At the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) recently developed Advanced Grid Innovation Laboratory for Energy (AGILe), real-time simulators have successfully started using detailed digital models of New York’s statewide grid to run hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) tests. HIL tests are software-based simulations used to test the hardware components of intricate embedded systems. In these tests, protective relays are physically hooked up to the digital simulator, allowing NYPA engineers to evaluate and adjust equipment settings before installation on the grid.
NYPA recently used AGILe to assess how the installation of SmartValve devices by Smart Wires Inc., part of the $15 million Moses-Adirondack Advanced Power Flow Control Project, will impact the grid. SmartValve technology allows for power to be pushed and pulled from congested to underutilized transmission lines, improving the flow of power along NYPA’s north-south corridor. While valuable, the ability for devices like SmartValves to alter the flow of power means that every scenario must be understood in advance. To do so, NYPA engineer Francisco Martínez used AGILe to test all the potential impacts that SmartValves could have in practice, before the technology is installed on the grid.
“At AGILe, we digitally simulated the SmartValves in the power system under fault conditions to test relay performance before installation of the new, non-conventional elements in the system,” Martínez said.
Starting in March 2019, Martínez and his team ran about 3,000 fault scenarios with the new equipment modeled on the Moses-Adirondack transmission line to analyze how protective relays, the new equipment and the rest of the grid reacted. This testing, completed in September 2019, ensured there were no unintended consequences from the technology integration. The installation of SmartValves is planned to begin in Fall 2020, with completion planned for Spring 2021.
NYPA owns and operates approximately one‑third of New York’s high‑voltage power lines. These lines transmit power from NYPA’s three large hydroelectric generation facilities and wind power generation facilities, connecting nearly 7,000 MW of renewable energy to New York State’s power grid. This includes connecting more than 6,200 MW of hydroelectric power and about 700 MW, or more than a third, of New York State‑generated wind energy to the grid.
Improving power flow along transmission corridors supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal initiative by more effectively moving energy from upstate renewable sources such as wind and hydroelectric to other parts of the state.
Before AGILe was developed, NYPA engineers relied on third-party labs to conduct system testing for non-conventional elements. Transitioning to internal NYPA resources makes testing faster and reduces the cost. NYPA teams are gaining valuable hands-on testing experience at AGILe, which will make future projects even more cost-effective and timely as HIL testing becomes more important and widely adopted industry-wide.
AGILe is already proving to be a key resource for NYPA to maximize its efficiency without sacrificing reliability. Strategic investments like AGILe are helping NYPA achieve its goal of becoming the first end-to-end digital utility.