Advanced Hardware for Grid Connection    

PowerBridge: a power-electronics-based grid connection concept  
PowerBridge is a modular plug'n'play grid connection system, enabling various home storage units (battery, heat pump, EV) to serve dual-use purposes. This solution enhances energy conversion efficiency, disconnects customer profiles from the grid by consolidating storage components into a single bus and creates a win-win scenario with DSOs by offering flexibility without compromising privacy or comfort of customers.


RWTH Achen University - Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems
Contact Antonello Monti

Interview with:
Amir Ahmadifar, Research Associate the Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems
RWTH Aachen University

Interviewer: Amir Ahmadifar, the advanced hardware for grid connection is one of the key results of the Platone project whose development was coordinated by the consortium partner RWTH Aachen University. Let´s assume I am a member of the R&D department at a DSO in Germany. I mostly spend my days developing power electronic-based grid connection concepts. We have recently been investigating new grid connect concepts that can make the energy conversion at household level more efficient while allowing us to decouple the customers from our grids. In a workshop held recently, we got to know about the PowerBridge hardware. Can you elaborate about this hardware?

Amir Ahmadifar: The PowerBridge provides a highly modular and plug’n’play system for building energy devices, such as photovoltaics (PV), battery, heat pump and electric vehicle (EV). Different DC assets can easily be connected to the systems via unified power and data connection means, such as standard CCS cables. In detail, the PowerBridge setup consists of two back-to-back inverters with a DC bus in between. The DC bus can be used to directly connect DC appliances or generation sources at home. The power flows through the DC bus and towards home are internally managed, mainly using the battery as regulator and energy buffer.

Interviewer: Using this advanced hardware, do only the customers benefit by decoupling themselves? What about the utilities?

Amir Ahmadifar: A very good question. Actually, making use of this hardware, obviously customers benefit from various functions and services the product can offer. But also utilities and DSOs can benefit from the flexibility offered by the distributed storage, which can be used to solve local congestions. To make the aggregated flexibility usable in the future, the PowerBridge offers an energy package-based operating mode. The PowerBridge configuration allows to have a single point of connection to the grid, by controlling this we can steer the overall behaviour of the house towards the grid. This means that, regarding PowerBridge distribution and operation within a local grid, different business scenarios can be envisaged, depending on the type of service to be offered to the grid and the level of involvement and decision of the customers.

Interviewer: What about previous experiences of using this product?

Amir Ahmadifar: As a matter of fact, the original solution was developed by RWTH in cooperation with E.ON. in three phases. In the recent third phase, following the conclusions of phase 1 and 2, software and hardware setup experiences have been summed up to do further improvements. Within this collaboration and via test, it became clear that PowerBridge can allow a customer to maintain his freedom and behaviour on the home side (both AC and DC) and, at the same time, keep a grid-neutral behaviour on the grid connection point.

Interviewer: Is there a specific manual, document, or contact person?

Amir Ahmadifar: This technology was patented by RWTH and the patent has been transferred to E.ON. Therefore, for a full support, you can get in direct contact with E.ON corporation and the DSO Avacon Netz GmbH as part of the corporate for the first contact point. For technical support, you can also definitely get in touch with us at RWTH – EON Energy Research Center, Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems.

Interviewer: Thanks a lot for your time, Amir Ahmadifar.