At the 2017 Ovation Users Group conference, Emerson’s Bob Kerestes and Sheldon Willis gave an update embedded simulation in the Ovation system. Sheldon opened the presentation describing types of uses for simulators for training and engineering. For training simulators, simulations can range from simple tie-back models to high-fidelity models which simulate the dynamics of the running process.
For high-fidelity simulation, engineers can use the model for full process design validation, controls validation, root analysis studies, optimization and more. In the Ovation system the simulators run in virtual controllers. As simulators move from simple tie-back models to high-fidelity models, formulas based on first principles are added to bring the model closer to how the actual process performs.
For training simulators, instructor stations are available to create scenarios to teach and test operator performance for various plant abnormal conditions. It has some controls to play, pause, select speed and take snapshots at different points in the simulation.
Simulators are being used more and more to test the DCS control strategy design during factory acceptance testing to make the configuration more robust before the commissioning process. A new area for simulator use is in microgrids. Sheldon described integrated simulators that help keep the simulator in sync with the running control system. Configuration changes can be targeted to the simulator and to the live control system.
Bob came up and described distributed generation (DG) and the role of simulation. DG spreads out the generation capability of the grid versus the traditional approach of producing electrical power centrally and distributing outward. DG can increase reliability, replace aged and deteriorated parts of the grid and mostly uses renewable sources of energy. DG is an enhancement to the grid to augment and make centralized power generation more reliable and resilient.
Microgrids are unique in that they may or may not have a generator, may or may not have renewable energy, may or may not be used to supply power back to the grid and can be very costly. Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) manages the economic dispatch problem as it applies to distributed generation or microgrids. DERMS require very accurate modeling of the electric power distribution system into which it is integrated. Much more research is underway to better understand how to model transient conditions and newer technologies such as flow batteries as part of a microgrid and distributed generation on the main grid.