and build these intelligent devices into the fabric of our energy infrastructure.

"There is some incredible work going on in the sustainability and energy space. It’s our mission to ensure consumers and businesses across Britain can benefit from the ground-breaking research and technical innovations that are happening in the energy industry.”


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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity