DC Building Power: Emerging Trends, Application Drivers, Market Opportunities, Adoption Rates and Forecasts

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This comprehensive analysis provides decision makers with an insightful look into the current and future opportunities and threats available in the dc building power supply market. Topics include:
•    Emerging Trends and Developments
•    Additional Applications and Drivers
•    Pending Issues in the Development of DC
•    Current Areas of Development
•    Key Organizations Involved in Advancing DC Power
•    Estimated Market Projections
•    Selective Company Profiles

The introduction of dc power to industries that traditionally rely on ac power is expected to cause a fundamental shift in how new and existing buildings are designed and operated. It will require manufacturers to design new products, adopt new standards and completely re-design their approach to power delivery systems. It must also be determined where a dc power system will completely replace the existing ac architecture and where the deployment of dc power delivery systems as part of a ac-dc hybrid architecture would be appropriate. Despite the challenges, the addition of dc power delivery systems offers the potential for improvements in energy efficiency, reliability, flexibility, power quality and cost of operation as compared to traditional power systems.

In cooperation with other industry associations and standards-making bodies, the EMerge Alliance started working on a dc power standard for data center facilities in 2009. The selection of 380Vdc as the distribution voltage is based on the agreement of engineering data from a number of organizations in the United States, Europe, and Japan. In addition, EPRI developed the first dc voltage tolerance envelope plotting voltage variations versus time for 380Vdc powered equipment. The new dc voltage tolerance envelope provides the technical details of the electrical operating environment, including allowable voltage surges and sags that could enable engineers to design power converters for use with 380Vdc distribution systems for next-generation data center equipment.

This standard is being developed in parallel to an effort taking place with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), and is expected to be in harmony with ETSI EN 300 132-3. It will address the problem of compatibility between the power supply equipment and both datacom/telecom equipment and to the different load units connected to the same interface. The eventual adoption of EN 300-132-3 poses both an opportunity and a challenge to the advocates of higher-voltage dc power in telecom central office facilities, as it allows equipment designed to this standard to be powered by either high voltage ac, single or three phase rectified ac, or dc current.

A dc microgrid is an emerging concept that could gain traction as other emerging technologies become more established. Defined by the Department of Energy as a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that act as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid, these microgrids are expected to play an important role in the development of dc power. In fact, a number of companies are already offering products to support the dc microgrid concept.

The implementation of a system that allows the delivery of dc power to a microgrid has the potential to provide a facility with a number of advantages, such providing reliability and power quality. In addition, as renewable energy technologies such as solar PV become more widespread, the development and use of a dc microgrid could evolve into a cheaper and more efficient alternative. A possible course of action is to install a dc network linking dc devices to dc power supplies

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