Power System Electronics

Ampère was the Newton of Electricity.

— James C. Maxwell

14.1 Introduction

This is the fourth chapter in Part Three on embedded and distributed intelligence for the smart grid and introduces advances in power electronics that will impact both the smart grid and its supporting communication. Adding communication to the existing power grid can only yield a limited amount of efficiency because the operational components of the grid are themselves inflexible and of limited efficiency; advances in high-power, solid-state electronics along with communication will enable the power grid to operate in a more efficient and flexible manner. As a simple example, large, inductive losses within the coil of an old-fashioned transformer can be significantly reduced by power electronics and power electronics allow renewable generators and the power grid to adapt to one another rapidly.

The chapter begins with a brief introduction to power electronics assuming no prior knowledge. In Section 14.2, the first application of high-power, solid-state electronics discussed is FACTS. This system allows power flow over individual transmission lines to be controlled, which enables efficient and adaptable power transport. This is followed in Section 14.3 by the solid-state transformer. As previously mentioned, the solid-state version of the transformer removes many of the worst inefficiencies. In a more general sense, the solid-state transformer can be viewed as a power router, ...

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