Simulators to improve the response to electrical zeros


At some point, we have all experienced an electrical blackout and we have suffered the consequences of the same, with our homes and offices losing all power. On a larger scale, a massive power outage can disrupt hospitals, health centres, airports, businesses and may even cause chaos amongst citizens.

Electrical zero simulators are proving to be effective tools to reduce the reset time of electrical zeros.

What are electrical zeros?

Electrical zeros or “blackouts” take place occasionally in isolated electrical systems, such as those of the islands, given their reduced size and instability. At times, they may take hours to be fixed. They result from a total plant shutdown, and leave homes and critical infrastructures without power.

What are the negative consequences of electrical zeros?

Electrical zeros may be the cause of great economic loss. On the one hand, they affect consumers, who lose their power for their consumptions, which is increasingly necessary. On the other hand, they also lead to major inconveniences to the electric companies: first, they cause a loss of client trust, affecting their reputation and prestige, and second, these companies are forced to take on major penalizations imposed by the administration in these cases.

What does Tecnatom offer as a potential solution to this problem?

The awareness of the magnitude of the problem has led electrical companies to search for solutions to prevent these zeros, or at least, to reduce their consequences to a minimum. One of the proposed actions has been to improve plant operator training so that these operators can resolve this situation as quickly as possible.

For the past four years, Tecnatom, having considerable experience in the field of simulation applied to the training of power plant personnel, has participated in the development of diverse simulators for isolated island systems.

Specifically, it has delivered nine simulators for island diesel power plants.

Simulators for operator training

The simulators, identical in appearance and functionality to the  workstations of the power plant control rooms, allow for plant operator training in distinct operating situations. These operations range from normal operation to operation with faults and emergencies, highlighting, naturally, the zero volts or “plant re-start up following a blackout”.

The benefits of the use of these tools during the operator’s initial training and retraining are clear. They allow them to gain practice and experience in the operations that they must make at zero volts, facing these situations in a calmer and more confident manner, when it occurs in real life.

Real life case: response time reduction by 1/7

The usefulness of the use of simulators was demonstrated on 20 March 2018, when the La Palma plant suffered an incident which left its inhabitants without electricity. This time, the response of the plant permitted the re-establishment of the complete power supply in little over one hour and a half, considerably less time than that which is usually the case in these situations (up to ten hours) as noted in the media statements (see more).

This has led to a very positive assessment by our clients with regards to our simulators as a support tool in their employee training. At Tecnatom, we are very proud of this satisfaction, and we hope to continue to contribute to the improvement of the operation of these diesel power plants on their path to excellence.


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