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Open Access Enabling control technologies for large-scale utilisation of renewable energy

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The large-scale utilization of renewable energy and distributed generation has been well recognized as a major means to enhance the sustainability of our planet. However, the capacity of individual power electronic inverters that are used to integrate renewable energy to the grid is limited and a large number of inverters are needed to operate in parallel to achieve the power capacity needed. How to make sure that these inverters could work together in harmony has been a major challenge in industry that hinders the large-scale utlization of renewable energy.

The objective of the project is to advance the fundamental understanding about parallel-operated inverters and develop enabling control technologies to facilitate the large-scale utilisation of renewable energy and distributed generation and, ultimately, to develop universal control strategies to faciltate the parallel operation of inverters from different manufactures and develop a fundamental theory to guarantee the stable operation of power systems with parallel-operated inverters.

In this project, it has been revealed that the conventional droop control scheme and its variants do not possess a mechanism to avoid circulating currents. A robust droop controller has been invented to maintain accurate sharing of real power and reactive power at the same time and also to maintain good voltage regulation for the same type of inverters even when the inverters are subject to numerical computational errors, parameter drifts and component mismatches etc. Morevoer, it has been found that the robust droop control technology is actually universal for different types of power inverters. Furthermore, it has been found that the droop control strategy has the inherent synchronization mechanism of synchronous machines and, as a result, a self-synchronized universal droop control technology has been invented to get rid of the dedicated synchronization unit that has been deemed indispensible.

Other enabling technologies developed include harmonic droop controllers and converters with capacitive output impedance (C-converters) to improve power quality, self-synchronised synchronverters that mimic virtual synchronous machines without a phaselocked loop (PLL) for scalable integration of renewables, advanced control strategies to provide an independently controlled neutral line for distributed generation, bounded droop controllers to maintain the voltage and frequency of inverters within given ranges, and single-phase four-switch rectifiers with significantly reduced capacitance etc. These technologies enable inverters manufactured by different companies to work together in harmony. Moreover, inverters can be manufactured as modulars and stacked up for high-power applications like walls built from bricks.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2017

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