Unleashing the Power Revolution: Real-time control powered by Omega

The need for intelligent solutions that can adapt and optimise the performance of digital power grids in real time is more crucial than ever

In today's rapidly evolving energy landscape, the need for intelligent solutions that can adapt and optimise the performance of digital power grids in real time is more crucial than ever. SMPnet proudly presents Omega's real-time control functionality and discusses its transformative impact on critical control applications and why real-time control is essential in future power grids. Omega is SMPnet's groundbreaking technological framework designed to revolutionise how we control and manage power grids.

At its core, real-time control in power systems refers to the capacity to monitor and adjust network and asset controllable states instantaneously as changes occur. This involves ceaselessly gathering data about the grid's and assets' states, analysing it in real time, and using it to immediately alter control settings or actions to ensure stability and efficiency within milliseconds. With real-time control, whether it's adjusting the output of DERs, battery storage systems, controllable demand, capacitor banks, or network assets (e.g., transformers with tap-changer, circuit breakers), every decision is data-driven and made in the nick of time. However, for SMPnet, real-time control does not refer only to the dispatch of active and reactive power signals but also to voltage, frequency, droop and other controllable parameters of the assets that are continuously regulated, down to the millisecond, to realise an operational objective such as grid-forming, grid re-synchronisation, fast services realisation, etc.

Why Real-Time Control is Essential in Future Power Grids

As we move towards a future powered by renewable energy sources, power grids' complexity and dynamic nature continue to increase. Real-time control is the linchpin that ensures these future power grids' reliability, stability, and resilience. Here are some examples of why real-time control is essential:

  1. Distribution system management: Real-time control enables efficient management of distribution grids, balancing power supply and demand within the locality, optimising power distribution in real-time while ensuring local stability metrics and constraints are not violated, and realising flexibility services that require real-time responses.
  2. Integration of Renewable Energy & Load Management: Real-time control enables operators to optimise the utilisation of renewable energy sources, smooth out fluctuations, and ensure seamless integration into the grid. Real-time control also allows grid operators to efficiently manage dynamic loads, such as electric vehicle charging stations or industrial facilities with fluctuating power demands, preventing grid congestion, reducing peak demand, and avoiding blackouts or system failures.
  3. Flexibility and Services Provision: Real-time control enables the participation of flexible resources in flexibility markets, allowing resource owners to offer their capabilities in response to market signals. Real-time control can adjust resource dispatch based on market signals, optimising the utilisation of resources and maximising their economic value.
  4. Grid Resilience and Contingency Management: Real-time control becomes indispensable during emergencies or grid disturbances. It allows for swift identification of faults, isolation of affected areas, and rerouting of power to minimise the impact of disruptions.
  5. Grid Stability: Real-time control allows for immediate adjustments in power generation, consumption, frequency, and voltage, ensuring grid stability even in the face of sudden changes in the network.
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Unleashing the software revolution, utilities never knew they needed

Delivering Coordinated Real-Time Control

Omega's real-time control functionalities empower grid operators with unparalleled precision and responsiveness. Omega ensures that the power grid operates at peak efficiency under any circumstance by enabling coordinated control and optimisation across multiple primary and secondary substations and distributed energy resource (DER) sites. Omega's real-time control functionality can seamlessly integrate with Omega's optimisation engine, taking grid management capabilities to new heights. Omega enables the realisation of optimal operating conditions by incorporating high-level optimisation-based signals into real-time control elements.

In critical control applications, accuracy and real-time coordinated responses are paramount. Omega rises to the challenge by providing a robust solution that ensures every control action is executed accurately and in synchronicity, utilising time-synchronisation devices (e.g.Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs)) and industry-standard protocols (e.g., IEEE C37). With Omega, the grid will respond promptly and precisely to changing conditions, mitigating potential risks and maximising operational performance. Omega has been designed to provide ms-level, real-time control.

Deployment of Omega's Real-Time Control with Iberdrola

Real-time control is paramount in applications involving the islanded operation and the subsequent re-synchronisation. As renewable generation achieves higher penetration in distribution networks, a section of the distribution grid can unintentionally or intentionally become isolated, losing its electrical connection with the main grid. Within this islanded portion, DER units with grid-forming capability can support the operation of the isolated area. However, these units lack integrated capabilities for the subsequent re-synchronisation of the islanded section with the main grid.

This situation typically leads to the shutdown of the islanded area, resulting in costs for both generators and customers who are left without electricity. Traditional solutions to this problem involve using diesel-based generators or implementing shutdown practices.

To successfully re-synchronise a power island, the voltage magnitude, voltage angle, and frequency of the islanded section must be brought "close" to those of the main grid at the synchronisation points, using real-time control techniques. However, modern power islands face several challenges:

  • Limited visibility
  • Stability of the power island
  • Non-homogeneity of control characteristics of grid-forming converters
  • Potential equipment damage
  • Disconnection of DERs
  • Stability of protective relays
  • Multiple synchronisation points

By addressing these challenges through real-time control, SMPnet's Omega offers a reliable solution for re-synchronising power islands with the main grid. Omega's advanced real-time control capabilities ensure seamless and efficient reintegration, enabling a smooth transition from islanded operation to the main grid. This mitigates costs and guarantees an uninterrupted power supply to customers. Omega's real-time re-synchronisation functionality was successfully tested for our client (Iberdrola) at the facilities of one of the industrial partners. Top of Form

Omega's re-synchronisation approach involves actively coordinating multiple grid-forming power converters within a power island to meet the criteria at various synchronisation points. This strategy leverages measurement streams from PMUs to obtain real-time information about the power island and the grid. Instead of resorting to shutdown practices, Omega dynamically manages the system safely and cost-effectively, ensuring the resilience of the power island and its synchronisation with the main grid.

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High-level architecture of Omega's interfaces with PMUs and battery converters

The control actions are implemented instantaneously, guaranteeing a smooth transition of the power island to a new operating state that closely aligns its characteristics with the main grid at the synchronisation points. Omega ensures effective coordination among multiple grid-forming assets, accounting for each vendor's unique characteristics and constraints, considering the contributions of adjacent energy assets, and leveraging the capabilities of each converter.

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Omega's real-time re-synchronisation dashboard showcases a successful grid re-synchronisation.

To conclude, the evolution of our power grids towards more sustainable and distributed models necessitates the adoption of advanced technology like SMPnet's Omega platform. The paradigm shift to renewable energy sources, the integration of dynamic loads, and the need for increased resilience and flexibility in our power systems underscore the crucial role of real-time control. Omega's cutting-edge technology provides the necessary real-time control functionality, revolutionising the management of power grids by providing unparalleled precision, responsiveness, and adaptability. The successful deployment of Omega with Iberdrola underscores the efficacy of this technology in practical applications, setting a precedent for a future where our power systems are optimally managed in real-time, maximising efficiency, resilience, and reliability.

Call to Action:

As we navigate this exciting energy revolution, we must leverage technology that ensures stability, safety, and cost-effectiveness. With Omega, you have the tools to unlock the full potential of your power grids. The energy future is here, and you are well-equipped to take control of it.

Don't wait. Contact SMPnet today for a demo, and let's embark on this journey towards a more efficient and resilient energy future together.