IEC Workshop in Dresden Focuses on LVDC Power Distribution

October 04, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

A select group of experts from Asia, Europe and North America met in Dresden, Germany, September 29 and 30 at the invitation of the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) Strategic Group 4 (SG 4) to discuss the use of low-voltage dc (LVDC) in distribution systems to minimize conversion losses in installations, buildings and electronic equipment.

According to the invitation: "There is a need for a systematic global approach on LVDC distribution in order to formulate a harmonized strategy. The goal of this LVDC workshop is an information exchange between experts to examine: sources and generation distribution and applications energy storage, technical requirements and constraints, such as electromagnetic compatibility, electrical safety, energy efficiency, reliability, and so on."

The workshop also explored the challenges and available technology for the market and the necessary standardization work. The extension of existing standards is expected to enable inter-operability of products from different manufacturers and address particular dc requirements for voltage ranges, grounding, and safety.

Given the existence of regional and sectoral standards on dc installations on the one hand, and the increasing clarity in the desirable voltage levels needed by the market on the other, the workshop made four key recommendations to the IEC to standardize voltage levels and basic installation rules for 260- to 400-Vdc installations.

1) Highest priority for dc supply to data centers and telecom central offices. The workshop recommended the IEC, and SG 4 in particular, to deal first and foremost with the needs of data centers and telecom central offices, since both the conditions and the requirements for standards are clear and the market needs are urgent.

2) Gap analysis needed. The workshop recommended that the IEC Technical Committees conduct an analysis, under the coordination of SG 4, of what standards are needed and are not yet available, beginning with dc applications in data centers and telecom central offices and with electric vehicle charging using dc.

3) Charging for electric vehicles second priority. The workshop recommended the IEC to develop rapidly the standards necessary to allow coordinated deployment of the dc charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, including fast dc charging.

4) Possible needs for standards for applications for dc supply in commercial and residential areas, including use of renewable energy generation and storage. The workshop recommended SG 4 to study whether, in order to encourage the markets to develop, interfaces will need to be standardized for applications additional to data centers/telecom central offices and fast electric vehicle charging, even in advance of widely deployed architectures and devices.

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