Blackout-Demonstration-Center (Phase 1)


Screen front of a control room environment (©Siemens AG)

The Institute of Electrical Energy Systems (LEES) was able to win the bidding phase for innovative university teaching with the project Blackout Demonstration Center (Phase 1) (DBZ-1). Under the heading freiraum2022, there was an opportunity to have ideas promoted in the context of university teaching. This should be about the free development and testing of ideas.


A secure power supply is to be assigned to the civilization basic supply (existence supply). In this respect, very high demands are placed on the electrical energy supply in terms of supply security and supply quality. The network system management (network control center) is the central facility that monitors the security of the network. As the largest "machine" ever built by man, the European interconnected grid has been running reliably in its entirety since it was commissioned. Nevertheless, there is always the probability of a system-wide blackout. A prolonged system-wide blackout would lead to a collapse of the entire public infrastructure. An extreme scenario that went virtually unnoticed by the public was the scheduled separation of the interconnected grid into two parts in January 2021. Local blackouts, on the other hand, have a strong impact on every individual and can trigger a system-wide blackout through cascading effects. The aim of the teaching project is therefore to teach students the associated relationships in theory and then to implement this knowledge realistically in simulation games in a control room environment.

Conceptual sketch

In order to establish this very complicated and multi-faceted topic as a unique educational focus at Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU), LEES would like to work with experts from Siemens AG to develop a blackout demonstration center for university teaching. This is to be available to all FAU students who can demonstrate a minimum level of electrical engineering in their education, in the form of a 5 to 10 ECTS course. In the theoretical part, students will be familiarized with the subject matter over the course of the semester in various training formats. The different facilities of electrical energy transmission are to be worked out and analyzed. This will include the energy market, system management and the important infrastructures. In order to clarify the interaction already in this phase, group work or smaller group projects are to take place. This offers the advantage that students from different disciplines can contribute to the problem with different perspectives. In particular, interdisciplinary discussions should be initiated and moderated.

For different group work, the interests of the FAU students can thus be specifically addressed. In this way, each subject area is introduced to the topic independently. The respective student councils are to be involved in the development of the questions.

In addition to theoretical training, practical training is also to take place within a control room environment. The Siemens AG training center in Nuremberg is to serve as an interface between theory and practice for this purpose. It is an international training center for players in the electrical power supply industry. Among other things, there is a control room environment in which managers, control room and switching personnel are trained. During the internship, the students should be prepared for the different roles in the control room and then be able to try them out. To this end, a basic training course for control rooms is to be developed in cooperation with Siemens AG. This should enable the students to understand and operate the basics of an electrical power system.

Phase 1

In the first project phase, the technical framework for the implementation of a realistic practical course is to be created. The topic of a blackout of the electrical power supply is only treated theoretically in university teaching and mostly abstractly due to the enormous complexity. The aim of the BDZ is therefore to teach students the associated relationships in theory and then to implement this knowledge realistically in simulation games in a control room environment. A control room is a hybrid hardware/software facility in which all relevant parameters and measured values of electrical power supply networks as well as IT infrastructures of a network region are brought together.

In order to further illustrate the electrical balancing processes during a blackout, extensive simulation models of electrical grids as well as various scenarios are to be developed on the simulator and the control room environment. For this purpose, a realistic simulation of the field level (switching devices, protection devices, network processes, communication, etc.) is required, which will be simulated on a real-time simulator of the institute. ICT activities are crucial for the coupling between the simulator and the control room. To further reduce the level of abstraction, the targeted situation will take place in a modeled German distribution grid.