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5.2.2 Power Electronics

5.2.2 Power Electronics Key technology for the energy transition Harald Pötter, Klaus-Dieter Lang, Martin Schneider-Ramelow, Eckart Hoene, Karl-Friedrich Becker, Kai Kolwitz Power electronics is the conversion of electric energy by means of electronic components. Electricity is not created equal, it can vary in strength, voltage or frequency. In order to modify it so that it can be used for certain applications, you need rectifiers or inverter, voltage transformers and other electronic components. Also, there are power electronics that only do connection and disconnection of electrical consumers - and are more than ordinary switches. The need to control electric current, to conduct it and to modify it will increase sharply in the coming years. Electricity will increasingly come from renewable energy sources. Thus, the amount of energy produced will become less predictable than before. The grid must balance supply and demand constantly. That is a challenge for control and information technology – even for intelligent, networked power electronic services; providers and consumers must switch it off commensurate with demand. Energy supply more decentralized Short and medium term forecasts for the expected supply of electricity and heat will be needed. Data need to be gathered, retrieved and processed in real time. Autonomous sensor networks for the provision, high-performance computers for processing and power line communication for the transmission of information will be the backbone of these networks. And in the specific modulation, power electronics will play an even greater role than at present. The average plant size will be reduced considerably: coal and nuclear power plants work in units which supply 500-1,000 megawatts; offshore wind turbines, however, only supply about five megawatts,and in cogeneration of heat and power in the home only a few kilowatts are produced. This transition increases the effort required to control the grid considerably. And power electronics has to help ensure that supply and demand meet. Berlin-Brandenburg is home to some companies that are active in this area. A not insignificant part of the energy conversion concern Converteam is located in Berlin, into which part of the Berlin based electronics company AEG was merged. More than 5,000 people worldwide work for Converteam. They specialize in electrical machinery, automation systems and power converters. In Berlin, the focus is on the low and medium voltage range; in terms of energy production the focus is on wind energy. Siemens also manufactures switchgears in Berlin. In the high-voltage range, the capital location is the center of excellence for all Siemens manufacturing plants in this area world-wide. All processes from development to sales to final assembly are represented. For the medium-voltage range, Siemens manufactures also in Berlin, for example vacuum circuit breakers. And when it comes to organizing the necessary management and control processes in distributed power generation, Berlin and Brandenburg can also demonstrate competence. An example is Skytron Energy, located in Berlin-Adlershof, where the focus is on monitoring concepts for photovoltaic power plants. They provide sensors, connection technology and the necessary software - with the declared aim to mainstream the alternative power plants in terms of reliability, availability and efficiency. The Skycontrol system feeds PV energy stably and flexibly into the grid, regardless of the type of inverter used. Myriads of currents in automobiles Power electronics is also in other areas the key to effective use and organization of electrical energy. Good examples are modern hybrid vehicles: power for locomotion is partly generated by a gasoline engine and partly by an electric motor. In addition, the electric motor can also be used as a generator that recovers braking energy and feeds it into the electrical battery. Several drives must be combined and energy flows in various directions must be controlled. Additionally, power electronics must convert electrical energy to the correct voltage and frequency for the electric motor. Also in conventionally-powered cars, control of the flow of electricity is far from trivial: middle class cars now have well over 50 electric motors. Brose, one of Germany's largest auto suppliers, develops and manufactures electric motors and components for electric vehicles in Berlin. They are specialists for mechatronic systems and world market leader for electric braking systems, gear actuators and electrical steering. Together with SEW-Eurodrive, Brose co-founded in early 2011 the Brose-SEW Elektromobilitäts GmbH & Co. KG. The joint venture will develop and produce drives and charging technology for electric and hybrid vehicles. On the other hand, the Berlin A.S.T. Leistungselektronik GmbH, part of the Wolnzach A.S.T. Group, has focused on development and production of technically advanced power electronics for railways and demanding industrial applications. They provide 3-phase and frequency converters as standard products or as a customized in-house development, as well as inverters, chargers, potential separating DC/DC converters, voltage stabilizers and voltage transformers. And of course, also those pay attention to power electronics who work on electric motors and drives in Berlin and Brandenburg: Menzel Elektromotoren which offers generators up to 10,000 kilowatts, AMK Tornado Antriebstechnik or PowerTronic Drive Systems. 90

5.2.2 Power Electronics Research and development in Berlin-Brandenburg The research community in Berlin and Brandenburg recognizes the importance of this topic. Only in cooperation of different disciplines will the challenges be met. The region has extensive expertise in energy technology through a number of powerful companies and research institutions. This is true not only for renewable energy such as photovoltaics, but also for power plant technology or technologies for the efficient distribution and use of energy. The two universities TU Berlin and BTU Cottbus are at the center of the development of new power electronic concepts and optimization of components and systems. At the TU Berlin, power electronics are located in a separate field within the power and automation technology. In Cottbus, a visiting professorship is dedicated to this theme, with a focus on coupling of network areas, stability of networks and production of autonomous networks, power converters with small feedback, and the integration of energy storage in power plants. Bonding and packaging technology in power electronics will play a significant role, especially in terms of reliability and thermal stability. It is also important to reduce weight and size of modules, complexity of technologies, and costs. On the road to intelligent power electronics – integration of power and control electronics into a package © Fraunhofer IZM Besides the research institutions, there is also a lot of expertise in this subject in the private sector in Berlin-Brandenburg. An example is Digalog where they are experts on hardware and software for automation and freedom from electronic interference. Fuss EMV specializes in electromagnetic interference suppression and filtering. Just two of many examples from the region. In development of strong and reliable power electronics much detailed work is required. And the German capital region has everything it takes to do it. Thermo-fluidic simulation of a system with forced air cooling © Fraunhofer IZM Contact: Harald Pötter Fraunhofer IZM Phone: +49 (0)30 / 46 403 742 Email: harald.poetter@izm.fraunhofer.de The five universities of applied science in Berlin and Brandenburg are also working in the field of power electronics. This is complemented by institutes of the Fraunhofer Society, the Leibniz Association and the Helmholtz Association. For example, the Fraunhofer IZM develops new reliable systems with high electromagnetic compatibility. There are also studies of electromagnetic interference phenomena and of thermal and thermo-mechanical aspects. In addition, they continue to develop packaging and bonding techniques, such as die soldering or heavy wire bonding. Detailed work is in demand The importance of power electronics is increasing - and in this context a lot must be considered: components must endure high switching currents, voltages and frequencies as well as rising operating temperatures, reliability and electromagnetic compatibility are required. An important challenge is the integration of sensors, protection and control electronics, i.e. conditions that must be considered already in the early stages of development. 91

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