Kati Sidwall, simulation specialist at RTDS Technologies, explains the benefits of real-time simulation tools, which allow users to de-risk systems before deploying them to the grid. The tools help eliminate uncertainty for microgrids, as Sidwall explains to Lisa Cohn, Microgrid Knowledge editor, at Microgrid 2019 in San Diego.
Simulation specialist Kati Sidwall explained that typically, the real-time simulation market and technology has been focused on the transmission sphere. But now, it is becoming more and more commonly used in distribution — particularly for microgrids.
Sidwall explained that with a real-time simulator, you can test hardware, whether that’s a controller for microgrids or distributed energy resources, or a protective relay.
“You can test it in a closed loop with simulated network. So it allows you to de-risk microgrid control systems, and protection systems, prior to deploying them in the grid,” she said.
The value is inherent for businesses and institutions implementing microgrids where there is a lot of uncertainty. This type of testing tool helps remove that uncertainty.
Sidwall explained in most cases, it can be useful to undertake some offline testing, or fully simulated testing — known as hardware-in-the-loop testing.
“Doing hardware-in-the-loop testing in the lab is really a way to shorten that commissioning time and also to impose grid conditions that might be impossible or dangerous to impose on the real grid, so it’s much easier for customers that way, as well,” Sidwall said.
As for what the company was showcasing at Microgrid 2019, RTDS Technologies had their real-time simulator on site, connected to a Schweitzer Engineering Labs real-time automation controller.
“So, we are simulating a microgrid network in real-time; we’re sending signals from the power system to the Schweitzer device, and that device can make its control decision and interface its control action back into the simulating network, she explained.
This demonstrates closed loop testing of a microgrid controller. And in this specific instance, the company was simulating load-shedding control for frequency and stability. The simulation case was based on a real industrial park in the US.
“This is just a demo. It hasn’t actually been implemented, but it could be adapted for any microgrid industrial park in the US or elsewhere,” Sidwall said.
Essentially, if there is a frequency event, the controller can shed non-critical loads in order to balance the power and stabilize its frequency.
Sidwall also explained why she likes working in the microgrid industry.
“Microgrids are so complex; so much potential for innovation, and their new and novel, and there are often many different technologies operating together, so that’s what’s really cool about microgrids,” she concluded.
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