Electrical stability and security with microgrids

Microgrids using renewable energy, with their promise of economically generated electricity and a high level of security are a powerful  incentive  for their integration in today’s distribution networks, more so as the renewable asset base for domestic, industrial and commercial uses continues to increase.

There is good reason to believe that new ventures concentrating on solar generation for commercial and industrial  consumers, with one estimate putting the market  at 10 GW, could hasten microgrid  development.  Security would be enhanced if distribution  networks were to comprise of “islandable” microgrids with autonomous generation therefore alleviating the pressure on contingency planning including load shedding for the synchronous generation and HV transmission systems.

Fig. 1: Illustrating power transmission. Note:For small power angles and circuits for which R>>X, P controls voltage, and Q, frequency, i.e. the opposite to the case for stiff networks dominated by inductive reactance, X.

Electrical energy delivery to consumers has distribution blind spots putting energy security under pressure as the overall management of power requires the availability of virtually second by second power flow information exchange between distribution and generation/transmission. Detailed information on network states including direction of power flow, power levels, frequency stability, etc., could provide islanding criteria for maximum consumer power security, and importantly, provide information for incorporation into control schemes for generation and HV transmission.

How  big is micro?

In a microgrid, how big is micro?  In essence it’s not a matter of size but rather one of designing distribution systems that cater for safe islanding of consumption-generation (“prosumer”) centres within distribution networks, capable of providing their own power after disconnection. We have many examples of island grids by virtue of isolated mining sites and communities, but have none within metropolitan areas… (More)

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