The electrical power system is facing new challenges due to the increasing amount of distributed energy resources with stochastic behavior. While the distribution grid has traditionally operated with alternating current (ac), nowadays most devices operate with dc internally, and most distributed renewable resources generate power in direct current (dc). Moreover, storage components as batteries and supercapacitors have a dc character. Currently, the dc output of these sources and loads must be first converted into or from ac in order to allow the connection with the ac distribution grid.
DCSMART is an interdisciplinary project that aims at enabling a straightforward integration of smart grid system technologies, the creation of market opportunities and stakeholders adoption through the development and implementation of dc distribution smart grids. These dc distribution smart grids will be based on modular and scalable concepts. The consortium has experience in the disciplines of electrical engineering, market and policy, and information and communication technologies.
DC distribution grids have the potential to facilitate smart grid applications in a more straightforward way. With dc distribution grids, dc sources and dc loads could be directly connected to a dc bus, eliminating dc/ac and ac/dc conversions. Not only would the number of conversion steps be reduced, but also the need for frequency synchronization would be eliminated. Power converters offer flexibility to the system, a very important attribute for the deployment of smart grid applications. In dc distribution grids the participation of power converter devices is more pronounced than in ac distribution grids. By making appropriate use of this attribute, smart grid technologies can be more easily enabled in dc distribution grids, as the power converters provide more controllability and as a result, are more suitable for the implementation of ICT-based smart grid applications, such as active demand side management. It is important to note that the lack of synchronization requirements in dc distribution grids facilitates the execution of local and autonomous distribution grid management. In interconnected systems, the provision of ancillary services, smart markets and the interaction with
Distribution System Operators (DSOs) is also facilitated by means of the control potential of dc distributions grids. The topic of dc distribution grids fits into the ERA-Net Smart Grids Plus call as the topic is part of the ETP Smart Grids Strategic Research Agenda 2035, which is covered by the call. The relevant topics of the ERA-Net Smart Grids call that will be addressed by DCSMART are the following: distribution grids, active demand-side management, autonomous grid management, ICT interfaces, and smart retail markets.