IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion, Vol. 3, No.

3, September 1988


John Stevens, IEEE Member Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, New Mexico

Harmonic injection is a growing concern to electric utility companies. One potential source of harmonics is utility intertied photovoltaic (PV) systems. This paper summarizes the results of several research efforts investigating harmonics injected by PV systems. These efforts indicate that harmonic injection from photovoltaic systems, while it can't be ignored, is no more a problem than the harmonic injection from several commonly used household appliances.

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In order for photovoltaic generated energy to be a significant contributor to U.S. energy requirements, PV systems must be capable of being interconnected with the existing electric utility systems. There are technical questions to be addressed in such an interconnection. None of the answers to these questions are expected to make or break PV as a viable energy source, but the answers may impact the method of utilizing PV, or the mode of deploying PV arrays, and ultimately affect the energy value. In an effort to understand these questions and their answers, the National Photovoltaic Program has developed a significant data base addressing PV/ utility interface issues, and continues to do so. This data base includes results of research from several universities and utilities. This paper will discuss these efforts as they pertain to harmonic injection from the photovoltaic power conditioning subsystem (PCS) and draw conclusions where appropriate. Basic ConcSome basic concepts which are relevant to the following discussion were put forth in [l]. These concepts will be summarized for the purposes of this paper. The harmonic output of a PV system is determined by the switching mode and the degree of filtering of the associated power conditioning subsystem (PCS). A high-frequency PCS is better able to synthesize a sinewave than is a low-frequency PCS. This often results in high-frequency PCS designs which have no need of filtering to meet existing harmonic injection

specifications, while a low-frequency unit may require filtering. The impact of a given level of harmonic current injection on a distribution system is determined by the system impedance. High system impedance at a specific frequency results in high voltage distortion from the injected harmonic current. Distortion of the voltage at the terminals of a device is generally what causes problems. Parallel resonance is the mechanism which increases impedance to levels which cause harmonic problems. Parallel resonance can be viewed as a function of line loading and capacitor placement. Relocation of shunt capacitors can alter the resonant frequency as well as the magnitude of the resonant impedance. Additionally, daily increases in load lower the impedance magnitude as well as shift the resonant point to a higher frequency. This is exactly what is required if one is concerned about possible harmonic problems from PV systems, as the daily load increase dampens the effect of harmonics at the same time of day that PV system output is high.


This work supported by the U . S . Department of Energy, Photovoltaic Energy Systems Division.

8 7 SM 430-2 A paper recommended and approved by the I E E E Power Generation Committee o f the IEEE Power Engineering Society Ear presentation at the ZEEE/PES 1 9 8 7 Summer Weeting, San Francisco, California, July 12 - 1 7 , 1 9 8 7 . Manuscript suhmitted Fehruary 2, 1 9 8 7 ; made available for printing May 11, 1 9 8 7 .

The following is a summation of experimental and analytical efforts at quantifying harmonic impacts in an attempt to aid in establishing limits which are acceptable to utilities without being unduly restrictive to PV system owners. As a baseline for this discussion the existing IEEE standard for harmonic distortion should be noted. This is IEEE Standard 519 which basically states that harmonics should be limited such that total harmonic distortion (THD) of the voltage waveform does not exceed 5% on primary distribution lines or 8% on secondaries. These values are what most people utilize when analyzing systems for excessive distortion. It should be noted that IEEE 519 is presently under an extensive rewrite and these values will probably be changed, or perhaps the entire method of determining acceptable levels may be altered. For the moment, the existing version of IEEE 519 is the best we have. An extensive harmonics measurement program was undertaken by the Georgia Institute of Technology under the direction of several southeastern utilities and Sandia National Labs. The purpose of this effort was to identify existing harmonics on utility systems in order to better appreciate the environment in which PV systems will be deployed, specifically regarding the level of harmonic distortion presently on distribution lines. Tables I through IV summarize the results of several hundred measurements. These measurements were taken on a relatively high capacity (low impedance) 25kV line. Tables I and I1 show the maximum voltage THD as roughly 3% while the maximum current THD at the same point was nearly 13.5%. Also note that this 13.5% current THD occurred for a line which was lightly loaded (3600kW on a line which is probably good for at least 20MW). As the loading increases, the effect of current harmonics on increasing voltage harmonics will be damped because impedance will be lowered. Also note from tables I11 and IV that the average third harmonic current at the substation (where the voltage THD is less than 2%) is approximately 5% of




one must never forget that resonance problems can occur.717 I 2.349 I .31 V 86. Utilizing the results of the John Long Home study [2].O25 X .304 *.918 I 1. Voltage Harmonics at Substation Table I .542 I .542 X .044 I .83 V 1.313 X . if a couple megawatts of residential PV systems are added to a single distribution feeder. This is obviously an exception.225 .033 ' i 1.006 : : 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 THO . .994 I I 2. This was a 12.804 . a level which is substantially below that recommended by IEEE 519 and which appears to be This same analysis can be percausing no problems.00 V 1.049 1.823 I .028 .092 1.019 STD 109. or I .E30 X .047 I .132 X .127 I .028 I 2.823 4. In this case it would require 4700 units.079 .271 I . This simple analysis demonstrates that it requires many PV systems.197 Z .129 . formed for an APCC Sunsine.309 2 6.444 I .4 4. The probability is that. The feeder discussed above is a relatively low impedance feeder. a high-frequency lowdistortion unit which typically injects 0.181 X .554 I .027 I . 13. Also note that the maximum values show 6% current THD producing 2% voltage THD.iio a . a point in the downtown network of Consolidated Edison in Manhattan had measured current THD of 27% which resulted in voltage THD of only 1%.234 . whereas IEEE 519 allows 5 % on a 25kV line.824 .93 V .187 2 267.141 .147 Z .005 I .558 . O w .00-V 2.122 . For example.8MW of PV generation to inject loamps of third harmonic current on this distribution line.021 x 1 394 x . Noting the average values.157 I .132 .073 X .290 X .067 *. This suggests that a significant percentage of a feeder's capacity could be met with PV generation with no harmonic problems.050 14904.a5 x . which indicates 4amps third harmonic current at full output from a Gemini 6kW PCS (a low-frequency.802 .307 .697 I RDER JjD 11 13 15 TM) 1 Table IV.177 . resonance problems can usually be cured by altering the deployment mode of shunt capacitors [4].lo2 z . However.008 Z .123 I .629 .293 .949 I .234 .088 x .870 X 4.345 X .319 .204 x .072 .251 % 2.502 X .390 I 5.928 I . Of course.735 2 .049 2 .00 A 7.766 1.017 I 2.06 V 2.OS8 2 . Tables V and VI show current and voltage harmonics for this feeder.040 1.941 Z z 2.454 .549 .790 I 5.092 x .213 1 ~~ I 14643. all with differing harmonic characteristics. or 18.567 2.031 . to generate the same harmonic levels which are ambient on this system. the worst case). As stated in [ l ] the actual harmonic output is a function of several parameters and will vary from 4amps.2 .zoo X .008 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 I I I X 2 X X I I I I I I X Ii TD I .741.42 A FUM) 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 150. even utilizing harmonically rich PCS's.464 I I I .993 I 1 I KAX 15382.061 X .16 A 5.077 I . These relatively generous quantities of PV systems are based on limiting voltage THD to 2%.257 . or l0amps.721 1.796 a .113 6.00 A 3.13amps third harmonic current from a 4kW unit [3].824 X 1.065 .115 .075 i i I Z I 2 Z THD I 5.366 Z . I I Average I [ ~~ ~ Std.523 X 2.112 X .203 2 I Table 111.107 I x . .493 I 2. which demonstrates the non-linearity of harmonic distortion and reinforces the understanding of the difficulty in analysis.008 : : I X I 1. Voltage Harmonics at Capacitor Bank IRDER " D nXN 14823. Current Harmonics at Capacitor Bank 200amps.176 . 2% current THD produces 1% voltage THD.395 2.868 I 1 .ooo I I I X . the PCS's will be some combination of several different manufacturers.7MW of PV generation (assuming all third harmonic injection is in phase.415 I 13.135 . Current Harmonics at Substation IRDER nIN nAx AVE 203.052 Z . An analysis similar to that performed earlier can be carried out on this feeder to establish a rough idea of the extent to which PV systems can be added and still remain within voltage THD limits.016 X .004 . KAX a5:2 A 1.280 I I Fund.814 X .731 X 1.643 1.095 X X Z X AVE 15067.237 I 10.012 I 1.984 I .799 amp 1.081 X I I I x I Table 11.E41 Z .321 I .76 V 2.884 .521 I 12.023 X STD 30.656 .125 . Again.023 : : .327 I I I I 2 I I .Table I.253 I 1 13.593 I 1.243 .E26 Z . but there are some feeders with still lower impedance.95 V . A feeder that is probably more typical than the Consolidated Edison system was measured as part of the same effort as the previously discussed 25kV feeder performed by Georgia Tech. and is only noted to make the point that system impedance can be quite variable.5kV feeder in Alabama.733 amp I I I .994 .339 I 7 9 I I I 3. it can be seen that loamps of third harmonic current on the distribution primary is equivalent to 450 6kW low-frequency PCS's. Alabama Current Harmonics IiIN 14436. high-harmonic unit).624 Z .881 1 4.920 .041 I I 8.

5 % for both lines. the THD values were reduced to 3. This result can be reflected back to all the cases discussed previously.005 2 42. 132kW of PV generation on this feeder using harmonically rich PCS's would be equivalent to the ambient harmonic level. they can normally be resolved by manipulation of the shunt capacitors. Dr. resulting in lower harmonic distortion than would be predicted using a series R-L model. 2 . Again assuming 4amps third harmonic from a 6kW PCS.6kW residential system with a low-frequency (high-harmonic) PCS on a 12. Dev.114 .002 2 7200. Dispersal of the systems along the feeder.044 2 .398 1.963 X the voltage THD targeted will be 2% (because we have data in the "maximum" column for 2%). known as PV-1. Another study which included both measurements and analysis was performed by New Mexico State University at the Southwest Regional Experiment Station (SWRES). the absolute worst case was first sought in order to put an upper bound on the harmonic impact.087 . then analyzing the impact of adding 100 such PCS' to each of two different Arizona Public Service Company feeders. the THD values were 2. showing third harmonic voltage as a function of position on a distribution line for the same amount of load using the two different models.010 . If harmonic problems do appear. 4. Results showed that with the PV Average Fund. be seen along the distribution line. note that 2% voltage THD is associated with approximately 6% current THD. This transforms to 30amps per phase at 240volts. Even these acceptably low levels may be higher than will be seen in reality. or a total of 90amps of injected third harmonic current.226 X .020 2 . The impact of line resistance and load on significantly damping resonance is demonstrated. In this worst-case scenario the projected 660kW of PV generation from the proposed homes caused 4. were nonetheless pessimistic. This study included a lower capacity feeder rated at 2.038 2 . a substantial number of small harmonic generators can be accommodated on a utility distribution line. the scenarios which appear to be most realistic (that is. O M . An extensive project was performed jointly by Oak Ridge National Labs and McGraw Edison to monitor and analyze what has come to be known as the "John Long .5kV system. Fitzer developed the detailed load model by performing laboratory tests on motors similar to those found in refrigerators and air conditioners. This was achieved by arranging the line capacitors to make the system resonant at the third harmonic (the largest component of the PCS distortion).457 . This installation is on a 12. From the "maximum" columns in tables V and VI. particularly capacitor placement and connected load. 2) if the system could be operated without the filter and maintain acceptable harmonic distortion levels [71. Current and voltage THD are both dominated by system loading rather than by the PV systems at the RES. It seems apparent from this work that the actual impedance of motor loads is low enough at harmonic frequencies that significant amounts of harmonic current are shunted from the distribution line. When all capacitors were connected (as opposed to only those which allowed tuning the circuit to third harmonic) and no load was connected. however. The impact of dispersed small harmonic sources is dependent on line characteristics. As the researchers on the John Long project point out in [41. or about 1 amp of third harmonic current on the 12.788 2 . S t d . and installing absolutely no load.6% for each feeder.D38 2 . 1) if the filter was performing its proper function and. Analysis indicates that expansion of the PV systems at the SWRES to 25% of the feeder capacity is possible while maintaining the voltage THD within 5%.018 I .5kV line. John Long Homes has installed a 190kW PV system to serve 22 homes in Phoenix. Jack Fitzer at the University of Texas at Arlington indicates that the method of representing motor loads in the harmonic modelling process is important to the results [6].7MW of PV generation using the lower harmonic PCS's such as the APCC.001 . 2. In this study.8% voltage THD (within the 5% IEEE limits) on one of the proposed feeders and 6.000 V . When performing the simulation.000 V . A capacitor bank on this line creates resonance in the fifth to ninth harmonic range. indicating that the analytical results already discussed. The installation consisted of a 6.462 X 1. Some of the important results of this study [5] are as follows: 1. Using simplified methods for analysis (more complex analysis would give more optimistic results because of the effects of loads shunting harmonics from the system and the cancellation effects of harmonics which aren't in phase). even though IEEE 519 allows 5%.I24 2 .D67 X .484 X . Using the same worst case capacitor arrangement. The actual impact is highly dependent on line configuration.317 V . These results reinforce points previously made.368 2 .111 2 . Measurements were taken with and without the filter to determine. modelling the load as a series R-L circuit sized for the proper power and power factor will give results dramatically worse than if a detailed load model is used. When the same case was run with no shunt capacitors on the system.092 2 . The same harmonic level would be produced by 2. Home" in Phoenix.513 Table VI. The Oak Ridge/McGraw Edison project consisted of performing harmonic measurements at the residence to characterize both the existing harmonics and those of the PCS. Harmonic current from the RES can.053 .013 . The preceding discussion illustrates two important points: 1. recent work by Dr. The final set of measurements to be discussed are those on the Sacramento Municipal Utility District 1MW PV plant. One interesting aspect of this installation was this single home was a prototype for a proposed 100 home subdivision. Fitzer's work shows that on a feeder such as this. 3 . Arizona 1 4 1 . but adding 2MW of resistive load to each feeder. Figure l graphically illustrates this difference.449 2 .014 2 1 I 2 2 13 15 THO 1. the voltage THD was in the range of 2 . or elimination of the harmonically rich PCS's would allow further increases.901 1.149 2 2 2 2 2 . with some load at the time of PV generation) maintain acceptably low voltage THD.5kV line and utilizes a twelve-pulse filtered PCS. making it extremely difficult to set general guidelines. which will probably have as high as 80% motor loads.4% for each feeder. Minlmum Maxtmum 7285. although favorable.IO8 2 .001 2 X 2 7350.2% on the other. Although the 100 home subdivision has not yet been realized.4kV and 5MW.429 V . and all third harmonic current in phase.

much relevant information has been gathered from activities sponsored by others. . Oak Ridge National Lab.. Taken in perspective (total current of all harmonics) the problem no longer seems as serious. c ntegrated Photovoltaic . especially at low loads. Much more of this type data is needed to assist those who set standards and those who manufacture equipment to understand existing harmonic levels and their impact. Campen. Harmonic Prediction from Detailed and Simple Load Models system operating and the filters connected. 1986 71 U --rev nI i t t . Paul Russell of Arizona State University. Jack Fitzer of the University of Texas at Arlington. The dominant harmonic with the PV system on. ORNL-5634. LppB Photovoltaic House.i s tc and -act of Utility Interactive PhotQyQltaic Prototvoes on t b . 1982 31 W. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Individuals contributing to this research included Dr. The existing analytical techniques for examining the impact of harmonics should be consolidated. voltage THD averaged between 1. REFERENCES 8 10 12 14 DISTANCE FROM SUBSTATION (THOUSANDS OF FEET) Figure 1.1 :'' F . Sandia National Labs. . This paper has also presented a few samples of harmonic measurement results. By performing the same analysis utilizing the Fitzer load model.L. which will increase the voltage THD resulting from a given level of current THD. utilizing realistic load models. C.3 . . Clayton Griffin and the project staff from Georgia Power Company and Harry Roman and the project staff from Public Service Electric and Gas Company. Problems such as this can be remedied by altering the deployment of shunt capacitors. . Serving the S o u m t Re s merit StatiQp. Iniection Frpm Svstems Part 1: to IEEE for the 21 G. Albuquerque. One Utilitv's P The following quote from a Georgia Power Company (GPC) contract report to the author is an important summary of the potential impact of PV systems on harmonics: "When GPC entered into this contract with SNL. Larry Banta and Dr. Satish Ranade of New Mexico State University. Gobind Atmaran of the Florida Solar Energy Center. Pub.v l a i n Eauto S FkDort for A m a r i c a n o n Coroo. Sep. et al. . was the 11th (which is to be expected with a twelve-pulse device). distributed photovoltaic systems don't appear to be serious contributors to those problems. 1965 4 R. Miles Russell and Dr. SAND85-7017. J.and home computers are frequently worse in terms of percentage THD. Gary Powell and the project staff from Salt River Project. The fly in the harmonic ointment is the possibility of resonance. microwave ovens. to be pub1 ished [51 S. Labs. we had serious misgivings about the effect that harmonics produced by the static power converters (SPC's) of residential PV systems would have on the utility system. ORNL/SUB81-95011/4. Albuquerque. et al. Bower. Dr. whether the filters were connected or not. from 10% to 100% of a lines' capacity can be provided by PV generation without exceeding existing IEEE standards for voltage distortion. Pub. Dugan. Bill Rothenbuhler and the project staff from Southern California Edison. u p a c t of m t i a l U t i u & active Photovoltaic Power Sv&ems on t U ." [l] J.1% and 1. Albuquerque.3%. with the PV system operating and the filters disconnected the average value only increased to 1. Harmonic Con1 a i o n s for Electrical D-ibution Feedera. McGraw-Edison Co. Oak Ridge National Lab. However. Fitzer. SAND86-7043. . . Mar.6%. I. 61 J. Ed Kern of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It has also been demonstrated that the analytical techniques normally used to determine harmonic impacts give substantially conservative (by as much as a factor of four) results.4 r :p:: : -2 6 favorable and realistic result will be obtained.Submitted 1987 PES Summer Meeting . kWel UI-4000 Utilltv-Interactive Residential Ehotovoltaic Power -C Subsvsta. Based on the percentage total harmonic distortion (THD) of the SPC output current.5 1. Sandia National Labs. Don Wallace of the Alabama Solar Energy Center. George Vachtsevanos of Georgia Institute of Technology. . to allow an engineer to examine the impact of harmonic injection on any distribution system of interest. It has been demonstrated through measurement and analysis that. However. Stevens. Additionally. a more .514 THIRD HARMONIC VOLTAGE (K NOMINAL LINE VOLTAGE) 'i1 1. Dr. Dr. television sets. depending on the particular PCS and line. this appears to be a problem. m u l t s of the Harmonics Measam at the John F.6 0 0 SIMPLE LOAD MODEL / DETAILED LOAD MODEL 4 . while 5th was dominant when the PV system was off.5% to 1. Sandia National Labs. SAND64-7006. Jan. SAND83-2601. Ranade. Albuquerque. 1986 s First Photovoltaic P l a a . Feb. 1967 CONCLUSIONS While there is certainly no doubt that harmonics do cause problems to utilities. Sandia National Mar.

. parallel resonances at low frequencies are often unavoidable. Kanngiesser (Brown.515 Discussion Karl W. it may be useful to determine the harmonic impedance of the system and its essential loadings in the frequency range of interest. and in this case filter circuits may have to be provided even if the harmonic current injection is relatively small. Mannheim. F. This approach is currently being used in the field of HVDC and suitable tools are available for this purpose. Boveri & Cie. In order to determine the necessity and to optimize the land of measures to avoid excessive harmonic voltage distortion. I have some doubts that shifting of shunt capacitors is always a suitable remedy to harmonic problems. Particularly if cable sections are part of the system.R. While I am in agreement with most of the conclusions. either by specifying harmonic injection limits for inverters or by providing suitable filter circuits. Manuscript received July 28. 1987 Paper released without Closure. Germany): It is to be highly commended that the author has performed such detailed studies to determine harmonic problems which may be encountered when photovoltaic generators contribute a considerable part of the power supply..

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