Energy Storage Test Bed for Newcastle University

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About the project

A large scale unique test bed for energy storage and power flow management was realized at Newcastle University. With it, researchers aim to explore the potential of local storage for grid support and to test innovative super-capacitor and battery technologies. The test bed is part of a larger facility which is funded through a combined £2 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Newcastle University and industrial partners Northern Powergrid and Siemens. The facility will be based at Science Central, Newcastle’s £200 million flagship project bringing together academia, the public sector, communities, business and industry to create a global centre for urban innovation.

For more information on Science Central, see


  • Multi-converter system for exploring grid-support strategies
  • Test bed for battery and supercapacitor technologies
  • Open-data, open-software architecture enabling research-specific customizations

The setup

The figure below shows an outline of the Newcastle test bed architecture. The test bed connects multiple battery and super-capacitor packs to the main grid. At the heart of the setup is a Triphase PM90 multi-node converter system. It consists of a 360 kW bidirectional active frontend and a three 90 kW bidirectional DC/DC converters. All converters connect to a joint DC bus, enabling the exchange of energy between all sources, sinks and storage elements connected to the system. As such, it is a multi-node power router.

This multi-node power router allows researchers to explore grid support strategies, both from a technical as well as a commercial point of view. From a commercialpoint of view, the question is when to buy and when to sell energy. From a technical point of view, it is important make sure the selected power patterns do not negatively affect the life time of the storage elements. This mainly affects the batteries. For this reason, researchers programmed the system in order for the super capacitors to deliver short-term peaks in power requirements. 

The setup also allows researchers to compare different storage technologies and their fitness for these kind of grid-tie applications. Again, this involves battery life time as a function of power profiles. This kind of research facilitates cost-effective battery technology selection.  

Triphase delivered its PMx setup with all current and voltage controls necessary for the experiments at hand. However, PMx systems are fully open. Researchers have access to all measurement data and can change all software down to the lowest level. Some researchers make use of it to extend the capabilities of the PMx system to also deliver ancillary services. For example, the grid frontend is programmed for power factor correction or for the compensation of grid harmonics. As such, the openness of the Triphase PMx systems renders it future proof as it can readily be adapted to new research challenges.

The setup consists of:

  • 2 x 180 kW programmable active front-ends
  • 3 x 90 kW programmable DC/DC converters
  • A large supercapacitor system
  • Several batteries

Scope of delivery and customer developments

Triphase worked together with Newcastle University to realize a turn-key solution that suited their specicif needs. To this end, the Triphase delivery included a number of integration services supplementing the standard PM90 power modules.

Triphase Products

Triphase Services

Battery Integration

  • CAN Interface with BMS
  • RS232 Interface with supercaps
  • Start-up/shut-down
  • Energy Management


Customer Implementations

  • Power flow management: Managing the power flows between grid, PV array and battery
  • Energy buffering: Strategies to decide when to store PV energy into the battery and when to release energy to the grid. This includes grid-capacity and cost-of-energy optimizations.
  • Grid support: The active power is controlled as to assist the grid in maintain a stable voltage frequency and amplitude.
  • Ancillary services (STATCOM): The active frontend is controlled to correct the grid's power factor and to filter out undesired harmonic content.
  • Battery Testing: Test the impact of charging and discharging profiles on battery lifetime. Assess whether a particular battery technology and size fits a particular application.
  • Supercap Testing: Test the impact of charging and discharging profiles on battery lifetime. Assess whether a particular supercapacitor technology and size fits a particular application.
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