Relevance to Environment, Society and Economy
Electric power is becoming an increasingly essential part of the whole energy. system. Currently converted about 40% of the world's commercially sold energy to electric power, and this proportion is increasing. Electrical power is also an increasingly important part of the user level. One example is the hybrid cars that are often fossil fuel but where electricity is an essential component of an energy-efficient operation and low emissions. The new energy sources that are currently growing rapidly, electricity generators, such as wind power and solar cells. Even the transportation area sees a greater use of electricity as a great opportunity to streamline the system and reduce emissions. This means that the electrical system has a very central role in a future sustainable electricity system. Electricity networks are central to future energy and transfer energy from diverse and distributed sources to users. Through extensive power grids power imbalances can be smoothed over continental distances and cleaner and more efficient end use of electricity can be made such as such as heat pumps and battery-powered vehicles. Storage of electricity is crucial for effective use of naturally variable renewable energy sources.
The EU Directive on the promotion of energy from renewable sources (2009/28/EC) in April 2009. The Directive sets binding national targets for each Member State to increase the use of energy from renewable sources by 2020. By the year 2020, 49 percent of the Swedish gross energy consumption must met by renewable energy, and within transport, the proportion must be at least 10 percent. The goal of SweGRIDS regarding the integration of renewable energy and new energy storage helps to increase the share of renewable energy and the proportion of electric vehicles, in order that the requirements of the EU Directive can be reached.
Rapid changes are needed in electrical power grids in order to make use of different types of generation and load needed for a reduced dependence on fossil fuels, without sacrificing reliability. Changes occur in the geographical distribution of energy sources, with wind and wave power, and extremely distant sources such as desert sun. Some important renewable energy is characterized by large temporal variations in production which will require large-scale energy storage, system flexibility and controllable load to balance the network input and output power. Load previously derived from fossil resources such as heating and transport may switch to electricity, which increases the load on the network. Higher load and an increasing dependence on secure electricity supplies will require a more robust and stable power grid. Storage of electrical energy for transport and for peak-levelling may help the development of small, safe and easy chemical storage forms.
Many parts of SweGRIDS research may require expertise in various science and technology disciplines. There is a need for extensive cross-boundary work to bring together materials science, high voltage technology, communications, electronics, power electronics, measurement, magnetism, control, optimization, and other disciplines. Some long-term research is obviously of great importance, such as advanced insulation materials that could make it much more convenient to carry very high voltages over long distances from renewable sources (i.e. a super-grid).
Other research with shorter time horizons for new or improved components could in particular benefit from a close inter-sectoral cooperation with partners from the utility companies and partners in the industry working with universities contribute their own researchers, knowledge of cutting-edge technology, its production facilities and field measurement capability, as well as guidelines about business problems and profitability of manufacturing and deployment.
The varied skills and resources of our university and industrial research facilities can be set up with, along with a deep commitment to the manufacturing industry and various electric companies in the field of electricity, gives us extraordinary opportunities in SweGRIDS.
Social and economic relevance
Design and manufacture of hardware and systems for power and communication is one of the Swedish industrial strengths where only a few other companies in the world can compete.
The dramatic growth of grid and transmission distance leads to a rapid development of products and services such as high voltage and current in the transmission of high voltage direct current (HVDC). Job prospects, foreign trade and education all improve when collaboration with the industry partners in the area of smart grids and storage is improved.
Sweden is well known for innovation in the electricity sector, such as high voltage direct current, three-phase systems, and polyphase machines. ABB and Vattenfall are two international companies in the electricity sector in Sweden. Graduates doctorates and post-doctorates from SweGRIDS be expected to help the industry with the next generation of innovative products and methods. Some of these people will be trained in entrepreneurship and management and will thus be able to start their own companies based on their research. Through cooperation between KIC InnoEnergy and SweGRIDS obtained a strong connection to successful European research groups in the electricity sector which makes SweGRIDS a leading research environment for electric power research in Europe that is attractive to the best researchers.
The EU 20-20-20 targets adopted in 2009 refer to a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 2009 levels, 20% greater energy efficiency, and 20% renewable energy in the energy supply. The European and global power supply provides a very significant contribution to CO2 emissions. In order to achieve the EU's objectives, it is important to be able to integrate much larger amounts of renewable energy and energy efficient. The goal of SweGRIDS are contributing to this trend and thus facilitate the implementation of the EU's 20-20-20 targets.
Smart grids means by definition that existing resources should be used and coordinated through the grid in a more efficient manner. More on-line control of the system means the power system can be operated closer to its physical limits, but while maintaining its reliability. This reduces the need for new investments in power lines, which reduces the use of resources.
The new methods for the planning and operation of electrical systems permit greater proportions of variable energy sources to be integrated at a lower cost, which at the European level could reduce CO2 emissions. Central to the new methods is handling of applicable environmental regulations, e.g. about flows in hydropower rivers, in a rational way.