Hitachi Europe Ltd. has concluded an agreement with Western Power Distribution for the supply of a Dynamic Voltage Control System for a smart grid demonstration project under the UK's Low Carbon Networks Fund Tier One. The project aims to use Hitachi's power electronics and control systems to reduce voltage fluctuations on distribution lines where renewable energy is being connected.
The three-year project will begin this summer and will involve up to four sites in Southwest England and South Wales. In the first phase of the project, a single D-STATCOM will be tested on an 11kV distribution line. The D-STATCOM utilises advanced IGBT technology to provide continuous reactive power to the network, compensating for voltage rise and flicker caused by the intermittency inherent in renewable energy generation. The second phase will involve a further three D-STATCOM units controlled by Hitachi's Voltage and Reactive Power Control System (D-VQC).
Hitachi anticipates that the systems, which can react to changes in a matter of milliseconds, will significantly minimize voltage fluctuation and be a more economical solution for Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) than strengthening or replacing network lines. Hitachi's D-STATCOM was initially developed in Japan as part of research projects aimed at integrating solar photovoltaic into distribution networks. The Smart Grid project with WPD in the UK will represent Hitachi's first demonstration of voltage control technologies in Europe.
Hitachi expects significant business growth for dynamic voltage control systems in Europe, as more renewables are connected to distribution networks driven by Feed-In Tariffs, in particular in rural areas, and as the business case for new smart grid technologies begins to deliver value for money for DNOs and their customers.