Siemens opens grid control center of the future with research and scientific partners

11 March 2017

As part of the DynaGridCenter research project co-funded by the German BMWi (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy), Siemens and its research and scientific partners have opened a dynamic grid control center at the Technical University of Ilmenau, Germany, that is the first of its kind in the world. The project involved setting up an IT link between the grid control center and a grid model at Magdeburg University. The grid model sends its measurement data to the grid control center in Ilmenau, where it's analyzed in real time. The analysis results are then used to control the Magdeburg model dynamically, with Ilmenau acting as a grid center of the future. The object of the DynaGridCenter project is to research the next generation of grid control centers and station control technology. The new control centers are designed to help manage the increasingly dynamic grids over the long term and to maintain grid stability.

"A priority objective was to develop what we might call an autopilot for the transmission network. Like an aircraft, the autopilot has two core functions: first, to control the system automatically so that the "flight" or grid operation remains as calm and stable as possible at all times. Its second function is to detect obstacles or faults at an early stage so that they can be circumvented or avoided. This allows the operator in the dynamic grid center to identify the dynamic conditions in the grid. What we'll do is provide the operator with the means to react effectively to verified dynamic grid conditions, something that's not possible today," said Prof. Dr. Rainer Krebs, principal expert and head of the Technical Department for Protection and Control System Studies in the Siemens Energy Management Division.

The research consortium consists of Siemens, the universities of Magdeburg, Ilmenau, and Bochum, and the Fraunhofer Institutes in Magdeburg and Ilmenau. The dynamic grid center will be the answer to the growing problem of controlling dynamic conditions in the transmission grid. Grid requirements have already changed enormously: Large nuclear power plants and coal-fired power plants are being taken off the grid, and the new focal points for power generation are the large-scale wind farms in the North Sea. In addition, a distributed and fluctuating power supply is fed in at all voltage levels from wind turbines and countless photovoltaic systems across all of Germany.

In order to ensure that the electrical power is delivered where it's needed without detours – even under the aggravated conditions of increasingly dynamic grids, longer transmission paths, and less-than-precise forecasting for renewable energy sources – the experts have developed the dynamic grid control center, and a prototype has been installed in Ilmenau. The planned high-voltage DC transmission routes in the three-phase grid are also included. They will help stabilize the grid if the control algorithms of a smart HVDC transmission control system are integrated in the operation of a dynamic grid control center. Complex energy systems are being modeled in a real-time simulation being conducted in Ilmenau, and the kinds of operating conditions that are expected in the future are being analyzed. The accumulated data must be processed such that a single person can collect this data and can act immediately, if necessary. Although there's already a high level of automation in grid control centers today, responsibility for decision-making still lies with the control center personnel.

This essentially visual processing of data also poses a challenge, because the dynamic grid control centers no longer simply receive and analyze conventional measured values. Another concern in the future will be the integration of synchronized, high-precision measurement equipment that can measure phase angle as well as voltage, current, and frequency. This not only means that there is a significantly more accurate and dynamic grid model available in milliseconds; there are also far more precise recommendations for action that will be made to the control center personnel. Today control centers already have to intervene in the grid with increasing frequency to keep voltages, currents, and grid frequency within the permissible limits. The work in progress in Magdeburg and Ilmenau could very soon result in dynamic control centers replacing conventional control centers in the grid as a long-term solution to the problem of increasing grid dynamics.

The three-year-long DynaGridCenter research project was kicked off at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg in October 2015. The project partners are Siemens, the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Ilmenau Technical University, 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. Associated project partners are the transmission grid operators 50Hertz Transmission, TransnetBW, TenneT, and Amprion. Siemens is responsible for coordinating the joint project, which has received roughly €5 million in funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The project will cost a total of €7.2 million.