DOE funds research into grid-forming PV inverter controls
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- Jan 8, 2021 11:32 am GMTJan 7, 2021 11:37 pm GMT
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A team of researchers from Binghamton University has been selected to receive $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to develop ways to reliably support higher amounts of solar power on the grid.
The three-year project will focus on advanced grid-forming photovoltaic (PV) inverter control technologies so that the renewable energy source can be more efficiently and reliably integrated with electricity generated by coal, natural gas or other non-renewable methods.
The ultimate goal of the research is to demonstrate a new grid-forming control algorithm at a 1 megawatt hybrid PV plant at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. The proposed controls will be scalable and replicable to multiple hybrid PV plants.
The project will support SETO’s goal to enable the hybrid PV systems to contribute to the reliability of the U.S. electric grid as well as the goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030 set by New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
Serving as principal investigator is Associate Professor Ziang “John” Zhang, who said, “We are living in a world where more energy is coming from renewables. How can we make the power system as stable as the one we use today?
He said the challenge is that today’s power system uses synchronous generators that have been well studied for decades, as we know how they will behave under different conditions — as a rotating mass, a synchronous generator following Newton’s Law of Motion. However, renewable energies such as a PV system connect to the power system through an inverter, which will behave based on the control software.”
One issue facing the Binghamton team, he said, is that alternating current generated by traditional methods is able to naturally synchronize with existing power on the grid if the electricity is properly fed into it. A large amount of renewable energy in the grid could cause problems if we don’t have thorough understanding of how these inverters will behave under different grid conditions.