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22 April 2022

Cleangrid: support the electrical grid and industry’s decarbonation



Why the quality of the grid is at risk?

CO2 emissions must be reduced and the answer is often the electrification of the industrial processes to replace fossil fuels widely used so far. Therefore, the electrical grid issues will exponentially increase with the growing number of installations and the power they require.

The main representation of power quality is the harmonic distortion. In the recent years, the impact of harmonics distortions on the grid has significantly risen due to the increasing use of power electronics in industrial applications. The cause lies often in the equipment being powered: when used, they inject high-frequency currents (harmonics) back onto the grid.

It has consequences on the power transmission and generation but also on customers. Indeed, it increases energy costs by diminishing equipment performance through heat losses as well as the life span of the equipment.

Finally, as shown in the illustration below, trends are an increasing share of the renewable energy sources (RES) a decreasing share in the non-renewable energy sources (Non RES) but also a diminution of other energy sources such as fossil and coal.

Energy trends

The Walloon government has unlocked a budget of € 113 million

As part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (in French PNRR = Plan National de Relance et Resilience), the Walloon government has launched a call for projects to Walloon economic and industrial actors to modify their processes for an efficient production while consuming less energy.

The Walloon industry has the capabilities and technologies to reduce its environmental footprint and offer sustainable products to meet future challenges such as power quality and energy efficiency.

In this context, many projects have been selected, among which CLEANGRID.

Industrial converters supporting high quality grid

Jema, together with its partners Engie Laborelec, UCLouvain and ULiège, has initiated the CLEANGRID project.

Even though it can apply to many industrial power conversions, the project will focus on the specific case of green hydrogen production.

Mainly based on chemical extraction from hydrocarbons (methane, coal, petroleum fractions), these processes emit today up to 10 tons of CO2 for 1 ton of hydrogen produced. With zero emission, the all-electrical alternative solves this issue. However, it can’t take directly its power from the grid as it needs regulated direct current, thus power converters are necessary.

The main objective of the project is to investigate the characteristics and potentialities of an innovative high power converter structure likely to preserve the advantages of conventional all-electrical solutions (reliability, efficiency, price) while reducing dramatically or supressing completely the “electrical pollution” (harmonics) injected on the grid. This will ultimately allow the large-scale deployment of the necessary electrical conversion power plants to support the growth of the industrial production, while respecting the most stringent standards issued by the Distribution System Operators (DSOs).

“Electrification of industrial processes is a major aspect of the decarbonization required to improve our global sustainability. But all these projects, often requiring high power systems, will induce major constraints on the electrical grid, such as harmonics’ rejection for example. We are very happy to be able to work with other experts such as Laborelec, and both Universities of Louvain and Liège, to find the best solution to support the CO2 reduction global effort while improving the electrical grid.

Presentation & role of the partners

Engie Laborelec is the competence center attached to the Engie Group, assisting the group in the identification, derisking and operational introduction of emerging technologies likely to accelerate the energy transition. Electrolysers are among the technologies monitored very closely in this context. Power electronics, which drive them individually or in cohorts, pose challenges that are at the heart of Laborelec’s business. Through this project, Laborelec will develop simulation and emulation tools specifically dedicated to the analysis of the intensive integration of these technologies in electrical systems.

Jema is a specialist in the design, manufacture and sale of medium and high power converters in a wide range of fields. Jema contributes to the project with its technical expertise, experience and industrial strength. Jema considers the production of hydrogen as one of the pillars on which its continued growth will be based, both nationally and internationally.

The iMMC/MEED research unit of UCLouvain includes electrical energy and power systems in its research fields. This project is in line with previous or ongoing works on the theme of power quality and electromagnetic compatibility in future energy networks. The wide involvement of the laboratory in international standardization activities (IEC – International Electrotechnical Commission) in the above-mentioned technical fields will also benefit from the advances and discoveries of the project, which will in turn feed the reflections.

The “Smart microgrids” research unit of ULiège, specialized in microgrid simulation and in the development of control and optimization algorithms, will contribute through its skills, in particular the use of hardware-in-the-loop techniques. The present project will allow them to address the issue of clean H2 production and its implications on the electrical grid, the improvement of models or numerical twins for H2 production technologies, from the main process to its interface with the public grid.

Want to follow the progress of this project?

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