The existing distribution grid is facing a number of technical challenges in order to accommodate the increasing penetration of photovoltaic generation units. Voltage unbalances, thermal overloads, and over-voltage issues are just a few of them that arise with high levels of photovoltaic penetration.

EnergyVille offers as an independent research institute different solutions to these problems. Using the expertise in modelling and simulating distribution grids with high penetration of renewables, new control techniques on the level of the local grid, the end consumer or the photovoltaic system are provided. Different options, like adding storage units, including tap changing transformers, integration of communication between converters,… are investigated and compared. On photovoltaic system level, one of the key elements in this research at EnergyVille is the development of smart inverters. The features of these inverters such as reactive power control, unbalanced injection, voltage and frequency control will play a major role in the operation of the future distribution grid.

Advantages

Identifying and solving technical integration issues of photovoltaics in electrical systems

By being active as a leading partner in important research projects like Linear (see back), the EnergyVille team has gained an extensive expertise in the field of photovoltaic integration in distribution systems and smart grids. EnergyVille can therefore be your partner for accelerating your R&D path towards developing concrete products, tools or control methods to facilitate the integration of photovoltaics. Moreover, the lab infrastructure at EnergyVille gives the opportunity to analyse and demonstrate the technical feasibility of these newly developed products. Our team includes also economical experts which allows us to address regulatory and economical aspects in our studies.

Application

  • Photovoltaic integration in the distribution system
  • Design, operation and control of photovoltaic inverters and photovoltaic systems

Client

  • DSO’s
  • photovoltaic system integrator and photovoltaic component manufacturers
  • Research consortia
  • Regulatory organisations

Linear, photovoltaic integration in a living lab environment

As a reference, we would like to refer to Linear, a demand response project with 250 families across Flanders for which we studied and improved the interaction between photovoltaic panels, smart inverters, storage systems and the grid from a theoretical and experimental viewpoint in a real-life situation. Some concrete results are given below.

Real-life feeders were obtained from the distribution system operators and a selection of four representative feeders was made, rural, (semi-)urban, and a city feeder.

Landelijken halfstedelijke en stedelijke feeders

Simulations were performed on these feeders to investigate the effect of increasing load and photovoltaic penetration on the power quality in the grid. A concrete result is given below, where the maximal capacity of the feeder was determined for a different amount of photovoltaics and load.

 

De capaciteit van de feeder voor de stad als functie van de belasting en een zeker aandeel van fotovoltaïsche energie.


Capacity in the city feeder as a function of load and a certain photovoltaic penetration

As Linear is a demand response demonstration project, also the effect of smart grid control systems like time of use pricing, balancing and voltage control was simulated in the grid. Several publications have been made about the technical and economic potential of voltage control and integration of photovoltaic power in low voltage grids.

Kris Baert

Contact

Kris Baert

Business Developer Solar and Electrical Energy Networks at EnergyVille/KU Leuven