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Researchers in our Department of Engineering Science have joined forces with leading Korean chemical company OCI and Hanyang University in Korea to develop new resilient energy storage systems for microgrids.

Microgrids are small-scale power grids including generators and loads that can operate independently or in conjunction with an area's main electrical grid. They have applications ranging from domestic households to large businesses such as hotels and retailers.

Bringing together a wide range of expertise including electrochemistry, electrical and control engineering and machine learning, the team will produce a decentralised distributed energy storage system including a controller capable of predicting energy supply and demand and autonomously managing charge and discharge to maximise system resilience and durability.

Dr Chai-Won Kwon of OCI said, “As the lead organisation, OCI will manage the project and produce a Vanadium redox flow battery and solar power system. We’re delighted to be working with the University of Oxford on this exciting project; they will develop a decentralised distributed energy management system. We’re also involving Hanyang University in Korea to investigate the electrochemical properties of the flow battery to improve its efficiency”.

The project’s lead UK investigator at the Department of Engineering Science, Associate Professor David Howey, said, “Power grids including microgrids in rural settings and on islands are increasingly vulnerable to problems due to equipment failures, extreme weather and other causes, and these issues are likely to become more acute in the future. Increased penetration of renewable energy such as solar and wind also increase vulnerability. Energy storage is one solution to the problem, but requires careful control to ensure benefits such as voltage stability and load management are realised for a given cost”.

This project develops novel predictive and control approaches to maximise the revenue from energy storage and avoid early failure in a scalable and modular approach. Three demonstration systems will be constructed to show the benefits of a decentralised approach to prediction and control. 

OCI is a global leading green energy and chemical company founded in 1959 in South Korea. The company has developed a diversified portfolio of products and services for a broad spectrum of industries including solar energy, petroleum/coal chemical, inorganic chemical, specialty gases and advanced materials.

OCI has more than 5,600 employees working across the globe at 33 locations in Korea, China, Japan, South East Asia and the U.S. The company recorded $3bn sales in 2014. As a global leading provider of polysilicon, OCI has undertaken a 400 MW solar PV power project in Texas since 2013 and is expanding its business to ESS and smart grid. OCI is developing a Vanadium Redox Flow battery for ESS.

Hanyang University is a private research university in South Korea. The main campus is in Seoul, and the second one, the Education Research Industry Cluster at Ansan (ERICA) campus, is located in Ansan. The university established the nation's first engineering institute (DongA Engineering Institute) in 1939 which became the founding facility of Hanyang University. It also established the first school of architecture and civil engineering in Korea. Hanyang University has an alumni network of 230,000 that is not only limited to the field of engineering but also to other fields. In 2009 the university was ranked fourth for the number of alumni serving as CEOs and executives at Korea’s top 100 companies. The university enrols more than 2,500 foreign students each year and more than 3,000 students study abroad annually.

Story courtesy of the Department of Engineering Science