Testbed shows grid operators can achieve 100% renewables via DERs


The Industrial Internet Consortium (ICC) published a whitepaper comprising the results of a pilot conducted to understand how distributed renewable energy resources can be managed to sustain grid reliability.

The whitepaper Synchronized and Business-Ready Microgrid was written by Industrial Internet of Things connectivity firm Real-Time Innovations and consulting company Wipro Limited, both members of the ICC.

The whitepaper is based on the findings of ICC’s Microgrid Testbed programme Communications & Control Testbed for Microgrid Application.

ICC launched the Microgrid Testbed initiative in 2015, in partnership with Cisco and National Instruments. The aim was to introduce the flexibility of real-time analytics and control to increase efficiencies in traditional central-station power grids.

The testbed aims to highlight how utility companies can generate power more reliably and avoid over-generate power to compensate for potential blackout.

In the pilot, the ICC says it has achieved 100% renewable energy on the main grid via distributed energy resources.

Findings from the testbed, include:

• The ability to connect an active 100% renewable energy-based microgrid back to the main power grid
• Application and device independence through the support of the Open Field Message Bus (OpenFMB) architecture standard
• Visualisation, control and analytics to support efficient operations
• Integration with third party data and support of varying business models

Brett Murphy, senior director, market development ,IIoT at RTI, said: “The emergence of generation and storage technologies, such as solar and wind, has enabled grid operators to feed power back to the main grid and reduce demand for fossil fuels.

“However, renewable energy sources generate direct current and require conversion to alternating current at the exact phase and frequency as the main grid.

“Synchronising these inverters as renewable generation rises above 40% of the total generation in a portion of the grid is quite challenging and can fail – leading to a blackout. Cisco, NI, RTI and Wipro created a testbed to experiment with new approaches to address the challenge. We’ve developed techniques for a 100% renewable power generation-based microgrid to support a variety of business models and demonstrated success in our test environment.”

The microgrid testbed uses time-sensitive networking between the inverter nodes to provide sub-millisecond synchronised measurement of phase, frequency and voltage.

This enables the frequency, voltage and phase angle of each renewable energy source in the microgrid to be synchronised and controlled in real time.

The testbed uses a standards-based approach, using the Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard from The Object Management Group to securely collect data from field devices, and the OpenFMB standard from the North American Energy Standards Board to future proof designs for grid operators.

“Microgrid solutions can help grid operators mitigate some of the issues caused by fluctuations in demand and supply curves by contextualising collected data with external data, such as weather forecasts and real-time pricing and demand,” said Dr. Manjari Asawa, Director, IoT Partner Engineering at Wipro Limited.