As the industrial revolution 4.0 is dawning on us, the digitalization of the utility grid and more broadly digitalization of our complete energy system is inevitable. While digitalization brings massive opportunities for value creation, it also brings significant challenges.
“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.
FlexGen leads the energy storage industry worldwide with its breakthrough hybrid energy storage software and power conversion products for oil and gas, marine, and industrial power systems.
Their energy storage system was commissioned by power producer and retailer, Vista Energy, to build its 10-megawatt/42-megawatt-hour storage system, making it the largest battery in Texas.1
Tony Olivo, Director of Engineering, and Preston Miller, firmware engineer at FlexGen, discuss how they used Typhoon HIL's integrated platform to test and verify the highest quality control system.
Frequency regulation is currently provided by large individual resources, such as coal plants and gas turbines. There is growing interest for utilizing power flexibility of DERs in microgrids for providing frequency regulation. Researchers, funded by ARPA-E, from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have developed a control framework for a microgrid that coordinates DERs for frequency regulation.
Using a Controller Hardware-in-the-Loop simulation platform, EPC Power was able to integrate their control software with new hardware in just two days.
Based in San Diego, CA, EPC Power designs and manufactures grid forming bi-directional inverters and DCDC converters for solar, wind, energy storage, automotive and microgrid applications.
Ryan Smith, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and chief controls architect, talks about his experience using Controller Hardware in the Loop (C-HIL) from the early conceptual stage, to final product certification and lifecycle maintenance.
From Centralized to Distributed Microgrid
Today, most microgrids are controlled in a centralized fashion with standard master slave architecture. There is a central controller, which is the supervisory controller and is connected via point-to-point connection to every DER in the microgrid.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) funded by ARPA-E, have developed a completely distributed controller architecture. Instead of a central controller, multiple micro controllers or nodes communicate with its neighbors towards a consensus. Olaolu Ajala, a PhD student in power and energy systems at UIUC, shows how this distributed controller architecture works using a Hardware-in-the-Loop microgrid testbed.
Sandia National Laboratories is the largest U.S. Department of Energy national lab with over 12,000 employees. It has a major role in supporting inverter development and testing protocols for standards organizations and distributed energy research (DER) vendors.
Jay Johnson, a principal member of technical Staff at Sandia, leads several renewable energy research projects in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
He talks about his research paper, “Design and Evaluation of SunSpec-Compliant Smart Grid Controller,” and why Controller Hardware-in-the-Loop (CHIL) is a novel approach.
What is resilience?
Resilience is a new way of dealing with the unknown. Modern society has come to believe that we can rise above risk by using historical data and design analyses to quantify probabilities and consequences, and calculating an acceptable gamble on targeted risk mitigation measures. Resilience basically is our capacity to survive and thrive in the face of change and uncertainty – accepting the fact that we cannot always predict the future. Resilience thinking challenges us to overcome limitations of traditional risk management methods by focusing on the outcomes that are important to us, such as health and welfare. An important difference is that we must come up with ways to enable our systems, communities, and businesses to deal with changing conditions or things that we might not have known in advance without falling apart - not only by protecting them from change, but by cultivating flexibility and a propensity to learn and adapt to changing conditions.
The ship is a microgrid with interconnected loads (propulsion, C4ISR, propulsion and auxiliary) and distributed energy resources (power generation, distribution and energy storage) acting as a controllable entity. This is not a new concept. However, it is one that is taking on far greater significance with the increasing electrification and computerized control of naval and merchant marine ships.
Distribution grids of the future will be much more dynamic than they are today. The key drivers for this are the decentralized generation largely driven by exponential technology adoption of intermittent renewable sources like solar and wind, battery storage, as well as highly dynamic power electronics converters, and smart relays. Additionally, the resilience considerations against cyber-attacks and natural events call for a more decentralized control architecture, i.e. cellular design of the distribution grids-one in which parts of the grid can both operate as independent islands and control their own voltage and frequency, as well as operate as integral part of the large grid.