Our research programmes

Supergrid Architecture & Systems

We research and develop technologies to overcome many of the technical challenges relating to DC grids such as DC grid protection, DC voltage transformation, and power flow control in a meshed system or in a system incorporating LCC and VSC technologies. The principals of grid architecture must take into account the coexistence of various technologies and manufacturers and ensure a step-by-step development philosophy. We develop control and protection strategies for HVDC systems and define the requirements for key components of the system.

Designing and simulating the technical performance of future DC grids, or combined AC-DC power systems, is key for development:

  • Managing the stability of a DC network requires the control systems to be much more dynamic than those used in AC networks. To achieve this, it is necessary to carry out electromagnetic transient simulations with accurate built-in models of power converter control systems.
  • Real-time simulation is an important step required to demonstrate the system’s performance when a new technology is integrated into the network.
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High Voltage Substation Equipment

We focus on High Voltage Direct Current substation equipment, addressing the many challenges involved in these technologies. For example, studying a circuit breaker’s ability to interrupt fault currents within a meshed DC network is an essential question. We develop technologies associated with protection strategies that enable reduced infrastructure costs while maintaining the stability and availability of the networks.

Gas-insulated substations for DC applications are an essential part of future DC networks. Our research focuses on understanding, modelling and optimising the insulation systems used in substation component design. Disconnector performance, earthing switches and transformers must also be adapted to meet the operating constraints of DC networks.

In our research, we also focus specially on developing and integrating new solid and gas insulation systems which provide enhanced electrical performance and resilience, enabling us to develop interruption principles that have a low environmental impact

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Power Electronics & Converters

Our power electronics & converters research program focuses on developing power electronics technologies to meet the requirements of the future DC grid.

Our research covers innovative topologies and control systems which enable us to build highly efficient MVDC and HVDC power converters, notably for use in DC/DC conversion.

We concentrate on the following issues facing the industry:

  • The design, development and testing of high-voltage electronic components with high-voltage SiC components
  • The integration of an innovative control unit for better performance and reliability
  • The monitoring the power converters’ status via the life-cycle model
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HVDC Cable Systems & Junctions

We develop specific technological components for HVDC cable systems and study high-performance materials which will be used in DC network cables.
The specific demands of meshed grids can impact the technical requirements of the materials and cable systems used therein. For example:
  • New types of power flow variation, transient modes and harmonics
  • New architecture configurations and deployment (in particular for offshore use)

We explore and develop accurate HVDC cable modelling, taking into account the physical phenomena of direct current and focusing on the monitoring and diagnostics of HVDC cable systems. With our Hyperbaric test platform we develop new approaches for submarine links, including the technical feasibility of the underwater nodes.

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Power storage & balancing

The use of innovative storage and hybrid solutions is crucial when integrating and managing intermittent renewable energy resources on a wide-scale. We develop solutions to support grid flexibility, including adaptive storage.

We began with Pumped Hydro Storage (PHS), the most mature concept in terms of production capacity and storage volume. We have designed and developed a new hydraulic form that is more secure when used in turbine mode during transient sequences.

In our laboratory we test the four quadrants of every type of reversible pump turbine to gather data on their efficiency, cavitation and dynamic behavior according to IEC 60193 standard requirements. We focus on developing hybrid solutions for new HVDC projects or for existing AC infrastructure.

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