The SiC4GRID project
SiC4GRID is a 42-month innovation action project funded by the European Union under the Horizon Europe programme. It aims to optimize an integrated silicon carbide (SiC) based technology for converter applications by developing three-fold innovations in hardware, software, and IoT, and to achieve a 30% cost reduction, 15% size reduction, 30+ years of lifetime, 30% resource consumption reduction, and 50% CO2 emission reduction compared to silicon converters. The overall goal is to bring European leadership to the forefront of converter technology providers for the integration of renewable energies into the energy grid.
Type of action
HORIZON-CL5-2021-D3-02-10 - Demonstration of advanced Power Electronics for application in the energy sector
12 partners from 7 countries
The main objective of SiC4GRID is to develop innovative eco-designed energy-efficient SiC-based semiconductors that are 30% cheaper, 15% smaller, and have a lifespan of 30+ years. SiC4GRID aims at validating its solutions for both onshore and offshore HVDC/MVDC converter applications.
The project aims to optimize the semiconductors based on physical and digital approach for industrial applications and reduce the environmental impact by reducing CO2 emissions and the use of resources by 50% and 30% respectively.
Develop cost-effective innovative 3.3kV SiC-based power modules
Develop reliable digital tools for SiC-based converter modelling and prediction optimisation
Integrate the SiC-based converter with tailored IoT architecture for HVDC-MVDC applications
Validate SiC4GRID’s technologies through 3 use cases of WBG SiC-based switching semiconductor converter
Improve the environmental and techno-economic viability of the WBG SiC-based converters
SiC4GRID concept is structured around 5 main axes:
Coupling of technical, digital and IoT: towards digitalisation and increased competitiveness of the industry
2 converter applications: MMC (modular multi-level converter) and DAB (Dual Active Bridge) assembled in a modular configuration to build a SST (Solid State Transformer).
3 use cases configurations covering onshore/offshore wind, PV and batteries
A single dashboard for easier interaction with end-users
The activities of SiC4GRID are organised in 8 work packages (WP) including a preparatory phase (WP1), four technological development (WP2-5) and one analytical (WP6) work package.
WP1: SiC-based converter: Specifications and requirements
The overall objective of WP1 is to define requirements for SiC4GRID’s SiC-based module and converters, use cases for their demonstration and establish relevant KPIs.
WP2: Design optimisation of SiC-based converters and DT modelling
The goal of WP2 is to improve the design of SiC-based modules by increasing their lifetime, reducing costs, making them smaller, more efficient, and better for the environment. Partners also develop the SiC4GRID digital twin to replicate the behaviour of the modules and failure mechanism to improve their lifetime and reliability.
WP3: SiC semiconductor devices design and prototyping
WP3 aims at producing 3.3kV SiC-based semiconductor devices for integration in WP4 into energy- and cost-efficient reduced size converters for optimised performance of onshore and offshore energy applications.
WP4: System-level integration
WP4 aims to ensure that the models developed can be verified. It integrates WP2 and WP3 results and qualitatively and quantitatively compares SiC4GRID solutions and existing SiC cells.
WP5: Demonstration and Digital Twin validation on 3 MVDC use cases
WP5 consists of the validation and optimisation of control, efficiency and reduced size of components as well as the demonstration of the system level digital twin modelling and overall demonstration of the whole MMC system.
WP6: Techno-economic and environmental assessment, IPR and after project
WP6 ensures that the legacy of SiC4GRID is prepared. It aims at creating plans and recording the valorisation of SiC4GRID technologies.
WP7: Communication, dissemination and networking activities
WP7 gathers all the communication, dissemination and networking activities of the SiC4GRID project. Communication and dissemination are essential aspects to ensure the success of the project, which aims to exploit its results in industry.
WP8: Technical coordination and project management
WP8 is dedicated to the management of SiC4GRID ensuring the project runs on time, according to the budget and towards the project objectives. WP8 ensures efficient administration in accordance with EC guideline requirements, internal consortium communication, and timely reporting to the European Commission.
Production, test and validation of WBG-based switching semiconductors such as Silicon Carbide (SiC) for HVDC – MVDC converter applications in converter stationsProduction, test and validation of WBG-based switching semiconductors such as Silicon Carbide (SiC) for HVDC – MVDC converter applications in converter stations
Reduced size of components and equipment for offshore / onshore applications
Reduced cost of WBG-based semiconductors such as Silicon Carbide (SiC)
VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT BRUSSEL (Coordinator)
In the SiC4GRID project, the VUB has been assigned the role of coordinator and the lead of Design optimization of SiC-based modules and Digital Twin modelling. For this, the VUB will develop the co-design optimization framework for the SiC power modules for different converter applications and will perform the Digital Twin modelling for the modules, based on prototype testing data. Also, the VUB will investigate the self-healing energy management strategy (EMS) to increase the reliability and lifetime of the Modular Multi-level Converter (MMC) prototype. The VUB will perform the converter-level simulations and reliability assessment based on real load profile data for wind and PV applications.
SOITEC participates in Sic4Grid with its technology “Smart Cut” and it will be adapted in order to be compliant to 3.3kV applications and improved cost-efficiency at the system level. SOITEC is also responsible on one hand for the definition and execution of exploitation strategies in order to ensure the applicability and efficiency of the developed technologies as well as prototypes on component and system level. On the other hand, the definition and execution of processes for inter-consortium information exchange to establish a European technological networking platform, through which further significant synergies can be achieved.
The project team at AAU-Energy has conducted research on the application and development of digital-twin concept and modeling in power electronics area in the last few years. The two important key skills that project team possesses are design for reliability and electromagnetic compatibility. Through SiC4Grid project AAU has an ambition to build up competitive edge in transforming next generation of power electronics technologies and bridging the academic research on digitalization and its practical industrial applications for power electronics.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR MARKET LEADERSHIP
ITML, as the IoT Leader of the SiC4GRID project, is leading the deployment of the Smart IoT connectivity. Advanced and interoperable data management in industrial IoT environment will be delivered through the DFB platform. In addition, ITML will follow the results of techno-economic and environmental assessments in order to define the strategy and the roadmap towards higher TRL.
ELECTRICITE DE FRANCE
EDF is the main end-user of the SiC4GRID project and has the goal of aligning the project goals, common targeted KPIs, use-case definition, impacts, etc. In the rest of the project, EDF contributes to different tasks and ensures that the developments and innovations of the project are well aligned with the initial assumptions and requirements. The digital simulations will validate the use of the solution of converters thanks to the real-life conditions provided by EDF.
AMANTYS POWER ELECTRONICS LTD
In SiC4GRID, AMTS will be responsible for the design and development of the Gate Drive and will build on existing, patented, “Adaptive Drive” technology to yield an integrated gate drive, suited to the SiC MOSFET module and application, with improved s/c protection. By doing so, AMTS will demonstrate that it is stable under all conditions and offers long term cost and size benefits to the customer.
CENTRE SUISSE D'ELECTRONIQUE ET DE MICROTECHNIQUE SA - RECHERCHE ET DEVELOPPEMENT
Within SiC4Grid CSEM will be mainly involved in the development of high dielectric constant materials as replacement of conventional SiO2 based gate oxides. These new materials are expected to contribute to enable competitiveness of SiC- based power devices by improving their performance and reducing their costs. CSEM is equipped with the latest generation of deposition and characterisation tools thus ensuring high quality and low environmental impact SiC MOSFETs production during the project.
MONDRAGON GOI ESKOLA POLITEKNIKOA JOSE MARIA ARIZMENDIARRIETA S COOP
MGEP is the leader of the LCA of power electronics converters in applications, an analysis which will contribute to providing viable and sustainable commercialisation strategies for all the SiC4GRID project developments. Monitored by MGEP, circularity and life cycle environmental assessments will be performed to provide industries with the most environment-friendly ways to produce and upscale the SiC-based converters.
Finalising the production of innovative PE modules, PWC will integrate all elements into a full scale SiC-based converter coupling the hardware to the software. Based on their MMC demonstrator, PWC will lead activities aimed at demonstrating the capabilities of SiC in a real-world scenario. The MMC test-bench will be updated with SiC power-modules which will enable to gain valuable real-world experience with the technology and how it compares to the performance of silicon based IGBT technology.
KK WIND SOLUTIONS AS
KKW involvement in SiC4Grid is predominantly related to the specification and testing of a SiC based MMC converter for medium voltage and will lead the physical real conditions testing in their facility. As the innovation manager, KKW will be responsible for establishing the processes to maximise exploitation of the results by all partners and identifying project innovations.
HITACHI ABB POWER GRIDS LTD.
In SiC4GRID, HE will lead the tasks related to the SiC semiconductor devices design and prototyping including smart gate drivers. HE will exploit the SiC4GRID results in MOSFETs and LinPak development towards establishing a potential 3.3kV-related supply chain in Europe and build on the project results to share the benefits of ALD technology towards industrial use for High Voltage SiC MOSFETs.
In SiC4GRID, Euroquality has a dedicated environment and energy team that will lead the work package dedicated to communication, dissemination and networking activities, mainly by carrying out communication and dissemination activities. We will also support the coordinator in the management and coordination of the project, mainly for administrative aspects.
Design for high reliability (D4HR)
Design for high reliability (D4HR) is an approach to product design that aims to ensure the reliable operation of a product over its expected lifetime. This approach involves identifying potential failure modes and designing products to be resilient to them, as well as using high-quality materials, components, and manufacturing processes.
The benefits of design for high reliability include improved product performance, increased customer satisfaction, and reduced warranty and repair costs. By designing products to be reliable, organizations can improve their reputation, reduce product returns, and increase customer loyalty.
A digital twin is a dynamic virtual copy of a physical asset, process, system or environment that looks like and behaves identically to its real-world counterpart. A digital twin ingests data and replicates processes so you can predict possible performance outcomes and issues that the real-world product might undergo
Eco-design is an approach to product design that considers the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire lifecycle. The goal is to reduce the environmental impact of a product by optimizing its design, material selection, and manufacturing processes, resulting in benefits such as improved environmental performance, cost savings, and increased product longevity.
Energy Management System (EMS)
An Energy Management System (EMS) is a computer-based system used to monitor, control, and optimize the energy consumption of a building, facility, or industrial process. The EMS integrates data from various sensors and meters to provide real-time information on energy consumption, as well as energy demand and supply.
The EMS uses this information to optimize the operation of energy-consuming systems, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, and production equipment. The system can also automatically adjust energy consumption based on external factors, such as weather conditions, energy prices, and demand response signals from the grid.
EMSs can help organizations to reduce their energy consumption, increase energy efficiency, and save on energy costs. They can also improve the reliability and resilience of energy systems by optimizing the use of on-site energy resources, such as solar panels, batteries, and backup generators.
An HVDC/MVDC converter is an electronic device that converts electrical power from one voltage level to another in a direct current transmission system. The converter takes the direct current power input and uses electronic switches to control the voltage and current to produce the desired output. These converters are commonly used in high-power applications, such as long-distance power transmission and electric vehicle charging, and are often based on WBG technologies, such as SiC.
Modular Multi-Level converter (MMC)
A Modular Multi-Level Converter (MMC) is a type of power converter used in HVDC and MVDC applications. It is composed of a series of power electronic cells that are stacked together to form a modular structure. Each cell is made up of several submodules, which consist of capacitors and power switching devices, such as insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) or MOSFETs.
The MMC operates by modulating the voltage and current of each submodule to achieve the desired output voltage and current waveforms. This modulation scheme allows the MMC to produce a nearly sinusoidal output voltage with low distortion, high efficiency, and high reliability. The MMC is also capable of handling a wide range of power levels and is often used in high-power applications, such as HVDC transmission, renewable energy systems, and motor drives.
Predictive Health Monitoring
Predictive Health Monitoring (PHM) is a process that uses data and analytical techniques to detect and diagnose faults or anomalies in a system before they lead to failure. PHM involves monitoring the performance of a system in real-time and analyzing data to identify potential issues early, helping to prevent system failures, reduce downtime, and extend the lifespan of a system. The benefits of PHM include increased system uptime, reduced maintenance costs, and improved safety.
Self-healing energy management system
A Self-Healing Energy Management System (SHEMS) is an advanced energy management system that is designed to be highly resilient and self-repairing in the face of faults or disturbances in the energy system. The SHEMS incorporates advanced control algorithms and fault detection and isolation techniques to detect and diagnose faults in the energy system, and to automatically take corrective actions to restore normal operation.
The main advantage of a Self-healing EMS is its ability to ensure uninterrupted and reliable operation of the energy system, even in the face of unexpected faults or disturbances. This can lead to improved energy efficiency, reduced downtime and maintenance costs, and increased system resiliency and sustainability.
Silicon Carbide (SiC)
Silicon Carbide (SiC) is a WBG semiconductor material composed of silicon and carbon atoms. It has a unique set of material properties that make it an attractive alternative to traditional semiconductors, such as silicon, for use in high-power and high-temperature electronic applications. SiC exhibits excellent thermal conductivity, high electric field strength, and high electron mobility, which make it well-suited for use in high-performance power devices, such as power converters and inverters.
SiC epi wafers
SiC epi wafers are epitaxial wafers made from silicon carbide (SiC) material. Epitaxy is a process by which a thin layer of material is deposited onto a substrate to form a single crystal structure. SiC epi wafers are typically used in the fabrication of high-performance electronic devices, such as power transistors, radio frequency (RF) devices, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
The use of SiC epi wafers can help to improve the performance and efficiency of electronic devices, particularly in high-power and high-frequency applications.
Silicon Carbide (SiC) MOSFETs are high-performance power switching devices that use SiC as the semiconductor material instead of silicon.
SiC MOSFETs offer several advantages over traditional silicon-based MOSFETs, including lower switching losses, higher breakdown voltages, higher operating temperatures, and lower on-state resistance. These advantages lead to higher energy efficiency, faster switching speeds, and higher power density in high-power applications, such as electric vehicles, renewable energy systems, and industrial drives.
SiC MOSFETs are available in a variety of voltage and current ratings, and are often used in combination with other power electronics components, such as gate drivers, diodes, and capacitors, to create complete power converter solutions. The use of SiC MOSFETs can help to improve the performance and efficiency of power electronics systems, particularly in high-power and high-frequency applications.
SiC LinPaks power modules
SiC LinPak power modules are high-performance power electronic modules developed by Hitachi Energy that integrate multiple SiC MOSFETs and diodes into a single package. The LinPak module consists of a number of individual cells, each containing a SiC MOSFET and diode pair, connected in parallel to handle high current levels.
SiC LinPak power modules offer several advantages over a massive reduction of switching losses, an increase in current density and higher maximum junction temperature. These enhancements mean power conversion system efficiency is improved, a smaller footprint is achieved and cooling requirements are much lower.
Overall, SiC LinPak power modules offer a compact, efficient, and reliable solution for high-power applications, with the ability to improve system performance and reduce system costs.
Smart gate drivers
Smart gate drivers are electronic devices that control the switching of power semiconductor devices, such as MOSFETs, IGBTs, and SiC devices. They are designed to improve the efficiency and reliability of power electronics systems by providing advanced features and functionality.
The benefits of smart gate drivers include improved system efficiency, reduced switching losses, increased power density, and enhanced system reliability. By providing better control of the power semiconductor devices, smart gate drivers can help reduce system losses and increase the efficiency of power electronics systems. Additionally, smart gate drivers can improve the reliability of power electronics systems by protecting against potential device failures and reducing the risk of damage to other system components.
Solid State Transformers (SST)
Solid State Transformers (SST) are power electronic devices that are used to transform and distribute electrical power in a variety of applications, such as renewable energy systems, electric vehicles, and smart grids. Unlike traditional transformers, which use electromagnetic principles to transform voltage and current levels, SSTs use power electronic components, such as transistors, to achieve the same transformation.
SST offer several advantages over traditional transformers, including higher efficiency, higher power density, and better controllability and flexibility. They can also incorporate features such as galvanic isolation, voltage regulation, and power factor correction. Additionally, SST are often based on WBG semiconductor technologies, such as silicon carbide (SiC) or gallium nitride (GaN), which offer improved performance and reliability over traditional silicon-based power electronics.
Wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors
Wide bandgap semiconductors (WBG) are materials that have a larger energy gap between the valence and conduction bands than traditional semiconductors, such as silicon. Some examples of WBG semiconductors include silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN). These materials have a number of advantages over traditional semiconductors, including higher breakdown voltages, higher operating temperatures, and higher switching frequencies, which make them ideal for use in high-performance power electronics, such as power converters.
Horizon Europe is the main research and innovation framework programme running from 2021-2027 with around €100 billion of funding available on this period. It succeeds to Horizon 2020 (H2020, 2014-2020) framework programme.
Horizon Europe facilitated collaboration for research and innovation at the European level and increases its impact. Its general objectives are to strengthen EU’s scientific and technological base and boost its competitiveness, to implement the EU’s strategic policy priorities and to contribute to addressing global challenges, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Horizon Europe incorporates research and innovation missions to increase the effectiveness of funding by pursuing clearly defined targets. Five mission areas have been identified, each with a dedicated mission board and assembly. The board and assembly help specify, design and implement the specific missions which have launched under Horizon Europe in 2021:
• Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation
• Climate-neutral and smart cities
• Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
• Soil, health and food
European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA)
CINEA succeeded to the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA). With a budget of around 56 billion € for 2021-2027, CINEA plays a key role in supporting the EU Green Deal through the efficient and effective implementation of its delegated EU programmes (including Horizon Europe) that contribute to the transition to climate neutrality by 2050.