Delivering energy to the growing global community efficiently and reliably is one of the major challenges of the coming decade. This challenge presents many opportunities with the evolution of the smart grid, which evolved as a result of this need for a more advanced power delivery mechanism.
The original grid consisted of generation at a power plant using traditional fossil fuels such as coal or nuclear energy. The energy generated from the centralized power plants was transported vast distances through a series of transmission and distribution (T&D) networks until it eventually reached the customer. This unidirectional energy flow is not viable in the 21st century because power generation is not centralized; it is distributed with more worldwide energy coming from renewable sources such as solar and wind power.
Furthermore, advances in communication technology, both wired and wireless, are being built into the modern grid. This communication feature leads to what we call a "smart grid". However, obstacles stand in the way of smart grid implementation. These obstacles include evolving standards, rock-solid reliability requirements, security, a low cost implementation, and two-way communication for real-time transmission.
Designing smart grid automation equipment and renewable energy sources, such as solar inverter systems for the smart energy ecosystem, is far from simple. This is where Intel® FPGAs play a vital role. With a single Intel® FPGA or SoC, you can better meet evolving standards for your design while increasing performance and scalability demands for mission-critical system functions like the control loop, grid communications, network redundancy, and security.
Intel® FPGAs for Your Smart Energy Applications
Scalable Platform on a Single FPGA
A smart energy system using a single Intel® FPGA provides a scalable platform that supports diverse needs. You can design with Intel® MAX® 10 FPGAs, Cyclone® V FPGAs, and Cyclone® V SoCs to deliver the performance, flexibility, and cost savings that your design needs. An FPGA -based system gives you:
- Flexibility: Change system functionality and reconfigure the platform
- Performance: Enable hardware acceleration of complex control algorithms with optimized DSP technology
- Design integration: Mixed-system fabric to support both FPGA design flow and embedded processing (C code) requirements
- Lower cost: Lower costs and power consumption for sealed systems with fewer components, increasing system reliability
- Longevity: Support more than 15-year average product life cycle
Intel® FPGAs allow you to leverage multiple processor architectures, such as the Nios® II embedded soft processor or the more powerful dual-core ARM* Cortex*-A9 MPCore* hard processor. Additionally, our IP for smart grid applications and an integrated development tool flow support both FPGA hardware and software development.
Optimal control of new or upgraded smart grids require end-to-end communications and efficient power networks, especially in transmission and distribution (T&D) substations. To support automation, the equipment needs to monitor, control, and secure the grid in real time for more efficient management of peak demand loads. Intel® FPGA technologies play pivotal roles across the complex smart grid ecosystem.
Typical Substation Automation Architecture
Across substation and utility automation applications, IEC 61850 over Ethernet with IEC 62439-3 Clause 4 Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP) and Clause 5 High-Availability Seamless Redundancy (HSR) standards are fast becoming the backbone of high-availability networks in smart grid systems. Designers will face some tough challenges when dealing with substation equipment that must support mission-critical systems in real time and long life cycles that place demands on reliability, upgradability, and interchangeability.
The real-time switch requirements in a redundant network are ideal for implementing in FPGAs. Our low-cost Cyclone® V FPGAs and Cyclone® V SoCs meet the performance requirements of Gbps Ethernet traffic with PRP/HSR redundancy and evolving PRP/HSR standards.
No-Hassle PRP/HSR Ethernet Switch On FPGA
To make it easier for you to implement your smart grid design, we teamed with Flexibilis, a leading networking equipment and intellectual property (IP) provider. The Flexibilis Redundant Switch (FRS) is a GbE switch that supports both PRP and HSR protocol standards. The combination of our FPGA with the FRS IP provides an easy and cost-effective way for you to develop your PRP/HSR switch with:
- No license negotiation
- No up-front licensing costs
- No per-unit royalty reporting
Flexibilis Redundant Switch for Cyclone® V FPGA and Cyclone® V SoC
Key features of the FRS IP:
- Scalable from three to eight ports on our Cyclone® IV, Cyclone® V, and Cyclone® V SoC devices
- Full-duplex 1000 Mbps (Gigabit media independent interface) and 10/100 Mbps (Media independent interface) on all ports
- Wire-speed packet forwarding
- Non-blocking operations
- Reliable store-and-forward operation with data integrity checking
- HSR redundancy box (RedBox), HSR end-node, and HSR quadruple port device (QuadBox); PRP RedBox and doubly attached nodes for PRP (DANP)
- Compatible with IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) transparent clock
Three Steps to Starting Your Design
- Request the IP and review the technical documentation
- Download the reference design
- When you are ready to go into production, purchase your FPGA plus a low-cost security CPLD through your local Intel® FPGA sales representative
Producing reliable, more efficient, and less costly solar or photovoltaic (PV) systems is an important step in making solar energy more competitive. This poses challenges in designing the solar inverter architecture to meet the following demands:
- Reliability and long service life to supply distributed renewable energy sources with central power generation for growing power needs
- Increased efficiency and lower unit costs using advanced control algorithms and power topologies like 3-level insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) and wideband gap SiC-FETs
- Local grid code compliance, which includes power quality monitoring and control
In the past, traditional PV inverter architectures consisted of a DSP for MPPT and DC-DC control, an FPGA for the DC-AC control and perhaps a separate MCU to handle system communications. These three separate system components can be aggregated into an Intel® MAX® 10 FPGA, Cyclone® V FPGA, or Cyclone® V SoC by integrating the DSP control loop, DC-DC and DC-AC conversion and communications all on a single device. This new optimized architecture shown below optimizes system cost and reduces the number of components increasing reliability as well as reducing feature size.
PV Inverter Architecture with an Intel® MAX® 10 FPGA, Cyclone® V FPGA, or Cyclone® V SoC
Next-generation SoC inverter: Use a Cyclone® V SoC with an embedded ARM* processor to integrate the DSP control loop and MCU software for fewer components and failure points, letting you develop a smaller, lighter and lower cost inverter.
MPPT Reference Design
The maximum power point tracking (MPPT) reference design is available as an DSP Builder for Intel® FPGAs model file and provides an example of implementing MPPT algorithm for solar inverters:
- Implementation example of FPGA performance with MPPT based on perturb-and-observe (P&O) method
- Reusable design to scale to multichannel MPPT designs
- End-to-end latency of 36 clock cycles, or .36 µs on Cyclone® V FPGA running at 100 MHz
- DSP Builder tool flow for designing MPPT algorithms inside a solar inverter
To request this reference design, contact your local sales representative.
MPPT Perturb-and-Observe Reference Design in MATLAB Simulink/FPGA Tool Flow
Three-Level IGBT PV Inverter Reference Design
This insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) reference design, available as VHDL source codes from Intel and EBV Elektronik, is ideal for three-phase, three-level IGBT inverters, and addresses:
- Complex control algorithm on Cyclone® FPGA and SoC devices
- Reduced current ripple
- Reduced electromagnetic interference (EMI)
- Improved active filtering to reduce passive components, saving on inverter size, weight, and cost
To request this reference design, contact your local sales representative.