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Project 2.5 - Framework for Network Co-Simulation™ (FNCS)

Project 2.5 advances the state-of-the-art in co-simulation environments, focusing on the needs to support developing control algorithms for complex systems across diverse simulator software packages and hardware. A key element of this project has been utilizing and extending the capabilities of the Pacfic Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed FNCS.

FNCS, pronounced "phoenix," is a federated co-simulation platform that merges communication (data) simulators with distribution and transmission simulators. In the federated environment, each simulator runs in its own process; FNCS performs the heavy lifting of synchronization and inter-simulator message delivery. This resource makes it possible to model and design more effective smart grid hardware and other tools, ultimately improving grid efficiency and performance. FNCS capabilities have been tested in case studies, including a smart grid application that calculates the cleared price of electricity; the tool successfully co-simulated transmission, distribution and communications network simulators. Download FNCS.

History of FNCS

PNNL has been the steward for FNCS since 2011. FNCS began under PNNL’s Future Power Grid Initiative (FPGI). Starting in 2011 FPGI tackled three pressing areas of research, Large-Scale Real-Time Simulation, Stochastic and Uncertainty Modeling, and Data-Driven Decision Support. FNCS was built to provide a key capability for the second research area; integration of distribution network models, transmission network models, and communication network models for holistic analysis of the electric power grid.

After FPGI concluded in 2015, FNCS continued under two separate programs. Starting in 2016, Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability's (DOE OE) Advanced Grid Modeling Program delved into FNCS’s capability to run transmission and distribution transient dynamic studies. Concurrently, PNNL’s Control of Complex Systems Initiative (CCSI) also saw the need to support FNCS to reach its larger scale co-simulation desires.

In 2017, FNCS was incorporated in two other products at PNNL being developed. The first is GridAPPS-D, a next generation advanced distribution management system. The second is the Transactive Energy System Platform (TESP).

Hierarchical Engine for Large-scale Infrastructure Co-Simulation™ (HELICS)

PNNL is taking several years of experience in co-simulation platform development and design to lead a new multi-laboratory project. Under The Grid Modernization Lab Consortium Program, PNNL is leading development of HELICS™. HELICS™ incorporates PNNL's vast knowledge in co-simulation gained from FNCS to produce a fully high level architecture (HLA) compliant co-simulation library capable of handling hundreds of thousands of federates in faster than real-time simulations. Learn more about HELICS™.

Tutorial Introduction

Welcome to the FNCS tutorial. This tutorial features two step-by-step guides that target the basics ('two-simulators') and a modestly complex transactive control application ('GridLAB-D+ns-3').

The two-simulators demo showcases the fundamentals of running co-simulations using the FNCS framework. We will walk you through installing FNCS and its dependencies, CZMQ and ZeroMQ, as well as how to run two sample simulators within the co-simulation platform provided by FNCS. The code samples provided will illustrate the principles of co-simulation including message exchange and clock synchronization.

The GridLAB-D+ns-3 demo will walk you through installing FNCS, GridLAB-D™, ns-3, and all prerequisite software. This complex example application demonstrates a real use case of transactive control, exchanging market prices and bids through a simulated network. A single GridLAB-D™ instance simulates a single feeder and market, where the bids and price signals are routed through the communication network modeled by ns-3.

Software that support FNCS:

  • EnergyPlus - a whole building energy simulation program that engineers, architects, and researchers use to model both energy consumption and water use in buildings.
  • FESTIV - NREL's Flexible Energy Scheduling Tool for Integrating Variable Generation.
  • GridAPPS-D™ - an open source standards based advanced distribution management system (ADMS).
  • GridLAB-D™ - PNNL developed power distribution system simulation and analysis tool.
  • GridDyn - an open source power-grid simulator.
  • MATPOWER - an open source simulation tool for solving power flow and optimal power flow challenges.
  • ns-3 - an open source discrete event communication network simulator.
  • Transactive Energy Simulation Platform (TESP) - simulation of transactive systems that can be customized and used by researchers for a variety of design, test, and experimentation work.
  • VOLTTRON™ - an agent execution platform providing services to its agents that allow them to easily communicate with physical devices and other resources.

FNCS Resources

Learn more about FNCS in this video.

FNCS Publications


Jeff Daily, Principal Investigator
Jason Fuller, Principal Investigator
Andy Fisher, Engineer

About CCSI