The Dispatch Simulator - Learn to run a power grid!
Have you ever wondered what it is like to operate a power system? Now you can give it a try with Wärtsilä's Dispatch Simulator! The Dispatch Simulator is a tool developed to demonstrate the challenges posed by increasing amounts of intermittent renewable energy sources, showing how Smart Power Generation can answer to those challenges.
NB. More features coming soon!
Did you get any development ideas while running the simulator? You can send your thoughts to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
After downloading the .zip file, just extract the contents and use the .exe file to launch the application. Remember to unzip the zip-archive first!
You can also find the Dispatch Simulator in Apple's Appstore.
Instructions for use
As the user you take on the role of a dispatcher for a whole grid. The capacity mix in the simulator corresponds to a global average distribution of generation capacity. The total capacity of generation in the modelled system is 11 GW, which corresponds to the grid size of, for instance, Singapore or New Zealand. The load profile (i.e. load variation during the day) is typical for most Western countries.
To set up the simulation, first configure the scenario you want to run. In the bottom left corner you are able to choose the amount of renewable energy capacity (0-2 GW) and the amount of fast-ramping combustion engine capacity (0-1.6 GW) your power system will have. The renewable energy mix will constitute of hydro power and intermittent wind plus solar (you can only regulate the amount of intermittent capacity). You will find, that the more wind and solar energy you use without engaging any Smart Power Generation, the harder it will be to finish the simulation without blackouts. To start the simulation press the arrow in the middle of the bottom tab.
The simulation covers a 24-hour period starting at noon. As the day progresses, you will see peaks and valleys in demand according to the daily activities of the citizens of the city nearby. Not only will you have to respond to the varying demand but also to the changing weather conditions by adjusting the available capacity of your existing power fleet.
The plants which the user controls are coal (operating offline, in Spinning Mode, or in Efficiency Mode) and CCGT (operating offline or in Spinning Mode). As the dispatcher you regulate the amount of units that are online. The power plants will automatically make the smaller adjustments needed. The combustion engine plants are not possible to control manually, but respond immediately to load variations by instinctively starting and stopping units according to current demand.
The simulation gives notifications whenever you are running out of capacity due to load or supply variations and peaks. You can access the power control panel by clicking on one of the load meters next to the power plants. Other monitors include the Dispatch screen (press the button up in the right-hand corner) and a one-hour forecast for renewable energy sources and load (see the arrows up in the right-hand corner). You can adjust the speed of the simulation by clicking "Time of Day" in the bottom left corner.
If the power supply and demand become too much out of balance, a brownout will occur, followed by another brownout when matters turn for the worse. Eventually a blackout takes place if balance is not restored. A blackout equals game over.
Throughout the simulation the emissions and the fuel cost of your system are tracked, and by the end of the day your scores are summarized in a spreadsheet.
To gain more specific information about the simulator, please download the Dispatch Simulator leaflet, or read an introduction article in our stakeholder magazine, Twentyfour7.
Q: Why is the available hydro power not used to its fullest / for peaks?
A: The available hydro is run-of-the-river hydroelectricity, i.e. a type of hydroelectric generation where little or no water storage is provided. Therefore, the possibilities to control its output are limited.
Q: How come the combustion engines do not contribute more to CO2 reduction?
A: The CO2 emissions depend on how you run the grid. By default, the cheapest fossil fuel plants, i.e. the coal-fired ones, will be run as much as possible. Since the combustion engines handle all the peaks, the coal plants can be run at a higher load factor than otherwise possible. This in turn results in increased CO2 emissions from the coal plants.