November 18, 2017

Real-time simulation at the service of smart grids : OPAL-RT Europe has designed a simulator for Concept Grid, EDF's experimental platform

March 26, 2014

Concept Grid is a major tool intended to study and test electrical systems of the future. Wholly dedicated to 'smart' systems, this experimental platform makes it possible to perform complex tests that would be impossible to perform on a real grid. OPAL-RT Europe designed an electrical system simulator coupled with a power amplifier specifically for this project.
Using an OPAL-RT simulator in Concept Grid allows researchers to search for solutions for problems inherent to smart systems, such as le balance between production and consumption, peak management, renewable energy integration and storage and energy saving.

In fact, the simulator designed by OPAL-RT Europe offers the unique ability to carry out real-time tests directly on the Concept Grid network. Each simulation of one part of the grid allows researchers to study and analyze its behavior, including its various power sources (micro wind turbines, photovoltaic panels '); to achieve this, a simulator is connected to the real hardware thanks to real-time HIL (Hardware-In-the-Loop) technology.

The OPAL-RT simulator is also connected to a power amplifier that it controls remotely via the Concept Grid fiber optic network. The amplifier's task is to provide power if the network is unstable or, conversely, to absorb power if the network has a surplus. Thus, it acts on sources and the electrical loads.

OPAL-RT collaborated with the French company Puissance Plus, in Montauban, to design the power amplifier. Alliant R&D and service, is an authority in the fields of electrical hardware design, energy conversion and power electronics instrumentation.

« OPAL-RT Europe is already a major player in the field of smart grids. This project is further proof of our reputation in this field. We are proud to contribute to the success of Concept Grid, one of the most ambitious projects we've seen up to now', notes Cédric Jacquault, President and CEO of OPAL-RT Europe.

Concept Grid: a means of performing groundbreaking tests required by smart grids

EDF built Concept Grid, an experimental platform intended to anticipate and follow the evolution of electrical systems, on a 3 hectares on the des Renardières site in Seine et Marne.

EDF's Concept Grid is a unique research tool with some groundbreaking features, such as:

  • Configurable electrical networks that can represent up to 120 km of network.
  • A real-time simulator, connected to a flexible power amplifier able to inject or absorb disturbances.
  • Dedicated command control and measurement communication networks.

To make Concept Grid even more representative of real distribution grids, EDF constructed a residential district with 5 215 sq. ft 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. 

EDF wants Concept Grid to become the reference tool for research and experiments in regard to electrical systems of the future. It complements Smart Grid test equipment already available in Europe.

Concept Grid is a research environment open to partners and a preferred meeting place for a number of players from design to marketing, such as universities, laboratories, network managers and manufacturers.


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.