The RWTH-ACS Real-time Lab is located in the E.ON Energy Research Center and operated by the Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems (ACS). As part of the E.ON Energy Research Center (E.ON ERC), ACS is one of four Institutes out of three faculties of the RWTH Aachen University. The E.ON ERC is the result of a publicprivate partnership between industry and the scientific community. As one of the largest energy companies in Europe, E.ON SE has come together with the internationally renowned RWTH Aachen University in order to realize this unique project. The E.ON ERC is located in the Sustainable Energy Cluster in the RWTH Campus.

Location: Aachen, Germany

Digital Real-time Simulators:

  • RTDS Simulator (8x Racks Γ  4 GPC cards,4x GTNET, 1x GTSYNC, 2x GTFPGA extension cards, licenses for all available IO protocols and highspeed Aurora links to HPC and OPAL targets)
  • 1 OPAL-RT Simulator (1x OP5600 target with eHS 64, Licenses for eMEGASIM, eFPGASIM, and RT-XSG software, IEC61850, Aurora, RS-485 IO protocols)


  • Xilinx FPGAs (1x Virtex 7 VC707, 1x Virtex6 ML605, 2x Virtex5 ML507)
  • National Instruments (SBrio & Crio, LabVIEW Real-time and FPGA targets)
  • Alstom PMUs
  • ABB substation automation equipment
  • Flexible Power Simulator (FlePS) P-HiL Interface 25 kVA

High Performance Computing:

  • 4x HPC clusters Γ  4 nodes each (total of 233 physical cores with 1280 GiB of memory
  • FDR/EDR Infiniband Interconnect (up to 100 Gpbs)
  • 5x NVidia Tesla GPGPUs
  • 3x Intel Xeon Phi Accelerators

Private Cloud Computing:

  • Private Openstack Cloud installation
  • Consisting of 9x compute, 1x storage, 1x controller nodes (total of 288 physical / 2048 virtual cores, 1408 GiB memory, 64 TiB storage)
  • 20 Gpbs Highspeed connection to DFN/Geant Research Networks

The main function of the ACS laboratory infrastructure is to support fast prototyping of control systems and derisk new control architectures for application in power systems. This is achieved through a set of real-time (RT) simulators and hardware interfaces. Considering that our research focus is on complex systems and knowing that simulating different systems and situations may require different hardware and software solutions, it is impossible to choose one single platform for the real-time simulator that fulfils all the requirements. Thus, we have designed our own laboratory structure that accounts for all the scenarios of interest and satisfies all our foreseeable needs. The ACS real-time laboratory offers a large amount of real-time simulation capacity provided by commercial as well as in-house developed power system simulators. A special feature of the lab is the ability to interconnect commercial real-time simulators to local and remote testbenches. The in-house developed VILLAS framework provides FPGA-based cross-vendor co-simulations as well as integration into high performance computing clusters.

The institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems (ACS) is a research institute at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany. It is part of the E.ON Energy Research Center, the result of a public-private partnership between industry and the scientific community. As one of the largest energy companies in Europe, E.ON SE has come together with the internationally renowned RWTH Aachen University in order to realize this unique project.

The goal of ACS is to implement a multidisciplinary research approach able to capture the most recent advances in ICT to support the solution of the most advanced problems in the area of grid dynamics and automation.

In order to achieve this vision the research in ACS is organized around three main pillars:

  • Grid operations
  • ICT for Energy
  • Control and Automation

Thanks to a multidisciplinary team that works at the intersection of traditional power systems with advanced control and automation concepts and modern ICT solutions, the research at ACS can cover, in a unique way, the following scientific areas:

  • Joint analysis and design of power grid and communication infrastructure in future grids
  • Modern control architectures and protection techniques
  • Electrical distribution and usage in home, neighborhood and urban energy systems
  • Distributed measurements and monitoring
  • Data driven solutions for energy systems
  • Future Internet for energy systems
  • Advanced computing for simulation applications
  • Real time simulation and Hardware-in-the-Loop testing
  • System software and computer architectures for parallel co-simulation of power and communication systems

ACS constantly develops and expands an advanced testing facility, a research topic in itself, installed in the ACS laboratory with unique custom solutions for

  • real-time simulation of power grids,
  • hardware in the loop testing,
  • power hardware in the loop testing,
  • mixed power, control and communication simulation.

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