Microgrids often have unique features. Even within a single microgrid, the controllers and measurement devices can have different needs. Microgrid measurement and control devices designed on NI technology are built on a platform with hundreds to thousands of possible hardware configurations and infinite possibilities once you consider software programmability. Some of the main platform features include:
Figure 1. CompactRIO is powered by LabVIEW and combines an open, embedded, controller architecture with industrial sensor and signal I/O modules.
The CompactRIO hardware family has over 100+ NI designed and manufactured sensor and signal modules for input and output. Common modules for the T&D industry include:
Other modules include a wide variety of sensor modules for temperature, pressure, flow, linear displacement, rotation measurement, etc. These sensor modules can be used to add functions such as:
Figure 2. Over 100 modules for CompactRIO are available for sensor measurement and control I/O.
Additionally, a module development kit is available for 3rd parties to develop custom hardware C Series modules for CompactRIO. There are over 100 modules available on the open market that are designed and manufactured by 3rd party companies. When combined with modules from NI, there are over 200 C Series modules available for CompactRIO.
The CompactRIO controllers have various hardware communication ports available, such as ENET, RS-232, RS-485, but the protocol used is software defined by the designer. DNP3, IEC 61850, EN60870, Modbus, TCP/IP are all protocols that have functions available for the LabVIEW development environment. Not only are they programmable and upgradable over time, but a single system can speak multiple protocols helping to bridge SCADA, EMS, and local microgrid control systems. Custom protocols, owned by other vendors, can run on NI hardware provided the owning vendor provides an API for LabVIEW or plug-in software element for Linux.
Connecting to alternate physical communication layers, such as WIMAX, GSM, LTE, etc. is often accomplished through connection of an external modem/router to the NI controller via ENET or Serial. Alternately, companies like SEA Gmbh. manufacture wireless and cellular C Series modules that are compatible with CompactRIO.
Processors available in CompactRIO chassis range from a dual core ARM9 to a quad-core INTEL based processor clocked at 1.91 GHz/core. Between the processor and I/O modules of every CompactRIO is a programmable FPGA. The FPGA brings several features to utility applications due in large part to it's combined processing speed and parallel nature. These features include:
The processing capability and open programmability mean microgrid controllers designed on CompactRIO are suitable for a variety of measurement and control functions such as:
An off the shelf solution covering all microgrid challenges does not exist. Open, programmable, flexible solutions built on NI technology are an ideal fit for custom issues that would otherwise require a new design, or a cobbled together solution of existing equipment and industrial computers running patch software to connect all of the systems.