PHIL: all the power you need

Press Release from OPAL-RT TECHNOLOGIES Inc

Rising power for peace of mind beyond testing.

February 10, 2014 - Montreal, Quebec

Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) simulator is commonly used in power system and power electronic applications to prototype, design and test protection equipment and power electronic controllers. The real device under test is connected to the simulator that runs the electric circuit using analog and digital I/O signals that transmit low level of power, voltage and current.

This concept has been extended to power components that require high power flows between the real component and the simulated electric circuit running on the simulator. Such a technique is also called power hardware-in-the-loop (PHIL) and is required to test power converters, generators, FACTS, and so on.

The basic idea of a PHIL simulation is to extend the applicability of a Hardware-In-the-Loop simulation by introducing a power amplification into the simulation system. With the introduction of the power amplifier the signals exchanged between the Real Time System (RTS) and the Device under Test (DuT) are no longer in the range of data signals but become real power signals (see figure beside).

PHIL enables the test of advanced, real devices, such as Distributed Energy Storage Systems (DESS) or Distributed Generation (DG), by connecting them to a grid model that is simulated in real time. During simulation, the studied equipment behaves as if it were connected to the real network. As a result, it can be tested with a wide range of grid configurations, including fault conditions, without any risk. However, to completely fool the real equipment, it must be interfaced and connected to the simulator using voltage and power amplifiers that can generate and absorb power since the simulator works with low level of voltage and current. OPAL-RT's simulators can be optionally delivered with standard or custom amplifiers that meet the most demanding requirements in power applications: high accuracy, low distortion, high bandwidth, low phase lag, etc.

Sub-microsecond FPGA models can be integrated with power interfaces to emulate complex power equipment in real-time. This feature is important to test modern power electronic controllers that are integrated with high-power IGBT converters as well as to perform HIL tests using real-equipment, such as fuel cell, in the loop with the simulator.

At OPAL-RT, we believe that these features are very important to utilities, manufacturers and research centers requiring modern, open and scalable real-time simulator equipment based on technologies that will easily follow the very fast evolution of computer systems and that can easily be adapted to their needs.

In recent years, PHIL has delivered promising results within the framework of research projects dealing, for example with wind energy conversion systems, gas micro-turbine integration with distribution networks and small-scale distributed generation (DG) systems.

EDF, the major French utility, built Concept Grid, an experimental platform intended to anticipate and follow the evolution of electrical systems. To make it even more representative of real distribution grids, EDF constructed a residential district with model homes, each with real equipment or equipment representing future use, such as smart counters, remote controlled appliances, micro wind turbines or even photovoltaic panels. Wholly dedicated to "smart" systems, this experimental platform is equipped with a simulator coupled with a power amplifier.

OPAL-RT works with expert partners to deliver world-class leading edge solutions to our customers. OPAL-RT has a partnership with Puissance +, a leader for R&D, design, production, and service for electronic equipment design, energy conversion and power electronic instrumentation. Thanks to P+ amplifiers, it is easy to integrate high-power equipment in the closed-loop with OPAL-RT real-time simulators. This makes it easier to develop and test equipment that require bidirectional energy exchange, such as batteries, converters or other islanded-grid or smart-grid components.

OPAL-RT also partners with Triphase which provides solutions for the rapid development of complex, high-performance, industrial power-electronics systems including electric vehicles and power grid control. Triphase amplifiers also provide a means to integrate high-power equipment in the closed-loop with OPAL-RT real-time simulators.


OPAL-RT is a world leading developer of open, Real-Time Digital Simulators and Hardware-in-the-Loop testing equipment for electrical, electro-mechanical and power electronics systems. Our simulators are used by engineers and researchers at leading manufacturers, utilities, universities and research centers around the world.

Our unique technological approach integrates parallel, distributed computing with commercial-off-the-shelf technologies. Customers perform Rapid Control Prototyping, System Integration, and Hardware-in-the-Loop testing of electric drives, electronic controllers and power distribution networks in a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, electric ships, power generation, rail, and industrial manufacturing.

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