Characterization of Voltage Stabilization Functions of Residential PV Inverters in a Power Hardware-in-the-Loop Environment

The exponential growth of Photovoltaic (PV) technology is creating concerns for electric grid operators. As PV penetration increases, overvoltage in the distribution network can occur due to a mismatch between PV generation and load demand. However, PV smart inverters can be part of the solution to stabilize grid voltage. By providing reactive power and other grid supporting functions, PV inverters in a distribution network can mitigate this problem and enable a higher integration of renewable energy. To accomplish this, characterization and testing of advanced functions must be performed at a small scale before deploying these strategies in the field. In this work, we described in detail the components and communication interfaces of a Hardware-in-the-Loop testbed that includes two 3.8 kW PV inverters from different manufacturers. We conducted efficiency tests on the inverters and characterized the grid supporting functions for grid voltage stabilization, specifically constant power factor, volt-var, and volt-watt. We identified some abnormalities in the operation of the volt-var-watt control in one of the inverters and presented a method to overcome the limitation in remote control of another inverter using Modbus communication. Identifying, understanding, and overcoming shortcomings on the operation of PV smart inverters that provide grid supporting functions is key for the quick adoption of this technology and can help regulatory agencies to determine what is the appropriate control mode that will facilitate higher PV capacity. Additionally, we discuss the economic and technical implications of operating the inverter in active or reactive power grid control.
This article was originally published in IEEE Access. The version of record is available at:
Device hunting, grid power priority, hardware-in-the-loop, IEEE 1547, renewable energy integration, smart inverters, volt-var, volt-watt
T. Kaewnukultorn, S. B. Sepúlveda-Mora and S. Hegedus, "Characterization of Voltage Stabilization Functions of Residential PV Inverters in a Power Hardware-in-the-Loop Environment," in IEEE Access, vol. 10, pp. 114802-114813, 2022, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2022.3217472.