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CSA Catapult joins project to simulate microgrid for electric HGVs

20th February 2023

Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult has joined a consortium working to explore the potential of a simple, scalable and low-cost DC microgrid to charge electric heavy goods vehicles (eHGVs).

The consortium, led by Syselek and including CSA Catapult and Levistor, is aiming to simulate an innovative and grid-integrated DC microgrid system that could be used to charge eHGVs at depots to coincide with the scheduling of daily fleet operations.

The microgrid would use multidirectional charging, which enables eHGVs to be charged but also share energy with nearby buildings and depots, or the grid itself.

The microgrid would support megawatt charging, needed to accommodate the large batteries of eHGVs, integral energy storage, and the potential connection of local renewable solar energy generation, using the latest generation of compound semiconductor switching devices for achieving the highest efficiency and lowest cost.

The proposed microgrid would also be largely DC, as opposed to many conversions between AC and DC and vice versa, which at high-power levels would result in higher overall microgrid efficiency, less infrastructure and significant cost savings.

The Megawatt Charging Multidirectional Microgrids project, part of the V2X Innovation Programme, is funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and delivered by Innovate-UK. V2X is part of the up to £65m Flexibility Innovation Programme, funded from the £1 billion DESNZ Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. The project will involve the selection of a DC microgrid architecture, simulations and model development to optimise performance and power management, and techno-economics modelling to maximise investment return.

As part of the project, CSA Catapult will provide state-of-the-art simulation models for the various power electronics conversion units and different DC microgrid components and layouts.

HGVs account for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and 13% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from road transport in the UK, according to a recent report from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

In 2020, there were more than 485,900 HGVs registered in the UK.

The decarbonisation of the freight sector will be essential for the UK to meet its overall net-zero targets.

The team predict that the UK market for eHGV chargers will be at £40m in 2025, and £215m in 2030. Meanwhile, the global market will potentially reach around £6 billion.

Adam Lewis, Senior Power Electronics Engineering at CSA Catapult said: “We are delighted to partner with Syselek and Levistor and begin working on this innovative project to ensure that the charging infrastructure for eHGVs keeps pace with the increasing number of vehicles on our roads. The electrification of our transport sector will be vital if the UK is to reach its goal of net zero by 2050.

“At CSA Catapult we have the necessary expertise in high-power electronics to help model, simulate and optimise the microgrid so that savings in costs and improvements in efficiencies can be realised.”

Alan Walker, Business Development Director at Syselek, said: “Transitioning HGVs from fossil-based fuels to electrification is necessary to meet our Net Zero goals, but faces many business challenges. The innovations explored in this project offer real opportunities to reduce fleet operators’ operating costs and minimise investments, helping to achieve a positive business case.

“The knowledge and skills from many stakeholders are needed to realise the electrification transition. We are very grateful for the financial support from DESNZ, via Innovate UK, which enables this collaboration with CSA Catapult and Levistor.”

Professor Keith Pullen, CTO of Levistor said: “This project creates an exciting opportunity for the application of our high-power, short-duration flywheel technology. It is ideal for reducing power spikes and delivering the high powers needed for opportunity charging. This minimises maximum current draw from the grid and eHGV re-charging times.”

More project details are available at https://www.syselek.com/mcmm


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