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In order to further advance the activities of direct current networks and bring them to market maturity, the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association ZVEI, based in Frankfurt am Main, has founded the Open Direct Current Alliance (ODCA) together with companies from industry, science and research. The use of direct current technology is intended to support and implement the social goal of a resource-conserving and CO2-neutral world. Around 60 members of the ODCA are now working together to achieve the common goals. In addition to the Who's Who of German industry, companies from nine other countries are also part of the alliance. With the ODCA, the ZVEI aims to bring the findings and solutions of DC technology to international distribution. Direct current offers several advantages for a modern power grid: efficient integration of renewable energies, lower resource consumption, reduced feed-in, stable grids and an open system for users.

Advantages of direct current technology

Considerable advantages of direct current technology have already been validated in the industrial environment. Switching to a DC grid makes it possible to significantly reduce the connected load, avoid peak loads and reduce energy consumption. In machines with speed-controlled electric motors, energy is released when movement is slowed down. In the previous AC grid, this energy is usually lost. In the DC grid, it can be ensured that this lost energy is used directly or fed back into the grid.

Optional storage technologies bring further advantages

The new grid structure is based on an AC voltage feed, where the conversion no longer takes place individually for each device, but centrally at the feed-in device. The direct supply of DC voltage means that all decentralized energy conversions can be eliminated, saving on components and increasing efficiency by optimizing the central energy conversion from AC to DC.

The easier integration of storage systems also offers two further advantages. With DC grids, the system can continue to operate independently in the event of a power failure. This can be particularly advantageous in industrial applications where a reliable and constantly available power supply is of crucial importance. Power peaks can be significantly reduced by using batteries or other storage systems. The storage units always release energy exactly when it is needed. This saves electricity costs, as it is not only the amount of electricity that counts, but also the peak output. Photovoltaic systems with storage can also be better integrated here.

The ODCA is open to new members

Membership of the ODCA is open to all organizations and companies with an interest in the promotion and implementation of direct current technology. More than 150 member experts work together in working groups to address specific topics such as technology development, standardization and the corresponding fields of application. Standardization in particular is a key area for the introduction of direct current technology. The member companies and manufacturers advise the IEC on all DC-relevant network and product standards. One example is the new product standard for semiconductor-based circuit-breakers for AC and DC networks, which is already available as a committee draft.