Digital Grid Lab Simulates Real Power Grid

Industry News – July 19, 2021

For the launch of the lab, experts from Fraunhofer ISE have developed a digital twin of an electric vehicle. This emulates a real electric vehicle, or even a whole fleet of electric vehicles, including power flow and communication with the charging station.

In its new lab, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE is now able to test how CHP plants, heat pumps, batteries and charging stations affect grid stability and how these communicate with each other in a smart grid. The Institute’s Digital Grid Lab opened in mid-July. In the new facility, researchers are able to test the components, grid control concepts and system operation strategies needed to manage the millions of small feed-in and storage systems as well as new consumers and players at the lower levels of the grid to ensure a reliable power supply.
“Grid operators face the huge challenge of integrating both centralized and fluctuating, decentralized, systems while maintaining grid stability. The Digital Grid Lab enables Fraunhofer ISE to up their game in the field of grid simulation. That way, we can observe the grid and the communication within it in real time,” said Prof. Christof Wittwer, Director of the Division Power Electronics, Grids and Smart Systems at Fraunhofer ISE.

Real-time hardware-in-the-loop simulation

At the heart of the new lab are six high output hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) computers which are able to model and test power grids with up to 2,000 nodes in much higher detail. This also allows the researchers to simulate critical grid situations for a device, installation or grid node point, as well as for off-grid microgrids, smart districts and distribution grids, without jeopardizing the real power grid. Researchers can simulate a grid situation for a test device using eight switchable power amplifiers with a total power output of 800 kVA. They can also simulate batteries or energy systems (e.g. photovoltaic installations) on hardware. This works for both AC and DC power grids.

The Digital Grid Lab is also equipped with a control desk where new control algorithms and operational strategies for smart grids are tested using artificial intelligence. The hardware-in-the-loop computer can be coupled with a digital twin to model a power grid, including communication for the control desk.

Fraunhofer ISE offers a virtual tour of the Digital Grid Lab with an audio description and information about testing equipment and opportunities (German only).

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