New measurement tools for European electrical networks

Image showing the new quantum Multiplexer power standard
The new quantum Multiplexer power standard. Credit: INRiM

An EMPIR project has developed a quantum electrical power standard, along with software for its use

The project
Integrating renewable energy into European electricity grids is essential for Europe to implement its Energy Efficiency Directive ((EU) 2018/2002). This contains legislative proposals to meet the EU objective of at least a 55 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

However, inclusion of renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar into the power grid require extra attention to ensure good power quality and balance between production and consumption. Failure to accomplish this may lead to grid instability and even damage to machinery and blackouts.

Thus, precise power measurements are required, not only to guarantee grid stability but also to ensure providers and consumers a fair electricity market.

Providing traceability to the SI, the International System of Units, is essential for meaningful and comparable measurements. For AC power, this is quite challenging, and only a few National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) in Europe can provide uncertainties approaching a few µW/VA. These NMIs apply complicated calibration methods involving transducers (e.g. current shunts, voltage dividers and transformers), thermal voltage converters and digitisers.

The EMPIR project Quantum traceability for AC power standards (19RPT01, QuantumPower), due to finish this year, has been addressing this problem.

QuantumPower is a research potential project, which is a special type of EURAMET project specifically designed to help transfer metrological expertise and knowledge throughout Europe – especially in research areas considered to be of national and regional priority.

A new quantum standard for electrical measurements

Drawing knowledge and expertise from previous EURAMET European Metrology Research Programmes (EMRP and EMPIR) projects, this project  has developed a new practical quantum power standard based on programmable Josephson voltage standards.  As the volt is already realised through quantum effects the new standard can provide direct measurement traceability to the SI.

Development of the new ‘Multiplexer’ to be used together with power standards is nearing completion at 6 project partners.   Tests have suggested that the multiplexer operates within the required uncertainty contribution with an attenuation of (0.231 ± 0.340) μV/V at a nominal value of 7 V.

Other project activities include:

  • A description of the circuit boards and a guide for assembling and operating the multiplexers has been published on an open source software repository.
  • Code for operating the standard has also been made freely available.
  • A YouTube channel has been set up with instruction videos about the project

Dr Karlsen (JV) who coordinated the project said about the work:

“This project is the culmination of several previous projects involving sampling techniques and algorithms that take advantage of highly accurate Josephson voltage standards. This system enables power quality measurements with a real-time quantum-based calibration, which can easily be implemented at most NMIs.”

Due to finish this year the QuantumPower project will promote the development of quantum-based systems across Europe, leading to more robust traceability for electrical measurements. In turn this will help grid operators better balance and manage electrical power from renewable sources and enhance their integration into the network.

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.


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