The industrial sector in particular is looking for suitable solutions to achieve climate targets. In times of climate change, the world is dealing with rising energy costs, scarce resources, and an increasing demand for energy. One approach to solving this problem is to switch from an AC power grid to a DC power grid in factories. Renewable power generation, energy storage, and energy recovery are keywords of climate change that can be implemented in a DC micro grid. This reduces energy consumption and cuts peak loads (peak shaving). The effect relieves and stabilizes the supply network. The design of a DC power grid for industry is one approach for a future with sustainable industrial production.
DC power grids in industry The forward-thinking DC technology at Phoenix Contact enables sustainable and regenerative energy feed-in, storage, and distribution. Discover our DC solutions for safe DC microgrid applications.
Innovative DC technology for more sustainability right now Sustainability is more than a buzzword – it has always been our mission.
Join Phoenix Contact on the way to a world with renewable energy that is efficiently stored and distributed. This will make electrical energy available for use anytime, anywhere. This is why at Phoenix Contact, we focus on concepts and solutions for the safe use of DC technology in microgrids.
Sustainability starts with the right use of DC technology.
Direct current – the industrial energy system of the future? From generation to storage and supply
In today‘s world, most end devices are already powered by direct current (DC). Both charging stations and electric drives in industrial environments are operated with direct current generated from alternating current. For this reason, various companies working on the DC-INDUSTRIE project are researching an integrated, DC-based smart grid.
The idea is that the direct current generated by renewable energy sources directly supplies the loads in the grid, such as machines, motors, or conveyor belts, with electricity without conversion losses.
Due to networking in the DC power grid, it is also possible to feed the braking energy of a system back into the grid as electrical power. Surpluses produced are collected in energy storage systems and fed back into the grid when necessary. This reduces the feed-in power by up to 80%. In addition, both the peak load and the load on the public grid can be reduced.
DC power grid in industry
Advantages of a DC power grid
- Increased energy efficiency through energy recovery, the conversion-free use of renewable energy, and energy storage
- Resource optimization through up to 55% less copper consumption, reduced equipment costs, and smaller footprints
- Avoidance of production downtime due to failures in the supply network
- Basis for the intelligent control of energy flows
FAQ: Direct current technology
In a DC-based micro grid, electric power is generated through the efficient integration of renewable energy from carbon-neutral production. This energy is used by electrical loads in a DC power grid directly, without further conversion from DC to AC. The process saves conversion losses, which in turn reduces energy consumption. In addition, it is possible to use all of the braking energy of lifting processes. The energy that would otherwise be lost as heat is now fed back into the DC power grid as electrical energy. Energy storage systems collect excess DC power for later use.
A combination of sustainable power generation, energy recovery, and energy storage ensures greater sustainability in factories.
In addition to savings in energy consumption, using a DC power grid also results in potential material and space savings. In terms of energy efficiency, energy losses can typically be reduced by 2 – 4% by eliminating DC-AC conversion. In addition, the use of suitable energy storage leads to a reduction of feed-in power by up to 80%. The complete use of braking energy also enables 15 – 20% more energy savings, depending on the application.
Copper use in a DC application can be reduced by as much as 55% without sacrificing performance. In times of scarce resources, this is significant. DC devices are also significantly smaller than AC devices. The reduced material expenditure saves further space.
The conversion of direct current to alternating current or direct voltage to alternating voltage involves losses, since energy is also required for conversion. This increases energy consumption, and energy efficiency suffers as a result. In addition, DC-AC inverters are necessary. They require corresponding space in the application – space that is saved by not converting.
Supplying direct current straight to loads replaces the previous DC-AC-DC conversions. This increases energy efficiency, as a purely DC power grid typically consumes 2 – 4% less energy than an AC power grid. Further savings are possible through the use of braking energy and immediate storage of direct current.
In DC applications, electric arcs can damage contacts and housing parts and, in the worst case, also pose a hazard to users. Under the circumstances, a new approach to connector development is required. Various technologies for DC connectors have been developed by Phoenix Contact in research projects. With extinguishing techniques in connectors, innovative approaches have now been found to protect operators from the dangers of the electric arc.
We trust in DC power grids Phoenix Contact is an expert partner for the use of DC power grids in industry
As one of 39 partners from industry and research, we were also part of ZVEI‘s DC-INDUSTRY 2 research project, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.
Naturally, Phoenix Contact is also involved in the direct successor project, the ODCA (Open Direct Current Alliance). With regard to the necessary energy revolution in industrial production and the associated maximum use of renewable energy, the working group has set itself the goal of supplying production plants with direct current in a safe and robust manner.
Phoenix Contact is involved in national and international task forces and is conducting intensive research on the use of industrial DC power grids in the field of factory automation with a focus on future-proof electrical installations.
From theory to practice
Phoenix Contact goes even further, however, because research alone is not enough for us. As an innovation leader and expert in electrical installation, we want to take the first step, be present, gain experience, and solve problems.
This is why we are currently constructing a new building that will have its own DC power grid on our campus. The electricity generated there will also directly supply parts of the in-house machine-building department and other locations with energy via photovoltaic systems. Naturally, we are trusting in our own products and developing further DC-capable components as part of the project.