Energy, increasingly smart distribution networks with the CONNECT project
“Traditional power grids are unidirectional, i.e. they distribute energy from a limited number of large production plants to a high number of consumers. However, today we need bidirectional grids that can also transport the energy supplied to the network by several small producers, including solar panels or production plants from other renewable sources, which exceed self-consumption”. This was stated by Giuseppe Iannaccone from the Department of Information Engineering of the University of Pisa, leader of the Italian research team that is involved, through the National Inter-University Consortium for Nanoelectronics (IUNET), in the European projects called CONNECT – Innovative smart components, modules and appliances for a truly connected, efficient and secure smart grid.
CONNECT aims at developing smart grids that can distribute, with increasingly efficiency, the energy from several small producers which exceeds self-consumption. The project has been recently funded under the Joint Technological Initiative ECSEL (Electronics Components and Systems for European Leadership) – the European partnership between the public and private sectors which represents the supporting pillar of the EU industrial strategy in electronics – and will involve 19 European partners from 5 European countries for 36 months, under the coordination of Infineon, the largest German company in the field of semiconductors. Besides IUNET Consortium, the Polytechnic University of Bari and the Italian companies ENEL and STMicroelectronics will also be involved for Italy.
One of the greatest challenges of the CONNECT project will be to build a smart grid that can manage, in a flexible and safe way, the strong changes in the power supplied and transported, by conveying energy where it is needed and reducing the load if necessary, with benefits for the environment. “The university plays two roles in the CONNECT project – said Giuseppe Iannaccone. On the one hand, we will develop chips that can convert high-efficiency energy and on the other hand we will convert distributed sensor and actuator networks to control the consumption of small smart grids. The transformation of a traditional technological infrastructure into a smart system that is able to adapt by exploiting a flow of information in real time – concluded Iannaccone – is one of the aspects that characterizes the phase of industrial development known as Industry 4.0”.