As the number of PMUs scales up into the thousands in the next few years under the US Department of Energy’s smart grid demonstration initiative, it is rather intuitive that the current state-of-the art centralized communication and information processing architecture of WAMS will no longer be sustainable, and a distributed cyber-physical architecture will need to be developed.


Motivated by this challenge, over the past year my group in collaboration with the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) of UNC Chapel Hill have developed a wide-area communication testbed, referred to as the ExoGENI-WAMS testbed at the FREEDM Systems Center. The testbed has been recently federated with the DETER testbed of Information Sciences Institute at University of Southern California as a part of the Smart America Initiative of NIST. The testbed consists of two layers:

  1. A hardware-in-loop set-up consisting of Real-time Digital Simulators (RTDS) integrated with multi-vendor PMUs
  2. A cloud-based multi-port, multi-user ExoGENI+DETER network that can transport PMU data from the RTDS to a network of virtual PDCs (phasor data concentrators), and execute distributed monitoring and control algorithms in real-time.

ExoGENI allows users to create custom topologies using resources from multiple federated providers via a control and management software called the Open Resource Control Architecture (ORCA) to orchestrate the networked cloud resource provisioning. It showcases the fact that the current design practice based on the centralized servers and IP-based Internet architecture is not an economical and efficient solution to satisfy the real-time requirement of processing large volumes of Synchrophasor data. Instead, an IaaS based solution is much more practical. ExoGENI service allows dynamic provisioning of virtual machines of different CPU and memory capacities with customized software images. With this capability, the WAMS communication network can automatically request for the right virtual machine to run the best real-time algorithm – eg. distributed oscillation monitoring, state estimation and wide-area controls. Connection to DETER, on the other hand, allows us to carry out diverse cyber-security related experiments on wide-area monitoring and control loops.

More info:

Check out a concept paper for this testbed, presented at CPS Week in Seattle, WA, Apr. 2015.

The project is funded partly by the US Department of Energy, NSF CPS grant, and ABB Corporate Research.

Check out some links on ExoGENI-WAMS:

  1. Distributed Wide-area Oscillation Monitoring using ExoGENI and Software Defined Networks
  2. Constructing attack-resilient communication topologies via a federation of RTDS-WAMS testbed and DETER-lab (collaboration with Univ of Southern California)
  3. Demonstration at the US Ignite Event in summer 2013
  4. Check out the report for creating dynamic network topologies in ExoGENI integrated with RTDS and PMUs

An introductory research brochure for my PhasorLab, featuring several recently procured PMUs, can be found here.