Direct Current Distribution Networks

Remote and Grid-Tied Nanogrids and Microgrids for Telecom, Data Center, Commercial Building, and Military Applications

The market for direct current (DC) distribution networks is not a single, cohesive market. Rather, it encompasses several disparate opportunities—telecommunications towers, data centers, grid-tied commercial buildings, and off-grid military networks—that revolve around different market assumptions, dynamics, and drivers. The industry is currently focused on medium-voltage DC distribution networks—systems that are mostly concentrated on the data center market segment, but which can also apply to commercial buildings.

A heated debate continues about the advantages and disadvantages of DC. The majority of progress in developing DC-based technologies has occurred at either the high-voltage (more than 1,000V) or low-voltage (less than 100V) level. Since microgrids and building-scale nanogrids typically operate at medium voltage (roughly 380V–400V), much work needs to be done to bridge this voltage innovation gap. Another challenge facing DC distribution networks lies with the need for standards and open grid architectures that can help integrate the increasing diversity of resources. Yet, there is momentum at the distribution level of electricity service to diversify power offerings and pursue hybrid solutions that incorporate a growing proportion of DC. According to Navigant Research, implementation revenue in the global DC distribution network market is expected to grow from $2.8 billion in 2015 to $5.1 billion in 2024 under a base scenario.

This Navigant Research report analyzes the global market for DC distribution networks in four key segments: off-grid/bad grid telecommunications, data centers, commercial building grids, and off-grid military applications. The study provides an analysis of the market issues, including opportunities, drivers, and implementation challenges, associated with DC distribution networks. Global market forecasts for capacity and implementation revenue, broken out by segment, region, and scenario, extend through 2024. The report also examines the key technologies related to DC distribution networks, as well as the competitive landscape.

Key Questions Addressed:
  • What are the efficiency and control advantages of direct current (DC)?
  • What applications of DC power make sense today? Tomorrow?
  • What efforts are being made to create new standards for DC medium-voltage products?
  • Which segments are leading this market?
  • Which companies are the lead pioneers with DC technologies?
  • How does DC fit in with the current push related to microgrids for resiliency?
  • What unique safety issues need to be addressed in order for DC to become fully commercialized?
Who needs this report?
  • Smart grid vendors
  • Large technology players
  • Smart building innovators
  • Utilities
  • Telecommunications companies
  • Academic institutions
  • Investor community

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary               

1.1  Direct Current Distribution Networks: Market Overview

1.2  Market Forecasts

2. Market Issues       

2.1  Why the Emergence of Direct Current Technologies?

2.1.1  HVDC

2.1.2  Low-Voltage DC: Ethernet Alliance Vision

2.1.3  The Missing Link: Medium-Voltage DC

2.2  AC versus DC Distribution Networks

2.2.1  The Business Case for AC Distribution Networks

2.2.2  The Business Case for DC Distribution Networks

2.3  DC Distribution Networks: Nanogrids or Microgrids?

2.4  Current DC Distribution Network Market Opportunities

2.4.1  Data Centers

   2.4.1.1  Case Study: ABB’s Zurich-West DC Distribution Network

2.4.2  Commercial Building Nanogrids

2.4.3  Off-Grid/Bad Grid Telecommunications Towers

2.4.4  DC Network Military Applications

   2.4.4.1  Case Study: Bosch’s DC Building Grid for DOD’s Fort Bragg

2.5  Implementation Issues

2.5.1  Public Safety Concerns Regarding DC

2.5.2  Impact of Low Natural Gas Prices

2.5.3  Need for New DC Grid-Tied Business Models

2.6  DC Market Drivers

2.6.1  Medium-Voltage DC Standards

   2.6.1.1  Occupied Space Standard

   2.6.1.2  Data and Telecommunications Standards

   2.6.1.3  Net Zero Energy Buildings

   2.6.1.4  Other DC Standards

2.6.2  Impact of Escalating Diesel Fuel Prices

2.6.3  Need for Premium Power Due to Declining Reliability of AC Utility Grid

2.6.4  Evolving Bottom-of-the-Pyramid Strategies

3. Technology Issues

3.1  The Emergence of a Viable Market for DC at Multiple Voltage Levels

3.1.1  Why the Shift on HVDC?

3.1.2  Why the Shift on Low-Voltage DC?

3.1.3  The Push for Medium-Voltage DC

3.2  An Inventory of Game-Changing DC Distribution Network Components

3.3  DC Circuit Breakers and Protection Relays

3.4  DC-DC Converters, Optimizers, and Rectifiers

3.5  DC DG

3.5.1  Solar PV

3.5.2  Fuel Cells

3.6  Advanced Energy Storage

3.6.1  Advanced Lead-Acid

3.6.2  Flywheels

3.6.3  Advanced Lithium Ion

3.6.4  Flow Batteries

3.6.5  Sodium Metal Halide

3.7  UPS Systems

3.8  DC Commercial Building Trends

3.8.1  DC Lighting Advances

3.8.2  DC Plug Loads

3.9  DC EV Charging

3.9.1  DC versus AC Building Controls: PoE

3.10  Network System Controllers: AC versus DC Approaches

3.10.1 Unique DC Control Considerations

4. Key Industry Players 

4.1  DC Distribution Network Competitive Landscape Overview

4.2  Major Technology Players

4.2.1  ABB

4.2.2  Bosch

4.2.3  Eaton

4.2.4  Emerson Network Power

4.2.5  Johnson Controls

4.2.6  Siemens

4.3  DC System Developers and Suppliers

4.3.1  Moixa

4.3.2  Nextek Power

4.3.3  Pareto Energy

4.3.4  Pika Energy

4.3.5  Win Inertia

4.4  DC Pure Component Suppliers

4.4.1  Armstrong Industries

4.4.2  Phillips Lighting

4.5  Tactical Military Specialists

4.5.1  NextEnergy Center

4.6  Remote Telecommunications Network Innovators

4.6.1  Applied Solar Technologies

4.6.2  Flexenclosure

5. Market Forecasts  

5.1  DC Distribution Market Forecast Overview

5.2  The Three-Scenario Formula

5.2.1  Revenue Methodologies

5.3  Regional Dynamics: Total DC Distribution Network Capacity

5.3.1  North America

5.3.2  Europe

5.3.3  Asia Pacific

5.3.4  Latin America

5.3.5  Middle East & Africa

5.4  Segment Capacity and Revenue Forecasts

5.4.1  Off-Grid/Bad Grid Telecommunications Towers

5.4.2  Data Centers

5.4.3  DC Commercial Buildings

5.4.4  Military Applications

5.5  Conclusions and Recommendations

6. Company Directory
7. Acronym and Abbreviation List
8. Table of Contents
9. Table of Charts and Figures
10. Scope of Study, Sources and Methodology, Notes

List of Charts and Figures

  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • New Annual HVDC Converter Revenue by Region, World Markets: 2013-2020
  • Annual Residential Distributed Solar PV Installed Capacity by Region, World Markets: 2013-2023
  • Annual Stationary Fuel Cell Installed Capacity and Revenue, World Markets: 2014-2023
  • All DC Building Technologies Revenue by Region, World Markets: 2013-2020
  • Annual DC EVCE Unit Sales by Region, World Markets: 2014-2023
  • DC Distribution Network Incremental Capacity by Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Off-Grid/Bad Grid Telecommunications Incremental Capacity by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Off-Grid/Bad Grid Telecommunications Implementation Revenue by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Data Center Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Data Center Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Commercial Building Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Commercial Building Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Military Application Off-Grid Network Incremental Capacity by Scenario, United States: 2015-2024
  • DC Military Application Off-Grid Network Implementation Revenue by Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • Always-On Low-Voltage DC Loads to Increase over Time
  • Enernet Links Nanogrids to Microgrids and Macrogrids
  • Status Quo AC/DC Hybrid Microgrid Distribution Network
  • New AC/DC Hybrid Microgrid Path to Net Zero Energy Buildings
  • DC vs. AC for Data Centers: An Opposing View from Schneider Electric
  • Transforming Data Centers into Revenue Generators via DC Distribution Networks
  • Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Fort Bragg DC Building Grid Pilot Project
  • Regional Break-Out of Telecommunications Towers, 2014-2020
  • Pros and Cons of Medium-Voltage AC and DC Systems
  • Energy Storage System Parameters
  • UPS Efficiency: AC vs. DC
  • Lighting as Largest Load within Commercial Buildings
  • Optimizing Plug Loads in Commercial Buildings
  • The DC Home: Future or Fantasy?
  • Comparison of the Physics of AC vs. DC Current
  • AC vs. DC Island Network for Large Ships
  • Industry Drivers for Three DC Distribution Network Applications
  • Pareto Energy’s GridLink AC/DC Non-synchronous Microgrid Power Flows
  • Conceptual Diagram of DC Building Grid
  • Win Inertia Bidirectional Catenary Railway Line AC/DC Hybrid System
  • Japan’s DC Smart Community Demonstrations

List of Tables     

  • DC Distribution Network Incremental Capacity by Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Revenue by Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Telecommunications Off-Grid/Bad Grid Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Telecommunications Off-Grid/Bad Grid Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Telecommunications Off-Grid/Bad Grid Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Telecommunications Off-Grid/Bad Grid Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Telecommunications Off-Grid/Bad Grid Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Telecommunications Off-Grid/Bad Grid Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Data Center Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Data Center Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Data Center Network Incremental Capacity by Region,  Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Data Center Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Data Center Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Data Center Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Commercial Building Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Commercial Building Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Commercial Building Network Incremental Capacity by Region, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Commercial Building Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Commercial Building Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Commercial Building Network Implementation Revenue by Region, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Military Application Off-Grid Network Incremental Capacity by Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Military Application Off-Grid Network Implementation Revenue by Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Incremental Capacity by Region and Segment, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Incremental Capacity by Region and Segment, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Incremental Capacity by Region and Segment, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Revenue by Region and Segment, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Revenue by Region and Segment, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Revenue by Region and Segment, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Cumulative Capacity by Region and Segment, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Cumulative Capacity by Region and Segment, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Cumulative Capacity by Region and Segment, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Cumulative Revenue by Region and Segment, Conservative Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Cumulative Revenue by Region and Segment, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Distribution Network Implementation Cumulative Revenue by Region and Segment, Aggressive Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2024
  • DC Revenue by Voltage Level Category, Base Scenario, World Markets: 2015-2020
  • SWOT Analysis for AC Distribution Networks
  • SWOT Analysis for DC Distribution Networks
  • Current Market Drivers and Barriers by Region for DC Distribution Networks
  • SWOT Analysis for DC Data Center Distribution Networks
  • SWOT Analysis for DC Networks in Commercial Buildings
  • SWOT Analysis for DC Remote Telecommunications Tower Distribution Networks
  • SWOT Analysis for DC Military Tactical Networks
  • DC Distribution Networks for Electrification: Pros and Cons in Selected Markets

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