The Solid State Smart Transformer (3ST) is the keystone for the modernisation of the Mexican electricity network.
Just like a conventional transformer a Solid State Smart Transformer can raise and reduce voltage levels of an alternating current (AC) electricity supply in order that the electricity is suitable for industry, commerce or the home.
However, if installed and optimised within a Smart Grid, the 3ST can bring numerous advantages over a conventoinal transformer. Amongst them:
- Allowing the instalation of distributed generation systems such as solar panels, wind turbines, micro-turbines, etc.
- Incorporation of energy storage systems
- Installation of Electric Vehicle charging stations in the near future
- Greater efficiency in the electricity distribution process, plus a feedback loop which will result in better production and consumption practices and further efficiencies
- Modification thorught the internet, characteristics of magnitude of current, voltage and frequency which will permit to respond to faults produced at the side of the electricity network of of the user, such as falls and rises in voltage, blackouts and shorts.
- Improve the quality of energy with which is avoided faulte produced for the final use propogated in the electricity network and reduce the cost of maintaining the network
- REduce considerably the weight and space occupied by the transformer compared with conventional power transformers. The physical size and weight is around a hundretch which will reduce transport and installation costs.
- Greater attraction for use in industrial and commercial distribution, and in traction. This is already used in trains, boats and planes
- Significant reduction in use of copper, mineral oils and other dielectric liquids which contaminate the environment and the water table
- In Mexico the theft of transformers in order to extract their copper is not uncommon. This represents an important threat to the environment because if not properly handled these contaminating liquids can leak from the transformer into the local environment and later into the water table. An SSST contains much less copper meaning it is unlikely to be attractive for theives, in practice eliminating this environmental problem.
LiCore is currently in the final phase of the development of a functional prototype of the Smart Solid State Transformer, with a 3kW power rating, sufficient to meet the electrical energy needs of the average housing unit in Mexico.
The next stage is to develop a 30kW SSST – with capacity to supply electrical energy for a 10-unit Mexican street – with the goal of laying the foundations for the full implementation of a Micro Grid in Mexico.
The Solid State SmartTransformer is seen as the keystone for the implementation of Smart Grid technology and was described as such by the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE) in their investigation of Smart Grids, Disruptive Technology.
Similarly, in 2011 MIT Technology Review declared the SSST as one of the ten most important emerging technologies of recent years.