StadEnergyVille provides the necessary know-how to realize the energy transition focusing on high and low voltage direct current grids, decision support for grid operators, and digital substations in order to enable the seamless integration of renewable energy sources into distribution and transmission systems. EnergyVille has the expertise in developing simulation and optimization models and tools for planning, operation and control of electrical networks in a digital world. 

Electrical
Thermal
Kris Baert

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Kris Baert

Business Developer Solar and Electrical Energy Networks at EnergyVille/KU Leuven
Dirk van hertem

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Dirk van Hertem

Professor Electrical Engineering at EnergyVille/KU Leuven

HVDC Grids

EnergyVille believes in High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Grids as key enabler for large scale integration of RE in the energy transition. The technology offers new perspectives for cross-border infrastructure investments and at the same time, it is the only technically feasible solution for connecting remote offshore wind farms.  EnergyVille’s activities to move towards HVDC grids are centered on control and protection of HVDC systems, as well as on planning aspects.

More info about our HVDC research

Decision support for grid operators

EnergyVille provides new computational methods and tools to assist the grid operator to take decisions proactively and to allow optimal integration of all service providers in the market, making use of various optimization techniques. Transmission and distribution system operation and planning is becoming ever more complex, due to uncertainty caused by renewables and new sources of flexibility provided by demand side management, storage and flexible grid elements. Using decision support tools, system operators can improve utilization of equipment and avoid over-investment. 

Digital emulation of electrical networks

The EnergyVille team provides expertise for hardware-in-the-loop tests of electrical power system equipment coupled to real-time electrical networks computation thus testing device interoperability under realistic test conditions.  The energy transition has resulted in a fundamental change in the behavior of the power system, with increasing renewables, new organizational structures and faster interactions. In order to ensure a reliable operation of the power system, new test procedures are necessary. 

LVDC

Although electrical power networks in buildings and districts have been for about a century equipped with AC technology at 50 or 60 Hz, the energy transition is putting into question whether that is still the right choice. The transition to decentralized production, energy-efficient technologies and the electrification in heating and transportation all contribute to the question whether the current “lock-in” of AC technology for building technologies is still justified. EnergyVille is investigating low-voltage DC technology and the potential safety concerns. To do this, a representative building-level bipolar DC nanogrid (as opposed to the wide area microgrids) was set up in the Home Lab of EnergyVille I. For this we now mainly focus on protections and a stable and flexible way of managing the DC nanogrid.

Device interoperability testing using hardware-in-the-loop

The energy transition has resulted in a fundamental change in the behavior of the power system, with increasing renewables, new organizational structures and faster interactions. This has led to smarter electric grids, the development of new devices and new interactions in the grid. In order to ensure a reliable operation of the power system, new test procedures are necessary. The EnergyVille team performs hardware tests on power system equipment, coupled to the real-time computer to perform hardware-in-the-loop tests, testing device interoperability under realistic test conditions. 

What clients have to say:

“The deep theoretical knowledge and scientific productivity of the research group led by Jef Beerten, the first ever awardee of the ABB research award in honor of Hubertus von Gruenberg, helps ABB and Power Grids to convince customers of the technical and economic feasibility of a next generation HVDC-based SuperGrid, by their research on DC grid economics, control dynamics and protection. They provide not only excellent results supporting our internal research group, but are also a reliable and able partner to work with in international study groups and committees.”

Bazmi Husain, Chief Technology Officer, ABB Ltd

‘’ KU Leuven/EnergyVille has been a key partner for Mitsubishi Electric (MELCO) in the development of protection solutions for DC grids. Mitsubishi Electric has benefited from the experience from the team at KU Leuven/EnergyVille while developing the first industrial HVDC protection IED. This Mitsubishi Electric HVDC IED has been tested at the EnergyVille labs using novel testing procedures.’’

Kuroda Kenichi, Senior Manager Power System Technologies Group, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

"Fluvius has been working with EnergyVille to better understand how we can tackle the challenges in our distribution system with rising deployment of electric vehicles and photovoltaics while making use of new ICT approaches. EnergyVille has helped us in performing detailed studies using state of the art approaches, resulting in clear recommendations and helping us in the decision making process."

Filip Van Rompaey, Chief Strategy Officer, Fluvius

Erik De Schutter

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Erik De Schutter

Business Developer Thermal Energy Systems at EnergyVille/VITO
Johan Desmedt

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Johan Desmedt

Project Manager Energy Technology at EnergyVille/VITO

Smart DHC controller

EnergyVille works on technologies tackling the energy efficiency of district heating networks. We have developed a smart DHC controller based on self-learning algorithms that enables to maximize the use of waste heat and renewable energy sources in DHC networks. The controller optimizes the consumption of the buildings and districts and the demand of the network and optimally uses the potential of activating the building thermal mass as thermal energy storage system. The technology also controls the supply and consumption side (‘demand side management’) of district heating networks and the different components of the energy system (such as storage units, heat pumps, etc.).

Network design

A thermal network is an energy concept capable of transporting thermal energy from a producer to a consumer. That energy can be delivered as heat (district heating) or cold (district cooling). Within EnergyVille we work on the optimal design of 4th generation networks. Where traditional heating networks operate at typical temperatures at 90/70°C, the 4th generation thermal network can operate on supply temperature of 50°C and lower from single or multiple sources. This makes it feasible to limit the primary energy consumption for heating and cooling due to reduced thermal energy losses throughout the grid, maximised use of residual heat and the integration of renewable energy sources (e.g. solar or geothermal).

Fault detection and management

Substations in thermal grids make the connection between the grid and the buildings or installations connected to it. Traditionally, they are built with one or more heat exchangers, some piping and valves to regulate the flow and pressures, and a control framework combined with (limited) sensor equipment. Any flaw or fault in these substations results in an increased return temperature of the grid, which is extremely detrimental for low temperature operation and energy efficiency. These flaws and faults occur more than often in practice; studies have shown that up to 75% of all installed substations exhibit some kind of faulty behaviour.

To rapidly identify these faults or flaws, EnergyVille has developed automated methods. Adding this intelligence to substation and/or network controllers allows easy and remote detection of inefficiencies in the system, which on their turn reduces the costs for maintenance (more focused and preventive) and operation costs (fast reaction) for both service companies and network operators. In addition, EnergyVille works on methods to lower the return temperature of heating networks significantly in order to increase the efficiency of the energy systems.