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By Farid Katiraei

and Julio Romero Agero

of the fastest-growing types of renewable energy sources being integrated worldwide onto distri-
bution systems. Many North American utilities, governed by state or provincial incentives and/or
mandated by green-generation portfolio requirements, are facing installations of large PV plants
with capacities in the order of several megavoltamperes (MVAs) that are owned either by the utility
or by private power producers.
The large number of interconnection requests has spurred utilities to develop screening meth-
ods that can quickly identify cases with no (or minimal) impact on the distribution system versus
those applications requiring in-depth engineering studies. Typical study areas include investi-
gating possible adverse impacts on the power quality, protection coordination, and operation of
distribution feeders.
As part of new PV-DG plant interconnection impact
studiesand in addition to typical steady-state voltage
Studies for Utility-Scale and power flow analysessome utilities are requir-
ing in-depth investigation of potential dynamic impacts
Photovoltaic Distributed of inherently variable PV-DG units on transient feeder
voltages under various load and generation conditions.

Generation These studies may also be tasked with determining

interactions with distribution equipment such as an
increase in the operation of line-voltage regulators and
substation tap changers and change in status (on/off) of
capacitor banks.
This article introduces new study tools and methodologies to help utility engineers investi-
gate the potential impact of these new types of generation on the grid. In addition, it will help
engineers pursue remedial actions to reduce the barriers related to PV-DG interconnection
while preventing adverse impacts on the integrity and power quality of the grid.

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MPE.2011.940579

Date of publication: 21 April 2011

62 IEEE power & energy magazine 1540-7977/11/$26.002011 IEEE may/june 2011

may/june 2011 IEEE power & energy magazine 63
PV-DG in North America Medium-Scale PV-DG
PV-DG plants dot the southwestern United States, where Capacities range from 101,000 kW and include installa-
natural conditions favor exploiting solar resources. The pro- tions on small or large buildings (e.g., residential complexes,
liferation of PV-DG has not been limited to this region, how- retail stores, government sites, and other buildings). Their
ever; states as far north as Vermont and Maine and some typical interconnection configuration depends on the capac-
provinces in Canada are also experiencing a rise in PV-DG. ity of the PV-DG system. Larger plants (those with capaci-
It is due to economic and regulatory factors that the vast ties in the hundreds of kW) may typically have installations
majority of these plants are interconnected to the existing similar to those of utility-size PV-DG plants, including
distribution system in the form of PV-DG instead of to the separate interconnection transformers, with the main dif-
transmission grid. PV-DG may be broadly classified into ference being the nominal ratings of associated equipment
three types, as described below. (e.g., transformers and switches). Smaller plants in which
the PV-DG capacity is comparable to the load may have
Utility-Scale PV-DG typical installations similar to those of small-scale PV-DG
Megawatt (MW)-size plantse.g., 110 MWare either units, using the existing customer transformers, possibly
directly connected to conventional feeders or to distribu- with minor changes in the interconnection.
tion substations via dedicated (express) feeders. Utility-
scale PV-DG has nominal capacities compatible with Small-Scale PV-DG
substation ratings or manageable by medium-voltage Capacities range up to 10 kW. This category mainly includes
distribution feeders (e.g., 12.47-kV feeders). These types distributed rooftop PV-DG units installed at customer resi-
of installations are three phase and typically require one dences and connected to secondary lines (120/240 V). The
or more interconnection transformers. A MW-size PV-DG PV-DG system is usually single phase and can produce
plant generally includes several power-electronic inverter more or less electricity than required by the customers load.
modules connected in parallelusually called power con- Typical installations do not require an interconnection trans-
version systems (PCSs)that vary in size depending on former. To reduce complexity in utility studies, many North
the model and manufacturer (see Figure 1). Each PCS is American utilities lump the PV-DG units installed on a com-
equipped with internal and external protection schemes mon circuit and/or connected to a pole-mounted transformer
such as fast overcurrent protection and under and overvolt- together and represent them by an aggregated PV-DG unit.
age and frequency safeguards, as well as active anti-island Figure 2 shows such a typical aggregation area for small
protection schemes to prevent the PV-DG plant from feed- rooftop PV-DGs.
ing power to the grid in the event that the utility grid con-
nection is lost. Need for PV-DG Impact Studies
Distribution systems have traditionally been designed to
operate in a radial fashion, and it is well known that the
interconnection of distributed generation may cause impacts
1 MW PCS that need to be studied and planned for. Since the passage
dc/ac 480 V 12.47 kV of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) in
Inverter #2 #1 1978, typical applications of distributed generation have
dc/ac consisted of reciprocating engines or small hydro plants
Inverter Y- whose ac power injection is relatively constant and require
only a transformer for interconnection to the distribution
480 V 12.47 kV system. As expected, the proliferation of PV-DGwhich
#2 #1 has intermittent resource characteristics that vary the power
(1 MW) output throughout the day and requires the conversion of
Y- dc generation to ac power via invertersrepresents a less
. .
480 V 12.47 kV .
. Pole-
#2 #1
PCS 10 Mounted
(1 MW) Transformer

10 MW PV-DG Plant 2 x 120 Vac

Secondary Circuit

figure 1. Utility-scale PV-DG plant (PCC signifies point of

common connection). figure 2. Aggregation of small, rooftop PV-DG units.

64 IEEE power & energy magazine may/june 2011

Voltage rise and fluctuations have a direct impact
on feeder voltage profiles, which can lead to frequent operation of
LTCs, line VRs, and voltage-controlled capacitor banks.

familiar challenge for distribution utilities and can give rise overcurrent and overvoltage protection, including
to impacts requiring different responses than those of con- misoperation of overcurrent protection equipment and
ventional DG. temporary overvoltage (TOV)
Due to the variability caused by passing clouds, PV-DG change in electric losses, where relatively large re-
can significantly affect volt/var control, power quality, and verse power flow may increase losses
system operation. Some of these impacts can only be inves- variations in power factor of a feeder or system, which
tigated through dynamic/transient studies that include the may have economic impacts on local distribution com-
time-varying behavior of fast-acting generation (inverters), panies purchasing power from larger utilities
load, and automatic voltage-control devices on the feeders. reliability and operation of the system.
Given the complexity of such studies and the fact that the The severity of these impacts varies with the penetration level,
proliferation of this type of DG is fairly recent, the body of the location of the PV-DG, and the electrical characteristics
work in this field is sparse, impacts and mitigation measures of the distribution systems. For instance, a high PV-DG pen-
are more difficult to identify, and utilities are less prepared to etration level could cause a feeder to become an active circuit
deal with them. Furthermore, for small-scale PV-DG, study- and inject power back to the transmission system. This high-
ing the problem is increasingly complex because of uncer- penetration condition may affect voltage profiles, overcur-
tainty about the location and timeline of market penetration rent protection, and capacitor-bank operation. Such a situa-
as well as the potential interactions with emerging active tion may occur on feeders selected for integrating multiple
loads such as electric vehicles (EVs). utility-scale PV-DG plants. Because both PV-DG output and
Impact studies are generally intended for quantifying the feeder load vary throughout the day, it is necessary to inves-
extent of the issues and providing utilities with guidelines, tigate impacts for different degrees of penetration of PV-DG
tools, and processes with which to manage the expected and also to assess the effects under various conditions of
steady-state and dynamic transient impacts of PV-DG. Most feeder loading. Study scenarios should account for seasonal
important, these studies can assess mitigation measures for PV-DG fluctuations and such variations in feeder loading.
any problems discovered and determine the cost and effec-
tiveness of alternative solutions. The proliferation of PV-DG Impact Studies
is expected to continue through the next decade and beyond; The typical scope of work for PV-DG impact studies
therefore, it is critical for distribution utilities to understand includes:
the associated impacts of integrating PV-DG plants on dis- 1) identifying the local and/or systemwide impacts of
tribution system planning and operation. Depending on the PV-DG on the power distribution grid
degree of PV-DG deployment, impacts can be local (e.g., at 2) providing utility customers with guidelines regarding
individual feeder or substation level) or systemwide (e.g., the expected impacts as a function of the penetration
affecting several feeders and substations across the utilitys level of PV-DG
service territory and including subtransmission and trans- 3) assessing potential mitigation measures for any prob-
mission facilities). lem discovered during the study.
PV-DG impacts on distribution systems can be either Additional tasks may include:
steady-state or dynamic in nature, and they include: 1) verifying models, such as performing PV inverter
changes in feeder voltage profiles, including voltage tests in a laboratory environment to develop a detailed
rise and unbalance computational model representing the dynamic char-
changes in feeder loading, including potential equip- acteristics of vendor-specific devices
ment and component overload 2) developing best-practice interconnection guidelines
frequent operation of voltage-control and regulation for PV-DG readiness studies.
devices, such as load tap changers (LTCs), line voltage The main objectives of impact studies are to:
regulators (VRs), and capacitor banks 1) quantify steady-state impacts
reactive-power flow fluctuations due to operation of 2) quantify dynamic impacts
switched capacitor banks 3) determine remedial measures.
power quality, PV-DG intermittency may lead to volt- Steady-state impacts are estimated via distribution soft-
age fluctuation issues ware analysis, and they require running batch processes

may/june 2011 IEEE power & energy magazine 65

length, and customer density).
Identify Results for each characteristic
Representative Conduct Steady-State feeder can then be extrapolated to
Feeders Systemwide Analysis
for Small- and Medium- its respective cluster to determine
Scale PV-DG expected impacts on the overall
Validate Steady- Power Flow
State Feeder
utility system for a variety of pen-
Validate/Verify Models etration scenarios.
Inverter Models Conduct Steady-State Finally, systemwide studies
Individual Analysis for
Utility-Scale PV-DG may investigate potential interac-
Develop tion effects with EVs and other
Validate/Verify Guidelines and technologies such as distributed
Dynamic Feeder Extrapolate to energy storage. Systemwide stud-
Models Represent Utility
System ies are used, for instance, when
utilities want to evaluate the wide-
spread impact of the massive pro-
Conduct Dynamic/ Dynamic/ Develop
Transient Analyses for Transient Conclusions and liferation of small-scale PV-DG
Utility-Scale PV-DG Analyses Recommendations units. This is primarily because
the individual unit-level impacts
figure 3. Generalized approach for PV-DG impact studies on distribution systems. of small installations usually are
not significant, whereas they do
for analyzing a variety of PV-DG outputs at correspond- become noticeable and of interest for moderate to large
ing feeder loading conditions at various times of the day, penetration levels. In that situation, the systemwide stud-
month, or year. Such simulations may require analyzing ies can assess the aggregated effect of a multitude of these
only worst-case scenarios or more comprehensive analy- units with locations distributed along various feeders and
ses (e.g., 8,760 hours of the year). Dynamic impacts are substations across the utilitys territory.
estimated by means of detailed modeling and simula- Assessing PV-DG impacts requires the intensive use of
tions conducted for worst-case but feasible scenarios. The computer simulations. Addressing various types of impacts
dynamic studies incorporate control-system behavior and necessitates concurrent use of steady-state and dynamic
response times (second or minute based) for feeder appa- simulation tools. A new simulation study terminology,
ratus and generation. quasi-static analysis, is emerging that involves time-series
Impact studies can be of local or systemwide scope. statistical studies and solving sequential power flows per
Localized studies address impacts of PV-DG on a specific time step of interest within a prespecified time frame. For
feeder or substation. These studies usually have the objective example, the objective of an impact study might be to
of identifying impacts and mitigation measures for intercon- determine the potential effect of adding a PV-DG plant to
nection of one or several utility-scale PV-DG plants onto a a feeder on the number of LTC operations. Therefore, one
specific feeder of a substation. They tend to be deterministic will need to run 480 min-based power flow simulations
in nature because first, it is usually feasible to obtain load to capture the effect of voltage variations caused by the
and PV data and evaluate impacts under a variety of realistic PV-DG plant on the tap changer position during eight hours
feeder loading and solar radiation conditions and second, the of daily light. The study results can be used to calculate
location and characteristics of large PV-DG installations are expected changes in the total number of LTC operations per
commonly known in advance based on the interconnection representative day by comparing two cases: no PV and with
request made to the utility. PV. The study may need to be repeated per day for an entire
Systemwide studies address impacts on the overall util- year to incorporate monthly and seasonal variations in load
ity power distribution systems for a set of what if sce- and PV generation.
narios that consider growing market penetration levels. Figure 3 presents an overall impact study methodol-
These studies deal with uncertainties about the location, ogy that can be used in conducting both local and system-
timeline, and characteristics (e.g., installed capacity) of wide PV-DG studies. The red blocks represent steady-state
PV-DG plants. They typically include a mix of different analyses and the blue blocks represent dynamic/transient
types of PV-DG, with a considerable amount of small-scale studies; these studies are complementary and synergetic.
residential units. Generally, it may not be feasible from an Steady-state studies can be conducted using commercial
economic standpoint to study and evaluate the impacts on distribution software. They may require analyzing numerous
all utility feeders. Hence, study approaches may be targeted combinations of PV-DG output and feeder loading condi-
at identifying and studying a set of characteristic feed- tions, however. This can be a time-consuming task if auto-
ers only. Each characteristic feeder represents a cluster of mated tools for batch-file processes are not available. On the
feeders with similar features (e.g., voltage levels, loading, other hand, dynamic transient studies involve specialized

66 IEEE power & energy magazine may/june 2011

This article introduces new study tools and
methodologies to help utility engineers investigate the potential
impact of these new types of generation on the grid.

electromagnetic transient tools commonly used for electro- impacts. In this case, an express feeder may be built to con-
magnetic transient analyses or protection system studies but nect the PV-DG plant directly to the substation. Figure 5
unfamiliar to distribution engineers. Figure 3 shows that shows a substation that includes an express feeder and sev-
studies start with identifying the representative feeders (for eral conventional feeders. Typically, there is no load on
systemwide studies) or the feeder to be analyzed (for local- the express feeder. The PV generation is consumed by the
ized studies). adjacent feeders of the substation. One of the conventional
Depending on the relative size of a PV-DG plant with feeders, which includes automatic voltage control devices
respect to the feeder load and ratings, the PV-DG may be (here, a voltage regulator and capacitor bank), is also rep-
connected to an existing conventional feeder or a dedicated resented to investigate the impact of changes in the LTC
(express) feeder. Figure 4 shows a schematic diagram of a tap position (due to PV plant output variations) on the volt-
conventional feeder that includes a 2-MW PV-DG plant at ages and operation of the adjacent feeder. The equivalent
the end of the feeder. There are two VRs (VR1 and VR2) load of the rest of the neighbor feeders connecting to the
on the path to the PV plant (along the feeder trunk) and same substation is also included in the boundary of the
a switched capacitor bank (Cap 1) on an adjacent branch study to maintain realistic substation transformer loading.
close to the PV-DG plant. An impact study for this feeder
should investigate, among other things, any potential effect Steady-State Analyses
of changes in the feeder voltages and power flow on the for Utility-Scale PV-DG
operations of VR1, VR2, and Cap 1. Blue arrows show the For utility-scale PV-DG, simulations are conducted for each
direction of active power flow based on the amount of load representative feeder or for a particular feeder based on a
and PV generation per feeder section. Bidirectional power PV interconnection request. For the latter case, there may
flow is expected for the majority of the feeder, including the be two or more interconnection requests in the queue for
power through VR1 and VR2. Immediately upstream of the the feeder in question; however, utility preference is nor-
first recloser (RC1), there is sufficient load due to the loading mally to study the plants interconnection in the order that
of the adjacent branch to make power flow unidirectional applications are submitted by assuming addition of one PV
under all circumstances. VR con-
trols based on cogeneration and/
or bidirectional operation modes
may be considered and studied PV M4 C1
for VR1 and VR2. Also, there
is a potential for zero mismatch Cap1
between PV generation and load PV2 PV1
Vr2s Vr2p
downstream of RC1 that may 2 MW
affect anti-islanding protection of C3 VR2
the PV-DG plant upon acciden- M6
tal switching of RC1. Therefore,
islanding studies may be required C2
to determine disconnection time M5
Substation Cap2 Vr1s
of PV-DG and the maximum tem- M3
porary overvoltages (TOVs) that RC2 VR1
the operation of RC1 may cause. Vr1p
Utilities may suggest imple- M1 M2
menting dedicated feeders to
accom modate a la rge PV-DG Adjacent Measurement Point
plant when it is not feasible Feeders Load LTC or Voltage Regulator
Capacitor Banks Recloser
to connect the plant onto the
conventional feeders due to an
expectation of numerous adverse figure 4. Conventional feeder with a PV-DG plant.

may/june 2011 IEEE power & energy magazine 67

plant at a time. When the next PV interconnection applica- 1) a detailed distribution feeder model, including set-
tion is considered for review and study, the base case will tings of voltage control and regulation equipment
then include any previously studied and approved PV-DG 2) a typical PV-DG injection profile (monthly and annual
plants on the feeder. average)
The objective of steady-state simulations is to analyze 3) PV-DG capacity in kW
feeder voltage profiles, equipment loading, power flows, 4) 8,760-hour feeder load data.
and losses for the base case (without PV or with only pre- If available, additional information, such as the status of
viously connected PV-DG plants) and after interconnection capacitor banks and typical customer power factors, can
of a newly proposed PV-DG plant. Furthermore, simula- improve the accuracy of the results.
tions capture the number of operations for LTCs, line volt-
age regulators, and capacitor banks. Study results estimate Potential Steady-State
the annual operation increases and assess potential impacts Impacts and Concerns
on equipment maintenance. Numerous simulations may be Some of the most common expected impacts of PV-DG on
required to model different scenarios involving variations in the distribution system include the following.
load and PV generation. The inputs required for these analy-
ses include: Reverse Power Flow
Proliferation of PV-DG can lead to reverse power-flow con-
ditions at section, feeder, and substation levels, as shown in
Four Miles Figure 6. Reverse power flow can negatively affect protection
PV Express Feeder coordination and operation of line voltage regulators. Under
Plant high-penetration scenarios, the total PV-DG output will
6 MW likely offset the feeder load. The power flow direction will be
LTC reversed, and the feeder will start exporting power to neigh-
Conventional Feeder M1
bor feeders or to the transmission system. Because distribu-
M2 tion feeders are typically designed for unidirectional power
flows, this situation may noticeably affect the overcurrent
protection coordination of the distribution system. Therefore,
to account for possible reverse power flow, specific studies
Feeders must be done on a feeder-by-feeder basis to select the most
Load adequate protection strategy and design if high penetration of
utility-scale PV-DG plants is expected. Reverse power flow
Measurement Point can also affect the operation of VRs, and they must be evalu-
LTC or Voltage Regulator
ated under control modes that allow bidirectional power flow
Capacitor Banks Recloser (e.g., cogeneration or bidirectional modes) to avoid poten-
tial voltage violations. Note that PV-DG may cause reverse
power flow during the daytime. Hence, any selected operation
figure 5. System schematic for express feeder studies.
mode for voltage regulators should be truly bidirectional and
assessed for no-PV cases with opposite power flow expected
at night or low-PV generation conditions.

Reverse Power Flow Voltage Rise

Versus PV-DG Penetration Level and Fluctuations
Some of the most notorious impacts of PV-DGs are voltage
Normalized Apparent Power

1.0 rise and voltage variations due to output intermittency. Both
20% issues worsen as the penetration level of PV-DG increases.
0.5 30% The effects are particularly evident and problematic when
0.0 50% large PV-DG plants are connected near the end of long,

60% lightly loaded feeders. Figure 7 shows an example of the

0.5 70%
80% PV-DG impact on a feeder voltage profile. The magnitude of
1.0 90% the voltage rise depends on the configuration of each feeder
and the location of the PV-DG and capacitor banks. Some
Hour solutions for mitigating this impact are to:
1) modify the control settings of capacitor banks to
figure 6. Reverse power flow for various penetration levels ensure that they are off during maximum PV-DG
of PV-DG. output

68 IEEE power & energy magazine may/june 2011

Dynamic studies for PV-DG integration typically
analyze the effects of fast-varying phenomena caused by
the PV-DG or initiated on the system.

2) avoid using fixed capacitor banks surplus power of the PV-DG plants (after subtracting local
3) lower the voltage reference on LTCs and line voltage and downstream load). Similarly, it is necessary to verify that
regulators. the ratings of distribution switchgears and equipment are not
A more effective solution is to operate the PV-DG plants at exceeded. In some cases, particularly for large penetration
nonunity leading power factors (absorbing VArs). levels, reconductoring of some sections may be necessary.
Figure 9 shows the loading of the initial section of 15 differ-
Interaction with Capacitor Banks, ent feeders as a function of the penetration level of PV-DG.
LTCs, and Line VRs Here, for low to moderate penetration levels, PV-DG offsets
Voltage rise and fluctuations have a direct impact on feeder the load and decreases section loading. At high penetrations,
voltage profiles, which can lead to frequent operation of however, the section loading is increased, as the PV-DG con-
LTCs, line VRs, and voltage-controlled capacitor banks. tribution is larger than the base load.
This may cause additional step-voltage changes. Due to typi-
cal delays associated with the control methodology of these Increase in Power Losses
devices (e.g., 3090 s), minute-based step-voltage varia- The impact of PV-DG on losses is similar to that on sec-
tions may be experienced. In addition, more frequent opera- tion loading. For low to moderate penetration levels, line
tion shortens the expected life cycle of these devices and losses tend to decrease until they reach a minimum. For
increases maintenance requirements. In the special case of
using line-drop compensation (LDC) for LTCs or line VRs,
the voltage impact may become more significant because Voltage Profile (PU)
voltage regulation is a function of line current, which is off- 1.05
set by the PV-DG plants. 1.03
Voltage (PU)

Reactive Power Fluctuations 1.00
Frequent on-off switching of voltage-controlled capacitor 0.99 No Caps
banks and frequent operation of LTCs and line VRs lead to 0.98 Caps
0.97 PV-DG
reactive power flow fluctuations. If the penetration level of 0.96
PV-DG plants is large and widespread, this may also affect 0.95
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
subtransmission and transmission systems. The disconnec- Distance from Substation (Miles)
tion of capacitor banks implies that this reactive power has
to be supplied by the transmission system. This can have
figure 7. Impact of PV-DG on feeder voltage profile.
important economic impacts for large penetration levels
of PV-DG, given that transmitting reactive power is more
expensive than supplying it locally. It also has various impli-
Reactive Power Fluctuation
cations for distribution substations and transmission lines, 0.8
such as increasing losses and substation/transmission line 0.6
Reactive Power (MVAR)

loading. Figure 8 shows an example of reactive power fluc- 0.4

tuations on a distribution feeder caused by the operation of 0.0
a voltage-controlled capacitor bank due to a PV-DGdriven 0.2
voltage rise. 0.6
Modification of Feeder 1.0 Without PV-DG
1.2 With PV-DG
Section Loading 1.4
The location of the PV-DG can significantly affect the

loading of feeder sections. Therefore, before installing Hour

utility-scale PV-DG plants, it is necessary to verify that
the feeder sections located between the PV-DG plants and figure 8. Reactive power fluctuations due to interconnec-
substation have enough available capacity to distribute the tion of PV-DG.

may/june 2011 IEEE power & energy magazine 69

Solar photovoltaic distributed generation systems are one of the
fastest-growing types of renewable energy sources being integrated
worldwide onto conventional distribution systems

high PV-DG penetration levels, line losses tend to increase Dynamic Analysis
for several reasons. For instance, the loading of distribu- and Effects
tion lines under high PV-DG penetration may be greater Dynamic studies for PV-DG integration typically analyze the
than the normal feeder loading conditions. Another reason effects of fast-varying (transient) phenomena caused by the
may be the lack of local reactive power supply via capacitor PV-DG (e.g., generation intermittency due to cloud move-
banks (if they have been switched off due to voltage rise). ments) or initiated on the system (e.g., following faults and
Moreover, the nodal voltage increase caused by high PV-DG subsequent switching). The time frame of interest may vary
penetration will increase the no-load losses of distribution from subminute to several hours with very fine time steps
transformers. Figure 10 shows a plot of feeder losses as a that can capture the dynamic behavior and response time of
function of the penetration level of PV-DG. The results show the feeder equipment, including PV inverters (typically with
the initial decreasing trend of losses until they reach a mini- subsecond steps), automatic voltage control devices (with
mum and then an increase until they exceed the losses for the subminute or minute steps), and loads.
base case (no PV-DG). Dynamic analysis generally covers study cases for light
and heavy load conditions such as sudden connection and
disconnection (tripping) of a PV-DG plant; quick, large
fluctuations of the PV-DG output due to intermittency; and
Feeder Loading Versus PV-DG accidental islanding of part of a feeder downstream of an
Penetration Level automatic switching device (a recloser or remote-controlled
Loading (% of Themal Rating)

F1 F6 F11 switch). The main study objectives are usually to determine
100 F2 F7 F12 the impact of PV-DG integration on voltage transients and
F3 F8 F13
80 F4 F9 F14
power quality (e.g., voltage sags, swells, and flicker) and/

F5 F10 F15 or PV-DG behavior during faults and system dynamics.

Such studies typically include potential interactions of con-
40 ventional and nonconventional voltage control devices on
20 a feeder.
Figure 11 shows a proposed study methodology for
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 dynamic analysis. Color coding is used to relate overall
PV-DG Penetration (%) process flow blocks (on the right) to the specific steps (on
the left) for each stage of the study. The approach starts with
figure 9. Feeder section loading as a function of PV-DG developing and verifying a base-case dynamic feeder model
penetration level. including control aspects of automatic voltage regulation
devices and generic or vendor-specific PV inverter models.
No-PV study cases refer to the base-case situation of the
feeder prior to adding a newly proposed PV-DG plant. The
Plss (kW) base-case model may include any existing generation plant
90 0%
80 10% (conventional or nonconventional) and is used to determine
70 20% initial feeder conditions such as the status of capacitor
60 30%
40% banks and tap changer positions for LTCs or VRs. In the

50% next step, prespecified PV study scenarios are simulated.

40 60%
30 70% Two main groups of study cases are normally defined:
20 80% studies involving PV-DG output variations and
10 90%
100% investigating their impact on feeder voltages and

Hour case studies intended to assess the effects of tran-

sients and subsequent switching initiated on the
figure 10. Feeder losses as a function of PV-DG penetra- feeder on the PV-DG operation to determine any ad-
tion level. verse power-quality consequences.

70 IEEE power & energy magazine may/june 2011

Common examples of the lat-
ter category are fault studies and Prepare and
No PV Studies: Initial Conditions
islanding studies. Verify
As show n i n Fig u re 11, With PV Studies: Use Solar Radiation Profiles Basic Feeder
dynamic studies are also used to and Load Changes (light/heavy loads)
assess the effectiveness of com-
monly known mitigation mea- a) Effect on feeder voltages and Switching/ Run No-PV Case and
expected range of variations Islanding Compare: Voltages
sures or determine case-specific
b) Interactions with cap bank controllers (IEEE 1547 Taps and Caps Status
solutions. Examples of commonly and/or tap changers Protection)
discussed mitigation solutions c) Impact of reverse power flow on
include: operation mode of voltage regulators Simulate
changing the power factor a) Identifying possible feeder Islanding scenarios PV Study
(islanded areas and local/generation mismatch) Scenarios
of a PV-DG plant accord-
b) Temporary over voltage (TOV) issues based on
ing to the load and/or volt-
typical PV plant disconnection time
age measurements at the Check
point of PV-DG connection a) Identifying at various power factors Mitigation
b) Change in VR control modes and settings Methods
(the power-factor adjust-
c) Select optimum power factor to minimize losses
ments may be prescheduled
or performed in a dynamic
fashion to provide reactive figure 11. Proposed approach for PV-DG dynamic studies.
power compensation)
changing the set points or control modes of volt- tection) targeted to enhance the interaction of utility-scale
age regulators and capacitor banks to accommodate PV-DG plants with the grid and provide the means for coor-
bidirectional power flow and the effects of volt- dinated control and operation through localized or utility-
age and current fluctuations introduced by PV-DG wide supervisory control systems.
plants Presently, another major obstacle to performing PV-DG
adding a ground bank or fast ground overvoltage pro- dynamic analysis is the lack of high-resolution PV and load
tection scheme at the PV-DG site to prevent feeding data specific to the study area and for an extended period of
the load on an ungrounded system subsequent to faults time. Utilities typically have good load measurement data
and accidental switching. at the substation level based on 5- or 10-min averages. One
For specific dynamic impacts, some customized and/or rarely finds subminute (1-, 5-, or 10-s) data resolutions for
complex mitigation methods may need to be developed and load and solar radiation in various regions of a utility distri-
examined to ensure applicability. bution territory, however. The need for high-resolution data
has been realized by many North American utilities involved
Need and with PV-DG integration, and work is currently under way to
Future Direction install and/or enhance the monitoring equipment on distri-
There is an urgent need for systematic interconnection stud- bution systems so that it can collect data with high preci-
ies due to the proliferation of utility-scale PV-DG and high- sion. Eventually, utilities will likely build data repositories
penetration PV integration scenarios. These studies need to of actual field measurement data for selected (or represen-
cover various steady-state and dynamic aspects of distribu- tative) areas in their systems for which a high penetration
tion feeders operation under the new generation and load of emerging loads (e.g., EV) or generation (e.g., PV and/or
regime. Several North American and international organi- wind) may be expected.
zations have established task forces and working groups
(e.g., the IEEE 1547.7 and 1547.8 groups) to define study For Further Reading
methodologies and recommend modeling approaches for S. Wilcox and C. A. Gueymard. (2010). Spatial and tem-
the design and analysis of distributed generation integra- poral variability of the solar resource in the United States.
tion. Part of the collaborative effort among utilities, PV [Online]. Available:
inverter manufacturers, and industry experts involved in variability/Documentation/ASES_47760_final.pdf
this area also focuses on investigating and suggesting new
control capabilities through PV inverters. The next genera- Biographies
tion of PV inverters is intended to provide a variety of new Farid Katiraei is with Quanta Technology.
control features (e.g., voltage regulation, power curtail- Julio Romero Agero is with Quanta Technology.
ment, ramp-rate control, and communication-assisted pro- p&e

may/june 2011 IEEE power & energy magazine 71