Smart Grid validation, testing, and laboratory requirements

Last week I gave a presentation at a lunch meeting, organized by the Arnhem Nijmegen City Region and the municipality of Arnhem, in Brussels for the EC and industry about the need of a Smart Energy Experience Center to bring the Smart Grid one step closer to reality.

This topic has inspired me to write a series of blogs on the changing needs for validation using testing and laboratory requirements within Smart Grids. The main goal of validation (testing) is to de-risk a component, system, or technology for its intended purpose in a ‘risk-free’ environment before installing it in the real world.

Experience proves that for new low voltage equipment, two out of three fail the first time it is tested (for certification); and for medium and high voltage equipment, the failure rate is roughly one out of two. The human behavior is difficult to predict and cannot be simulated yet. The new equipment being developed, as well as human behavior are both essential for the success of the smart energy system for the future.

In the series of blogs four directions will be investigated in more depth:

  1. The interrelations between system studies, consultancy, and testing

  2. The development of in-house testing and emerging distributed testing

  3. Simulation, serious gaming, and virtual testing

  4. The growing need for Smart Energy Experience Centers

Direction 1: The interrelations between system studies, consultancy and testing

Although power system studies, consultancy, and testing are often viewed as separate businesses, there is a trend that these activities are moving closer to each other. Power systems studies (as a tool) become more and more integrated in consultancy business, but also some functions of hardware connected services become available, e.g. including real time field measurements and digital simulations. In the testing business, the trend is to incorporate and use more system aspects. It started with the integration of embedded controls in the hardware and the extensive use of information technology systems in new components.

In the figure below, this development of merging in-house component testing with system studies towards an integrated system & distributed facility, complemented with a modeling, simulation, and gaming environment is depicted.

The system & distributed facility consists of an interface with the object to be tested with the power system through sensors and information technology. It is fully equipped with a local grid interface through a converter, and augmented with the wider grid through a Power Hardware In the Loop (PHIL) concept.

The modeling simulation and gaming environment offers an integrated approach of the physical, information, social economic, and governance (e.g. regulation and legislation) processes. It includes validated models of the physical world (e.g. power system) and allows the human behavior to be incorporated through remote measurements or serious gaming.