Objective: To establish standards and measurement methods, and test for smart grid and microgrid Power Conditioning Systems needed to transition from today’s low penetration of nondispatchable intermittent renewable energy sources to flexible grid operations that can actively adjust to varying grid conditions.
What is the new technical idea? The term Power Conditioning System (PCS) refers to the general class of devices that use power electronics technologies to convert electric power from one form to another; for example, converting between direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC), and/or providing specific operational interface functionalities required by the subsystems being interfaced by the PCS. Many “loads” on the power grid today are already interfaced through PCSs that provide the type of electricity needed by the load and also provide valuable grid interface characteristics. Although only a fraction of the power generation on the grid today is PCS based (<<1% overall), the penetration levels of PCS-based generation and storage are increasing very rapidly due to the addition of renewable/clean energy sources that produce DC (e.g., photovoltaic and fuel cell) or variable AC (e.g., wind turbines).
Early standards and implementations for grid integration of distributed generation and storage (Distributed Energy Resources – DER) were intended for very low penetration levels and are unable to ensure grid stability and safety for high penetration levels. The new approach of this project is to use the PCS to provide an operational interface for DER that better meets these needs, enabling higher penetration levels and increased value proposition of the DER devices. This NIST project leads the international effort to coordinate standards and test for PCS-based utility interactive grid support functions provided by DER (“Smart Inverters”). The project is also spearheading the advancement of standards and test for future PCS-based grid architectures using microgrids to enable very high penetration level of DER, better grid resiliency, and more rapid grid restoration and recovery.
What is the research plan? This NIST project addresses the critical standards and metrology gaps needed to support the transformation to high penetration levels of PCS-based distributed generators, storage and microgrids. The project is enabling DER to be used as multifunctional operational assets to manage local and regional grid operations including the ability to island portions of the grid into resilient self-sustainable microgrids. Microgrids manage their own local resources and operations in both grid connected and islanded mode, and appear as a single controllable entity to the larger grid. Microgrids are an architectural construct that enable multilevel distributed control of the rapidly increasing numbers of DERs, controllable loads and other intelligent electric devices that are being connected to the grid.
The project plan has two tasks that address: 1) standards for advanced interface functionalities of PCS-based generators, storage, and microgrids, and 2) application integration through conformity and interoperability testing and transition to demonstrations. The first Task is accomplished by leveraging the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) Distributed Renewables, Generators and Storage (DRGS) Domain Expert Working Group (DEWG) led by this NIST project. To accomplish the second task, the project is designing and constructing and operating the Microgrid/PCS Interoperability Testbed within NIST Smart Grid Testbed (located in the basement of building 220).
The Microgrid/PCS Interoperability Testbed enables testing interoperability of PCSbased devices and controllers in microgrid scenarios. The lab also includes electrical interconnection and information exchange with devices and systems from other Smart Grid Projects located in adjacent labs within the overall Smart Grid Testbed. The Microgrid/PCS Interoperability Testbed is being configured to support four different scales of microgrids:
- Thrust A (residential customer microgrid)
- Thrust B (light commercial facility microgrid)
- Thrust C (DC microgrids)
- Thrust D (heavycommercial and industrial microgrids)
Each Thrust will consist of the following four phases:
- Phase 1: power equipment configuration and safety
- Phase 2: microgrid equipment configuration and testing
- Phase 3: adjacent lab equipment interconnection, safety and testing
- Phase 4: transition microgrid/PCS equipment to demonstrations, eg.,microgrid equipment and smart inverters in netzero house