In collaboration with ORE Catapult


Europe’s electric power network is entering a period of extreme flux as we move to an era of increasing non-linear, asynchronous generation such as wind power plants. The rapid rise of new technologies in this space has led to increasingly complex interactions within the power network that are difficult to assess through traditional test regimes. Existing facilities are not fully equipped to address these new system orientated challenges and while investing in new sites and facilities is one way forward, this is likely to be prohibitively expensive and runs the risk of only being applicable to niche applications.

The work presented in this project is an alternative approach that seeks to address these challenges by pooling existing resources. In this concept, geographically distributed test facilities are combined virtually to create new capabilities and perform complex system-level validations. This can be done through a Geographically Distributed – Power Hardware in the Loop (GD-PHIL) setup. To achieve this, each site requires a PHIL setup allowing the Device Under Test (DUT) to interact in real-time with a simulation. This project implements the first step towards the development of such a network, developing and demonstrating the stable communications interfaces necessary to link geographically distributed real-time simulators from two different sites.
Project overview

project overview diagram


The main outcome of this project is a GD-RTS testbed for use in PHIL applications in the future. A journal paper reporting on the findings of the approach has also been submitted for publication.

In this project a real time link between two sites was established. Measurements and outputs of one site were replayed at the other site at each simulation time step. In this way the assets at PNDC were combined with those at ORE Catapult to create a more representative test environment for future equipment under test.

Specialised communications and time-delay compensation blocks were developed within the OPAL-RT and RTDS environments located in PNDC, the Dynamic Power Systems Lab (DPSL in Glasgow City Centre), and ORE Catapult’s drivetrain and eGrid test facilities (Blyth).

To validate these blocks, a representative Great Britain Network model is simulated within the PNDC RTDS test environment and a Matlab generator model, representing a wind farm is simulated in the ORE Catapult (OREC) OPAL-RT test environment.

The response of this interfaced simulation environment model to a frequency disturbance event and its response in terms of simulation stability and fidelity was evaluated.



Geographically Distributed – Hardware in the Loop (GD-HIL) enables the capabilities of different test centres to be combined without the need for large scale investment.

Hardware in the Loop (HIL) systems at both ORE Catapult and PNDC are linked to the wider test facilities, as such it is envisioned that full scale wind/tidal turbines undergoing powertrain testing at either the 15 or 3 MW test facilities with eGrid at ORE Catapult can link to the electrical 11kV network facilities at PNDC.

As such highly representative system level testing can be conducted without relying on electrical models wholly built in the simulation environment.

What’s next?

The project team is presently scoping the next phase of the project to implement power hardware in the loop testing. This will enable the interface of physical, electrical and mechanical assets into the multi-site test system providing a GD-HIL platform for the refinement and optimisation of integration control solutions encompassing wind turbines, electrical infrastructure, energy storage, and associated controls.

Phase 2 project ambition for future development:

Phase 2 project ambition


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