Why DC?

Electricity is a resource we expect to naturally have at our disposal. But what if it isn't always the case?

Last update on 14 February 2023
Electricity unsplash

Available Power = ?

In this day and age, electricity is considered a basic physiological need (Maslow's pyramid). And though it is not an unlimited resource, society goes on to use and abuse it. With our world being highly digitized, our current power grid is completely outdated and does not meet the massive electronic requirements of the modern technological age.

Case and point: the local power grid in the Netherlands.

Heat Map NL 21 22
Power availability in The Netherlands dwindles

The situation in The Netherlands only worsened from 2021 to 2022.

Source: Liander.


The Electrical System

There are four key takeaways from the current electricity network:

  • High Costs
  • Users: need more energy!
  • Renewable sources and decreasing position of power
  • International transportation: HVDC

High Costs

The biggest problem for our energy network is the so-called imbalance between production and consumption of energy. Our current grid has great difficulty to match the same amount of energy that is consumed with what is produced within the same time span, resulting in a natural imbalance. The quality of the current infrastructure is outdated and inefficient with the increasing electrification of our society - from the time that only light bulbs, jet stoves, washing machines and TVs were to be served to every household now having PV panels on their roofs, EVs to charge and multiple electronic devices. Although the concept of prosumers is more prevalent now, renewable energy sources are not infinite, and we are bound to face energy shortage at some point.

Users: more and more

Energy consumption is growing explosively and will continue to do so in the coming years. The massive switch to electric vehicles is already proving to be a struggle for the current electrical system. Since charging your own electric car at your front door is certainly not possible in the current structure, it is bound to lead to gigantic charging issues. In addition, the increased energy usage in the IT sector is becoming a serious problem. The Netherlands is an interesting location for datacenters because of its geographical position, good internet infrastructure, and stable political climate. With the number of datacenters going up, the existing electricity infrastructure gets more burdened.

Renewable energy sources and decreasing position of power

As the years go by, sustainable energy is a topic that is gaining more importance. Not only does the large scale development of offshore wind farms create an enormous strain on the electrical grid, but also the transportation of renewable energy has an adverse side effect. It has to be supplemented by traditional power plants in order to deliver energy at the moment when, for instance, there is no wind or sun, which requires additional investment. Energy companies, who hold the same price, do not opt for these additional costs and thus delay sustainable innovation. Moreover, renewable energy generators, who are their competitors, reduce their monopoly in the market. For that reason, energy suppliers obstruct the innovation on renewable energy. Additionally, the long write off period (30 years) of coal-fired power stations also impedes transformation of sustainable energy.

Transportation: HVDC

The current Dutch electricity grid is linked to an international network. When the Netherlands has an electricity surplus, it is transported to Norway in order to deliver extra capacity. This also works vice-versa when we have a temporary shortage. However, for transport over long distances, Direct Current (DC) is neccessary. Converting the energy into DC for transportation is unnecessarily expensive and complex with our Alternating Current (AC) infrastructure.

Unsplash Solar Energy View

Hybrid AC/DC grids have the ability to deliver required power to the increased loads while being efficient and safe.

DC working with AC

Most modern devices like phones, laptops, and now electric vehicle chargers as well as PV panel connectors use Direct Current (DC), while the grid distributes electricity in Alternating Current (AC). This conversion from AC to DC leads to power loss and increased costs.

Our research and development focus on a more efficient power distribution system that yield the benefits of working with DC energy as well as hybrid systems:

  1. Energy savings by harvesting braking energy (15 to 25%*)
  2. Less CO2 (up to 10%*)
  3. Copper reduction (35%*)
  4. Systems simplified by moving complexity to components
  5. Autonomous, self-regulating systems that match demand with supply
  6. 3 P's: Protection for People and Property, with our innovation Solid State Protection

*These results have been proven in some of our pilot projects, which differ from application to application.

Restructuring Energy Grids

We stand at the dawn of a new era of the energy market where several transformations are taking place. Energy companies, local governments, and citizens play an important role and should consider the impact of these changes. We need to tactfully consider the most effective introduction of a new hybrid energy system. We must not only focus on energy consumption, but also ask ourselves how we should deal with energy generation in the future, and the commercialisation of renewable energy. In today's technological age, the most effective solution would be to adopt DC into the present electrical infrastructure and work in tandem with AC. In this hybrid grid transition, every stakeholder plays an essential, unique and innovative role.

COS: The Way Forward

Current OS Grid
Current OS

The electrical world is more familiar with AC systems, which are not well-adapted for DC distribution. This requires a new set of rules that ensure resilience, safety and cybersecurity for cutting-edge DC systems.