By Kristen Meub

Friday, October 27, 2017

Real-time SuperLab demonstration

Engineers from Sandia’s Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory (DETL) joined a team of researchers based in the US and Europe to demonstrate the ability to jointly perform a real-time simulation of an electrical grid by using synchronized hardware-in-the-loop capabilities. This demonstration, the first one under the Global RT SuperLab partnership, entailed exchanging high-speed power system data with other national laboratories and universities over secure communication channels. Hardware-in-the-loop simulation is a process that allows for real-time testing of hardware and control systems embedded in a simulated power system environment.

ENGINEER Jack Flicker reviews simulation data during the Global RT SuperLab’s first demonstration of a joint real-time simulation of an electrical grid.

ENGINEER Jack Flicker reviews simulation data during the Global RT SuperLab’s first demonstration of a joint real-time simulation of an electrical grid.

“The ability to perform this type of joint analysis using hardware-in-the-loop capabilities at various locations creates new capabilities, increases opportunities for collaboration, and makes research infrastructure investment more cost effective,” Abraham Ellis, manager of the Renewable and Distributed Systems Integration group, says.

During this first demonstration, Sandia simulated the behavior of a distribution network with embedded photovoltaic power by using an actual solar inverter with advanced grid-support capabilities at DETL while researchers at other labs and universities simulated other elements of a power grid.

“The power of the real-time hardware-in-the-loop simulation capability with transmission and distribution co-simulation is understanding how emergent behaviors of distributed energy resources affect the bulk power system,” Sandia engineer Jay Johnson says. “For instance, under fault conditions for a system with very high penetration of PV, if all photovoltaic inverters disconnect from the grid, there can be serious consequences including load shedding or system stability issues.”

The Global RT SuperLab initiative was led by Idaho National Laboratory and included the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in addition to Sandia. The group plans to do more demonstrations in the future to tackle a range of grid-related research questions.

“The ability to do a simulation with geographically disparate locations that requires temporal resolution is really powerful,” says Sandia engineer Jack Flicker. “It also means that we can do real-time simulations leveraging resources at other institutions, and that other labs and universities could use Sandia’s resources. It allows the participating labs and universities to work together to harness our different capabilities and solve difficult large-scale problems.”