Eaton develops intelligent microgrid

Eaton is developing an intelligent microgrid that will manage up to 350 electric vehicles (EV) and demonstrate the benefits of photovoltaics and electric mobility.

Eaton, a specialist in intelligent energy management, has teamed up with four other companies in Switzerland to develop a microgrid demonstrator that can power local businesses and charge up to 350 electric vehicles.

Located at the Y-PARC industrial and commercial site in Yverdon-les-Bains, the demonstrator will include electric vehicle charging stations connected to local businesses and solar energy sources via a smart microgrid.

Within the microgrid, different control and pricing modes are explored with the aim of demonstrating the ability of smart electric vehicle (V2G) technology to offload high demand from the Swiss electricity grid and thereby eliminate or reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

François Randin, Managing Director of Eaton Green Motion, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, said: “Companies are experiencing a sharp rise in energy prices and are striving for some energy autonomy.”

The Y-PARC demonstrator called SunnYparc will present you with one of these alternatives. It shows them how to save money and become more energy resilient thanks to an electric vehicle charging infrastructure powered by renewable energy.

Other companies involved in SunnYparc are: Planair for project management; Yverdon Energies for part of the photovoltaic system and for the application and management of the microgrid and the range of charging stations; Smart Energy Link (SEL) for the development of the intelligent control system; and Virtual Global Trading (VGT) for the implementation of a flexibility aggregation service and the development of dynamic tariffs linked to the electricity market.

Eaton’s role will focus on the development and delivery of high-performance Eaton Green Motion AC and DC charging stations, starting with the installation of 25 stations (including five bi-directional) by the end of 2022, before rapidly increasing the number thereafter. The aim of the project is to install photovoltaic panels to produce more than one GWh per year (1 million kWh), charging up to 350 electric vehicles every week at different times at a total of 250 charging stations.

The microgrid will take advantage of the “diversity of use” of electric vehicles that will be connected to SunnYparc every week to make the most of their charging and discharging. In practice, this means that the algorithms that control the microgrid intelligently manage the flow of energy between electric vehicles, PV panels and buildings to distribute available energy where it is needed, when it is needed and to dissipate excess energy and to gain energy storage capacity that is available to the grid when needed at a certain price (so-called flexibility).

When SunnYparc needs energy from the grid to support its own photovoltaic production, the micro-grid can determine the most favorable time for purchase and storage, although the goal is to achieve a high degree of self-sufficiency through efficient management of all available energy flows to reach. The advantage of this type of smart aggregation for the power grid is that it needs to connect many vehicles to a single point while providing the flexibility equivalent of a large fixed battery in the batteries of all connected EVs on chargers.

The Swiss regulatory framework, which is unique in Europe, allows certain parts of the electricity grid to be privatized into microgrids, within which flexible electricity pricing is permitted. The flexibility observed during the SunnYparc project will be quantified and pioneering pricing models will be developed, allowing for the replication of this concept on a larger and broader scale.

The project is expected to provide useful insights for other countries to develop new ways of managing the energy flexibility needed to harmonize the rapid decarbonization process.

“Developing mechanisms to synchronize the electrification of end markets with the decarbonization of power generation is a challenge for grid operators around the world. The constant increase in the number of electric vehicles shows us that parking large numbers of electric vehicles gives us the flexibility we need, hence the importance of this type of project,” concluded François Randin of Eaton.

SunnYparc is financially supported by the P+D program of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the canton of Vaud. The city of Yverdon-les-Bains, through Yverdon Énergies, is the main investor in the microgrid and the range of charging stations.

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