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Arun P, Rangan Banerjee and Santanu Bandyopadhyay*

Energy Systems Engineering, IIT Bombay, Mumbai, 400076, India.

Corresponding author, Phone: 91-22-25767894, Fax: 91-22-25726875/25767890 E-mail:

Isolated power systems meet the electricity demand by generating power close to its point of utilisation. It is viewed as an option to electrify communities located in remote areas where extending the grid could be uneconomic. The principal design objective for such systems is the estimation of the ratings of the generators and the storage capacity requirements for meeting specified reliability and economic constraints. A review of different methods for sizing photovoltaic-battery systems indicates mainly two categories, analytical methods and simulation based schemes for system sizing. A generalised methodology for generating a sizing curve relating the generator rating and storage capacity, based on a time series simulation approach is presented in this paper. It helps in the identification of a design space which enables the exploration of all the feasible system configurations, meeting a given demand for a site. It further serves as a tool for system optimisation. Two specific options for isolated power generation, diesel generator-battery system and photovoltaic-battery system are illustrated for a typical Indian site. Sizing curve and design space are plotted on a normalised generator rating vs. storage capacity coordinates for these options. Keywords: system sizing, diesel-battery systems, photovoltaic-battery systems, design space

1. Introduction
Isolated power systems meet the electricity demand of a location by generating power close to its point of utilisation. It is an option to electrify communities located in remote areas far from the main grid where extending the grid could be uneconomic. In India, of the 119570 villages which are unelectrified, 2029 villages are located in remote locations where extending the grid is not feasible (Ministry of Non conventional Energy Sources, 2005; Ministry of Power, Govt. of India, 2006). The installed capacities of isolated generation systems useful in such locations are generally in the range of 10 to 250 kW (Willis and Scott, 2000). Decentralised power generation may be based on diesel generator sets (DG sets), renewable energy based units like solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, wind turbines, small hydro power based units or through a combination of these systems (hybrid energy systems). In India, steps have been already taken towards renewable energy based distributed generation at the rural level. Solar PV and wind-diesel systems installed at Sagar Island, West Bengal are examples of such isolated power systems. DG set is a preferred option, being modular and having a high power-to-weight ratio. Typical remote location load curves exhibit a varying load profile. In systems with DG alone, sized based on expected peak demand this results in generator operation at part load conditions for large durations of time. One of the options would be the integration of battery banks in the system for improving the system efficiency. PV systems which enable the direct conversion of solar energy to electric power are also preferred for remote electrification. The specific advantages of photovoltaics are the reasonable conversion efficiencies obtained for both direct and diffuse solar radiation, modularity of the system and their static character. They have been successfully used for meeting power requirements of small loads in remote areas. Many hybrid systems are also becoming popular which incorporates renewable energy systems like PV panels and wind generators integrated with conventional diesel generators and energy storage systems. Isolated power systems have to be designed to meet the power demand of a location subject to the technoeconomic constraints and expected reliability requirements. PV-battery system design has to cater to the effect of varying solar resource. Simple sizing methods propose the methodology of designing the battery size based on number of autonomy days. But the estimation of no sun days would be purely subjective depending on the designer. PV systems may be sized based on a worst-case approach, performing the design for lowest insolation period. In general such methods offers an incomplete evaluation of options and the systems are thus sub optimally designed. The design space approach maps all the feasible configurations of a system and is a useful


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tool in system design. Kulkarni et al. (2006) has introduced a method for identifying a design space for solar hot water systems.

2. Review of PV-battery System Sizing

Sizing of a PV-battery system involves choosing the PV array size (in terms of array area) and the storage (battery capacity). The array size and battery capacity may be expressed in terms of the load. On a daily basis, the PV-array capacity, CA may be defined as the ratio between the mean PV-array energy production and the mean load energy demand. The storage capacity, Cs, may be expressed in the dimensions of period of autonomy (dividing the battery capacity by the load energy demand). The sizing methods can be grouped under three categories (Egido and Lorenzo, 1992) which includes (1) Sizing rules based on the designers experience (intuitive or empirical) (2) Analytical methods (3) Simulation based methods.

2.1 Analytical Methods

Analytical methods include probability based methods, methods based on empirical coefficients and those which apply novel methods like artificial neural networks. Bucciarelli (1984) has given an approximate method to study the performance of stand-alone PV systems following an approach that treats energy capture, storage and disbursement process as a random walk in the storage domain. The probability density for daily increment or decrement of storage level is approximated by a two event probability distribution. A rule for calculating the storage size (required to achieve predefined system reliability) for a given array size is developed. Plots of 'average array output relative to the load' against 'days of autonomy' for different values of loss of power probabilities are presented. The method was extended accounting for the effect of correlation between day to day insolation values (Bucciarelli, 1986). The correlation parameter of day to day insolation is found to affect the system sizing. A positive correlation requires additional storage capacity to be added to assure same reliability compared to uncorrelated or negatively correlated case. Gordon (1987) had used a method similar to that proposed by Bucciarelli (1986) but extended it considering the level of the storage taking up three states. He had considered the probability of the storage system remaining in the state where there is no change in energy level over the time step. Barra et al. (1984) had developed an analytical procedure for determining the optimal size of a stand-alone PV plant. The procedure relies on coefficients obtained through long term simulation data. Analytical function relating array area and storage capacity for a given covered fraction of the load is given. The coefficients are validated only for certain typical locations of Italy. Bartoli et al. (1984) had proposed an analytical procedure similar to that given by Barra et al. (1984). Monthly average of solar insolation and daily loads were considered. Illustrative examples are given for Italian sites. Analysis of the system cost with different covered fraction of the load and types of PV cells are given. Egido and Lorenzo (1992) proposed a correlation connecting the normalised array capacity to the storage size and illustrated the results for different locations in Spain. Comparison of this method with certain other previously developed models is also shown. Hontoria et al. (2005) had followed an artificial neural network based methodology to obtain the system sizing curve for standalone PV systems. Markvart et al. (2006) had presented the system sizing curve as superposition of contributions from individual climatic cycles of low daily solar radiation for a location in south east of England.

2.2 Simulation Based Methods

In the category of simulation based methods for design, Tsalides and Thanailakis (1986) used an hourly time step based model, for optimum simulation based design of stand-alone PV systems for a remote village in northern Greece. The input solar radiation data was generated using a stochastic model developed by the author. For a given array orientation, the optimum array tilt angle (which minimizes the size of the PV system) was found to be independent of the chosen values of loss of load probability. Sidrach and Lopez (1998) used a simulation model for PV systems taking a daily time step. The analysis had been carried out for 2 to 9 days of system autonomy. The simulations were carried out based on the meteorological data for different locations of Spain. The analysis also included linear regression analysis to determine the independent variables affecting the estimation of the array size. Time series approach for system sizing has also been followed for hybrid systems like PV-diesel-battery systems, PV-wind systems, wind-diesel etc. where multiple sources of energy and storage are integrated. In the case of PV-battery systems, the relation between CA, CS and loss of load probability is dependent on the experience of the PV designer for intuitive designs. Such methods are very simple and useful to have an initial rough idea of the PV system dimensions, but they do not allow quantification of the reliability. Empirical coefficients available for system sizing are mostly site-specific. In analytical methods, the shape of iso-reliability curves (relating CA and CS for constant loss of load probability) has prompted the designers to describe it in an analytic form. A study on probability based methods by Bucciarelli and the three event approach, shows that

Sizing Curve for Design of Isolated Power Systems


for normalised array size (CA) greater than about 1.2, both array and battery size tends to increase for the same loss of power probability, which restricts its usability to a specific range. Similar observation was made by Egido and Lorenzo (1992). In simulation based methods, the loss of load probability for a given pair of CA and CS values is calculated by means of a detailed simulation of the PV-system behaviour after formulating mathematical models for the individual components. Simulation models though data intensive allows detailed modelling of the system and helps in capturing the daily and seasonal variations in the load and resource.

3. Sizing Curve and Design Space

A generalised method is proposed to relate the isolated power plant generator rating and storage capacity requirements for given electricity demand pattern and power conversion efficiencies. The approach is used to generate a sizing curve which identifies the generator ratings and corresponding minimum battery capacities meeting a specified load pattern on a generator rating vs. battery capacity plane. The curve indicates the minimum and maximum generator ratings and corresponding energy storage requirements. The method is illustrated for DG-battery and PV-battery systems. The mathematical model for the analysis considers the net power flow into the storage accounting the power conversion efficiencies in the charging-discharging processes. It is based on the system energy balance and the model is represented by the following equations:

dQ B = ( P D) f dt
f = c for P D f = 1


for P < D


Here QB represents the storage energy, P the input power from any source (DG or PV), D the demand power, c the charging efficiency and d the discharging efficiency at any point of time. The stored energy QB at any instant t would be,
Q B (t ) = Q B (t t ) +

t t

( P(t ) D(t )) fdt


The battery energy considering discrete time interval t is

Q B (t ) = Q B (t t ) + ( P (t ) D(t )) ft


During the system operation over a period t, when the energy supplied by generator is greater than the demand (P(t) > D(t)), the energy surplus is used for charging the battery. If the energy supplied by generator is lower than the load, then the battery makes up the energy gap. It is assumed that the charging and discharging takes place with a constant efficiency and the variation in the battery energy with time is assumed to take place without any self-discharge losses. The basic inputs required for the method are the expected load time series for the location (sampled at certain fixed time interval, for t = 1, 2 T), and the charging and discharging efficiencies. The resource data in the form of global solar insolation at the specified time steps are required for PV based systems. It is possible from the above formulation to determine the minimum capacity of the generator and the corresponding battery bank rating for meeting the specified load. Given the load curve for the site, knowing D(t) for the given time period, and values of c and d ; QB(t) may be computed using equation (4) for all the time periods. For obtaining the minimum generator requirement, a numerical search is performed to obtain that constant minimum value of P satisfying the following conditions:
Q B (t ) 0


Q B (t = 0) = Q B (t = T ) (6) The above conditions ensure that the battery energy takes positive values at all times and also enforces the repeatability of battery state of energy for the time series considered. The repeatability condition maintains that


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there is no net energy drawn from the battery for the time period considered. It is assumed that the load is recurring in the same pattern after time T. The required battery bank capacity (B) is obtained as
max{Q B (t )} DOD



Here DOD is the allowable depth of discharge of the battery, suitably assumed. This provides the value of the minimum possible generator capacity (P= Pmin) and the corresponding sizing of the battery bank (B). It is of interest from a design perspective to identify the various feasible combinations for the generator and the storage which forms the design space for the system. Thus, a methodology is proposed extending the system sizing, to generate a sizing curve. To identify the points of the sizing curve, the generator is considered to be operating at power levels greater than the minimum identified rating (which is obtained based on the numerical search). When the generator rating is increased from Pmin, over certain time steps it would be operating at part load conditions. The part load operation of the generator is represented by modifying equation (1) with the term Pdu.
dQ B = ( P Pdu D) f dt


Here P(t)-Pdu(t) gives the part load power of the generator. The simulations are carried out for different assumed values of P (>Pmin) in steps. For each P considered, the corresponding minimum battery bank size is obtained by minimising the battery size B (equation (7)), the variables being QB(t = 0) and Pdu(t). This gives pairs of P and B, which are plotted on the (P, B) coordinates to obtain the sizing curve. The sizing curve demarcates the feasible region of system sizing in the generator rating vs. battery capacity space and maps all the minimum storage points. Considering the design space formed by the P-B axes, the sizing curve thus identifies the feasible design space. Following the same approach the system sizing curve may be generated for a PV-battery system. Here the input power term is:

P = 0 IT A


where 0 is the PV system efficiency, IT is the total radiation incident on the array (W/m2) at the time step considered (hourly in this case) and A is the array area (m2).

4. Isolated Power System Sizing: Case Study

The concept of sizing curve and design space is illustrated for DG-battery and PV-battery systems for a remote site based on the proposed method. The daily load curve of the remote location is shown in Figure 1 which is used for the case study (based on data provided by West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency). For the PV-battery system, it is assumed that the array tilt is equal to the latitude of the location (22.56 N). The data input in the form of monthly averaged hourly solar insolation values are required for the method (which is available in handbook of solar radiation data for India (Mani and Rangarajan, 1982)). The solar radiation on the array plane is calculated based on the relations given by Sukhatme (1997). The other parameters assumed for the system sizing (PV-battery and DG-battery) are given in Table1. The basic steps followed in the approach are presented in Figure 2. For the site considered, the method yields the sizing curve for the PV-battery system as shown in Figure 3. For illustration, the curve is generated taking December as the design month. The minimum array area required is 347.2 m2 and the corresponding storage capacity is 249 kWh. In the sizing curve, the array capacity is normalised using the average load and the battery capacity is normalised with the daily load energy. From the sizing curve it may be observed that for normalised array ratings above 1.7, the corresponding minimum battery capacity remains almost constant.

Sizing Curve for Design of Isolated Power Systems

30 25 Load (kW) 20 15 10 5 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 Time (h) Average load: 9.6 kW Maximum load: 24.2 kW


Table 1: Isolated power system parameters

Minimum load: 0.6 kW

Array tilt PV system efficiency Charging/discharging efficiency Battery bank depth of discharge

22.56 13 % 86 % 50 %

Figure 1: Daily load curve for the site The sizing curve for DG-battery system is given in Figure 4. The minimum generator and storage capacity requirements are 10.5 kW and 154 kWh respectively. The maximum generator rating is 24.2 kW, which is the peak demand and there is no storage requirement in this case. In the sizing curve, the generator capacity is normalised using the maximum load and the battery capacity is normalised with the daily load energy. Thus the sizing curve identifies the design space distinguishing the feasible combinations of the generator and the storage capacities. The designer may select the appropriate combination of generator and storage from this plot. It serves as a tool for obtaining an optimum system based on appropriately chosen objective function. For existing systems, if the optimum is identified based on the design space, economic evaluations for possible retrofit options may be considered. Thus it serves as a useful tool in the overall design process.

Normalised battery size (days)

1.09 1.08 1.07 1.06 1.05 1.04 1.03 1.02 1.01 1.00 1.00 1.10

Minimum array size

Feasible region (Design space)

Infeasible region








Normalised array size

Figure 2: Design space approach

N orm alis ed battery c apac ity (day s ) 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 Infeasible region

Figure 3: Sizing curve for PV-battery system

Minimum generator rating

Feasible region (Design space) ( ) Maximum generator rating



Normalised generator rating

Figure 4: Sizing curve for diesel generator-battery system


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5. Conclusion
A methodology for sizing isolated power systems is proposed which enables to generate a sizing curve for the identification of a design space. The concept is illustrated for the options of diesel generator-battery systems and PV-battery systems. The design space is mapped on generator rating vs. storage capacity coordinates for a given load pattern. The method offers a simplified approach for system sizing and helps in identifying all the feasible configurations for meeting a given load. The sizing method can be generalised to incorporate multiple sources (hybrid systems). The design space approach can be a useful tool in identifying an optimum system when applied to the design of isolated power systems.

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