Real-Time Data Communication Project Between Duke Energy and EPIC

Date Published: 
May 14, 2013

Power generation, transmission, and distribution systems continue to modernize, and through a collaborative research project Duke Energy and the Lee College of Engineering are installing a real-time data recording system to ensure the greater levels of reliability that comes from the new technology and changes are achieved.

Duke technical experts and UNC Charlotte researchers are installing the first components of the real-time data communication system at Duke’s Marshall Steam Station in Terrell, North Carolina. Dr. Zia Salami, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and an EPIC associate, is the lead principal investigator for UNC Charlotte.

“This is a real-time data collection and communication system that utilizes a digital fault recorder DFR/PMU to capture generator output and field data,” Dr. Salami said. “This data is useful from an operations perspective as it can aid in quickly identifying the root cause of electrical problems.”

The research is important in meeting the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s standards for generation reliability. “NERC wants bulk electric system models and events to be validated to assure they provide meaningful results,” said Chris Schaeffer, a consulting engineer at Duke Energy. “The power industry is being driven by new regulations to take actions to validate transmission system models for generation, and the level of understanding of these models is a generation industry weakness. Information we can collect about how these systems are operating in real time is advantageous.”

Randy Rhinier is an electrical subject matter expert for Duke’s Generator Maintenance Service group. He is working with UNC Charlotte on the installation of the DFR on the unit three generator at Marshall.

“The digital fault recorder lets us capture data on generator terminal voltage, generator current, field voltage, field current, exciter field voltage and exciter field current,” Rhinier said. “Being able to validate the model in real-time will save us a lot of time compared to performing staged testing. Right now we have to perform manual testing to validate the generator exciter model. We believe the only way to validate the frequency response models required by NERC is though unit DFR data. Our hope is we are able to automate the entire process.”

Andy Olah is a project engineer with Duke Energy’s Carolina West Outage Maintenance and Services Group. For the Marshall/UNC Charlotte project, he is coordinating the installation and integrating the real-time DFR that will communicate data between Marshall and Dr. Salami’s laboratory on the UNC Charlotte campus.

“We are building a virtual data tunnel between UNC Charlotte and the Marshall Station Unit 3 generator,” Olah said. “To achieve real-time data transport, we will share an IP address that lets the university tap into the data as needed for research. So far everything is going well and we’re confident in having a successful project with good results.”

The connections between Marshall and UNC Charlotte will be fully in place and transmitting data by the end of May.

Both undergraduate and graduate students will be utilizing the real-time data. “We will be using the electronic data for performing research, and also for training and developing future engineers working with power system information and data,” Dr. Salami said. “This research will get undergraduates involved and provide them valuable real-world experience.”

A goal is to continue to expand the DFR/PMU units to collect even more data from additional sources including generation and transmission system load centers. “This is our first test case and we hope to expand,” Dr. Salami said. “We are establishing the protocol for utilizing real-time data now, and hopefully in the near future will be able to do install more DFR/PMU and expand the research to load modeling, validation, and event analyses.”