France is developing a research and innovation strategy to develop information technologies in the field of intelligent electrical power systems (or Smart Grids), an interdisciplinary field par excellence.
The applications include power generation systems (e.g. from renewable energy sources), large interconnected power transmission networks, local distribution networks, on-board electrical systems and land-based electric vehicles in their recharging infrastructure network (from automobiles to automated electric shuttles).
The new topology of the electrical networks, due to the introduction of a large share of renewable energies, the double direction of the flow of electricity, due to “local” production (the consumer becoming a producer at certain times), the presence of different time scales, which must be taken into account in the design of control systems, and the importance of information transmission, raise major new issues where Information and Communication Sciences and Technologies, in particular automation, telecommunications and signal processing, have an extremely important role to play.
This research is carried out in partnership with major industrial players, such as EDF, RTE, General Electric, Alstom, Siemens, among others. These collaborations are carried out in the RTE industrial chair, the EDF – CentraleSupélec RiseGrid joint laboratory, the Institutes for Energy Transition SuperGrid and Efficacity, the Associated International Laboratories Power Grid with Brazil, and Smart Grid with Canada, as well as several CIFRE theses and European and ANR projects. Examples of research on these themes are presented below.
In order to move from the currently fossil fuels based world to a new one that is based on renewable power sources, the need to master in the most efficient way their integration raises. Particular attention has to be dedicated to off-shore wind power plants and solar ones (both photovoltaic or thermodynamic), or to distributed production like photovoltaic panels on individual houses.
Collaborations: EDF, SuperGrid, General Electric, ENEDIS, ENGIE
Power systems stability is based on real-time production-consumption power balance. In case of systems integrating large percentage of renewable energy, this condition is hard to reach. Therefore, energy storage systems have to be used. These systems range from consumer batteries to large water pumped storage stations.
Collaborations: GE Hydro, SuperGrid, EDF, RTE.
The efficient management of electrical grids, both the high voltage transmission network and the low voltage distribution grids, is a key point. Currently, a paradigm shift from pure AC or DC grids to mixed AC/DC ones is taking place, raising complex interactions that are still to be investigated.
Collaborations: Efficacity, SuperGrid, EDF, RTE, ENEDIS, General Electric, ENGIE, Vinci-Energie
The increasing utilisation of both ICT elements and power electronics has transformed conventional electrical grids into smart grids – Smart Grids. These SmartGrids aim to integrate renewable energies, in an efficient and reliable way, with a large amount of bidirectional data, and guaranteeing consumer privacy. When capable of self-management, whether or not connected to the main network, SmartGrids are called MicroGrids, and are often mixed AC/DC.
Collaborations: Efficacity, SuperGrid, EDF, RTE, ENEDIS, General Electric,
Electric vehicles integration
The integration of electric vehicles in the current electrical grid is one of the most complex challenges to be addressed in the near future. Indeed, they are expected to highly increase in number in the few next years, thus generating a continuously increasing jeopardized intermittent power demand that the current electrical grid is not able to handle.
Collaborations: Efficacity, RTE, ENEDIS, Vinci.
One of the biggest difficulties in the management of electrical energy is the speed of the dynamics (units of a second for a network). Moreover, the grid is limited by the consumption peak , which can vary very strongly throughout a day. Consequently, the coordination of several energy sources in parallel, such as electricity, heating and cooling, or gas, provides flexibility and the capability to minimize the peak. Furthermore, it allows to use both storage systems and the thermal inertia of buildings, resulting in higher performance.
Collaborations: EDF, Efficacity, ENEDIS.