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Eaton wins funding to develop microgrids for the smarter integration of electric vehicle charging into next-generation power distribution

June 25, 2019
 
PRAGUE … With 40 million electric vehicles expected on roads in the UK and Germany alone by 2040, the rise of eMobility has the potential to slash emissions from cars by up to 90%—improving air quality and helping EU member states meet the tough targets set under the 2015 Paris Agreement. 
 

However, this energy transition will also put a strain on existing power grids. In the EU, electric vehicles are expected to account for around 10% of total electricity demand by 2050, requiring a significant rollout of new charging infrastructure, particularly in urban settings. Unfortunately, installing dedicated electric vehicle charging stations can be extremely costly where grid extension is required.

To help enable this eMobility revolution, the Eaton European Innovation Center (EEIC) is embarking on a ground-breaking R&D program to develop a flexible AC/DC microgrid for collective housing, supported by the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC) at the Czech Technical University in Prague.

The EEIC beat tough competition from other proposals to win a $270,000 grant from the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TAČR) to fund this ambitious program, with the CIIRC receiving a further $200,000. Eaton Research Labs will also co-invest $330,000, bringing the total program budget to $800,000.

Spanning three years, the project aims to develop and demonstrate a multi-level control system integrating electric vehicle charging, energy storage and photovoltaics for use in residential and commercial buildings. Additionally, a flexible AC/DC microgrid—combining the new control system as well as other Eaton products like xStorage and optimized digital circuit breakers—will be demonstrated at the EEIC facility in Prague.

The EEIC’s Stefan Costea comments: “We’re thrilled to have won funding to pursue this ambitious project, as well as to invest in it ourselves. Combining our industry knowhow in eMobility, power distribution, energy storage and more, this project will be a true collaboration—both across our business and with our academic partners. By making charging infrastructure more cost-effective, we can help accelerate the global transition to a low-carbon future”.

Planned to run from May 2019 until 2022, the new project will enable electric vehicle charging infrastructure to be rolled out at a much lower capital cost, thanks to a behind-the-meter AC/DC microgrid that can be installed in residential and commercial buildings. Additionally, the microgrid will make vehicle charging more reliable and efficient due to fewer power conversion stages. 

Meanwhile, the project’s multi-level control system will enable electric vehicles to be charged more intelligently, more conveniently and at a lower cost—using renewable power that can be generated and stored locally, as well as cheaper off-peak energy from the grid. As a result, the need for expensive grid extensions will be reduced and electric vehicles will demand less power at peak times.

As a nexus for electrical, vehicle, hydraulic and aerospace innovation, the EEIC is committed to developing technologies that are safer, smarter and more sustainable. One of six Eaton innovation centers globally, the EEIC unites a diverse team of curious, cross-industry experts—pioneering new solutions to tomorrow’s most urgent energy challenges.

The EEIC’s acting director, Ludek Janik, adds: “It’s fantastic to have the opportunity todevelop solutions that can help support electric vehicles as ‘the rubber hits the road’. In collaboration with the Czech Technical University, we’ll be able to make an innovative contribution to the future power grids that will support millions of electric vehicles across Europe and around the world. Ultimately, that will leave the planet a little greener for future generations”.

Eaton’s products and solutions enable customers to use less energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and do business more sustainably. Our contribution to this new R&D project will help make a healthier planet work.

Eaton is a power management company with 2018 sales of $21.6 billion. We provide energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton is dedicated to improving the quality of life and the environment through the use of power management technologies and services. Eaton has approximately 100,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries. For more information, visit Eaton.com.


Contact (for journalist enquiries)

Nathalie Lapoirie, Corporate Communications Manager, EMEA, nathalielapoirie@eaton.com,
tel: +41 21 811 46 47