Solar photovoltaic (PV) resources are the most common form of distributed generation in residential and commercial customer premises within electric distribution networks. A higher penetration of PV generation in distribution circuits will impose challenges on maintaining service voltages within the range of industry standards, power quality, and power flow. Buildings consume 74% of the electricity produced in the United States, and a significant portion of the building load is dispatchable, making them responsive to electrical grid needs. Oak Ridge National Laboratory—in collaboration with Southern Company; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and the Georgia Institute of Technology—is examining the PV integration issues in distribution-level electrical grids and developing integrated demand-side control and communication systems to enable responsive loads. The proposed responsive loads mechanism performs renewable generation following to increase the penetration of solar PV within each feeder. The specific objectives of this project are to (1) examine distribution-level PV integration scenarios to understand requirements, (2) undertake an end-to-end simulation-based design of a distributed control strategy of loads geographically near the PV generation asset to minimize the effect on the distribution feeder, (3) deploy and demonstrate the control technology developed in partnership with utilities, and (4) perform a scalability analysis at the utility scale.
This 3-year integrated project aims to develop, demonstrate, and validate demand-side control technology to enable increased the penetration of renewables while mitigating challenges that arise due to their intermittency. Activities in Budget Period (BP) 1 focused on a literature review and the formal design of a control system for integrating local distribution with generation and loads. The team used modeling and simulation to evaluate the impact of varying buildings loads, variable PV generation, and power flow dynamics on the distribution circuit. The dynamic models developed in BP 1 were used in BP 2 to develop a model-based control design and a test bed. The test bed has enabled the simulation-based testing and comparison of different control designs and formulations applied to different configurations of the distribution grid, PVs, and building loads. The control approaches developed in BP 2 were implemented in BP 3 in the form of hardware deployed at the Central Baptist Church (CBC) in Knoxville, Tennessee, for testing and evaluation.
The outcome of this project was the development and demonstration of open-source, low-cost, low-touch sensing and control retrofits to distributed PV generation and building loads that, in a coordinated fashion, provide the load-shaping response needed to integrate high levels of renewable penetration. This research addresses the target metrics by dynamically controlling a load with solar generation variability to minimize the extent of two-way power flow, enhance reliability, facilitate high PV penetration (>100% of peak load in a line segment), and generate scalable software and hardware solutions adaptable to any penetration levels. The research and development activities are focused and designed to be impactful within the relevant 2020 targets time frame.
An accurate open-source integration simulation framework for end-to-end control design was developed and deployed at the CBC facility for testing and evaluation. This final report provides a detailed review of the technical results achieved during this 3-year integrated project. A novel spectral analysis of PV data is demonstrated to derive the requirements of the control design. A detailed simulation-based analysis of PV integration at increasing penetration levels is presented using 1 year of PV data to demonstrate the impact on the distribution circuits. Two different control strategies were developed and demonstrated via simulation to track variable PV generation with adaptive load dispatch. The report concludes with a summary of accomplishments and recommendations for a path forward.