Optimal Inverter VAR Control in Distribution Systems with High PV Penetration

Masoud Farivar, Russell Neal, Christopher Clarke, Steven Low

The intent of the study detailed in this paper is to demonstrate the benefits of inverter var control on a fast timescale to mitigate rapid and large voltage fluctuations due to the high penetration of photovoltaic generation and the resulting reverse power flow. Our approach is to formulate the volt/var control as a radial optimal power flow (OPF) problem to minimize line losses and energy consumption, subject to constraints on voltage magnitudes. An efficient solution to the radial OPF problem is presented and used to study the structure of optimal inverter var injection and the net benefits, taking into account the additional cost of inverter losses when operating at non-unity power factor. This paper will illustrate how, depending on the circuit topology and its loading condition, the inverter's optimal reactive power injection is not necessarily monotone with respect to their real power output. The results are demonstrated on a distribution feeder on the Southern California Edison system that has a very light load and a 5 MW photovoltaic (PV) system installed away from the substation.

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