Power systems CAD

Power systems CAD

Power systems CAD refers to computer-aided design (CAD) software tools that are used to design and simulate complex electrical power systems.

Such power systems are typically found in mission-critical facilities such as computer data centers, network operations centers, air traffic control systems, transportation networks, power plants, manufacturing facilities, etc. The goal of these systems is to ensure that potential electrical power problems are "engineered-out" of the design, prior to a facility being constructed.

Electrical power systems CAD tools are used by electrical power systems engineers, a distinct discipline of electrical engineering. According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), there are 21,000 power systems engineers worldwide [1] focused on improving electrical grids, eliminating blackouts, and reducing electrical accidents. [2] Such engineering expertise is instrumental to preserving the critical power needs of modern digital society, e.g. transportation, communications, computing, etc. [3]

In the United States alone, power systems engineering is a $100 billion industry [5] . Power systems CAD tools are credited with dramatically increasing the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of electrical systems designers [6] [7] by virtue of their:

* Providing a design foundation that allows power systems to be created quickly
* Enabling design engineers to test the safety and integrity of their design concepts
* Allowing design engineers to create a repository if proven design elements that can be reused in future projects

Thus power systems CAD software products allow organizations to develop higher-quality power systems designs, with faster turnaround time, than ever before possible.

Power Systems CAD Overview

The electrical power systems CAD process, frequently called power systems "modeling," typically consists of two distinct stages:

* The design stage, in which an electric systems model is created, and

* The simulation or analysis stage, in which software simulation programs are used to test the integrity of the design; these simulation programs test how the model would behave in real-world operation by checking for specific types of design or operational problems (see list below.)

It is important to note that this is an iterative process, in which simulation results will suggest ways that the design should be modified to increase safety, reliability, and serviceability. At the conclusion of the design effort, organizations will enjoy a far higher degree of confidence in the integrity of their power systems infrastructure than with manually-drawn schematics.

Further, in the case of "Power analytics" systems, the CAD model is also used for on-line diagnostics and predictive maintenance, once the facility is constructed.

Types of Simulations

There are a wide range of electrical engineering tests that can be performed on a power systems CAD model. These include tests for:

* Short Circuit Analysis
* AC and DC Arc Flash
* Protective Device Coordination
* Power Flow
* Cable Pulling
* Power System Reliability
* Electromagnetic Transient Analysis
* Cable Ampacity
* Induction Motor Parameter Estimation
* Transmission Line Parameters
* Advanced Transient
* Power System Optimization
* Advanced Substation Grounding Grid Design
* Advanced Motor Starting
* Voltage Stability and Contingency Analysis

References & Sources

* [1] IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [http://www.ieee.org]
* [2] IEEE Power Engineering Society [http://www.ieee.org/portal/site/pes/]
* [3] CPC - The Critical Power Coalition [http://www.criticalpowercoalition.org]
* [4] NECA - National Electrical Contractors Association [http://www.necanet.org/]
* [5] Electrical Contractor magazine [http://www.ecmag.com]
* [6] Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine [http://www.csemag.com/]

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