Test & Measurement

Testing tomorrow’s energy grids: taking the long view

31st August 2018
Alex Lynn

In the rapidly evolving alternative energy sector, the need for reliability in testing to enhance safety, efficiency and performance has never been greater. This contrasts with the situation in the past, where it might have sufficed to take a short-term view on evolving standards and changing user requirements. In this article Anoop Gangadharan, Product Marketing Manager, Yokogawa Europe explores the future of energy.

The engineers that will run the smart power grids of the future need to be able to adapt to fast changing needs, meet evolving standards and user requirements, and at the same time achieve the all-important requirements of reliability and stability.

Testing in this pressurised environment calls for custom measurements and consistent accuracy, but the specific demands of the energy marketplace add other challenges. For example, the evaluation of inverter signals and their effects on grid performance needs to account for the harmonic superimpositions from switching circuits. Minimising the interference from this switching noise requires isolated inputs, high speed sample rates, and long-time observation.

Such evaluations may need to be done at lower power factors and frequencies in the hundreds of kilohertz: areas that are outside the scope of traditional test instruments. In addition, industrial motor-drive technology has become more complex in recent years, with pure sine-wave PWM signals becoming less common.

These developments require a versatile test platform that not only delivers reliable measurements today but is also ready for the challenges of tomorrow. Hence the next generation of power measurement solutions will need to achieve accuracies that stay relevant for years to come.

Moreover, as pure sine-wave PWM signals become less common in motor applications, these high-accuracy measuring instruments also need to include the ability to carry out high frequency measurements. With mean voltages increasingly differing greatly from the fundamental voltage waveform, harmonic measurements are needed to establish the values of derived measurements such as active power. Similarly, addressing the challenges of measuring parameters such as energy efficiency and harmonic content will require both progressively greater accuracy and consistency in measurement over the specified ranges and conditions.

Again, the use of brushless DC motors and PWM (pulse-width-modulated) waveforms demands the simultaneous measurement of normal values with harmonics for overmodulation analysis of PWM waveforms and the high-speed measurement of power fluctuations.

These needs will increasingly drive the market’s expectations of the ideal power measurement instrument, which will need to combine these technical capabilities with increased accuracy, versatility, simplicity and reliability.

To learn more about how Yokogawa embodies these into its design principles please sign up for this webinar on the Next Generation in Power Measurements.

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