Dynamic power grid control centre is world first

Dynamic power grid control centre is world first

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

As part of the DynaGridCenter project, Siemens worked alongside research partners to develop assistant systems that visualise dynamic processes that bring the energy transition to the power grid and provide targeted recommendations for actions to optimize the grids and prevent blackouts.

“In the future, we’ll need control centres that can independently regulate the highly dynamic power grid with an autopilot functionality and keep it stable,” said Prof Rainer Krebs, head of the Consulting Unit for the Operation and Protection of Power Grids in the Siemens Energy Management Division. “The dynamic control centre is therefore an indispensable part of a successful energy transition. It controls the increasing grid dynamics, maintains grid stability, and provides specific recommendations for action to prevent blackouts.”

As the number of decentralized generating plants continues to grow while the capacity of conventional power plants shrinks, the power network is ever-more susceptible to disturbances, says Siemens. This means that the time window for responding to critical faults is getting smaller all the time, so improved control and regulation techniques are vital.

The DynaGridCenter project looked at ways to visualise dynamic processes triggered by the uneven load distribution in the grid and figuring out how to systematically respond to them. The assistant systems automatically regulate the system to provide smooth grid operation possible and also detect problems or malfunctions early so that they can be addressed. 

To monitor the grid, the researchers used a laboratory grid control centre at the Ilmenau Technical University in Germany and coupled it to a simulated power grid operated by the Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg. Phasor measurement units (PMUs) transmit the level and phase angle of current and voltage at 20 millisecond intervals to provide dynamic updates that are currently transmitted in the range of seconds. The PMU data is synchronized in time and so can be compared directly, allowing unwanted vibration and transient processes in the grid to become visible.

Next: avoiding dangerous dynamic processes

“Until now, we’ve been able to avoid the dangerous dynamic processes in the grid that can lead to blackouts only by taking preventive measures,” said Krebs. This emans grid operators have to intervene in the schedules of power plants to prevent imminent bottlenecks, costing up to €1 billion each year. By optimising the line capacity and taking curative measures only in the event of an overload, the new monitoring and control programs can take the necessary counter-measures much more quickly than a plant’s human staff.

The €5 million, three year project was part of the German Future-Oriented Power Grids initiative and also included the Ruhr University Bochum, the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (IFF) in Magdeburg, and the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies, and Image Exploitation, Advanced System Technology Branch (IOSB-AST) in Ilmenau. The transmission grid operators 50Hertz Transmission, TransnetBW, TenneT, and Amprion were associated project partners.

A follow on project called InnoSys2030 will look at whether the systems will also work in actual power grids, while another will be dedicated to the dynamic digital twin of power grids.

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