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Archives for Photovoltaic Systems

Can wind turbines and solar inverters contribute to frequency control?

Renewable energy resources such as solar and wind, produce power in a manner that generally does not contribute to frequency control of interconnected power systems. For wind turbines, the reason for this is that the generators used to convert wind to electric energy have small inertias that dissipate rotational energy more readily than conventional steam turbines. Also, wind turbines are operated such as to generate optimal power from the available wind, and hence do not have much spinning reserve. For inverter-based solar generation, the solid-state controls have no rotating component at all. (Solar thermal power is usually produced with synchronous generators and thus contribute to frequency control as most thermal-type power plants are able to do.)

However, both wind turbines and solar inverters have the important characteristic of fast, programmable controls. The question then comes up: Is it possible for these power sources to participate in frequency control response of interconnections? This is an intriguing question that merits some further investigation.

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Integrating Solar PV Power with Existing Distribution Circuits; Part 1

A wave of new solar photovoltaic (“PV”) installations for power generation is hitting many distribution circuits around the country. These installations are typically in the range of 10-2000 kW and comprise of a set of solar PV arrays or trays and inverter modules. The inverters are needed to change the direct-current produced by the arrays to the alternating current standard used by the distribution circuits. The smaller installations connect single-phase, while the larger sizes are three-phase. Interconnection voltage at the point of common coupling between the PV installation and the distribution circuit varies from 120 volt up to 34.5 kilovolt (“kV”).

The concept of integrating these new PV installations with existing distribution circuits is similar to that of interconnecting larger generators in the transmission grid; i.e., the new installation should “do no harm” to the existing system. There are three aspects to this concept as follows. (1) If the existing circuit meets specified standards or criteria of performance, the circuit should still meet the same standard or criteria when the new PV is installed. (2) If the new PV introduces a violation of standard or criteria, mitigation measures need to be included as part of the the new PV’s installation to resolve the violation. (3) If the existing circuit already violates a standard or criteria, the new PV either should not make the violation worse, or limit its impact such that the violation is not worse or even reduced or eliminated.

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Transmission Bases for Sizing Wind and Solar Projects

Unlike base load power plants such as nuclear and some coal plants which operate near full capacity for days at a time, solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind farms are variable resources whose output is dependent on the minute-by-minute change in weather conditions. For solar PV arrays, clouds and atmospheric interference are the sources of variability. While for wind power installation, gusts and weather patterns are the main culprits. This difference in operating characteristic for variable resources requires a novel approach to determining the impact of transmission capacity on the size of the plant.

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Integrating Solar Photovoltaics and Other Renewables in Distribution Systems

Distributed generation (DG) has become a viable option and is gaining wider acceptance to utilities, customers, and independent power producers. While DG offers many advantages, the interconnecting utility typically requires a system impact study for interconnecting DG to the existing electric grid to ensure it would not adversely impact the operation, reliability and safety of the grid. By its nature, DG would interconnect to lower voltage systems generally classified as “distribution”. The studies can range from relatively quick feasibility assessments to comprehensive studies involving extensive equipment and power system modeling, measurements, and detailed simulations. Specific topics for such studies include: islanding, steady state power flow, voltage regulation, short-circuit, protective relaying, power quality (flicker and harmonic), power factor, system stability, grounding, and ground fault overvoltage.

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