The Challenge: Enabling real-time modeling of transmission and distribution network
interactions with controllable devices
The proliferation of dynamic loads and distributed energy resources on the electrical grid is changing the ways transmission and distribution (T&D) networks operate. It is essential to gain a better understanding of the nature of these changes, but conventional modeling tools only model and analyze each network separately, so the real-time dynamics between controllable devices and these systems have not been revealed. No method had been able to produce high-fidelity, real-time simulations of the effect of dynamic end use devices on grid performance.
The Solution: FLEXLAB® performance evaluation
In this ARPA-E funded project, researchers turned to the U.S. Department of Energy’s FLEXLAB® facility to demonstrate and evaluate a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) system to evaluate demand response (DR). The project involved a partnership of four institutions and was led by principal investigators Adilson Motter and Takashi Nishikawa from Northwestern University’s Institute for Sustainability and Energy (ISEN). The system allowed direct integration of physical devices into a real-time model of the power systems, which enabled users to control and capture the true response of dynamic devices. By analyzing these dynamic interactions, users were able to better evaluate the performance of grid and device control algorithms.
The Bottom Line: The test validated the performance of the HIL system and controllers
The real-time power systems model interacted and communicated well with the devices in FLEXLAB®. The team directly controlled some devices, and an asynchronous process from the real-time simulator was used to communicate with devices using TCP/IP-based custom communications. The HIL-based DR test was conducted successfully with the integrated T&D model, hierarchical controllers, and real devices, validating the HIL testbed approach and control algorithms. The HIL testbed could also be used to validate a broad range of grid service applications, including voltage
management, frequency responses from distributed energy resources, and controllable loads.
Download the full case study here: T&D HIL for Demand Response
"FLEXLAB® had the right combination of capabilities that allowed us to simultaneously control a large number of hardware devices…which were all essential in testing the optimization and control algorithms developed in our project."
Takashi Nishikawa, Research Professor, Northwestern University