Simulating the Safety of a Hydropower Plant as a System on the Cloud

Complex systems consist of components from various domains, such as mechanics, fluidics and control engineering. The interplay of these components should be analysed already during the design phase – long before any prototypes are built – to ensure not only that they work individually as expected but especially that they work together as a system. Systems simulation allows engineers to find optimal solutions in order to ensure functionality and safety for complete multi-domain systems long before they can be tested in real life.

The end user Stellba is a Germany-based SME operating in the field of hydropower plant maintenance, repair and overhaul. For the green energy sector they are engineering and manufacturing one-of-a-kind products with the goal to optimize energy efficiency. In the past, Stellba used an external engineering service provider which created a simulation model for the main components of a whole water energy plant, executed the simulation calculation and analysed the simulation results. Stellba paid approx. 10 k€ per project for these external engineering services. Stellba did not build up local simulation resources (know-how, hardware and software), because the frequency of such a systems simulation was too low compared to the expected costs. Not being able to perform these simulations in-house has the negative effect of depending on a third party in terms of quality and delivery time. The goal in this study is to enable Stellba to apply a systems simulation service developed by ITI for hydropower plants for cost-effective simulation calculation and results analysis based on adapting existing models, thus reducing the turn-around times in comparison to outsourcing to a third party.

With the help of Fraunhofer EAS (a research institute in Germany) and ITI (a German SME offering a commercial tool in system simulation), Stellba can now run simulations themselves and is independent from external engineering consultancy services. No simulation software or hardware resources are needed on local computers. Simulations can be started from every device at every point in the world supporting Stellba in its commercial activities around the globe. The main cost benefit of Cloud resources lies in the missing initial costs for hard- and software. The used subscription business model enables Stellba to use Cloud resources on demand. The cost-effective scalable HPC resources in the Cloud provide the possibility to run parameter studies in parallel within a reasonable time frame.

The services and applications provided by ITI have been packaged as an easily accessible, usable and affordable workflow. The new approach of providing software to end users as Cloud services has enriched ITI’s software functionality in terms of parallelization and accessibility, with the exploitation of Cloud resources also enabling ITI to offer a worldwide accessible service for simulation calculation and simulation data management. The new product is expected to create additional revenue through a subscription model. The expected additional revenue can enable ITI to hire up to two developers for optimizing and maintaining the simulation service.