Fraunhofer IWES and ABB developing world’s largest mobile grid simulator

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The world’s largest mobile grid simulator is being developed in a collaboration between the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems (IWES) and ABB.

Offshore wind project
Offshore wind project - Credit: ABB

The mobile grid simulator - part of the Mobil-Grid-CoP project - will be used to test the safety and reliability of renewable energy equipment, including wind turbines, solar power and hydroelectric generators, in real-world conditions. According to ABB, the test program will verify that a renewable project connecting to a public power network is fully compliant with local grid codes and will not compromise grid performance and stability.

In a statement, Chris Poynter, division president, ABB System Drives, added: “As part of our drive towards a low-carbon society, increasing the availability of renewable energy equipment for use within the power grid is key. We also need to establish how to operate this equipment as safely, reliably and of course, energy efficiently as possible – this is where the extensive testing capabilities of the mobile grid simulator will add huge value.”

The mobile grid simulator will use ABB’s ACS6080 Power Electronics Grid Simulator (PEGS) technology to create an artificial power grid on site. Fraunhofer IWES will use the system to simulate different grid operating modes, including fault conditions, as well as validating compliance with standards.

As well as practical testing, the mobile simulator will play an important role in research and development, particularly for ‘grid-of-the-future’ scenarios.

Gesa Quistorf, group manager, Power Electronics and Grid Integration at Fraunhofer IWES said: “We need to ensure that power grids maintain total stability and performance while integrating ever increasing amounts of intermittent renewables like wind and solar.

“Our new mobile grid simulator will play a vital role in accelerating this program, as we will be able to provide compliance testing for the ever-increasing number of large offshore turbines that are pushing current test facilities to their limits. In addition, it is prepared for testing low-frequency high-voltage AC railway applications.”

The mobile grid simulator, scheduled to commence operations in 2023, will have a power rating of up to 28MVA and a short time capability of up to 80MVA. ABB said that for additional flexibility, it will also be able to operate as two independent units of 14MVA. In addition to the PEGS technology, ABB will also supply transformers, filters, e-houses, cooling equipment, and power and auxiliary distribution equipment.

The project is being funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.