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DC-LINK VOLTAGE CONTROL OF A SINGLE-PHASE

PHOTOVOLTAIC INVERTER
L. Nousiainen*, T. Suntio*
*Tampere University of Technology, Department of Electrical Energy Engineering
P.O. Box 692, FI-33101 Tampere, Finland
lari.nousiainen@tut.fi, teuvo.suntio@tut.fi
Keywords: Photovoltaic, input voltage control, RHP zero,
RHP pole, VSI.
Abstract
This paper investigates DC-link voltage control in a single-
phase photovoltaic (PV) inverter. Recent research has shown
that a right-half-plane (RHP) zero exists in the output current
control dynamics of a voltage source inverter (VSI) and that
the sign of current control loop changes when the VSI is fed
from a current source, such as PV generator. Accordingly,
VSI with a high-bandwidth current control becomes unstable
in such a case without input-voltage control. The use of
conventional cascaded control scheme transforms the RHP
zero into a RHP pole in the input-voltage control dynamics.
Based on this observation, design rules can be determined
regarding the dc-link voltage control and input capacitor
selection.
1 Introduction
Solar radiation has potential to cover the growing energy
demand of modern society [1]. The solar radiation can be
converted to electrical energy without environmental
pollution utilizing photovoltaic (PV) conversion. A PV
generator (PVG) is composed of low-power PV cells
connected in series and parallel to form higher power units
known as modules, which may be further used to construct
strings and arrays.
The PV power is seldom usable as such due to its intermittent
nature. The harvested energy is typically fed into a storage
device or directly to the utility grid, where management of
power balance already exist. The grid integration of a PVG
requires a power electronic interface, an inverter. In order to
fully utilize the available PV energy, the inverter input
voltage is adjusted using a maximum power point (MPP)
tracking algorithm for maximal energy yield [7]. In addition,
the grid-connected inverter controls also the grid current to
achieve low current distortion even at the presence of
harmonic voltages in the grid (i.e. inverter output impedance
is high).
The typical control system of a renewable-energy inverter is
based on cascaded control scheme where the inner current
loop controls the grid current and the outer input-voltage loop
provides the grid-current reference [20]. In such a case, the
inverter input current must be considered as an input variable
and input voltage as an output variable to satisfy the basic
circuit and control theories, i.e. the inverter is fed from a
current source as discussed e.g. in [3]. However, the papers
describing the control issues in PV inverters often do not
consider the dc-link voltage control at all [5], or the
experimental system is tested using a DC voltage source at
the input [15], which hides important properties in PVG
interfacing.
In [2] unstable behaviour is reported in the MPP tracking
(MPPT) process of commercial PV inverters leading to
consequent start-stop cycles and poor energy yield. The
reason for such behaviour cannot be accurately traced based
on the article. However, the input voltage control is one of the
main factors in the MPPT process. The incomplete treatment
of PV generator as a source for power electronic converters
might contribute to the observed reliability problems in PV
systems [12]. Proper modelling of solar inverter is of prime
importance as the penetration depth of PV systems in the grid
is increasing [4].
In this paper, the DC-link voltage (i.e. input voltage) control
of a PV inverter based on a voltage source inverter (VSI)
topology is investigated. Section 2 introduces the dynamic
representation of the PV inverter at closed and open loop and
discusses the dynamic properties of a PVG. Section 3 covers
the issues in input-voltage control and input capacitor
selection. Experimental results are presented in Section 4 and
the conclusions are given in Section 5.
2 Dynamic representation
The analysed inverter with its control system is shown in Fig.
1 with the defined components, parasitic resistances and
polarities of relevant currents and voltages. The inverter
composes of a current-shaping DC-DC converter cascaded
with an unfolding full-bridge switching at the grid frequency.
The unfolding inverter reduces ground leakage current and is
a feasible solution to implement a transformerless single-
phase photovoltaic inverter [6]. An input-voltage controller
(VC) provides the reference for grid-current-controller (CC),
which is synchronized to the grid by a simple multiplier.
Dynamic properties of the synchronization method are
discussed in detail in [11].
In order to construct the dynamic small-signal model for the
converter, appropriate input, output and state variables (u(t),
y(t) and x(t), respectively) have to be selected. According to
control theory, only output variables can be controlled.
Naturally, input voltage and output current are the output
variables and the input variables are input current, output
voltage and duty ratio. The conventional state-space
representation is given in Equation (1).
( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( ) ( )
d
d
t
t t
t
t t t
= +
= +
x
Ax Bu
y Cx Du
(1)
Solving the relation between the input and output variables
yields the transfer function set of the converter, which can be
given in Laplace domain by
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
1
H
, s s s s

(
= + =

Y C I A B D U G U (2)
i.e.
in
in in-o oi-o ci
o
o io-o o-o co

i
u Z T G
u
i G Y G
d
(
( ( (
=
( ( (


(

(3)
The open-loop transfer function set G
H
defined in Equations
(2) and (3) represents a current-to-current converter and is
known as H-parameter set in circuit theory [17]. The meaning
of the transfer functions can be deduced from the
corresponding input and output variables where the hat over
the variables mean small-signal deviation around the
corresponding steady-state value. The sign of the output
admittance Y
o-o
is negative, since the output current is flowing
out of the converter. The transfer functions for the power-
stage presented in Fig. 1 are solved symbolically in [9].
In order to build a control block diagram of the converter, the
duty ratio solved from Fig. 1 has to be linearized due to the
multiplier-based synchronization yielding
( )
out out out
cc se o c se c o eq o

. d G G U v G V u R i = + (4)
The control block diagram can be given as shown in Fig. 2.
The transfer functions G
se
represent input and output voltage
sensing transfer functions with corresponding superscripts.
Similarly, transfer functions R
eq
represent the equivalent
current sensing resistors. Output current controller transfer
function is denoted by G
CC
and voltage controller transfer
function by G
VC
. Modulator gain is denoted by G
a
.
2.1 Output current control
The transfer functions for the output-current-controlled
converter are solved by substituting the duty ratio from
Equation (4) into the open-loop transfer function set in
Equation (3). The resulting output dynamics are given by
out io-o
io-c
out
out o-o out
o-c ff
out out
out out
co out
out eq
1
1 1
1
,
1
G
G
L
Y L
Y Y
L L
L
G
L R
=
+
=
+ +
=
+
(5)
where output current loop gain is defined by
out
out eq cc a co
. L R G G G = (6)
The feedforward admittance originating from the
synchronization is defined by
out
ff se c out
eq
1
, Y G V
R
= (7)
where the steady-state current reference voltage is defined by
( )
( )
out
eq o
c out
se o
0
.
0
R s I
V
G s U
=
=
=
(8)
The input dynamics for the output-current-controlled
converter are similarly defined by
out in-o out
in-c in-
out out
out oi-o out ci
oi-c oi- ff
out out co
out out out ci
ci se o out
out co eq
1 1
1 1
1
,
1
Z L
Z Z
L L
T L G
T T Y
L L G
L G
G G U
L G R

= +
+ +
| |
= + +
|
+ +
\ .
=
+
(9)
where
ci io-o ci o-o
in- in-o oi- oi-o
co co
, .
G G G Y
Z Z T T
G G

= = + (10)
Driver Driver
CC
MPPT
in
u
C
L
o
i
o
u
g
i
g
u
L
i
L
r
ds2
r
ds1
r
1
S
2
S
C
r
C
u
in
i
C
i
VC
in
eq in
R i
in
se in
G u
in
ref
u
out
se o
G u
out
eq o
R i
c
v
220H
2.2mF
0.1W
50mW
15mW
15mW
Figure 1: Single-phase VSI-based PV inverter.
VC
G
CC
G
out
se o
G U
out
se c
G V
out
eq
R
in
se
G
o
u
in
u
o

i
in
ref
u

d
c
v
a
G
MPPT
in
eq
R
in

i
Figure 2: Small-signal control-block diagram of the inverter control system.
The resulting transfer function set is given in Equation (11),
where the control variable is the output current reference
control voltage v
c
. The transfer function from the output
current reference to the input voltage defines the dynamics of
the input voltage control.
in
out out out
in in-c oi-c ci
o
out out out
o io-c o-c co
c

i
u Z T G
u
i G Y G
v
(
( ( (
=
( ( (


(

(11)
2.2 Cascaded control scheme
The transfer functions in case of the cascaded control scheme,
i.e. the closed-loop transfer functions, are solved by
substituting the current reference control voltage v
c
from Fig.
2 into the Equation (11). The resulting closed-loop input
dynamics are given by
( )( ) ( )( )
( )( ) ( )( )
in-o out
in-c in-
out in out in
oi-o out ci
oi-c oi- ff
out in out in co
in
ri in
se in
1 1 1 1
1 1 1 1
1
,
1
Z L
Z Z
L L L L
T L G
T T Y
L L L L G
L
G
G L

= +
+ +
| |
= + +
|
+ +
\ .
=

(12)
where input voltage loop gain is
in out
in se vc ci
. L G G G = (13)
Similarly, the closed-loop output dynamics can be given by
( )( )
( )( ) ( )( )
io-o in
io-c io-
out in in
o-o in out
o-c o- ff
out in in out in
in co
ro in
se in ci
1 1 1
1 1 1 1 1
1
,
1
G L
G G
L L L
Y L L
Y Y Y
L L L L L
L G
G
G L G

=
+
=
+ +
=

(14)
where
co in-o co oi-o
io- io-o o- o-o
ci ci
, .
G Z G T
G G Y Y
G G

= = + (15)
The resulting transfer function set for the closed-loop
converter is given in Equation (16).
in
in in-c oi-c ri
o
o io-c o-c ro in
ref

i
u Z T G
u
i G Y G
u
(
( ( (
=
( ( (


(

(16)
2.3 Dynamic properties of a PV generator
The electrical equivalent model of a PVG can be simplified to
a photocurrent source i
ph
in parallel with a diode depicting the
properties of the semiconductor junction. In addition, the
single-diode model includes shunt resistance r
sh
and
capacitance c
sh
and series resistance r
s
modeling resistive
losses in a PVG, as shown in Fig. 3 [10]. Due to the forward
biasing of the diode, PVG has limited output voltage and
power as shown in Fig. 4, containing data measured from a
real PVG illuminated with an artificial light unit [9]. It can be
seen that PVG has properties of both current and voltage
sources. The current-voltage curve can be divided into
constant current (CC) and constant voltage (CV) regions with
the MPP in between as shown in Fig. 4.
Dynamic behaviour of a PVG can be represented by means of
non-linear operating-point dependent resistance and
capacitance [16], [8]. The derivative of the PVG power at an
arbitrary operating point can be given by
( )
pv pv pv pv pv
pv pv pv pv
pv pv pv pv
d d d
.
d d d
i u p u u
U I U I
i i i i

= = + +

(17)
At the MPP, the power derivative is naturally zero. As a
consequence, the static (R
pv
= U
pv
/ I
pv
) and dynamic
(r
pv
= u
pv
/ i
pv
) resistances coincide, which is also a
condition suggested by the maximum power transfer theorem
[18]. The sign of the dynamic resistance is negative since the
PV current is flowing out of the PVG as discussed earlier.
Thus, the dynamic resistance is positive.
The effect of the PVG on the converter dynamics can be
calculated by adding a source admittance to a linear two-port
network model of the converter based on Equation (3) as
shown in Fig. 5. Solving the input current from Fig. 5 and
substituting it to the Equation (3) yields the source-affected
transfer function set given in Equation (19), where
ph
i
d
i
csh
i
rsh
i
sh
r
sh
c
s
r
pv
i
d
u
pv
u
Figure 3: Single-diode model of a PV generator.
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
1.2
PV cell voltage (p.u.)
P
V

C
e
l
l

c
u
r
r
e
n
t
,

p
o
w
e
r
,

d
y
n
.

r
e
s
i
s
t
a
n
c
e

a
n
d

c
a
p
a
c
i
t
a
n
c
e

(
p
.
u
.
)i
pv
p
pv
r
pv
c
pv
MPP
CV CC
Figure 4: Electrical characteristics of a PV generator.
oi-o io-o
in-oc in-o
o-o
.
T G
Z Z
Y
= + (18)
in-o oi-o ci
inS
S in-o S in-o S in-o in
o
o io-o S in-oc S in-
o-o co
S in-o S in-o S in-o

1 1 1

1 1

1 1 1
Z T G
i
Y Z Y Z Y Z u
u
i G Y Z Y Z
Y G
d
Y Z Y Z Y Z

(
(
(
+ + + ( (
(
=
( (
( + +

(

(

+ + +

(19)
Since the dynamic capacitance is small compared to the input
capacitance required for a single-phase inverter, it can be
neglected. Thus, the source admittance can be simply
represented by the dynamic resistance as
S
pv
1
. Y
r
= (20)
3 DC-link voltage control
Motivation for the DC-link voltage control is not solely the
need to track the MPP: First, we examine the source affected
control-to-output current transfer function G
co
given by
in
in in
S
pv pv
in S
co 2 2
2 2 S
pv
1 1 1
1
.
1
U
U I
s
s Y
L C r R
L C U
G
Y D D
s s s s
C LC r C LC
( | |
( | |
+ ( | +
( |
|
(
\ . \ .
= =
+ + + +
(21)
It can be seen that the transfer function in Equation (21) has a
zero at an angular frequency of
z
pv pv
1 1 1
.
C R r

| |
= |
|
\ .
(22)
Based on the discussion earlier, the zero shifts from the left
half plane (LHP) to right half plane (RHP) in the complex
plane as the operating point moves from the CV region to the
CC region as defined in Equation (23).
pv pv z
pv pv z
pv pv z
CC: 0 RHP
MPP: 0 Origin
CV: 0 LHP
r R
r R
r R

> >
= =
< <
(23)
Also, the low-frequency sign of the transfer function changes
(180 degree phase shift) between the two regions.
Accordingly, output current control is marginally stable at the
MPP and stable only in the CC or CV region, not at both.
Therefore, maximum energy extraction out of a PVG is not
practically possible employing only grid-current control in the
inverter. The same phenomenon exists also in control-to-
output voltage transfer function of PV converters [9]. This
implies that feedback-controlled converter can draw
maximum power out of an energy source only by applying the
feedback from the converter source-side. In PV applications
the input voltage is controlled since input-current control is
prone to saturation due to varying solar radiation [19].
The transfer function from the output current reference to the
input voltage determining the DC-link voltage control
dynamics was given in Equation (9). Assuming infinite output
current loop gain given in Equation (6), i.e. output current
tracks reference perfectly, we can write that
out
out out out out ci ci
ci se o se o out out
out co co eq eq
1 1
.
1
L
L G G
G G U G U
L G G R R

= =
+
(24)
The assumption is valid up to the current loop gain crossover
frequency, which is typically up to few decades higher than
input voltage loop gain crossover. Therefore, the input
voltage control dynamics can be examined with a sufficient
accuracy without taking into account the current controller.
Substituting the associated transfer functions from [9] with
the effect of the source admittance into Equation (24) yields
( )
out o o
out out
ci se o out
eq
in
pv pv
1
1
.
1 1 1
L
U I Ls
LC
G G U
R
U
s
L C r R

+
=
( | |
+ ( |
|
(
\ .
(25)
The main observation is that the zero in Equation (22) is
transformed into a pole, which is quite clear since G
co
in
Equation (24) is in denominator. Since the pole is in the RHP
in the CC region of a PVG, the inverter in Fig. 1 is unstable in
the CC region without the input voltage control. In case of
RHP pole in the process, the control-loop-gain crossover
frequency has to be higher than the RHP pole frequency for
stable operation with a reasonable performance [14].
Fig. 6 shows the new control-to-input transfer function in
three regions of a PVG. The shift of the pole from LHP to
RHP between CV and CC regions is clearly visible. The low
frequency phase at the MPP is 90 degrees duo to pole at the
in-o
Z
oi-o o
T u
ci

G d
in
u
inS

i
io-o in

G i
co

G d
o-o
Y
o
u
o

d
in

i
S
Y
S

i
Figure 5: Linear two-port network model of the converter with non-ideal
source.
10
0
10
1
10
2
10
3
10
4
40
20
0
20
40
M
a
g
n
i
t
u
d
e

(
d
B
)
10
0
10
1
10
2
10
3
10
4
0
45
90
135
180
P
h
a
s
e

(
d
e
g
)
Frequency (Hz)
MPP
CC
CV
CV
MPP
CC
Figure 6: New control-to-input transfer function (Equation (25)) at three
operating points of a PVG.
Venable 3120
Control
system
AD PWM
eZdspF28335
Unfolder
230 V
50 Hz
in
u
in
i
o
u
o
i
AD
DA
6.8 V
50 Hz
Figure 7: Experimental setup.
10
0
10
1
10
2
10
3
10
4
40
20
0
10
M
a
g
n
i
t
u
d
e

(
d
B
)
10
0
10
1
10
2
10
3
10
4
90
0
90
180
P
h
a
s
e

(
d
e
g
)
Frequency (Hz)
DC
AC
Prediction
Figure 8: Measured (AC and DC loads) and predicted
out
ci
G at CV region.
origin. Also, the phase behaviour implies that the input
voltage error signal has to be generated by subtracting the
reference from the measurement as shown in Fig. 1 (i.e.
inverted control polarity). According to Equations (21) and
(22), the worst case in the input-voltage control takes place
when the converter is fed from an ideal current source at
maximum input current and minimum input voltage due to
the highest RHP pole frequency.
3.1 Input capacitor selection
Since the RHP pole is dependent on the input capacitance as
can be seen from Equation (22), new design rules have been
addressed for the selection of the input capacitor [13]. Since
the crossover frequency of the input-voltage control loop has
to be higher than the RHP pole frequency, the minimum size
for the input capacitance can be approximated by
( )
in
in-max
in-min L 0dB
.
I
C
U
> (26)
However, the crossover frequency
Lin(0dB)
cannot be
arbitrarily set. First, the control bandwidth has to be
sufficiently higher than the frequency of the MPPT algorithm
updating the voltage reference for reliable tracking. Secondly,
the power fluctuation of the single-phase grid at twice the grid
frequency causes input voltage fluctuation at the same
frequency. This AC component appears directly in the voltage
error signal, which will pollute the grid current reference with
second grid harmonic component. Therefore, sufficient
attenuation in the voltage loop is required at twice the grid
frequency. Typically input voltage control bandwidth is set to
approximately 10 - 30 Hz, allowing MPPT to update the
voltage reference e.g. once a second.
Also, any AC component in the PVG voltage will deteriorate
MPP efficiency, since the MPP is an exact single DC
operating point. However, the power variation around MPP is
small enough to allow some input voltage ripple with
acceptable MPP efficiency [19]. The ripple component of the
input capacitor voltage can be calculated by approximating
the time-varying capacitor current as given in Equation (27),
where the angle brackets denote switching cycle averaged
values and
g
is the grid angular frequency.
( ) ( )
( ) ( ) ( )
C in o
in g o g
in o g in g
2 sin 2 sin
1 cos 2 cos 2
i I d i
I D t I t
I DI t I t


=
=
= =
(27)
The peak-to-peak AC component of the capacitor voltage can
be solved by integrating the time-varying capacitor current.
Maximum peak-to-peak ripple defines minimum capacitor by
in
g C-pp
.
I
C
u
>

(28)
Commonly a large capacitor is connected at the output of the
PVG but the need for low-cost PV inverters requires
minimization of the input capacitance. The selection of the
input capacitor is a compromise between input-voltage-
control system performance, MPP efficiency and grid current
distortion. Even though the desired operating point is the
MPP, where stable input-voltage control is easily obtained,
the input voltage reference may exist in the CC region due to
MPPT error or varying environmental conditions. In such
case, unstable input-voltage controller may trigger protective
functions, which might lead to the start-stop cycles described
in [2]. Control system design at the defined worst case
operating point guarantees stable operation at any point of a
PVG within the specification.
4 Experimental results
The experimental setup is shown in Fig. 7. Properties of
artificially illuminated PVG are given in [9]. Fig. 8 shows the
new control-to-input transfer function measured at the CV
region operating point with prediction. The processing delays
lowering the high-frequency phase are taken into account.
The resulting input-voltage loop gains at three operating
points are shown in Fig. 9. The input-voltage controller was
designed at the worst case operating point with 45-degree
phase margin (PM). The PM is directly defined by the loop
phase at the gain crossover frequency due to the inverted
control scheme described earlier. The PM is increased as the
operating point moves towards the open circuit of PVG and
the phase is always positive at voltages above the MPP.
Fig. 10 shows the time-domain behaviour at the CC-region
operating point. According to the measured loop gain, the
controller gain was lowered during the operation to cause
instability. As can be seen, the converter starts to oscillate
approximately at the loop crossover frequency due to slightly
negative PM.
5 Conclusion
DC-link voltage (i.e. input voltage) control of a PV inverter
was examined in this paper. In order to study the issues
related to PV inverters, the dynamic properties of the PV
generator have to be taken into account properly. It was
shown that a VSI-based inverter fed from a current source
incorporates a RHP pole in the input-voltage control
dynamics. Stable operation can be guaranteed at any
operating point with sufficient control bandwidth or large
enough input capacitance. However, minimum input
capacitance is desired and the single-phase power fluctuation
limits the upper control bandwidth. These constraints in the
input-voltage control were discussed. Theoretical findings
were validated by experiments.
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10
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Frequency (Hz)
MPP
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Figure 9: Final loop gains measured with AC (solid lines) and DC loads
(dashed lines).
Figure 10: Unstable input voltage due to low-bandwidth control loop.
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