The reliable performance of the smart grid is a function of the configuration and cyber–physical nature of its constituting sub-systems. Therefore, the ability to capture the interactions between its cyber and physical domains is necessary to understand the effect that each one has on the other. As such, the work in this paper presents a co-simulation platform that formalizes the understanding of cyber information flow and the dynamic behavior of physical systems, and captures the interactions between them in smart grid applications. Power system simulation software packages, embedded microcontrollers, and a real communication infrastructure are combined together to provide a cohesive smart grid cyber–physical platform. A data-centric communication scheme, with automatic network discovery, was selected to provide an interoperability layer between multi-vendor devices and software packages, and to bridge different protocols. The effectiveness of the proposed framework was verified in three case studies: (1) hierarchical control of electric vehicles charging in microgrids, (2) International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) 61850 protocol emulation for protection of active distribution networks, and (3) resiliency enhancement against fake data injection attacks. The results showed that the co-simulation platform provided a high-fidelity design, analysis, and testing environment for cyber information flow and their effect on the physical operation of the smart grid, as they were experimentally verified, down to the packet, over a real communication network.
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