The shift from a world where fossil fuels dominate to another, where most of the energy will be produced from renewable sources is a major challenge for society
Towards an electric world
The shift from fossil fuel to sustainable alternative sources of energy presents a number of challenges to society. Three big shifts are inevitable in the first wave of the transformation: everyday transport will increasingly rely on electric power and propulsion; the development of ‘smart grids’ will boost energy efficiency and over time, improved storage capability will place renewable sources at the centre of the energy debate.
Bringing the technology behind these advances to maturity will require power supplies built with advanced technology as well as major test and simulation means for power systems.
SPHEREA has twenty years’ expertise in power electronics, brought by Puissance+ , a French manufacturer of bespoke electronic equipment. A fully-owned subsidiary of SPHEREA, Puissance+ is a recognised leader in the areas of energy conversion and power electronics instrumentation.
SPHEREA’s power offering comprises:
Embedded or standalone conversion and energy generation systems for critical systems such as electric vehicles
Aircraft more reliant on electric power than today’s models would contain electrical circuits instead of hydraulic and pneumatic systems to operate landing gear, brakes, flight controls and thrust reversers among others.
Research into electric aircraft focuses on moving from alternating current to direct current to power the aircraft’s systems and limiting energy losses and electromagnetic disturbances.
Test means for electric installations such as photovoltaic solar panels and batteries
The electric car
Despite the technological obstacles in its path, the rise of the electric car seems unstoppable as it addresses the three major challenges of the 21st century: the fight against climate change, pollution and diminishing reserves of fossil fuel.
To reach mass production, electric cars need to at least match the performance and cost of conventional vehicles while offering improved environmental credentials and battery life. Many technological advances are expected in coming years to meet this challenge, each requiring significant test and simulation means.
The photovoltaic industry is focused on the development of techniques which use fewer and less costly materials. Solar concentrators, fine-layer panels and organic materials are just some of the areas attracting research dollars.
Research into electricity storage is another key area, especially for the photovoltaic industry whose competitiveness depends on its ability to respond to timely demand – in cloudy weather or at night for example.
Better storage is at the centre of renewables development as it governs the production and consumption of energy while curbing losses. Energy is stocked when supply outstrips demand so as to ‘release’ it when demand increases. Since some renewables rely on intermittent production means, efficient storage is key to meeting steady demand.
Many technological advances are expected in coming years to meet this challenge, each requiring significant test and simulation means.
Network or electric component simulation
With the help of advanced information technology, smart grids automatically adjust the flow of electricity between suppliers and consumers, optimising energy production.
Smart grids use digital technology to analyse and transmit information at every stage of energy distribution from production to consumption. They enable real time flow control as sensors constantly monitor electricity flows and levels of consumption. Energy providers are able to direct the flow according to demand and issue pricing information to consumers.
Smart grids are built on IT systems that can predict short and long term energy production and consumption levels. This makes unpredictable renewable energy sources such as wind power easier to manage.
SPHEREA, through its network or electric component simulators, enables the design of efficient, highly mature grids as the best approach to their construction relies heavily on simulating the behaviour of the smart power network.