Global DC Distribution Network Market - Analysis of Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2018 - 2023)
Expectations, both from electricity distribution techniques and the distribution business, are growing. The utilization of the DC low-voltage distribution opens new possibilities for network development. For example, with the same voltage drop and the same cable, the DC system transmits 16 times more power with a 1.5 kV DC-system than with 0.4 kV AC system. Although, AC voltage rating is currently used in its full capacity, DC voltage is still unexploited in distribution systems. Component prices of power electronics have constantly been declining in the last decade, allowing power electronic devices to be used in a greater number of applications. Electricity generated from DC systems costs less, compared to AC systems, which benefits the customer.
Advantages over AC distribution, like power sharing between systems with different frequencies - Drive the market
In AC transmission and distribution systems, all alternators must be synchronized for not only frequency but also for phase angle. If the phase of power transmitted from two different grids does not match each other, the power from both will cancel each other out or ring. Moreover, matching the phase of different grids is difficult and expensive. Here, DC distribution has an edge, as there are no phase balancing or harmonic issues in DC transmission.
In countries, like Japan, transmission is at two different frequencies: Eastern Japan uses 50Hz, while Western Japan uses 60Hz. DC power distribution systems are compatible with unsynchronized AC transmission systems. Since the power flow through a DC link can be controlled independent of frequency and the phase angle between source and load, it can stabilize a network against disturbances due to rapid changes in power. This improves the stability and economy of each grid, thereby, allowing an exchange of power between incompatible networks.
Growing environmental consciousness and limits on fossil fuels placed a huge demand for larger integration of renewable energy with conventional sources. Solar power is estimated to supply one-third of world’s energy demand by 2060 thereby, proliferating DC distribution in future, as solar energy generates direct current. Furthermore, nearly 80% of commercial and residential consumers use devices, which require DC power. Therefore, economically it makes sense to adopt DC transmission and distribution.
Asia-Pacific - one of the leading markets
With a growing need for power in this region, DC distribution systems have the capability of making power available to a large part of the population. The major trends driving this market are increase in distribution efficiency, increasing demand for DC dependent infrastructure, the mismatch between renewable source and demand location. Moreover, DC system can work on variable frequencies, and DC architecture is simpler than AC, requiring less space, equipment, installation, and maintenance. These characteristics make DC technology appealing to customers, especially in the commercial sector. There is evidence proclaiming that medium-voltage DC distribution results up to 10% increase in efficiency over AC distribution.
On the flipside, high installation costs, safety concerns, and lack of enthusiasm to adopt the new technology are stifling the market. The market has been segmented based on end use application, and it has been observed that telecom and village power systems enjoy the lion's share of the market in the Asia-Pacific region.
China leading the global DC distribution network market
The DC distribution network market in China is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, in the wake of ever growing population and increasing energy demand. The government started implementing new policies and regulations to help meet the market demand. The development in power electronics technology, such as micro grids, is mostly connected to distribution networks. In the power industry, the flexible DC distribution network has got attention for its lower integration and construction costs, reduction in energy loses, and higher reliability. The China Southern Power Grid, in association with universities, undertook research work on the benefits of DC distribution network, and is planning to implement it in the near future.
Key Developments in the market