University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


Nowadays the use of power electronic interfaces to integrate distributed generation with the power grid is becoming relevant due to the increased penetration of renewable energy sources like solar, and the continued interest to move to a smarter and more robust electric grid. Those interfaces, which also provide a voltage step-up or step-down function, are of particular interest because renewable energy sources do not always have voltages compatible with the connecting grid. Among them, the so-called “power electronic transformer” or “solid-state transformer” (SST) is the focus of significant research. Advantages such as bidirectional power flow, improved system control, reduced size, and premium power quality at the output terminals, increase the interest of the SST for future electric grids. The SST consists mainly of two components: a high-frequency transformer (made out of advanced magnetic materials) and power converters (employing efficient power semiconductor devices like those based on silicon carbide (SiC)) to enable operation at frequencies higher than the grid frequency. This paper presents an optimum design method that can be employed to build a high-frequency transformer for a SST intended to interface a renewable energy source (e.g., a photovoltaic system) to the electric grid. Core material, geometry, and size will be analyzed in order to provide an optimum balance between cost, efficiency, thermal management, and size. Special consideration will also be given to the selection of the winding conductors given the skin effect associated with operation at high frequencies.