A Novel Mechanical Hardware in the Loop Platform for Distributed Generation Systems
The growing number of distributed generation (DG) plants has emphasized the need to perform tests before the plants begin to operate. DG systems are complex enough that setting up of an experimental phase requires high costs and efforts. Moreover, renewable energy sources are intrinsically intermittent as they vary randomly with the time of day, the season and the weather. Consequently, the possibility of emulating the behavior of the whole renewable generation system in a real time environment, where a part of the real system, the natural energy source, is replaced by a real time computer simulation allows one to test the actual system in all the operating conditions, optimizing the control strategy before its service entrance, overcoming the randomness of renewable energy sources. This article proposes a mechanical hardware in the loop approach applied to a renewable energy generating system, where the whole drive (control, power electronics and electric machine) is tested and the mechanical part is simulated in real time environment. The problem of emulating the inertial torque, which can have a significant high value, is solved through an approach that relaxes the high dynamic requirements of the electrical drive that emulates the mechanical part. The hardware in the loop test bench emulates two energy sources (hydro and wind). In addition, a control strategy that emulates the inertial torque is implemented. An experimental phase in which different energy sources are modeled and emulated in a real time environment is presented as well. The underlying hardware-in-the-loop energy source emulation and experimentation scheme is shown to accurately represent real systems performance, under various control strategies and varying operating conditions.
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