Last year, a long-discussed topic was put into practice in Shanghai: Can electric vehicles (EV) become a flexible energy source for urban power grids?
Electric vehicle drivers obtain the charging time signal from the utility company, so that they can use renewable energy when the renewable energy is most abundant, and make full use of resources to avoid waste. 1 The EV battery becomes an energy storage container on the wheels, which can release the excess power to the main grid when the energy demand exceeds the supply.
This innovative pilot project shows that different types of chargers such as household chargers, public chargers and battery exchange stations used in daily life can all play different roles in supporting the urban power grid. As part of China’s new infrastructure plan, the expansion of new energy vehicle charging stations has now become a key part of realizing the long-term goals of modernization and environmental protection.
Other cities around the world are also swiftly taking action on energy conservation and emission reduction. Technology is the key to helping them fulfill their energy conservation and emission reduction commitments, because technology can provide better power density when solving energy efficiency related challenges.
A more efficient and powerful system can be used to focus on enhancing the real-time control capability of the system (real-time processing can collect data and update the closed-loop system within a trillionth of a second), thereby significantly reducing emissions. Real-time control is a key factor to start the next wave of innovation in the field of energy management.
Matt Watson, C2000™ Microcontroller Manager
As the manager of TI C2000™ microcontrollers (MCUs), I find that as people want to achieve more functions with less energy, their demand for real-time control is increasing. Looking to the future, I think real-time control will have a significant impact on traffic and energy use in the following areas:
(1) Improve the mileage and performance of EVs.
(2) Upgrade and enhance EV charging infrastructure.
(3) Innovate energy storage methods through solar energy solutions.
Why real-time control is important
Although real-time control is not a new technology – TI introduced dedicated controllers about two decades ago, driving innovation in the field of digital signal processing – in recent years, due to the widespread use of these components in intelligent automation systems, MCUs worldwide The market has seen significant growth. 2 The real-time control system is a closed-loop control system, and the time window for collecting data, processing data and updating the system is extremely short. This control is very important for power conversion and advanced motor control applications, such as the movement of robots in factories.
For products that can rotate motors and convert power supplies, design engineers are facing more and more requirements to improve efficiency, accuracy, and product size. Realization of real-time control maximization and optimization requires the use of special embedded devices in the system, which can significantly shorten the delay, achieve low power consumption and cost-effectiveness. If engineers try to use non-real-time control devices instead of a single microcontroller specifically designed for control applications, they may unintentionally extend the design time.
If we apply real-time control technologies to certain energy-sensitive areas in cities (such as the addition of EVs and the use of solar energy), we can see the potential for them to have a profound impact on energy storage and management.
Extend the range and performance of EVs
Almost every subsystem in an EV relies on some form of real-time control. A large number of exciting innovations have made cars more efficient and enhanced driving pleasure, while also coping with mileage anxiety, charging time and other obstacles that hinder the popularization of EVs.
Brand-new power technologies (such as gallium nitride (GaN)) have the potential to meet these challenges by increasing power density and efficiency, increasing driving range, and improving reliability. But to unleash the potential of GaN, it is necessary to use a real-time controller, which can combine high switching frequency with configurable control, thereby reducing power loss and noise to a greater extent. Microcontrollers can help GaN achieve ultra-high power efficiency and power density.
The further development of real-time control can increase processing power and enhance sensing and driving performance, which can achieve higher accuracy and efficiency, and make cars more economical by improving system integration.
Upgrade and enhance EV charging infrastructure
The momentum of EV development is strong-automakers invest in and mass-produce cars that use cleaner energy-cities may need to increase investment in high-performance charging infrastructure to meet the charging needs of more electric vehicles.
The technology used in these charging stations must be cost-effective, and charging times must be shortened. To provide a fast charging experience and minimize power loss, real-time control is essential. It also reduces restrictions on the grid infrastructure, because the EV charging system can convert the AC power of the grid into the DC power used to charge the EV battery. High charging efficiency also helps the driver to quickly charge the battery and get on the road faster.
Through solar solutions
Innovate energy storage methods
The experiment conducted in Shanghai is just an attempt by the city to transform renewable energy into a flexible power source.
A revolution is taking place in the field of photovoltaic inverter systems, using the storage capacity of batteries to provide energy even in the absence of sunlight. These systems combine several key pillars of real-time control: transmission from the solar panel to the grid, transmission from the grid to the energy storage battery, and transmission from the battery to the grid. There are three nodes that need power conversion, which may produce power loss, so you need to consider carefully when designing. Real-time control can provide the accuracy required to maximize the output, while reducing the power loss of the two-way power conversion to a greater extent, so as to achieve the two-way high-efficiency flow of DC and AC in the system.
Renewable energy needs to be controlled in real time. Now, the requirement to reduce carbon emissions is becoming more and more urgent on a global scale, and real-time control is the core key to make the system more energy efficient and make the environment better.