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MicroGrid Based on Model Predictive Control

Jingran Ma, Student Member, IEEE, Fang Yang, Member, IEEE, Zhao Li, Member, IEEE,

and S. Joe Qin, Fellow, IEEE

AbstractThis paper investigates the application of model

predictive control (MPC) method in a MicroGrid with distributed

energy resources (DERs), including distributed generators, ener-

gy storage and demand response to achieve higher penetration

of renewable energy. A MicroGrid is an aggregation of network

that is connected to a centralized grid and can be operated

autogenously. MPC utilizes a simulation model to make decisions

on the amount of power that the MicroGrid should draw from

the connected main grid and each DER respectively, in a way that

the economical cost is minimized and all operational constraints

are satised. The potential of MPC is shown by simulations on

an IEEE test feeder modeled on the OpenDSS simulator.

Index TermsMicroGrid, renewable energy, model predictive

control, simulation, OpenDSS

I. INTRODUCTION

M

OST of the worlds electricity system was built over

the last 40 to 60 years, so the aging electricity in-

frastructure is inefcient and increasingly unreliable. The

electric system continues to be operated in the same way for

decades while new technologies have signicantly changed the

other industrial sectors. During high-demand period, utilities

companies typically rely on fast and exible coal and gas-

red power stations, which are expensive and polluting. The

penetration of renewable energy is still limited and the electric

system still relies heavily on the fossil energy sources. In

order to reach a low carbon economy and deal with aging

infrastructure and climate change, a strategic transformation

of the electricity system is urgently required.

Thanks to the deregulation processes and implementation of

incentives in the energy sector, the usage of small distributed

energy resources (DERs) has recently received considerable

attention. There are two types of DER in general: conventional

dispatchable distributed generation (DG) and non-dispatchable

DG based on renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar

and geothermal power. The economical and environmental

benets of integrating renewable energy into power systems

have been clearly demonstrated [1]. On the other hand, to

increase the penetration of intermittent energy resources which

feature unpredictable behavior has become one of the biggest

challenges in smart grid.

J. Ma is with the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials

Science, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 90089 USA,

During this work, he was a research intern with ABB US Corporate Research

Center, Raleigh, NC. e-mail: jingranm@usc.edu.

F. Yang and Z. Li are with ABB US Corporate Research Center, Raleigh,

NC, 27606 USA e-mail: {fang.yang},{zhao.li}@us.abb.com.

S. J. Qin is with the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials

Science and Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Southern

California, Los Angeles, CA, 90089 USA e-mail: sqin@usc.edu.

Utility Grid

MicroGrid Central MicroGrid Central

Controller (MGCC)

MicroGrid

MC MC LC LC

DG / Microsources Controllable Loads

Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of a typical MicroGrid

Microgrids are increasingly being viewed as a means

to promote the deployment of DER, meanwhile improving

system reliability at the distribution level [2], [3]. Formed

by a cluster of loads, small scaled generation units and/or

distributed energy storages, MicroGrids can be operated in

grid-connected or isolated-island mode, with the expectation

to provide uninterrupted power supply to the loads. DERs

located near local loads can offer improved reliability and

higher energy quality, if they are properly operated [4], [5]. A

typical MicroGrid structure is illustrated in Fig. 1.

The MicroGrid Central Controller (MGCC) is one of the

most critical components in a MicroGrid architecture [6]. It

controls the connection to the main grid, manages controllable

loads and optimizes system operation based on information of

power quality requirement, energy cost, demand-side requests

and special grid needs etc. It determines the amount of power

that the MicroGrid should draw from the main grid and

from each local DER respectively. The optimal (or near-

optimal) decisions of power dispatch are made in a way that

certain objectives are achieved, while a number of operational

constraints need to be satised [7], [8]. In particular, the

problem becomes more complicated if the generation capacity

of renewable energy sources is signicant, which asks for

advanced modeling, optimization and control techniques [9].

In this work, applying model predictive control (MPC)

methodology to the renewable energy integration problem in

978-1-4673-2729-9/12/$31.00 2012 IEEE

2

Past Future

y

max

y

Prediction horizon

y

min

u

max

Measured

Predicted

Control horizon

max

Current move

Control horizon

k k+1 k+2

k+N

p

k+N

c

u

min

Fig. 2. Basic MPC scheme

MicroGrids is explored. MPC has been shown as a successful

approach by numerous industrial applications [10]. It is es-

sentially an optimization based strategy in which a prediction

model is employed to predict the behavior of the controlled

plants over a nite receding horizon over future [11]. As

shown in Fig. 2 [12], in each discrete time step an open-

loop optimal control problem is formulated by measured and

predicted inputs/outputs under certain objective function. In

the optimal solution, only the control action for current time

step will be implemented on the plant. This routine is repeated

in subsequent intervals with new measurements and updated

plant information.

Modeling and optimization are two crucial components

of MPC implementations. Given that short-term forecasting

methods for renewable energy resource output have been

extensively studied [13], [14], the scope of this paper is

to demonstrate the effectiveness of MPC with a simulation-

based model in solving the economic dispatch problems for

MicroGrids with intermittent DGs. MPC is technically favor-

able because it naturally incorporates prediction models and

constraints that can ensure the MicroGrid running along the

desired path.

The reminder of this paper is organized as follows. Section

II introduces the project structure. MPC problem formulation

is described in section III. Section 4 introduces the OpenDSS

simulator and shows the simulation results conducted on it.

The nal section concludes the paper.

II. SYSTEM STRUCTURE

In this work, a simplied MicroGrid model with conven-

tional dispatchable DGs, wind and solar generators, energy

storages and a single bus connected to the distribution substa-

tion is studied. The project system structure is illustrated in

Fig. 3.

Load Shape

Predictions

Generation

Forecasts

(Wind, Solar)

MicroGrid

(OpenDSS)

Prediction

Noise

MPC

(Matlab)

Electricity cost

Power loss

(Objectives)

Power flow

(Constraints)

Fig. 3. Project block diagram

Although not in the scope of this study, modeling the

intermittent behaviors of DERs and load forecasting play im-

portant roles in the success of MPC implementation. Utilizing

historical data les of wind and solar outputs, we suppose

the difference between the predicted and actual DER outputs

is a white noise sequence. The load proles are assumed

to be following certain pattern. An optimization problem is

formulated over the moving horizon for minimizing the total

electricity generation cost. The optimal control actions are

obtained by MPC controller out of this optimization with

several constraints, and sent to the MicroGrid model before

proceeding to the next time step.

The Microgrid is modeled in the OpenDSS simulation

platform and its specic conguration is described in the

section IV-A.

III. MPC PROBLEM FORMULATION

Based on the general MPC approach, the problem for

maximizing the penetration of renewable energy resources,

in other words, optimizing the generation cost (because the

power generated by local renewable DGs is much cheaper than

demanding from the main grid), is formulated in this section.

A. Objective Function

The length of prediction horizon N

p

and control horizon

N

c

are set to be identical, i.e. N

p

= N

c

= N. The time step

for each interval is denoted as t. At the current time step k,

the objective function to be optimized accounts for the total

generation cost in the prediction horizon, as Eq.(1).

min

U

F(U, k) =

k+N1

t=k

(C

g

(t) +

m

C

cg,m

(t)) (1)

where C

g

(t) is the generation cost from the main grid, and

is proportional to the power demand P

g

(t). C

cg,m

(t) is the

cost of the mth conventional distributed generator in the Mi-

croGrid, which is usually expressed as a quadratic polynomial

with respect to its power outputs P

cg,m

(t).

C

g

(t) = b

g

(t)P

g

(t)t (2)

C

cg,m

(t) = a

m

+b

m

P

cg,m

(t)t +c

m

(P

cg,m

(t)t)

2

(3)

Note that in Eq.(2), b

g

(t) is a time varying cost coefcient,

indicating the rate depends on time-of-use.

3

The decision variable in Eq. (1) U is a vector containing

control actions in the entire control horizon,

U(t) =

u(k)

T

u(k + 1)

T

u(k +N 1)

T

T

(4)

For any single time step, the control signal u(t) includes

power outputs of all controllable generators as well as energy

storages. For simplicity, it is assumed only one conventional

generator and one energy storage in the MicroGrid.

u(t) = [P

g

(t) P

cg

(t) P

es

(t)]

T

(5)

where P

g

(t), P

cg

(t) and P

es

(t) denote the power from main

grid, conventional DG and energy storage, respectively.

B. Constraints

The optimization problem subjects to the following con-

straints for t [k, k +N 1].

1) Real power balance:

P

g

(t) +P

cg

(t) +P

es

(t) =

P

l

(t)

P

r

(t)

P

loss

(t) (6)

where

P

l

(t) and

P

loss

(t) are the forecasts of total loads and

real power losses respectively.

P

r

(t) is the predicted output

from renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar

generators.

2) Physical capacity: The power generated by each con-

trollable generator should be within its maximum capacity.

P

cg

(t) P

cg,max

(7)

Since all loads must be energized, there is no constraint

imposed on P

g

. As an isolated MicroGrid is studied, the supply

capacity of the main electricity grid can be treated as innite

large.

The energy storage has its maximum rates in both charging

and discharging modes. The stored energy in energy storage

W

es

(t) should be below its rated kWh value. Only steady-state

behavior of energy storages is considered here.

P

es char,max

P

es

(t) P

es disc,max

(8)

0 W

es

(t) W

es,max

, t = k + 1, k + 2, , k +N (9)

W

es

(t + 1) = W

es

(t) P

es

(t) t, (10)

3) Power ow equations: A feasible control action should

satisfy the power ow equations. The voltage magnitude and

angle at each bus can be determined by he well-known

Newton-Raphson method. From the complex power balance

equation at bus i (non-slack bus),

S

i

= P

i

+jQ

i

= V

i

k

Y

ik

V

k

(11)

Resolving into the real and imaginary parts, the mismatch

equations are

P

i

= P

i

+

k

|V

i

||V

k

|(G

ik

cos(

ik

) +B

ik

sin(

ik

)) (12)

Q

i

= Q

i

+

k

|V

i

||V

k

|(G

ik

sin(

ik

) B

ik

cos(

ik

))

(13)

where G

ik

and B

ik

are the corresponding elements of the

system nodal admittance matrix Y

matrix is factorized as

J =

P

|V |

P

Q

|V |

Q

(14)

The initial guess of unknown |V

i0

| and

i0

is usually made

as a at start in which all voltage magnitudes are set to 1.0

p.u. and all voltage angles are set to zero. The power ow

solution can be obtained by the following iterations,

|V |

m+1

= |V |

m

+ |V |

m+1

=

m

+

(15)

where the incremental guess is given by

|V |

= J

1

P

Q

(16)

The iteration continues until a termination criterion is

reached, e.g. the norm of P and Q are below specied

thresholds.

It should be noted that in this work, the realization of the

power ow equations is through the use of the OpenDSS simu-

lator, instead of being explicitly formulated in the optimization

scheme. Doing this in practice may bring problem because

in iterations it requires considerable time and computational

cost to run the simulator many times. Therefore, system

identication technique is usually employed to obtain input-

output models out of experimental data, i.e. the work in [15].

4) Voltage limit: In the converged power ow solutions,

all bus voltages need to be maintained within permitted range.

Typically, the range of [V

min

, V

max

] = [0.95, 1.05] in p.u. value

can ensure normal system operations.

V

min

V

i

(t) V

max

(17)

Note that in a practical application there should also be

constraints on current, i.e., I

i

(t) I

rated,i

(t). For simplicity

and the lack of rated current parameters, the current constraints

are not included in the optimization.

IV. SIMULATION STUDIES

The Matlab optimization toolbox is used to solve this

nonlinear constrained optimization problem in the above sec-

tion using interior point algorithm. Matlab and OpenDSS are

integrated to a co-simulation scheme, where Matlab takes

charge optimization and control, and OpenDSS simulates the

distribution network.

A. OpenDSS Simulator

The OpenDSS (Open Distribution System Simulator, used

version 7.4) is developed by Electric Power Research Institute

(EPRI) as a comprehensive open-source simulation tool for

electric utility distribution systems [16]. It aims at providing

a exible research platform and a foundation for special

distribution applications such as DG analysis. It can be used

as either a stand-alone executable program or an in-process

COM server to be driven from external software programs.

4

Wind farms

Energy storage

Distributed generator

Solar photovoltaics

Distributed generator

Fig. 4. Modied IEEE 13 node test feeder

1) IEEE 13 node system: The IEEE 13 node radial test

feeder system which is one of the benchmark systems in the

OpenDSS software package, is selected as the testing system

for this work. It is a three-phase unbalanced system, whose

parameter specication and power ow for the base case can

be retrieved from [17]. Originally there is no DG installed in

the network. Additional DSS scripts as described in Appendix

A are added to the feeder model for modication as shown in

Fig. 4. There are two capacitors installed at bus 675 (3 phases)

and 611.C and a load locates at the bus 670 invisible in Fig.

4, which is connected between bus 632 and 671.

2) Distributed generators: As shown in Fig. 4, one conven-

tional dispatchable distributed generator, one wind generator

and one solar generator are added to the system, specifying

their rated capacities and the buses to which they are connect-

ed. The conventional DG output in kW P

cg

is to be passed by

the controller in Matlab in each time step. The wind and solar

generator daily outputs would follow the multiplication of

rated kW values and duty schedules generated from historical

data les. Wind output is essentially a stochastic disturbance

and solar power contributes only during day time.

3) Energy storage: In OpenDSS, the energy storage ele-

ment is essentially treated as a special class of generator that

can be designated to either produce power (in discharging

mode) or consume power (in charging mode) with its power

rating and stored energy capacity.

The working mode of energy storage is set as discharg-

ing/charging depending on the positive/negative sign of the

demanded power P

es

(t), and the discharging/charging rate in

kW (|P

es

(t)|) is passed from Matlab to the OpenDSS model

in each time step.

The energy storage module is used in a snapshot mode to

compute the power ow for a deterministic state. This means

that its dynamic transient behavior is not considered at present.

The default value of 90% for both charging and discharging

efciency is applied, making a nominal round trip efciency of

81%. The energy storage is placed at the center of MicroGrid,

with the hope to conveniently compensate for short term power

0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1

1.2

Time (hr)

L

o

a

d

L

e

v

e

l

Fig. 5. Load level daily schedule

variations caused by intermittent generations.

4) Load schedule: A loadshape object is dened for varying

loads in OpenDSS to carry out real-time simulations. The load

schedule is stored in a data set, as shown in Fig. 5. The level

indicates the ratio of current and maximum load. White noise

with standard deviation of 0.025 is added to the load level to

account for the load estimation error.

B. Simulation Results

A 24 hour simulation is conducted on the MicroGrid model

described above. The length of prediction horizon is set as

4, meaning an one-hour ahead prediction is applied. The

contribution to loads from each energy source is shown in

the stacked graph as Fig. 6. Power from main grid follows

the load variation because the main grid is treated as a swing

source. Conventional distributed generator and energy storage

are used as auxiliary resources to maintain the power balance

and as assets to optimize the total generation costs. It can be

seen that the conventional DG is mainly utilized during the

peak hours (8 : 00 18 : 00) when higher price is applied

to the grid power. The behavior of energy storage is subject

to a slow-charging fast-discharging pattern, which allows it to

compensate to unpredictable change of renewable outputs and

avoid sacricing the power stability.

An ordinary control strategy is implemented to compare

with MPC, in which no prediction effect is incorporated. The

controller makes decision to achieve minimum cost only based

on the current measurements. The total electricity generation

cost is shown in Fig. 7. The advantage of MPC appears

from 8 a.m. the generation cost begins to increase, showing

the capability of MPC to foresee the price change and take

appropriate actions in advance.

Fig. 8 shows the bus voltages in the MPC test. The voltages

are repeatedly measured after the convergence of power ow

in each time step with under the control inputs given by MPC.

All bus voltages are within the feasible region showing that

the voltage constraints are always satised.

5

Time (hr)

P

o

w

e

r

o

u

t

p

u

t

(

k

W

)

3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24

0.5

0

0.5

1

1.5

2

2.5

3

3.5

4

Energy Storage

Solar Power

Wind Power

Conventional DG

Main Grid

Fig. 6. Generation output proles under MPC

0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Time (hr)

C

o

s

t

(

1

0

3

$

)

Ordinary

MPC

Fig. 7. Generation cost comparison between ordinary control strategy and

MPC

V. CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK

In this paper, we studied the renewable energy integration

problem in a MicroGrid taking advantage of MPC method.

With a prediction model embedded, MPC is capable of re-

ducing the generation cost over a future horizon. A number

of constraints can be naturally satised to ensure the power

quality and network stability.

In a co-simulation framework, Matlab optimization tool-

box is used to solve the nonlinear optimization problem

and OpenDSS is the platform to simulate virtual distribution

system model with renewable energy resources and energy

storage installed.

The demonstrating work can be continued and extended in

the following directions:

1) Although modeling for the wind and solar generators is

not the focus of this work and we assume accurate models

are available by certain techniques, incorporating the forecast

models that are not built from historical data to optimization

in MPC is still challenging.

2) In addition to steady-state, taking in to account dynamic

behavior of devices such as energy storages is of signicance.

650 633 634 671 645 692 675 611 652 670 632 680 646

0.9

1

1.1

Phase A

V

o

l

t

s

(

p

u

)

650 633 634 671 645 692 675 611 652 670 632 680 646

0.9

1

1.1

Phase B

V

o

l

t

s

(

p

u

)

650 633 634 671 645 692 675 611 652 670 632 680 646

0.9

1

1.1

Phase C

V

o

l

t

s

(

p

u

)

Node number

Fig. 8. Bus voltage distribution measured after convergence of each power

ow calculation

3) Due to the complexity of power ow equations, the

optimization cannot be readily formulated as a programming

problem that can be analytically solved. Therefore, the non-

linear optimization executed by the Matlab built-in functions

usually gives local optima and it requires a deep look into the

iterations to track the searching trajectory of optimal solutions.

APPENDIX A

OPENDSS SCRIPTS TO MODIFY IEEE TEST FEEDER

A. Distributed Generators

! 24HOURS SOLAR RAMP SCREEN

New Loadshape.SolarRamp npts=96 Interval=(1 4 /)

mult= (le= SolarRamp.csv)

! 24HOURS WIND OUTPUT SCREEN

New Loadshape.WindRamp npts=96 Interval=(1 4 /)

mult= (le= WindRamp.csv)

! GENERATOR DEFINITIONS

New Generator.ConGen Bus1=680.1.2.3 Phases=3 kV=4.16 pf=1 Model=1

New Generator.SolarGen Phases=2 Bus1=684.1.3 kV=4.16 kW=300 PF=1

Duty=SolarRamp

New Generator.WindGen Phases=2 Bus1=646.2.3 kV=4.16 kW=300 PF=1

Duty=WindRamp

B. Energy Storage

! ENERGY STORAGE DEFINITION

New Storage.ES1 Phases=3 Bus1=632 kV=4.16 kWRated=100

kWhRated=200 stored=50

C. Load Schedule

! LOADSHAPE DEFINITION

New Loadshape.LoadSchedule npts=96 Interval=(1 4 /)

mult= (le= LoadSchedule.csv)

! LOAD DEFINITION

New Load.675a Bus1=675.1 Phases=1 Conn=Wye Model=1 kV=2.4

kW=485 kvar=190 Duty=LoadSchedule

6

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors would like to thank Dr. Xiaoming Feng, Dr. Vaibhav Donde,

James Stoupis and Xianda Deng for their valuable help and comments.

REFERENCES

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microgrids operation, in IEEE Power and Energy Society General

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tion system service restoration, in IEEE PES Innovative Smart Grid

Technologies (ISGT), jan. 2011.

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uncertainty, in IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting, july

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System Analysis Subcommittee, 2001.

Jingran Ma received his B.S. and M.S. degree in Automatic Control from

Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, in 2006 and 2008, respectively. He

is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering at the University of

Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. His research interests include building

energy efciency, power system modeling and control, model predictive

control and system identication.

Fang Yang is a Sr. R&D engineer with ABB US Corporate Research

Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her research interests include distribution

automation, power system reliability analysis, and application of articial

intelligence techniques in power system control.

Zhao Li joined ABB Corporate Research in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2007,

where he is currently a Software Architect. His research interests include the

application of software technologies in process automation and power systems,

performance analysis, and information system design and tuning.

S. Joe Qin is the Fluor Professor at the Viterbi School of Engineering at

University of Southern California and Chang Jiang Professor afliated with

Tsinghua University by the Ministry of Education of China. Prior to joining

USC he held the Paul D. and Betty Robertson Meek and American Petrona

Foundation Centennial Professorship in Chemical Engineering at University of

Texas at Austin. He obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Automatic Control

from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, in 1984 and 1987, respectively,

and his Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering from University of Maryland

at College Park in 1992. Dr. Qins research interests include process control,

model predictive control, process monitoring, fault detection and diagnosis,

control performance monitoring, process optimization, semiconductor process

optimization, system identication and building energy efciency.

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