Power Control designs and engineers innovative microgrid containing energy efficient UPS systems for a hydrogen fuel cell at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019
Hybrid Infrastructure Project of the Year
Background to the project
In partnership with two renewable energy giants, Power Control played an integral part in operationalising an innovative, completely off-grid hydrogen fuel cell charging system.
When using wind or solar power, hydrogen produced via electrolysis is 100% emission free. Once produced, the hydrogen is then stored in pressure vessels and supplied to the fuel cell which effectively works like an electrolyser, but in reverse. The only by-product of the fuel cell is pure water that can be used for drinking. In this project, the power generated by the fuel cell was used to power and charge the electric vehicles (EVs) at a recent UK car festival.
Power Control’s engineers not only played a significant part in engineering the fuel cell, they also designed an innovative, containerised microgrid using uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).
The containerised Microgrid
This microgrid provided enough power to start up the fuel cell inverter. The inverter installed within a hydrogen fuel cell is a grid connected inverter, as it is able to supply back to the grid. This means it is only supposed to work when connected to a mains grid.
This car festival, like other festivals, are often situated in large expanses of countryside where having the ability to connect into the main power grid is unlikely. Power Control connected and configured the UPS in such a way (the output of once UPS feeding the input of the other) that we were able to create a stable 230V power supply to imitate a mains grid supply, making the inverter think it was connected to a mains power grid.
As well as providing power for the microgrid, the requirement of one UPS to supply another was also to provide a dummy load for the fuel cell. In order for the fuel cell to startup and for the inverter to recognise the grid, a load demand is required. Charging the batteries in one of the UPS with batteries from the other provided the small amount of load needed.
To prevent the batteries from being over discharged, the active UPS systems were monitored and switched when depleted to a pre-determined level. This allowed time for both battery strings to be charged separately.
240 x 90Ah batteries were installed alongside the UPS, 120 per system, in parallel to provide the required amount of output power and autonomy. This would have provided enough output power to supply the EV charging ports at the car festival for 4 hours and 30 minutes of uninterrupted clean energy.
Further to this, the microgrid also catered for a sudden increase in load demand. For example, if 100KW is required from the fuel cell there would be a slight delay in provided that power. The UPS bridges that gap and provides the power instantaneously.
The energy efficient UPS Systems
With efficiency in mind, Power Control chose to design the microgrid with 2 x 125kVA Borri Ingenio Plus UPS systems. These feature green conversion technology and provide a high efficiency, even at light loads and ensures 100% battery life expectancy.
Instead of using a transformer to deliver the critical load, the Borri Ingenio Plus systems are constructed using insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBT’s) that can deal with high voltages without the need for a step-up transformer after the inverter. This dramatically increases the energy efficiency of the UPS systems compared to those which are transformer based.
Other reasons for using the Borri Ingenio Plus in the microgrid:
• Clean mains and full compatibility with Genset operation due to its low input current distortion and soft start features
• A power factor of 0.99 means that there is no infrastructure oversizing and power factor correction.
• Maximum availability during mains failure due to a cold start option
• High flexibility for all types of load with full output power rating and different high efficiency operating modes.
• Dynamic charging mode (DCM) for maximum versatility in long autonomy and low charging time applications
Why is there a need for this advancement?
Whilst it would have been possible to use a generator to provide the grid connection, the focus of this project was to deliver green energy in an innovative way. The UPS and fuel cell combination is virtually silent and emission free in comparison to a generator setup. With a large focus on cutting carbon emissions, planning permission for a generator backup supply to such projects and events is often refused because of noise pollution and fumes.
Obtaining planning permission for a UPS and fuel cell is far easier because it is relatively quiet and 100% emission free.
Power Control envisages this innovative technology to be used as the future of renewable energy and EV charging. As the technology build momentum in the public domain, festivals will be using containerised microgrids to provide renewable energy and backup power in the future.