RTDS Technologies: Real Time Digital Power System Simulation

Rick Kuffel, Director, RTDS TechnologiesRick Kuffel, Director
The electrical grid of the future is an evolved, computerized system that gathers and responds to information in order to manage electricity in a more reliable, secure, and sustainable manner. Today, organizations are deploying smart grid technologies to obtain and compare data from multiple remote measurements points on the grid in order to assess system conditions. As the smart grid technology deployed on the grid becomes increasingly complex, technological challenges arise: the need for communication infrastructure to support large-scale data transmission, for multi-vendor interoperability, and for increasingly sophisticated power electronic controllers, for example. “The RTDS Simulator provides a digital simulation environment for studying and testing smart grid technologies in real time, equipping users to overcome these technological challenges as they work toward the grid of the future,” says Rick Kuffel, Director of RTDS Technologies.

RTDS Technologies, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, introduced the RTDS Simulator–the world’s very first real time digital power system simulator–in 1989. Today, the Simulator is used by leading power system protection and control equipment manufacturers, electric utilities, and research and educational institutions in over 40 countries around the world. The Simulator consists of custom hardware and software, specifically designed to perform real-time electromagnetic transient simulations for electrical systems. The Simulator’s hardware–a fully digital parallel processing architecture–allows simulation of complex electrical networks and their behaviors in real-time. The software allows the user to assemble a representative network, run and interact with simulations, and view and analyze results.

The Simulator supports the communication protocols necessary for implementing smart grid solutions: IEEE C37.118-compliant communication for PMU applications, IEC 61850-compliant GOOSE messaging and Sampled Values communication for digital substation applications, and DNP3 and IEC 60870- 5-104 communication for SCADA system applications.

For simulating distributed generation, the Simulator includes models of wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and a wide variety of other power sources.

The RTDS Simulator provides a digital simulation environment for studying and testing smart grid technologies in real time, equipping users to overcome these technological challenges as they work toward the grid of the future

The implementation of distributed generation on the grid also necessitates the use of increasingly complex converters and their controls. “The RTDS Simulator is capable of simulating these converters so that the user can study their impact on the network and their behavior in a wide variety of contingency scenarios, some of which would be dangerous to induce in the actual power grid,” adds Rick. “Furthermore, because the Simulator operates in real-time, the user can perform closed-loop testing of their controllers for these converters. By interfacing the physical controls with the simulated converters, the user can comprehensively study and rigorously test the behavior of their equipment and operating strategies in a safe and controlled environment. This helps the user to prepare their technology for deployment on the smart grid.”

By equipping users with a simulated environment for testing the operability of their equipment in the electrical network, RTDS Technologies ensures the safe implementation of novel technologies on the grid. “At RTDS Technologies, we measure our success in our customers’ success,” said Rick. “Our customers are the power industry’s innovators. We strive to stay actively involved with industry working groups so that we can provide these customers with the ability to simulate and test the latest power system developments. Some current areas of development include cybersecurity applications– developing the Simulator’s ability to prevent network security compromises on the smart grid–as well as a new functionality for the efficient testing of fully digital substations.” RTDS Technologies expects to see tremendous growth in the smart grid market as this exciting technology further permeates the modern grid.