Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Energy Storage everywhere and a converter to connect it.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Energy storage is everywhere or is being talked about everywhere. Adding an energy storage power electronic converter to the distribution or customer network allows

  • Load leveling across the day
  • Integration of local renewable sources such as solar and wind
  • Deferment of transmission investment
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions because peaking plants do not need to be run
  • Lowering energy cost by price arbitrage on daily demand variation

Historically the electrical grid has had energy flow from the large remote generator station out through the transmission and distribution network to customer loads. And the voltage profile was set up with transformer turns-ratios for this.

The transmission and distribution grid has historically transmitted power from central generation to the load. Energy storage power electronic converters can aid the integration of renewable generation
The transmission and distribution grid has historically transmitted power from central generation to the load

Energy storage is DC so there needs to be a reversible DC to AC power converter to interface between the battery and the grid. This is where power electronics provides the glue between the

Here at ELMG Digital Power, we’ve been working on grid-connected power converters since 1997 in applications including

  • Harmonic shunt active filters
  • Static VAr compensators from 2kVAr to 500MVAr
  • Solar Inverters
  • Micro Inverters
  • Grid Interactive UPS Inverters
  • Battery Energy Storage Inverters
tropical rain forests can be conserved by minimizing energy use with energy storage power electronic converters
Saving energy with grid energy storage reduces carbon dioxide emissions

Grid connection challenges

Grid connection challenges with an energy storage power electronic converter include grid synchronization usually with a PLL or a DSOGI, Low voltage fault ride through, designing the LCL filter, and connecting converters in parallel.

Grid synchronization for energy storage power electronic converter

The grid frequency and phase can vary, especially if there are faults or disturbances in the network.

PLL or DSOGI

The Phase-Locked Loop (PLL) keeps the inverter voltage synchronized to the grid. This allows the inverter digital control system to have the real and reactive power flow as requested. It also makes sure that if the grid frequency isn’t exactly the expected 50Hz, 60Hz or 400Hz then the system will still operate correctly.

The Dual second-order generalized integrator is used to implement an alternate type of frequency lock. It is often considered that DSOGI does a better job in the transient ride through. However, a well-tuned PLL is as effective as a DSOGI.

Sinusoidal grid voltages to synchronize energy storage power electronic converters
Grid voltages are sinusoidal for the most part

Low voltage fault ride through.

It is inevitable that there will be a fault in the AC system. Either two phases will connect together or one phase will connect to the ground or alternatively there can be some combination of phase to phase fault and ground fault. This causes a voltage disturbance that the inverter must “ride through”. To ride through the PLL must stay synchronized and the inverter must control the current as required by the grid code. (We’ll cover that later). So the PLL/DSOGI must be designed to ride through the voltage disturbance.

LCL Filter design

LCL filters are used to minimize the cost of the grid coupling filter. The higher filter has some poorly damped dynamics so synthetic damping is provided by control or via the addition of a small damping resistor. (Some grid codes now require this damping resistor).

LCL filters used in energy storage power electronic converters
LCL filters provide low loss low cost grid connection

Ensuring that the LCL is correctly designed so that it can be controlled with a suitably, low-cost controller means that LCL design is critical to a successful battery energy storage converter. The AC grid impedance range specified for the converter is really important.

Contact us for energy storage converters

Paralleling converters

It is a product manager’s dream to be able to put energy storage power electronic converters in parallel in any combination. If this is to be a possibility then all of the

  • LCL filter design
  • Controller choice,
  • PLL design
  • Parallel connection

need to be managed for parallel connection from the very beginning of the development. It is best to limit the required parallel connection combinations to a minimum as each requires verification and validation testing.

Battery energy storage interfacing to the battery

The key issues in interfacing an inverter to battery energy storage are

  • The allowed ripple current and voltage for the battery and what this means for the grid side LCL filter and voltage imbalance.
  • The charge and discharge rates allowed for the batteries
  • How to manage and coordinate with the battery management system (BMS)

Battery Types

There are two principal types of batteries used in energy storage

  • Lithium Ion
  • Lead Acid

Contact us for energy storage converters

Lithium Ion

Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries work unsurprisingly, by the movement of lithium ions. The energy density is high. The key safety issue with lithium-ion cells is the risk of fire from excess temperature. Li-Ion cell safety needs to be actively managed.

State of charge and state of health systems for Li-Ion systems are widely available.

Lead-Acid

Lead-acid batteries have lead and sulphuric acid. The energy density of lead-acid batteries is lower than Li-Ion.

State of charge and state of health systems for lead-acid batteries are less effective than those for Li-ion.

Grid codes

The AC grid is one of the most reliable machines in the world. Blackouts in most countries occur irregularly. This reliability is the result of long experience and conservatism by system operators.

Battery energy storage converters connected near the load end of the network are an unmanaged and uncontrollable (in grid operator terms non-dispatchable) energy source. To ensure the AC grid machine stays reliable there are rules for connecting power and energy generation to the AC grid network. Energy storage is a generation source so it is covered by the rules for generators. These rules are called the Grid Code. Each country’s grid code is different as each country has a different AC network.

Contact us for energy storage converters

Power Ramp Rates

The most common and most useful rule for generating is that the real and reactive power ramp rates must be limited. The power cannot go up or down too fast. What does too fast mean? Typically the ramp rate limit is zero to maximum power in tens of minutes.

Reactive Power

Adding power to the grid causes the voltage to rise. And the grid was designed to supply power to the load rather than get power from the load. So the battery energy storage real power output may well cause the voltage to rise. This can be counteracted with reactive power draw to keep the voltage down. This reactive power requirement means that the inverter may well need a higher current rating and so will cost more.

Communication

Some Grid Codes have the requirement that each inverter be connected to a system operator communication network where the network operator can control the real and reactive power dispatch or how the real and reactive power are controlled together. These communication network standards are well established in mature solar markets, such as Germany.

Safety Disconnection

The principal safety requirement for the grid code is to disconnect the energy storage system if the AC grid fails. This is to ensure that anyone working on the AC lines is safe from electric shock. This anti-islanding is a requirement for all grid codes.

saving oil with energy storage power electronic converter
Grid energy storage allows the integration of renewable energy and the reduction in the use of fossil fuels

Energy storage power electronic converter FAQs

How do you implement anti-islanding?

The simplest way is with a frequency or phase angle perturbation. The best way is with a grid impedance change detection system.

Why do they keep changing grid codes?

The key reason is that adding more embedded generation and storage is threatening the reliability of the grid so they are changing the rules.

What is the best way to design an LCL filter for a grid-connected battery energy storage converter?

Well, this is a massive question. The best answer is to start with the low voltage fault ride-through (LVFRT) and the PLL and then work backward from there. A current control bandwidth target of 1kHz is useful.

Three-level or two-level inverter for an energy storage power electronic converter?

Get some help before you start if you are designing a three-level inverter. Common mode is easier to deal with for three-level. Modulation is less easy.

Can ELMG Digital Power Design us a Grid Connected Battery Energy Storage Converter for 1MW?

Yes. Any power from 1kw, 10kw, 20kw, 100kw 1MW, 10MW to 100MW.

Can you do MV or HV battery energy storage power electronic converter?

Yes, this is possible and we have worked on 11kV and 66kV MV UPS converters and their static transfer switches. Battery banks are best below 1500Vdc and so a multi-level multiple converter solution might be a good idea. Or alternatively, transformer coupling for the step up is also a useful and economically competitive approach.

Is thyristor, IGBT SiC Mosfet, or Si Mosfet the best switch choice?

Thyristors and IGBT are the most rugged so are more robust in grid-connected battery energy storage converters. SiC os Si Mosfets are also suitable choices.

Contact us for energy storage converters

The life of ELMG Digital Power Engineers

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

This is the life of ELMG Digital Power Engineers working for our global customers. So five years ago I was biking around Berlin after having spent the week with my ELMG Digital Power colleague and our customers and their customers, testing 12MW grid-connected power converters where the control did not yet quite work properly.

This is the Reichstag in the background. It was a beautiful, cool, Berlin day.

Eventually, the power converters worked really well and we eventually did the first commissioning for them when they were installed on the Qatar Metro Rail.

Berlin biking after power converter testing.

To address the issues we changed the software we had written and the FPGA code. This was to ensure that the gate pulses were always absolutely consistently in the right place at the right time. This is the constant challenge of power electronics. At 12MW it is very noticeable when gate pulses aren’t always in the right place.

Berlin biking route. Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenberg Gate and the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden (Holocaust Memorial) on the route.
Berlin’s Holocaust monument.

ELMG Digital Power worked on a large-scale converter project, biked around Berlin on a day off, tested further in Japan, Turin, and Prague, and then commissioned the converters in Doha. As a result, our customer is now the leader in their market segment.

Working for our global customers’ success – this is the life of ELMG Digital Power Engineers.

This is one of many successful ELMG Digital Power Electronics engineering developments.

Contact ELMG for your power converter development.

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

FAQ

Do you do small converters?

Yes, all sizes from 100W to 500MW – we work on converters of all sizes. Grid storage, telco, motor drives, aerospace, traction. We do power converters for any application.

Where are your customers? Can you help us?

Arizona, Belgium, California, China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, India, Massachusettes, New Zealand, North Carolina, New South Wales, Scotland, South Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Queensland, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Yes, we can help you.

Do you need to wear a bike helmet in Berlin?

No. There is no requirement by law.

What sort of control do you use?

Mostly DSP, Microcontrollers and FPGA. Our favorite microcontrollers/DSPs are Ti ti.com. Our favorite FPGAs are Xilinx xilinx.com.

Do you have any case studies?

Contact us and we’ll provide some.

Contact ELMG for your power converter development.

Do you have any references?

Yes.

ABB

Kraft PowerCon

TNEI

Comsys

How long have you been doing Digital Power Electronics Control?

As ELMG Digital Power Electronics since 2001.

ELMG Digital Power People have been working on digital power electronics control since 1992.

About ELMG Digital Power

ELMG Digital Power provides technology, know-how, and products to control, manipulate and measure electrical power. This means we design and build the best digital controlled power electronic systems and by doing that we change the world.
For the past twenty-five years, we have been working on digitally controlled power converters in

  • motor drives
  • industrial switch mode power supplies
  • reactive power compensation
  • medium voltage system
  • power quality systems
  • motor starters
  • appliances
  • telecom switch-mode power supplies
  • UPS
  • railway converters
  • grid connected energy storage converters

ELMG Digital Power helps our customers become leaders in digital power electronics.

Contact ELMG for your power converter development.

Happy Birthday Claude Shannon

Sunday, May 1st, 2022

Happy Birthday to Claude Shannon.

Shannon is known as the “father of information theory” because of the landmark paper he published in 1948. He is also known for founding both digital computer and digital circuit design theory in 1937. Shannon received the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1966 “For his development of a mathematical theory of communication which unified and significantly advanced the state of the art.” Claude Shannon would have been 106 on the 30th of April 2022.

Shannon had lots to do with the sampling theorem.

Happy birthday, Claude Shannon!

ELMG Digital Power Continues AMD Xilinx Partner Program

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

We are pleased to announce that ELMG Digital Power continues to be part of the AMD Xilinx Partner Program.

As ELMG Digital Power CTO Dr. Hamish Laird explains

“Being part of the Xilinx Partner Program has always been something that we at ELMG Digital Power are very proud of, grateful for, and happy with as it lets us do amazing things for our customers.”

He continues…

“It is fantastic to have the connection that gives us access to all the great AMD/Xilinx tools such as Vitis, HLS, IP Integrator, and Vivado with all its code templates. The combination of the toolchain and the devices from Spartan, Artix, Virtix, Zynq and UltraScale through to SoMs such as the Kria K26 means that ELMG Digital Power can provide great cost-effective, powerful solutions for our customers.”

Constant professional development and training for ELMG Digital Power people allow us to use the best solution for our digital power electronics control platforms.

Dr. Laird again ” We are very grateful and humbled to be part of the Xilinx Partner program. We deliver the best power electronics controllers using this technology”

About AMD Xilinx

Xilinx is now part of AMD. AMD now has the industry’s broadest product portfolio and a highly complementary set of technologies, reaching customers in a diverse set of markets. Together, AMD and Xilinx leverage the right engine for the right workload to address the compute needs of our customers.

www.xilinx.com

About ELMG Digital Power

ELMG Digital Power provides technology, know-how, and products to control, manipulate and measure electrical power. We design and build the best digital controlled power electronic systems and by doing that we change the world.


For the past twenty-five years, we have been working on digitally controlled power converters in motor drives, industrial switch mode power supplies, reactive power compensation, medium voltage system, power quality systems, motor starters, appliances, energy storage converters, UPS, and telecom switch-mode power supplies.

ELMG Digital Power helps our customers become leaders in digital power electronics.

Xilinx Partner Technical Recertification

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

ELMG Digital Power CTO Dr. Hamish Laird has completed Xilinx Partner technical recertification for ELMG Digital Power’s ongoing Xilinx partner program.

This ongoing commitment to capability, learning, and keeping up to date with Xilinx technology is an investment that pays dividends when we are implementing high-performance digital power controllers.

This year’s recertification covered the new Versal ACAP. This extended SoC device is powerful to the point of being daunting. As Dr. Laird says “I was suspicious of the suitability of the ACAP as a device for power control but I can now see how this device is suitable for almost every application we could ever consider.”

Xilinx Partner technical recertification – the certificate

Xilinx Partner Technical Recertification
Xilinx Partner Technical Recertification Certificate

Dr Laird continues “We are really thankful to Xilinx for our ongoing partnership program membership. The program is great and allows us access to world-leading devices, toolchains, and training. Completing this Xilinx Partner Technical recertification is always a great day in the year. The training material is really good and well worth the time and effort required.”

About Xilinx

We Are Building the
Adaptable, Intelligent World

Xilinx is the inventor of the FPGA, programmable SoCs, and now, the ACAP. Our highly flexible programmable silicon, enabled by a suite of advanced software and tools, drives rapid innovation across a wide span of industries and technologies – from consumers to cars to the cloud. Xilinx delivers the most dynamic processing technology in the industry, enabling rapid innovation with its adaptable, intelligent computing.

About ELMG Digital Power

We Provide Technology, Know-How and Products to Control, Manipulate and Measure Electrical Power.

ELMG Digital Power aims to design and build the best digital controlled power electronic systems.
By doing that we change the world for the better.

ELMG Digital Power is part of a select group of companies invited to be part of the Xilinx Partner Program. Each year ELMG people complete training in Xilinx tools and devices.


Fighting Evil in Code Comments.

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

So I have become a superhero – I am fighting evil in code comments. For those of you that know me, I always talk about myself as a power electronics hardware and control person. And since about 1997 I have designed control systems that for the most part have been implemented in code of some kind. If you had told me back in 1991 when I finished my Masters that I’d end up being a software person I’d have told you that this was so unlikely that I could not see it happening. And now I spend the balance of my time looking at code. Typically it is VHDL code, Verilog Code, C code or Python code and sometimes I look at C++ code. When I look at this code I am trying to work out what the code does, usually because the code is not doing what it is meant to. Whether it is the pulse or PWM generator code for a DC to DC converter or the repetitive filter necessary to minimise the harmonic content in a UPS voltage waveform it always comes down to looking at the code. So how do you know if the comments are evil? How do you go about fighting evil in your code. Some comments on comments.

The use of requirements, design records, interface specifications, verification test plans, code testing tools, unit testing, version control, automated documentation extraction like doxygen, and code reviews does not ever seem to ever be enough to get the code to do what it needs to.

And then there are the comments that I see in the code. This is the most amazingly varied and strange part of the code review experience. There seems to be no agreement on

  • Why comments are in the code?
  • What goes in a comment?
  • Who the comment is for?
  • Why the comment did not get maintained when the code was changed?

The answer to the last question is the reason that 15% (from ELMG Digital Power Polls) of everyone who codes insists that they will not ever use comments. (This is my present opinion and most frequent practice for VHDL and Verilog)

The answer to the other three questions causes discussions of a vehemence that only software people can bring to an argument.

I have a collection of articles and opinions that are from some of the best in the embedded software development space. And I have a collection of articles and opinions that are from some of the best in the software space.

The article that this post is named for is from Michael Sorens. He is worth reading for all good advice about things software development.

This is the article – it is a long read and is quite confronting to software people.

Here are a few excerpts.

What’s Wrong with Comments

The problems with comments are many and varied:

  • Over time, and not intentionally, comments can lie, so can lead to misinterpreting the code if you happen to believe the comment.
  • Writing comments takes time, more so if you choose a commenting style that requires a lot of time to look pretty, so strive for simplicity.
  • Comments make a file longer and can often introduce unnecessary clutter, thus requiring more time to read. Steve Smith, in When to Comment Your Code, reminded me of a very relevant quote from that classic tome on writing, The Elements of Style, and it applies just as validly to code: “Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
  • Comments often attempt to explain what or how, which tends to merely repeat the code; comments should always address the why.
  • In maintaining code you also have to maintain any associated comments too, thus requiring more effort.
  • Writing comments that are clear rather than cryptic is hard. I recent comment (pun intended) I read on this was enlightening: if the code was written in a confusing manner why would you expect the code author to suddenly be able to write comments about it clearly?

As I have said here, and you may have seen elsewhere, comments frequently lie. What does that really mean? Here’s an example from Dietrich’s article along with his commentary:

// Returns x + y or, if x or y is less than zero, throws an exception
public int Add(int x, int y)
{
    return x + y;
}

What happened here? When you put on your code archaeology hat, you’ll probably conclude that a guard condition once existed. Someone deleted that guard condition but didn’t think to update the now-nonsensical comment. Oops.

Oops, indeed! Comments, unlike code, are not checked at edit time (unless you’re writing doc-comments, discussed later) or at compile-time or at runtime. You cannot lint your comments. You cannot unit test your comments. In other words, there are no safeguards. Thus, whether you are dealing with good comments or evil comments, you should strive to minimize them so they do not become stale or downright misleading, as in the above example.

Many developers do not like to write documentation of any sort, and that includes comments. (For a good list of excuses reasons, see Why programmers don’t comment their code. But commenting too little (or not at all) is just as bad as commenting too much. As I and many others have stated, comments are often necessary but try to keep them to a minimum.

How Evil is your comment? Fighting evil in code comments.

In ELMG Digital Power Polls most people answer that most of their comments are a description of what or how the code does or works (56%) and repeating the code (75%) and no one (0%) respond that their comments are why the code is the way it is. And this is pretty much exactly the opposite of good or best practice using the “evil scale” in the diagram below.

Fighting evil in code comments
Fighting evil in code comments

Check out the article. It is worth a look to make comments more mindful and less evil.