“If we didn't have this, we'd be stuck using a platform that we couldn't change and therefore optimize. It really helps with confidence.
-Solon Mardapittas, CTO of Powerstar
For this next spotlight, we got a chance to speak with Powerstar’s CTO, Solon Mardapittas, on developing Powerstar’s intelligent energy management system (EMS) with real-time Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) technology.
Based in the UK, Powerstar’s integrated energy system combines its voltage optimization technology with energy storage solution. This not only secures power but lowers energy costs and provides demand side response services to the grid.
Here is the insightful interview with Solon Mardapittas on Powerstar’s rigorous quality assurance process for its leading-edge technology:
For this next spotlight, we got a chance to travel on-site and meet the brilliant team behind Schneider Electric’s active harmonic filters division in the quiet town of Salem, Oregon. This division develops solutions for active harmonic filtering in industrial installations.
Nicolas LaRue, global offer manager for Schneider Electric’s AccuSine products, talks about how Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) technology gives his customers peace of mind.
For the uninitiated, HIL is a model-based design and testing tool that simulates power electronics and power systems in real-time at ultra-high fidelity. It tests the actual controller which is directly interfaced with the model-based simulation.
We also got to speak with Nanda Marwali, engineering manager, and John Batch, firmware engineer, on how Schneider used HIL to push the limits of their controller throughout the entire product lifecycle.
As Europe’s premiere research and technology organization, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), bridges the gap between industry and research by utilizing innovative solutions to key infrastructure issues.
Zoran Miletic, Senior Research Engineer and Power Electronics Design specialist at AIT, talks about how AIT developed its powerful pre-certification toolbox to design and test smart grid converters for grid code compliance using controller Hardware-in-the-Loop (C-HIL) technology.
“The Controller Hardware-in-the-Loop is a very important and required step before actual validation or implementation because we can take care of all the corner cases.”
At the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center at North Carolina State University, U.S. universities and industry partners focus on modernizing the electric grid using advanced power electronics.
As one of the founding faculty members at FREEDM System Center, Dr. Subhashish Bhattacharya’s research focuses on power electronics and power systems including DC Microgrids.
Dr. Bhattacharya discusses how Controller Hardware-in-the-Loop (C-HIL) reduced the cycle time of design, validation and testing of DC Microgrid controllers from academia to industry.
Continuous Integration (CI) is a standard software development practice that requires developers to integrate code into a shared repository at least once a day. Each software commit is then automatically built and tested, allowing developers to detect and fix problems early. By integrating developed code regularly, you can detect errors quickly, and fix them in a timely manner.
Interconnecting distributed energy resources (DER) to the grid, in the United States, requires compliance with a number of standards/grid codes, where three main ones are:
National Electrical Code (NEC),
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 1741, and
Since the existing versions of UL 1741 and IEEE 1547 (IEEE 1547-2003) were written prior to the development of smart inverters they were being revised in the end of 2016 to cover new grid support, utility-interactive inverters and converters. Revisions of UL1741 and IEEE 1547 came from California. Indeed, in early 2013 regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California Energy Commission (CEC) jointly convened the Smart Inverter Working Group (SIWG).
Hardware in the loop (HIL) is not a new technology. It has been around for twenty-five plus years, and it has been almost exclusively used in the automotive and aerospace industries for test and validation of controller performance and system integration. Although HIL has been synonymous with automotive testing; this is changing.
In 2015, three independent market research companies published three “State of the HIL” reports. All three reports state that after decades of evolutionary HIL developments, there is a new application – HIL for power electronics and power systems.
Although the HIL market for power electronics, microgrids, and power systems is still smaller than either automotive or aerospace, it is the fastest growing segment. The power electronics and microgrid pull is tremendous. Here are a few excerpts from VDC, Markets and Markets, and Frost and Sullivan reports.
“HIL tool spending will grow most rapidly in the energy/power industry….”
“….HIL adoption is accelerating outside of the legacy user base (automotive and aerospace/defense). The rapid expansion of HIL use in several industries including energy/power is helping drive revenue growth.”
Today’s aspiring electrical engineers are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn power electronics, and power systems, hands on, using some of the most advanced “flight simulators” for power. These ultra-high fidelity real-time simulators, with nanosecond resolution and microsecond integration time steps, emulate smart inverters, distributed energy resources (DERs), microgrids, and power systems with unparalleled accuracy.
This enables new generations of engineers, defined by pervasive gaming experiences, satisfy their need for an interactive and fully immersive environment. This enables them to effortlessly learn intricate ins and outs of power electronics and microgrids.
If you consider that 57% of 18-34 year olds play video games at least three times a week, and 67% believe games are important in helping them learn how to create winning strategies, it is clear why the “flight simulator” approach to teaching power electronics and power systems is attracting torrents of new students.
Indeed, a “flight simulator” approach to learning through playing is fundamentally transforming the perception of power electronics traditionally considered “old school” and “conservative”.