The digital grid interoperability under test

Background and context

Energy digitalisation is bringing an urgent need for testing the interoperability of smart grid components, applications and solutions. 

The next-generation electricity grid is expected to integrate interoperable technologies – particularly in the energy, transport, information and communication fields – with the aim to increase reliability, affordability and sustainability of grid and market operations. 

To this end, in our laboratories we systematically test and quantify the digital grid interoperability through real world implementationsThe establishment of an integrated distributed laboratory will facilitate the modelling, testing and assessment of power systems beyond the capacities of each single entity, enabling remote access to software and equipment anywhere in the EU.


Against this background, we propose a Smart Grid Interoperability Methodology as a unified approach towards a European framework for developing interoperability testing specifications. The methodology comprises of activities, inputs and outputs. We have compiled best practices in a unified approach which considers a wide range of smart grid implementations. We propose a detailed test set up, by designing an extensive template for the Basic Application Interoperability profile to be used as an interoperability testing protocol. The test specifications are created to guide the stakeholder through a step by step process by setting the Equipment under Test (EUT), the System under Test (SUT) and the control/measuring equipment. The whole process will be automated through the database, which will be open to be used as a common reference source.

  • We realised the first test case addressing interoperability in the contest of Demand Side Management. The two steps indicated in the Interoperability Testing Methodology have been followed: First, the Demand Side Management test bed was built and tested from scratch. We have realized and tested an end-to-end small scale system in the lab from the customer to the energy provider and the DSM concept has been followed by achieving communication between consumer-energy provider. Remote load control has been accomplished. Afterwards, the first interoperability test was carried out by embedding a new smart meter. Three interoperability layers have been tested. The importance of a DSM program has been highlighted and its feasibility has been proved emphasizing on the customers' involvement and active participation in reducing consumptions. The first interoperability test has been accomplished verifying the significance of interoperability for the realization of the future smart grid. 
  • Fast charging is perceived by users as a preferred method for extending the average daily mobility of electric vehicles. The rated power of fast chargers, their expected operation during peak hours, and clustering in designated stations, raise significant concerns. On one hand it raises concerns about standard requirements for power quality, especially harmonic distortion due to the use of power electronics connecting to high loads. On the other hand, infrastructure dimensioning and design limitations for those investing in such facilities need to be considered. As another interoperability test example, we exposed different devices/systems to different conditions and scenarios and analysed their performance and interoperability. Exposing electric vehicles to extreme temperatures limits their performance and charging. For the foreseen adoption of EVs not only it is important to study the technology behind it, but also the environment it will be inserted in. In Europe, temperatures ranging from -30 °C to +40 °C are frequently observed and the impacts on batteries are well known. However, the impact on the grid due to the performance of fast chargers under such conditions also requires analysis, as it affects both on the infrastructure’s dimensioning and design. 

2017 - Fast charging performances in different conditions and scenarios

In the developed research, seven different fast chargers were analysed while charging a full battery EV under four temperature levels (-25 °C, -15 °C, +20 °C and +40 °C). The current total harmonic distortion, power factor and standby power were registered. Results show that the current total harmonic distortion THDI tends to increase with lower temperatures. The standby consumption shows no trend, but results range from 210 VA to 1800 VA. Four out of seven chargers lost interoperability at -25 °C. Such non-linear loads, present high current harmonic distortion as well as high reactive power, hence low power factor. The temperature at which the vehicle’s battery charged is crucial to the current it can take in, hence influencing the charger’s performance. This is a very practical situation where we can advise on the dimensioning/design and distribution of the charging infrastructure in Member States.

2017 - Fast charging diversity impact on total harmonic distortion due to phase cancellation effect

This report analyses performances and impact on power quality of different fast chargers for electric vehicles.

Full charging cycles were performed in the studied chargers and THDV and THDI were observed. From the measurements it can be observed that the phase angles vary within a preferential range, i.e. remain within a range which is actually <90˚of amplitude.

Two of the Chargers, working individually, failed to comply with the standards. Charger A barely makes it in terms of TDD and Charger C is out of the limit. In terms of individual harmonics also Charger A and Charger C are out of the limit of 4.5% for the 11th and 13th harmonics.

The next step of the research will be to obtain the statistical distribution of each of the phase angles for all Chargers and perform simulations with different scenarios. Results so far suggest that stand alone Chargers with low short circuit values are recommended to have filters <13% THD.

2016 - A European Platform for Distributed Real Time Modelling & Simulation

This report presents the proposal for the constitution of a European platform consisting of the federation of real-time modelling and simulation facilities applied to the analysis of emerging electricity systems. Such a platform can be understood as a pan-European distributed laboratory aiming at making use of the best available relevant resources and knowledge for the sake of supporting industry and policy makers and conducting advanced scientific research.

The report describes the need for such a platform, with reference to the current status of power systems; the state of the art of the relevant technologies; and the character and format that the platform might take. This integrated distributed laboratory will facilitate the modelling, testing and assessment of power systems beyond the capacities of each single entity, enabling remote access to software and equipment anywhere in the EU, by establishing a real-time interconnection to the available facilities and capabilities within the Member States.

2016 - Smart Grid Interoperability lab at the JRC

This paper presents the scope of the Smart Grid Interoperability lab of the JRC. The lab is a testing facility on the interoperability of smart grid systems and its aim is to assess technological implementations according to proposed standards, use cases and processes in conjunction with applicable reference architectures. The goal is to contribute to policy making and industrial innovation regarding the modernization of the electricity grid.

The lab will work on the verification of the interplay among grid components, benchmarking of different solutions, and identification of gaps and challenges. The work is performed in collaboration with industry and research institutions.

The paper presents the latest research activities of the lab, focusing on interoperability and assessing new technologies as well as on the integration of its simulation facilities with other European smart grid labs with the aim to develop a pan-European platform for testing and simulation for power systems analysis. Emphasis is given to the European political context.

2015 - Grid harmonic impact of multiple electric vehicle fast charging

This paper reports results from four sets of measurements performed during the complete charging cycle of an EV, and analyses individual harmonic’s amplitude and phase angles behaviour. In addition, the voltage and current Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) and Total Demand Distortion (TDD) are calculated and the results compared with the IEEE519, IEC 61000/EN50160 standards. Additionally, two vehicles being fast charged while connected to the same feeder are simulated and an analysis is carried out on how the harmonic phase angles would relate. The study concludes that TDD is a better indicator than THD, since the former uses the maximum current (IL) and the latter uses the fundamental current, sometimes misleading conclusions, hence it is suggested it should be included in IEC/EN standard updates. Voltage THD and TDD for the charger analysed, were within the standard’s limits of 1.2% and 12% respectively, however individual harmonics (11th and 13th) failed to comply with the 5.5% limit in IEEE 519 (5% and 3% respectively in IEC61000). Phase angles tended to have preferential range differences from the fundamental wave. It was found that the average difference between the same harmonic order phase angles was lower than 90°, meaning that when more than one vehicle is connected to the same feeder the amplitudes will add. Since the limits depend on the upstream short circuit current (ISC), if the number of vehicles increases (i.e. IL), the standard limits will decrease and eventually be exceeded. The harmonic limitation is hence the primary binding condition, certainly before the power limitation. The most binding limit to the number of chargers is not the power capacity of the upstream power circuit but the harmonic limits for electricity pollution.



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