DC-POWER - Megawatt-scale power flows in distribution networks

Research and innovation
Published on 02/08/2024

The launch of the European DC-POWER project brought together consortium members at CEA's INES premises on January 11 and 12, 2024. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the advantages of a local DC and medium-voltage distribution network over a standard three-phase local distribution network.

The current electrical power distribution network, based mainly on alternating current, has been one of our pillars for over a century. It enables to transport energy generated by large power plants over long distances to a distributed network of consumers. Increasing local production from renewable energy sources and many modern, mainly DC-based electrical loads, such as electric vehicles, present this network with new challenges.

Modern grids need to manage bi-directional energy flows, intermittent local generation from renewables and local energy storage in stationary batteries. Medium-voltage distribution microgrids using direct current instead of alternating current look promising for resolving some of the weaknesses of the main alternating-current grid.

Project objectives

While a number of initiatives in the field of low-voltage DC secondary distribution networks are already underway, the DC-POWER project has the novelty of extending these concepts to medium voltage. It aims to demonstrate the advantages of a medium-voltage DC network for local distribution compared with a standard three-phase local distribution network.

The proposed concept, called "D3 Bus", could reduce distribution energy losses by over 90%, cut downtime, equipment costs and footprint, while increasing sustainability.

Over the 4-year project period, the consortium partners will demonstrate, test and validate the D3 Bus concept in 2 operational pilots, both equipped with large-scale photovoltaic panels, powering:

  • a 2 MW industrial-scale hydrogen electrolyzer.
  • a new data center with installed computing power of up to 500 kW.

The DC-POWER project is coordinated by the CEA, and led by a consortium of 10 partners from 6 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland and Spain), including universities, private and industrial partners - a guarantee of balance and diversity.

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