In 2011, the German Federal Government started changing its energy policy by exiting nuclear energy in favor of renewable sources. According to the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, 20 percent of electricity demand is now generated by renewable energy. By 2020, this share will be 35 percent according to the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG). In order to achieve this change, the German Federal Government has launched a host of support and subsidy programs for research into power generation, transmission and consumption.
Supported by GE (NYSE: GE), an innovative test bench for future energy technologies is under construction at the Energy Research Center (E.ON ERC) of Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH). The E.ON ERC was established to focus on research into solutions for environmentally friendly, safe and affordable power. This project demonstrates the contribution of GE Energy to support the sustainable course of the Energiewende in Germany with its broad range of technical solutions and products.
GE Energy is supplying the main components of the test bench but also is supporting the project with comprehensive know how. The test bench can test drives and generators at speeds of up to 15,000 revolutions per minute as well as the DC-to-DC converter and multilevel converters, which are needed for the power grids of the future. Around one quarter of the 1,000-square-meter test hall at the Aachen research center is dedicated to the test bench.
The test bench enables highly efficient testing because the mechanical energy generated is converted back to electrical energy, which is fed back into the grid via a DC link using GE technology. In this way, only very small amounts of power are used in the testing itself.
"The GE Energy team, which has a lot of experience with test benches and power electronics, was able to offer a one-stop solution," notes Prof. De Doncker, director of E.ON ERC, who already has cooperated with GE on several projects in the past.
E.ON ERC will use the test bench for high-speed gas turbines, which will, for instance, be used in future mini-cogeneration plants with a power rating of 1 to 10 megawatts (MW). The test bench was designed to meet the demanding requirements of high-speed direct drives with up to 15,000 revolutions per minute. The test bench also can be used to test medium-voltage DC-to-DC converters that will be needed for the power grids of the future.
"DC-to-DC converters will, for instance, be used to feed the energy generated by wind power plants or photovoltaic systems into medium-voltage grids," explains Prof. Rik De Doncker. "A DC grid enables better transmission of energy over long distances and avoids the losses that result from the conversion to direct current."
"We are delighted to be part of this future-oriented research project of one of Germany's leading universities. The products and technical support by GE Energy offers the scientists at E.ON ERC great flexibility in their testing processes," says Dr. Georg Möhlenkamp, senior leader product management of GE Energy's Power Conversion business.
The drive train of the test bench consists of a GE drive motor with a power of 5 MW at 1,500 rpm, a brake and the gear. The system is designed for bidirectional operation, i.e. the drive also can work as a generator. This also is possible thanks to a MV7000 drive inverter, which is designed for both motor and generator operation. The MV7000 is based on tried-and-tested GE technology using dynamic control properties and minimum grid interference.
GE Energy develops and builds customized test benches for combustion engines, hybrid and electric vehicles as well as wind power plants and supports their customers with the complete offering ranging from development, project management and customer service.
The test bench is expected to enter operation at the end of 2012.
Please visit GE at the Automotive Testing Expo 2012 being held June 12-14 in Stuttgart, Germany, in hall 1, Stand 1157.
About GE Energy’s Power Conversion business
GE Energy acquired Power Conversion (then known as Converteam) in September, 2011. GE Energy’s Power Conversion business applies the science and systems of power conversion to help drive the electric transformation of the world’s energy infrastructure. Designing and delivering advanced motor, drive and control technologies that evolve today’s industrial processes for a cleaner, more productive future. It serves specialized sectors such as energy, marine, industry and all related services. To learn more, please visit: ge-energy.com/electrifyingchange.
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Carsten Ritter, GE Energy
Power Conversion, Communications
P: +49(0) 307 622 3173 - E: carsten.ritter[.]converteam.com.
Gina DeRossi, Masto Public Relations
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Howard Masto, Masto Public Relations
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