Energy & Power Technology

Electricity is the foundation of all industrial development. As Taiwan is an island country lacking natural resources, the Taiwanese government is committed to developing the energy diversification policy. Due to the global consensus to reduce greenhouse gases and financial pressure caused by high prices of nonrenewable energy sources, effective use of renewable energy has become an important solution in international development. The development of the electric energy industry is currently trending toward distributed power generation and renewable energy power generation for increasing power supply quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is necessary to improve autonomous technological capabilities and increase the number of technically skilled people in the areas of power monitoring, power quality, power conversion, renewable energy development, and energy conservation. In a distributed power generation system, a small power generator or energy storage system is set up on the power load side to partially or completely supply power to the load. The distributed power generation system can, therefore, allow users to self-power and use the power grid as backup power. The residual heat generated by the distributed power system after generating electricity from a thermal machine can produce the steam or ice water required for processing by the heat exchanger to meet the user’s cold/hot load; achieve cold, heat, and electricity; and greatly improve the energy efficiency. During the grid’s peak power supply period, the load end of the small power generation system can produce power for itself or return power to the grid. It can effectively reduce stored power shortage and congestion in the power distribution network during the grid’s peak power supply period. Small-distributed power generation systems can act as emergency backup power for networks in the event of an electrical system accident and can also meet the niche demand for remote or green power generation. The advantages of distributed power generation systems include lower social costs, increased electricity reliability for users, reduced pollution and emissions, increased opportunities for choice in electricity types, increased emergency backup power for the grid, and increased network safety.

In recent years, breakthroughs have been made in distributed power generation technology research, and a variety of new distributed power generation technologies have emerged. These technologies include micro-gas turbines (MTs) with smaller power generation capacities, fuel cells with capacities that range from several kW to MW, and a variety of distributed power generation technologies based on renewable energy (e.g., PV and wind power generation). These new types of distributed power generation are expected to make up an increasing portion of power production; this growth will have a clear and important impact on the electrical power system. Although the power generation efficiency of several important distributed power generation technologies has greatly improved, the thermal power conversion efficiency of distributed power generation is still much smaller than that of large-scale centralized power generation. Just as centralized power stations can be connected in parallel with electricity and heat to improve energy efficiency, distributed power supply systems can also provide thermal energy or meet heating and cooling requirements while producing electricity according to user needs. Adding an energy storage device to a distributed power generation system, especially a distributed power generation based on renewable energy, can effectively improve energy efficiency, reduce environmental pollution, and improve the system’s thermal efficiency. The main development direction of this group is as follows:

1 Power Monitoring

Due to the strained power supply of Taiwan Electric Power Company in recent years, Taiwan Electric Power Company's various factories, companies, buildings, and schools have all tried to plan their electricity use in order to achieve optimal electricity scheduling and an energy-saving effect, especially in the areas of air conditioning load control and power monitoring. The department has conducted an abundance of successful research in this area, is presently continuing to work with the ITRI‘s all relevant research programs, and has achieved outstanding results. However, the current cost of the terminal node controller is high, and the development of a highly versatile node controller continues to be the development direction of the power monitoring team.

2 Power Quality

Since high-tech industries (such as the semiconductor industry) require high-quality power supply, power disturbances such as harmonics generate pollution in the power supply due to sharp increase in the use of non-linear loads, resulting in lower power quality. It is highly essential for the power industry to achieve improvement in electricity quality. Our department has achieved great results in research on theory and practice in power quality measurement and improvement. In the future, the industry will move toward more accurate power quality measurement methods and more cost-effective improvement strategies.

3 Electrical Energy Conversion

Most of the energy in Taiwan relies on imports, and domestic electricity consumption is increasing. This has strained the national electricity supply. The problem of electrical energy shortage can be solved by improving the efficiency and properties of electric energy conversion equipment. Many teachers in our department have theoretical and practical backgrounds in power converter design, electronic fluorescent lamp stabilizer design, and high-efficiency motor design. These diverse backgrounds help make up our research’s unique features.

4 Regeneration Energy and Energy Conservation Technology

Taiwan mostly relies on imports to fulfill domestic energy needs, especially after the nationwide power outage, 921 earthquakes, and soaring of crude oil prices in recent years. The impact of these events on industry highlights the importance of renewable energy development. In accordance with the Executive Yuan Energy Conference’s special energy plan, 10 billion NTD will be invested in the development of new energy generation methods and clean energy. Therefore, our department is combining the research potential and practical experience of our professors with the application of electric energy technology and energy-saving technology to engage in renewable energy development and energy management research. At present, NCUT has installed a 6KW solar photovoltaic power generation system and small wind turbines, and jointly developed 100W, 200W, and 1000W small wind turbines with Taichung County Yongyuan Electric Co., Ltd. Additionally, a micro-turbine power generator and a biomass gasification power generation system have been installed for practical operations.

5 Power Electronics

Power electronics technology is the core of power conversion technology. At present, the output value of products related to domestic power electronics has reached 300 billion. However, in Taiwan, talent cultivation and R&D in this area is quite limited. Therefore, the National Science Council has specially established a power electronics promotion group to emphasize its importance. Our department has been conducting researching in this area since many years, and the results have been quite fruitful. In the future, we expect that our department will conduct more R&D in related technology areas such as electric motor vehicles and inverters.