Everyday, electrical power is something we take for granted. Most of us are unaware of the complications of the power system that maintains the constant energy flow, expecting that the system will operate safely and without interruption. They are oblivious to the grid’s many vital parts, which includes power lines, substations, reclosers, transformers, regulators, loads, generators, and tolerances. When something goes wrong, they expect that the problem will be identified and corrected quickly.
These high expectations are built on the decades of dedication of companies who design, install, maintain, and test power systems. One of the most effective ways to ensure the continuance of this quality of service is through superior power system modelling and analysis, which allows electrical systems to operate safely, economically and reliably, while complying with energy regulatory requirements.
What is Power System Modelling and Analysis?
Power system modelling consists of a computer rendition of the electric grid, detailing each part’s characteristics. Power system simulation software is a class of applications that focuses on the operation of electrical power systems. These computer programs are used in a wide range of planning and operational situations.
Power system engineers work tirelessly to accurately incorporate into the model not only the various devices but also their working specifications. The details of the components could include capacities, start-up time, impedance, power ratings, among others. Once the model has been designed, then it is possible to analyze what is happening or might happen in the real grid. Safe operation is an essential part of the analysis. Many protection systems provide safety and reliability for your electrical system. It is critical that the safety equipment continue working as it was designed. For example, protective relays and reclosers are tested when they are installed and then periodically throughout their life cycle.
Most simulation software systems include 10 critical tests for the power system models:
- Load Flow Analysis: This analysis is the guide by which electrical engineers balance the power system’s operating state. It provides guidelines for running the system at maximum capacity with the lowest operating costs. Both maximum and minimum loading examples give the parameters for efficiency.
- Contingency Analysis: Contingency analysis is performed in order to identify the effect of an increase in loading to critical line and generator outages. Is the system still able to function within the designated parameters if there is an outage, or an overload or drop in voltage? With changing load conditions, a risk factor needs to be determined.
- Short Circuit Analysis: The rating which defines the capacity of a protective device to maintain its integrity when reacting to fault currents is the interrupting rating. This rating must be set to protect personnel and equipment in the eventuality that the system suffers from a short circuit.
- Harmonic Analysis: In power systems, some harmonics are generated in nonlinear loads including transistors, electrical motors, and the non-ideal transformer. These loads create disturbances in the fundamental harmonic, which produce all types of harmonics. Excessive harmonic currents in transformers and in capacitor banks can occur, resulting in problems with equipment reliability, over-voltage, unstable operation of zero voltage crossing firing circuits, overheating neutral conductors and transformers, and interference in communication. Analysis of this specific characteristic will enable the engineers to put safeguards into place.
- Motor Start Analysis: Since starting a motor uses much more draw than a running motor, it is essential to determine the optimum starting method to reduce costs and to protect other valuable equipment in the system.
- Protection Coordination Analysis: Controlling the short-circuit current is a key consideration in designing a coordinated power system protection. This entails distinguishing the types of currents available, the paths these currents take, and the overcurrent protective devices to be used. Analyzing the protection scheme and the protection zones coordinates the system to run efficiently and safely.
- Lightning Protection and Insulation Coordination Analysis: Since it is inevitable that a power system is exposed to the elements and varying weather conditions, it is best to plan for lightning strikes and other elements, among others. The careful placement of surge protectors will enable your system to monitor and switch over the increased voltage.
- Earthing Design Analysis: This is a critical aspect of any power grid system to protect human life from electric shocks in the event of excessive voltage. In any abnormal condition, the high number of single phase-to-ground faults is the critical factor in a well-designed system.
- Transient Stability and Fault Recovery: In the case of several severe faults, protection settings need to be selected according to acceptable levels.
- Arc Flash Studies: Arcs are ionized gases that explode or release radiation when electricity travels through air. Personal safety is a vital in the study of arc flashes. Safety standards about distance and proper gear need to be identified as well as ways to mitigate the problem.
With the results from these modelling systems, engineers can adjust and maintain your electrical grid to its optimum for safety, economy, and reliability as well as a verification of the design for regulatory purposes.
Through asset management software called Connect Asset Management (CAM), engineers trend, compare and analyze the information to ascertain overall plant health. With this critical information, you can schedule maintenance programs and strategies to benefit the equipment at all points in its life cycle.
Finding an Expert in Power System Modelling and Analysis
Power system modelling and analysis is a demanding process. When determining which company to engage with to assist you in analyzing your power system, it is vital to consider the following:
- Experience in the field to build expertise
- Willingness to answer your queries
- Excellent customer service
- Quality of customer reviews
- Adherence to government regulations
- State-of-the-art approach
- A holistic solution to cover various contingencies
- Availability of training sessions
- Willingness to partner for the long term
- Solid company values that promote professionalism