ABB has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Imperial College London to look into creating a digital grid demonstrator project.

The company said discussions have focussed on a projected £1m investment in the project, which would aim to closely mimic the operation of real-life power networks from transmission to distribution to behind-the-meter technologies such as residential energy storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

The demonstrator is planned to include ABB’s digitally enabled substation switchgear together with automation systems and energy storage.

According to ABB, researchers could use the demonstrator to model the behaviour of future networks. It would also allow them to identify potential issues and solve them offline in controlled conditions.

Prof Tim Green, director of Imperial College’s Energy Futures Lab, said the demonstrator would “prove invaluable in helping our students explore the full potential of the latest transmission and distribution technology to help networks evolve to meet the growing operational and stability challenges presented by renewable energy, distributed generation resources and electric vehicles” and that it would also “help to address the current skills gap for engineers who are ready to design, build and operate the UK’s Future Energy Networks.”

Meanwhile, ABB announced this week that it will supply a 450 kW heavy vehicle fast charging system to a Canadian city.

Societé de Transport de Laval (STL), which operates public transport services in the city of Laval in Quebec, ordered the charging system for a test of two electric buses with range extenders, undertaken in collaboration with EV technology firm TM4 and Cummins.

ABB claims its charger can recharge a bus battery in under six minutes while it waits at a terminal bus stop equipped with the fast-charging infrastructure. The company will provide installation and civil works for the project as well as the charging technology, with commissioning scheduled for mid-2018.

And, the firm announced this week the launch of its 150-350 kW EV charger, which it claimed is the first such product on the market, saying it can charge both 400 V and 800 V cars at full power.

ABB said the charger is “ideally suited for use at highway rest stops and petrol stations” and can charge a 400 V car at full 150 kW continuously. With power sharing technology, a two-power cabinet charging system can charge two cars simultaneously with up to 350 kW and 500 A, while optimizing the available grid connection and power delivery to the two vehicles dynamically.