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Integrated Energy

Industry is working on an open DC network

A smart network infrastructure, built on DC power grids, is expected to usher in the energy transition for industrial production. Companies and institutes are researching this together in the DC-INDUSTRIE project.

04 Dec. 2017
Michael Triadan
Industry is working on an open DC network (graphic: Weidmüller Interface GmbH & Co. KG)

Although renewable energy plants inherently work with DC voltage, currently they convert it to AC voltage before distributing it. That is expensive and associated with energy loss – and is often superfluous. After all, about 70% of energy consumption in industrial production is attributable to electric motors, for which the AC voltage from the energy supplier – once again involving loss of energy – must be converted back into DC voltage.

The obvious alternative would be to work continuously with DC power . 21 companies from industry, four research institutes and the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI) are currently working on the DC-INDUSTRIE project . This cross-sectoral network includes big players such as Siemens and Daimler , mid-sized companies like Baumüller or Weidmüller , the Fraunhofer institutes IISB and IPA as well as the University of Applied Sciences Ostwestfalen-Lippe and the University of Stuttgart . "Energy savings of 10% can be achieved simply by eliminating the many current transformers in drives, charging infrastructures and electronics, all of which require DC power," explains Gunther Koschnick, Managing Director of the Automation Division of ZVEI .

Direct current from the utility company was, incidentally, the norm until the end of the 19th century. The invention of the AC-powered transformer capable of producing any desired voltage changed that. About 120 years later, the tide could be turning again.