DC (Direct Current)
Today our electricity is still predominantly powered by AC (Alternating Current). But electric vehicles, batteries, LEDs, transistors and every other power electronic device runs on DC (Direct Current) power. A less known but essential issue is, that our current AC power grid does not meet the requirements of the modern technological age of today. Due to the increasing use of power electronics the electricity grid will become increasingly inefficient. Energy consumption will grow exponentially in the coming years.
AC power can not be stored and an AC supply is therefore not able to charge batteries. To store electrical energy we need to convert it into DC.
DC is compatible with environmentally friendly electronic devices. As all solar cells are based on semiconductor substrates, they all generate or operate on DC power.
Unlike alternating current (AC), a direct current (DC) undergoes no switching. There are no periods and the current flows in a single direction with a steady voltage.
DC is the foundation of sustainable energy
Through sustainable energy a shift is already taking place. More and more the emphasis will not be on fossil fuels but on electricity generated by sustainable energy. It is already technically possible to make residential areas completely energy neutral. A phased move to DC will be the solution.
Finding solutions for specific issues
Using DC power distribution involves knowledge for specific issues and requires different solutions.
• Corrosion / cathodic protection
• Earthing, grounding structure
• Short circuit
• Personal safety
• Common mode EMC
Finding the right balance
Traditional centralized power networks involve power flow in one direction only: from power plant to transmission network, to distribution network, to load. Currently the biggest problem for our energy network is the imbalance between production and consumption of energy.
Evolution towards DC
We already live in a DC world without realizing it. By recognizing this, the energy world will become sustainable sooner (within a shorter time frame), and then we will achieve a more reliable, affordable and efficient grid. Since direct current is more stable, companies are finding ways of using high voltage direct current (HVDC) to transport electricity long distances with less electricity loss, by excluding skin effects and eddy current losses.
Adjusting international standards
Without new international standards, the automation of the public high, medium and low voltage networks into intelligent AC / DC smart grids will not get off the ground. For DC to develop its full potential, many different parties will need to join the standardization effort in a joined responsibility.