2nd April 2023

Texas developed an electricity router

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Max Wolf

US researchers at Texas A&M University have developed intelligent technology that can help utilities better serve homes and businesses affected by power outages. The system is designed for smart control and redistribution of generated power, including that which can be obtained through local solar panels.

Unlike conventional systems, which are traditionally used in conjunction with solar panels and contain several key electronic components, some of which are responsible for pumping energy from the general network, others for dumping surplus on batteries, designers from Texas put together a single device called intelligent power an electronic installation at the network edge, abbreviated as PINE (Power electronics Intelligence at the Network Edge).

The device is located outside the home and has three main connections: one goes to the room, the other to the mains, and the third to solar panels and batteries. Thanks to this, PINE can control the flow of electricity in any of the indicated directions.

“Our device looks like a smart energy router,” said A&M professor Prasad Enjeti. “It regulates the grid voltage, integrates solar energy that is produced locally and efficiently redirects energy flows.”

The researchers designed the PINE so that the router was programmable so that, for example, a utility company could control the amount of electricity going into solar-powered homes, and the households themselves could communicate with each other to exchange surplus energy.

To test whether PINE networks would perform as intended, the researchers modeled the community and ran extensive mixed-neighborhood computer simulations, in which some homes had PINE systems and others did not. Tests showed that houses with the PINE system had a cleaner and more stable voltage.

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Developers see the benefits of using PINE, including the fact that utilities can save on the purchase of expensive capacitor banks, which are now used to maintain the desired voltage on the supply lines. During power outages, PINE allows grid-connected houses to be self-sufficient and efficiently use previously stored or generated solar energy. The technology also allows the utility to limit the current on the grid for solar-powered homes and redirect them to other, more affected areas.

Solar battery

Vicky O. Torres

My name is Vicky O. Torres. I am a psychologist by profession, and I love my work very much. And in general, I am an active seeker of truth, silence and beauty of the world.

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