Full energy transition needs a new paradigm!
It is said that the phrase “This is how we’ve always done it” contains the seven most expensive words in business. It can be also the case in energy, especially now when we are navigating change from centralized fossil fuels’ power plants to distributed renewable energy close to consumers and everything that comes along with it – energy storage, electrification etc.
Green transition seems to be the word on everyone’s lips these days. Thanks to the renewable energy, electric vehicles and smart homes we are making a slow but determined shift in ways how we treat our planet. Simply put, things are changing and big time. This requires a lot of adaptation and new way of thinking where relying on any past behavior can prolong the transition, or even worse – waste recourses and money.
And yes, it’s not just about the environment, it is also about the money. Studies show that 80% of EU households can produce their own PV electricity cheaper than purchase it from the grid. Yet, over 90% of EU rooftops are still unused. If we want to reach 100% renewable system, then residential battery energy storage systems are also needed. Local storage combined with PV panels beat retail power prices and remove grid fees so not a bad option for customers. All this brings us a huge demand and growth for residential PV and storage in a near future. Perfect, the climate saving is done – well, not quite.
75% of all New Energy Generators installed today are DC native
70% of all new Energy is DC native, solar and wind are the majority.
Making sustainability more than just a buzzword we also need to look how the energy system digests all these changes and talk about currents. We should not overlook that our current centralized energy system does not support the transfer to renewables as efficiently as needed. And here’s why.
Situation Today - The 19th Century AC Way
Limits for Flexibility and Electrification required by
Our current AC centric electrical system has its' complexities and limits for Energy Transition.
There is the direct current (DC power) that many of our electrical appliances, such as computers, mobile phones, LED lights, newer Class A electrical appliances, heat pumps, electric cars and battery chargers run on. DC power is also what most renewable energy production units provide.
Most of the electrical devices we are using today are already DC Native.
And then there is the alternating current (AC power) in between the solar panels and your household’s electronics such as mobile phones, modern TVs, electrical cars etc.
As a result, there is a constant back and forth conversion between direct and alternating current, which in turn causes losses that can account for up to a quarter of the total energy used. This certainly cannot be called a sustainable energy transition. And it gets worse!
25% of energy losses due to DC/AC/DC conversion by default
Continuous conversion between DC-AC-DC creates up to 25% of losses.
Did you know that the current electric vehicle trend will bring charging capacity up more than 50% in the grid in EU by 2030? This together with electrification may increase the need for current AC grid capacity, and it´s investments, up to 70%. It is our money that we spend in these AC current reinforcements, yet both our energy producers and consumers need only DC current. Even though we are accustomed to use AC current to transport energy from big power plants to the consumers it is time to consider the DC renaissance. With the rise of LEDs, solar cells, electric vehicles, and mobile electronics, advancements in DC are on the rise and that can make the use of renewable energy grow unprecedentedly.
When the politicians come together to state the dates to go for net-zero and big utilities announce who has the biggest solar or wind park under construction it is worth noticing that the biggest challenge and also the potential to make energy transition happen stands mostly on the “last mile” of the grid, close to customer. For example, switching to DC for Distributed Renewable Energy Solutions a „site energy savings between 9% and 20% are expected when solar PV is distributed to all home appliances. When battery storage for excess solar energy is considered, these savings will increase to 14–25%.“
Cross section of common AC vs new DC grid base household.
So, if we know our solar energy production and household consumption is already mostly DC native we should skip the AC and make a direct shortcut via DC. This would maximize the power produced by our solar panels and minimize the costs. DC helps to reach better system efficiency and material savings, decrease CAPEX and OPEX costs and reach better system controllability and flexibility.
This is where we, Ubik Solutions, come into play by offering a comprehensive solution for DC grid to enable fast, affordable, safe and reliable deployment of residential solar energy production while reaching the maximum energy harvest from PV panels. Our OptiVerter® technology is the only DC microgrid compatible converter on the market that provides direct energy flow from the solar panels directly to your smart phone charger. Without unnecessary back and forth conversions! And not just on paper.
It´s a proven technology, as our OptiVerter®s are already piloting in unique Solar Road project in Tallinn, Estonia and upcoming soon a Team Casa DC demo house4 backed by Eaton. The sustainable Team Casa demo house locates in the Netherlands and has a local DC grid together with integrated electrical energy production and electric energy storage.
Team CASA sustainable DC demo house in Helmond´s Brainport Smart District, the Netherlands.
Solar Road demo project with Tallinn city, Taltech and E-Pavement in Tallinn, Estonia.
Perhaps we should reconsider clinging to the old way sand think outside of a box also how we transport energy. Because there is no longer one big power plant far from customers but a distributed system with different renewable energy producers in our own communities. Nothing can stifle innovation or opportunity more than somebody is saying “This is how we’ve always done things”. We believe that the future is a smart and efficient living environments powered by distributed energy systems and local energy storage via DC grid and Ubik Solutions is here to make it happen.