Australia’s energy sector uses RTDS Simulator to support secure integration of renewables

Real-time digital simulation helps utilities mitigate issues safely, reliably, and sustainably 

The RTDS Simulator will help shape the future of energy in Australia as part of a new $6 million research and development hub in Cairns. Energy Queensland’s world-class hub will be the first large-scale facility of its kind, featuring the energy sector’s most advanced technology, and will help develop new electricity solutions.

In a statement by the Queensland Government, Energy Minister Dr. Anthony Lynham said the RTDS Simulator will be the “brains” of the facility, adding that it will enable “rigorous testing of new technologies to ensure they can be seamlessly integrated into the electricity network or used as an off-grid alternative.” The hub aims to make renewable energy a greater part of microgrids and isolated systems for remote communities—and to do so without impacting the security or supply of the network.

The goals set by the hub are possible because of the RTDS Simulator’s ability to perform hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing. HIL testing provides an unparalleled opportunity to connect real devices to a simulated network in a closed loop, preventing service from being disrupted and mitigating issues before deployment. On the modernized grid, power systems engineers must go beyond due diligence during the validation and testing process. The deployment of new devices on the power system is more nuanced, risk-inherent, and unpredictable than it has ever been. This is particularly true for Australia, where a new HVDC system and a significant quantity of converter-connected renewable energy sources will be deployed in the next several years in an electrically close system. HIL testing has become the key technology for securing the voltage stability, frequency stability, and power quality of the grid throughout this energy transition.

The RTDS Simulator at Energy Queensland’s facility is a flexible system based on the NovaCor™ simulation platform. It contains a powerful multicore processor and input and output (I/O) capabilities for connecting the Simulator to external equipment. This includes both conventional digital and analogue I/O and communications-based I/O, including MODBUS, DNP3, IEC 61850 Sampled Values, and GOOSE Messaging communication protocols. A four-quadrant power amplifier from Spitzenberger and Spies (SPS) will allow the hub to connect physical power equipment, such as renewable energy equipment and their converters, to the Simulator in a power-hardware-in-the-loop testbed.