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  • Real-Time Microgrid Modeling and Simulation

    March 20, 2017

    Real-Time Microgrid Modeling & Simulation

    The increasing relevance of microgrids and the distributed energy resources that comprise them has generated a demand for detailed study tools and sophisticated hardware-in-the-loop test facilities to evaluate the operation of the associated control and power devices on the grid.

    The benefits of microgrid systems include increased grid reliability, the integration of renewable and alternative energy sources, and the provision of energy access to remote and developing communities.

    The microgrid concept is relatively new compared to conventional power system operation and the best method to study challenges regarding microgrid operation and implementation is using detailed simulation programs and models. Electromagnetic transient (EMT) simulators, such as the RTDS Simulator, have been well established for detailed analysis of power system transients in the time domain from DC up to kHz frequencies found in modern power electronic converter systems.


    Figure 1. Time step requirement for different types of simulation [1]

    RTDS Simulators can accurately analyze the steady state and transient behaviour of the microgrid in grid connected and islanded mode in continuous real time. Advantages of using real time digital simulators for microgrid modeling and applications include:

    • Fast simulation times
      Microgrid analytical studies can be performed much faster than with offline simulation programs. Since the simulator operates in continuous real time, the simulated microgrid system can operate in a manner similar to the real system. As the simulation parameters are modified and contingencies are applied, the user can watch the microgrid respond in real time.
    • Hardware in the loop Testing
      The Hardware in the loop capability of RTDS Simulators allows the design of microgrid control, protection and power devices to be evaluated under realistic operating conditions before they are installed and commissioned in the real microgrid system.




    The short video shows the real time simulation of a simple microgrid with a Photovoltaic, Battery and Diesel Generator unit for different operating conditions such as grid-connected operation, turning on the microgrid components, islanding the microgrid and shading conditions of the solar array. Developing detailed real-time microgrid simulation models is critical for detailed analytical studies and hardware-in-the loop testing applications [2].

    Please contact support@rtds.com if you have any questions regarding this feature.

    Author: Onyi Nzimako
    March 2017


    [1] M. D. Omar Faruque et al., “Real-Time Simulation Technologies for Power Systems Design, Testing, and Analysis,” in IEEE Power and Energy Technology Systems Journal, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 63-73, June 2015.
    [2] O. Nzimako and A. Rajapakse, “Real time simulation of a microgrid with multiple distributed energy resources,” 2016 International Conference on Cogeneration, Small Power Plants and District Energy (ICUE), Bangkok, 2016, pp. 1-6.

  • Interactive Simulation Workshops announced for
    RTDS Applications + Technology Conference

    March 14, 2017


    RTDS Technologies invites RTDS Simulator users and power industry colleagues from around the world to join us for three days of user presentations, networking options, a tour of the RTDS Technologies headquarters, and three exciting interactive workshops in real time power system simulation. The 2017 RTDS Applications +  Technology Conference (ATC17) is gearing up to be our most exciting event yet.

    ATC17 will be hosted in Winnipeg, Canada – the birthplace of the RTDS Simulator and the home of the RTDS Technologies headquarters. Winnipeg is a power systems research hub. It is home to the University of Manitoba, a leading institution in power systems expertise, as well as Manitoba Hydro and the Manitoba HVDC Research Centre – the birthplace of PSCAD. Described as the “cultural cradle of Canada”, Winnipeg offers an array of talented artists, significant architecture, award-winning musicians and athletes, and legendary festivals and cultural events. ATC17 will be hosted at the Forks, a historic meeting place and tourist destination framed by the banks of the two rivers. The Forks is home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a stunning array of dining experiences, shopping for local art and goods, and a constantly changing slate of entertainment and events.

    In addition to many user presentations and updates on new developments from RTDS Technologies, ATC17 will feature three interactive simulation workshops run by RTDS Technologies simulation specialists. This is a unique opportunity for hands-on learning with the RTDS Simulator in an environment with the world’s foremost experts in real time simulation.

    Workshop 1: Grid Modernization
    Participants will learn the fundamentals of RSCAD’s new Distribution Mode for simulating large-scale distribution feeders. Case studies for modelling microgrids and distributed energy resources with the RTDS Simulator will be explored. Power-hardware-in-the-loop (PHIL) simulation fundamentals and technical considerations will be discussed.

    Workshop 2: Small Timestep Modelling
    Participants will learn the modelling approach and simulation principles of the RTDS Simulator’s small timestep subnetworks for the simulation of fast switching power electronic devices. Upper and lower level controls for voltage source converters (VSCs) will be implemented.

    Workshop 3: Protection + Automation
    Participants will learn how to use the IEC 61850 Goose Messaging protocol for the RTDS Simulator’s GTNETx2 Network Interface Card, for interfacing external devices to the simulation via GOOSE Message. The new GTFPGA Unit-based IEC 61850 Sampled Values protocol will also be discussed. The all-new Protection and Automation Software Suite will be explored.

    Eventbrite - 2017 North American RTDS Applications & Technology Conference

    Download the Workshops Flyer for the 2017 Applications + Technology Conference


  • Expansion by CPRI in India!

    March 13, 2017

    RTDS Technologies is pleased to announce the recent 3-rack upgrade by Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) in India! The order for this substantial upgrade was placed in late December and RTDS Technologies has delivered it in only 2 months to meet CPRI’s urgent requirements.

    The latest in simulation technology is being provided to CPRI through the upgrade, including:

    1. A threefold increase in number of nodes that can be simulated
    2. IEEE C37.118 PMU streaming with 1PPS/IRIG-B/IEEE 1588 GPS synchronization
    3. IEC 61850 GOOSE and Sampled Values capabilities
    4. Distribution mode to solve more than 1000 nodes per rack in EMT domain without splitting the network

    CPRI has been an RTDS Simulator user for over 15 years and continues to put their trust in the world standard for real time power system simulation. This is the third major upgrade to their RTDS Simulator equipment as CPRI continues to take advantage of RTDS Technologies’ unique hardware exchange program. We look forward to many more years of working together!

    When asked about upgrade, the team of professionals from the Power Systems Division at CPRI said “RTDS has been our main real-time HIL simulator. RTDS is very reliable and technical support is one of the best in the industry. We have executed many prestigious projects for important clients like GE, ABB, Alstom, etc. on RTDS and we are also very happy that we can use all the past cases on the new simulator. We are really excited that we can use the upgraded RTDS Simulator for future projects involving new technologies for applications such as substation automation, synchrophasors, Smart Grid, and microgrid controller testing. We really thank M/s  RTDS Technologies as well as M/s  Nayak Power Systems for keeping up the schedule and delivering the consignment on time.”


  • Hot Topic: Keeping the Lights on with MICROGRIDS

    February 28, 2017

    Keeping the lights on with MICROGRIDS…

    …A severe winter storm has passed through your area. A couple of minutes into the storm your lights have turned off and you wonder how long before the power comes back on. As you contemplate leaving to an emergency shelter, someone knocks on your door. It is your neighbour who has hot coffee and heat and invites you over to wait for the power to be restored.  Your neighbour’s lights are on due to an installed diesel and solar-storage backup power system.  Your neighbour now runs a microgrid providing a warm shelter close to home as utility personnel restore power to your area…”

    Grid resiliency and reliability

    In conventional power systems, electrical energy is generated from large centralized power plants such as hydro, coal or nuclear. The generated energy is transmitted over long distances at high voltages to substations which then supply consumers at reduced voltages.  Consumers include residential buildings, critical centres like hospitals and airports, large industrial factories and the local dairy farm.


    Figure 1. Conventional Power Grid – Unidirectional Power Flow

    During emergencies such as severe weather storms or grid system faults [1, 2], the supply of electrical energy from the utility to consumers can be interrupted for periods ranging from minutes, hours or days. Prolonged and/or frequent power outages have adverse impact on the economy and critical infrastructure such as water supply, transportation, security, food and healthcare [3, 4].  The deployment of technology to increase grid resiliency and reliability remains a critical factor for both consumers and producers of electrical energy.

    The Microgrid Concept

    Microgrids are small, localized groups of electric power resources and loads. Microgrids can be operated in parallel with the centralized grid and also independently when the centralized grid is disconnected. The microgrid concept is gaining rapid attention worldwide as an enabling technology to increase grid resiliency and reliability during severe weather conditions and emergency events.  Additional benefits of microgrids include integration of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, providing power to remote communities with limited or no access to transmission infrastructure, peak load management and voltage support functions to distribution networks [5].


    Figure 2. Microgrid Concept – Local group of distributed energy resources (DER) provide bidirectional power flow

    How Microgrids Work – Challenges in Control and Protection

    A significant challenge to microgrid implementation is the stable control and operation of the microgrid when operated in parallel with the centralized grid or independently as a power island. As shown in Figure 2, microgrids are operated by a hierarchy of control systems. The central controller coordinates the overall control and protection functions and sends commands to the distributed resources and load control systems in the microgrid [6]. The microgrid central control can include several optimization algorithms to send operating commands to the loads and distributed energy resources based on cost pricing, fuel use, grid availability, load forecasting and climate models for renewable energy sources.

    Applying conventional protection concepts based on unidirectional power flow becomes challenging with microgrids due to the bidirectional power flow from multiple distributed energy resources. Microgrid islands during grid outages have to be properly detected and isolated to avoid power instability, equipment damage and injury/death to utility personnel working on lines energized by the microgrid. The voltage, frequency and phase of an islanded microgrid have to be synchronized within specified limits before reconnection to the centralized grid can occur [6, 7].

    Microgrid Simulation and Hardware in the Loop Applications

    Understanding and solving the technical challenges related to the deployment of microgrid technology has generated a demand for detailed study tools and sophisticated hardware in the loop test facilities.  Electromagnetic Transient based Real Time Digital Simulators (EMT – RTDS) allow detailed modeling of power and control system components required for microgrid dynamic studies. The hardware in the loop capability of the RTDS provides a realistic environment to perform a large number of contingency tests to validate the operation of physical control and power devices in microgrid applications [8].

    The demand for fast, reliable and efficient operation of distribution networks with distributed energy resources has driven the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) enabled devices. The RTDS provides the capability to interface microgrid controllers with industry standard protocols such as distributed network protocol (DNP) for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA); IEC 61850 GOOSE and Sampled Values for automation, control and protection, MODBUS and TCP/IP Sockets for microgrid control communication [8].

    Please contact support@rtds.com if you have any questions regarding this feature.

    Author: Onyi Nzimako
    February 2017

    [5] R. H. Lasseter, “Microgrids [distributed power generation],” in Power Engineering Society Winter Meeting, 2001. IEEE (Volume:1 ), Columbus, OH, 28 Jan 2001-01 Feb 2001.
    [6] S. Chowdhury , S. Chowdhury and P. Crossley, Microgrids and Active Distribution Networks, London: The Institution of Energy and Technology, 2009.
    [7] IEEE Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems,” IEEE Std 1547-2003, pp. 1,28, July 28 2003.

  • Southern Africa UGM a Success!

    February 21, 2017



    Thank you to those who joined us in Cape Town earlier this month for the 2017 Southern Africa User’s Group Meeting! It was a successful one-and-a-half days of user presentations, technical demonstrations on Scripting Automation Applications and Interfacing Techniques and Applications. This event was generously hosted by Cape Peninsula University of Technology, an RTDS customer since 2011. A highlight of the event was a tour of the CPUT’s Centre of Substation Automation and Energy Management Systems.


    Charles Adewole took home the Best Presentation honours with his presentation on “Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing of a Completely Digital IEC 61850-Based Teleprotection Scheme Using the RTDS Simulator”

    At the heart of the event was the presentations offered by RTDS Simulator Users. This year we awarded a prize for Best Presentation, voted on by UGM delegates. Charles Adewole, from CPUT, won for his presentation “Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing of a Completely Digital IEC 61850-Based Teleprotection Scheme Using the RTDS Simulator”. Click here for more information on the UGM presentations.