With an increased amount of generation sources and storage elements distributed across the consumer grid, there are becoming significant issues to manage this bi-directional power flow. As more renewable sources come on line, this will create further challenges for the grid system. Microgrids provide an opportunity to support the grid to intelligently deal with these issues, operating both on and off-grid.
Control of Microgrids
We have developed primary control systems for off-grid and grid-connected microgrids, both AC and DC. This allowed microgrids to be formed in a redundant manner so that if one unit fails the system can continue to operate. The controllers can operate for sources and storage elements and can be paralleled to allowed modular interfaces to operate on these elements. When combined with a secondary control level, they can also be used to send power between elements on the same network enabling peer-to-peer electricity trading.
Design Optimisation of Hybrid Renewable Systems
Working with a partner in Nepal, we have developed a methodology utilising two software packages to support the design and optimisation of a hybrid microgrid. This methodology was used in two case studies in remote Nepali communities, where grid access will never be possible. An optimised design was proposed for each site. In one site at Mityal, Palpa, a smaller version of the proposed hybrid system was successfully installed, thanks to external funding.
As with standard power systems, multiple voltage levels depending on the amount power transmission can be used within a microgrid. We have investigated how power can be transferred through these multi-tier microgrids, finding that the standard primary control is still able to operate in this set-up with the tier-linking converters operating in a bi-directional mode. We are working with partners in Brazil to design, test and implement DC microgrid solutions based on off-the-shelf and in-house power converters in a hardware-in-the-loop DC microgrid laboratory.
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