Flexible Electrical Networks FEN Research Campus


The Flexible Electrical NEtworks FEN Research Campus aims at a sustainable, reliable and affordable energy supply system in the future. Therefore, we research and develop innovative grid technologies to ready electrical grids with a high share of fluctuating and decentralized renewable energy sources. In these grid technologies, direct current (DC) plays a key role.

Our six major research fields are as follows:

Grid Planning and Operation

The scientists of FEN Reseach Campus conduct research on procedures and methods for planning and operation of pure DC grids and hybrid AC-DC grids. Besides the identification of adapted planning criteria for DC grids, the reactions on the systems of the super- and subordinate convential AC grids are analyzed.

For that purpose, the Medium Voltage DC Reseach Grid on RWTH Aachen Campus Melaten will be put into test mode at first. From this, knowledge regarding both, the operation of DC grids and the cooperation of the individual components, are to be gained and the furhter research and development needs for DC grids shall be estimated.

Cloud Platform for Smart Enery Services

In this research field, the scientists work on the implementation of a cloud platform for smart enery services. Via standardized communication, links, energy profiles and projections about load and generation can be shared with a superordinate entity. Using a software platform, this entity efficiently manages consumers and producers. Typical examples are links to virtual power plants or servcices like demand response or demand side management. Further energy services will be developed according to the industrial partners' requirements.

Automation and Control

Grid automation and control is another essential research field. The scientists conduct research regarding grid automation concepts and technologies for DC grids with the integration of decentralized power generation and smart homes. The aim is an automated network using DC technology across several buildings in order to ensure a power supply in which decentralized generation and load cooperate in an optimal way.

Power Conversion and Components

In this research field, electrical components and systems, which are necessary for the structure and the operation of DC grids, are investigated and developed. This includes analyses of materials (e.g. semiconductor and insulation materials) and subcomponents (e.g. semiconductor devices and converters) up until the development of systems, such as DC-DC converters, circuit breakers and control technology, which will be designed, simulated, installed and tested in the Medium Voltage DC Research Grid on RWTH Aachen Campus Melaten. The research grid will be established primarily using standard components from the industrial partners’ current portfolios so that test operations can be conducted as soon as possible; only individual subcomponents will be developed from scratch.

Standards and Regulations

FEN Research Campus actively contributes to the development and international establishment of standards and norms for DC grids and components. So far, standards and regulations fully exist solely for the current AC grid. In order to ensure high safety and reliable, legitimate and hence commercially efficient frameworks, it is necessary to define suitable standards for DC grids and components as well. For this purpose, FEN Research Campus participates
in the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (DKE) of DIN and VDE as well as in the International Council on Large Electrical Systems (CIGRE).

Society, Economics and Health

A prerequisite for the feasibility of comprehensive change and innovation is their relationship to political, economical, social and ecological frameworks. Therefore, besides the technical research fields, researchers of FEN Research Campus also investigate DC grids regarding non-technical factors. These include social acceptance as well as biological, ecological, urbanistic and economical aspects, amongst others.