Electric Power Distribution System Optimization in the Presence of Renewable Distributed Generation

Grants and Contracts Details


The objective of the proposed research effort is to lay the foundation for successful research collaboration in the area of electric power distribution system optimization in the presence of renewable distributed generation. A pressing issue in power distribution systems is the integration of renewable sources such as photovoltaic (PV) sources. A significant factor that limits the feasible penetration of PV sources is the need to maintain voltage regulation within the distribution system. Depending on weather conditions, outputs of intermittent power sources can fluctuate rapidly, causing frequent voltage fluctuation. Without proper control, utility-owned equipment, such as voltage regulators and switchable capacitor banks, may adjust its settings frequently to maintain the voltage level with respect to the reference voltage, and such frequent operations can cause excessive mechanical wear and eventual failure. Due to mechanical switching parts, traditional regulating devices are inefficient in removing fast fluctuations, and serious voltage problems may arise in a grid with high penetration of PV systems. A solution to this difficulty has been proposed by the PI and his collaborators that relies on the reactive power capability of PV inverters. Such an approach allows customer-owned equipment (i.e., the PV inverter) to participate in the utility’s integrated control scheme, fulfilling part of the vision for smart grids and increasing the potential penetration of PV systems. The PI has worked in collaboration with other researchers to propose a technique that can be used to improve the performance of electric distribution systems in the presence of distributed generation. This conceptual seed can develop into a fruitful collaboration, but significant research investment is required to develop the theoretical basis for the technique and to demonstrate it in simulation and experimentally. In order to attract investment from federal and utility sponsors, it is necessary to obtain preliminary results that show the feasibility of the proposed method and the potential benefits that it offers. Specifically, the proposed effort is directed towards the development and demonstration of the control system required for the PV inverter in order to allow it to participate in the utility’s control scheme. Furthermore, the loose collaboration that currently exists in this area needs to be developed more formally. In particular, while the current collaboration has involved researchers throughout the state, there is a significant potential for regional collaboration. This is particularly important in today’s funding environment in which collaborative, multidisciplinary and multi-institutional proposals are preferred by research sponsors.
Effective start/end date7/1/1412/31/15


  • Southeastern Center for Electrical Engineering Ed: $15,999.00


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