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3, AUGUST 2013 3243

Some Aspects of Stability in Microgrids
Ritwik Majumder, Member, IEEE
AbstractThis paper investigates some aspects of stability in mi-
crogrids. There are different types of microgrid applications. The
system structure and the control topology vary depending on the
application and so does the aspect of stability in a microgrid. This
paper briey encompasses the stability aspects of remote, utility
connected and facility microgrids depending on the modes of op-
eration, control topology, types of micro sources and network pa-
rameters. The small signal, transient and the voltage stability as-
pects in each type of the microgrid are discussed along with scope
of improvements. With a brief review of the existing microgrid
control methods in the literature and different industry solutions,
this paper sets up an initial platform for different types of micro-
grids stability assessment. Various generalized stability improve-
ment methods are demonstrated for different types of microgrids.
The conventional stability study of microgrids presented in this
paper facilitates an organized way to plan the micro source oper-
ation, microgrid controller design, islanding procedure, frequency
control and the load shedding criteria. The stability investigations
are presented with different control methods, eigen value analysis
and time domain simulations to justify different claims.
Index TermsMicrogrid, stability, voltage source converter.
HE system stability issues in a microgrid are well known
and have been investigated by many researchers in the re-
cent past, focusing on a particular aspect. Depending on the type
of microgrid, the control topology, network parameters, micro
sources etc. vary and so does the stability aspect. With more and
more voltage source converter (VSC) interfaced source integra-
tion, the stability in a microgrid largely depends on the control
topology of the VSCs. However, other micro sources, storage,
protection, compensation etc. also play a signicant role in the
system stability.
The small signal stability of a microgrid is investigated in
[1][13]. While [1], [3] and [4] address the dynamic stability
with the power electronic distributed generators (DGs), [2]
demonstrates the stability enhancement with double fed induc-
tion motors. Load sharing with different current and voltage
control loops with associated stability is discussed in [5][8].
The modeling and the stability analysis with VSC sources are
addressed in [9] and [10]. Eigen value analysis and time domain
results are presented to show the impact of feedback controller
in the system stability. In [11][13], the general stability issues
with the VSC sources are further emphasized, while a supple-
mentary control loop is proposed in [13] to improve the system
Manuscript received July 23, 2012; revised August 11, 2012, October 31,
2012, November 25, 2012, and December 04, 2012; accepted December 09,
2012. Date of publication January 15, 2013; date of current version July 18,
2013. Paper no. TPWRS-00864-2012.
The author is with ABB Corporate Research, Vsters, Sweden (e-mail:
Color versions of one or more of the gures in this paper are available online
Digital Object Identier 10.1109/TPWRS.2012.2234146
The microgrid stability in islanding is investigated in
[14][17]. Impact of different loading conditions and constant
power loads in the microgrid stability during islanding are
addressed in [14] and [15]. In [16], an active damping control
with a virtual resistance is proposed, while in [17] efcacy
of frequency control with an internal oscillator and voltage
feedback signal to regulate the island voltage in the VSCs are
demonstrated after islanding.
The transient stability analysis of a microgrid can ensure
system operability after large disturbances. With micro sources
with current limit, very little spinning reserve and limited
reactive support, it is essential to carry out detailed transient
analysis with possible contingencies. The transient stability is
investigated in [18][20]. A direct method with energy function
formulation for the transient stability analysis in a microgrid is
proposed in [19], while [20] demonstrates the transient stability
with both synchronous machine and VSC interfaced sources.
The microgrid stability with both inertial and converter in-
terfaced sources is investigated in [21][27]. The diesel genset
operation in CERTS system is discussed in [21]. Different
PV-diesel microgrid operations are investigated in [22], [24]
and [25]. The system stability in decentralized operation with
inertial and VSC sources in general is examined in [26].
Different control topologies to improve the system stability
during the island transient are proposed in [27][31]. The
change of converter control mode with voltage feedback is
proposed in [28] and a master slave conguration for the
island transient is investigated in [29]. Smooth islanding with
state feedback control and islanding stability characteristic
are discussed [30], [31].Various microgrid aspects, including
control and system stability, are analyzed in the European
research program on microgrid [32], [33]. High penetration of
distributed generations and advanced architecture of microgrids
are investigated in these projects.
This paper identies various reasons for the stability issues in
different microgrids and describes the generalized approach to
improve the system stability. The possibility of different control
loops and stabilizers are presented for different microgrid types.
A microgrid can be represented with different micro sources
and loads as shown in Fig. 1. However, the remote microgrids do
not have the utility connections as shown in Fig. 1. The utility
microgrids span geographically a larger area compared to the
facility microgrids. The micro sources, loads, network parame-
ters, control topologies vary in different microgrids [34].
In general the microgrid is dened as an integrated energy
system consisting of distributed energy resources (DERs) and
multiple electrical loads operating as a single, autonomous grid
either in parallel to or islanded from the existing utility power
grid [34].
From the stability aspect the major differences can be de-
scribed as
0885-8950/$31.00 2013 IEEE
Fig. 1. General representation of a microgrid with DGs and loads.
Fig. 2. Different stability issues in microgrid and the usual reasons.
A utility microgrid, connected to the utility at one point
(there could be also multiple connection points for grid
connected reliability) of common coupling (PCC), can op-
erate in island, spans over a large area (compared to a
facility microgrid) and contains different types of micro
sources and loads [34].
A remote microgrid is never connected to the utility and
operates mostly with decentralized control methods. The
maximum power use is limited for the customers and the
power quality requirements are much relaxed compared to
a facility microgrid [34].
A facility microgrid is normally connected with the host
utility and commonly a single business-entity microgrid. A
facility microgrid can continue to operate in an intentional
or an unintentional island. Facility microgrids can be for
an industrial or an institutional microgrid [34].
In this paper an institutional or campus microgrid (with few
micro sources and diesel backup) capable to operate in island
for a long time is considered as an example facility microgrid.
Similar to a large power system, the stability issues in a mi-
crogrid can be divided as small signal, transient and voltage sta-
bility. The recurring reasons of each stability problemare shown
Fig. 3. Different methods of stability improvement.
Fig. 4. Stability issues in different types of microgrids.
in Fig. 2. Small signal stability in a microgrid is related to feed-
back controller, continuous load switching, power limit of the
micro sources etc. A fault with subsequent island poses most of
the transient stability problem in a microgrid.
Reactive power limits, load dynamics and tap changers
create most of the voltage stability problems in a microgrid.
Fig. 3 shows different stability improvement methods. While
supplementary control loops, stabilizers, coordinated control
of the micro sources can improve the small signal stability,
the transient stability improvement is achieved through use of
storage, load shedding and adaptive protection devices. On the
other hand, voltage regulation with DGs, reactive compensa-
tion, advanced load controller and modied current limiters of
the micro sources can ensure the voltage stability in a micro-
grid. Depending on the microgrid type, different stability issues
can be related to most frequent problems as shown in Fig. 4. It
can be seen that the DG feedback controller with decentralized
control methods creates most of the small signal stability issues
in a remote microgrid, while in a utility microgrid the most
common reason is the current limiters. In a facility microgrid,
the frequent load switching within a small area often creates
the small signal stability problems.
Fig. 5. Small signal stability: Speed of the control loops.
Faults produce the obvious transient stability issues in all
types of microgrids. While a fault and subsequent islanding in
a utility or facility microgrid demonstrates the typical transient
stability aspect, in a remote microgrid, a fault within the mi-
crogrid and isolating the faulty part of the network creates the
transient stability problems.
The voltage stability in a remote microgrid is related to the
reactive compensation of the network but in a utility micro-
grid the main source of the voltage stability problems is the tap
changers. With few sources and conned loads, limiters in the
micro sources and under voltage load shedding create most of
the voltage stability problems in a facility microgrid.
The small signal stability in a microgrid is analyzed with a
linearized model of micro sources and loads. The speed of the
control loops in a VSC is shown in Fig. 5. Most of the stability
issues in the converter control loops (in a microgrid) arises from
the outer most power controllers and their associated control
The small signal modeling of the converter with the associ-
ated controllers is also shown in Fig. 5. The converter model is
represented with the converter capacitor voltage , con-
verter current and the output current states . Each of
the converter controllers is modeled with its states as shown in
Fig. 5. Together with the output voltage angle , real and reac-
tive power output in power controller , voltage
controller and the current controller states, the con-
verter LCL lter states are combined to derive the state space
model of the converter with the controllers. For each of the con-
verters this is done individually at their own reference frame
(dq). The load and the network are also modeled with their
state space equations. Depending on location of the DGs and
the loads in the network, the state space equations are com-
bined to formulate the total microgrid state space equation in
a common reference frame (DQ). The design of the controllers
should be done using this combined state space model through
small signal stability analysis [35].
Different supplementary control loops can be added to im-
prove the system stability. Fig. 6 shows different possibility of
stability improvement with the supplementary control loops in
Fig. 6. Improving small signal stability in droop controlling mode.
Fig. 7. Improving small signal stability in power controlling mode.
Fig. 8. Modeling for transient stability study.
a droop controlled converter. Fig. 7 shows the supplementary
control loops possibilities for power controlling converters.
The transient stability of a microgrid can be assessed with
a nonlinear model (combining the converter droop controller
models through the network equations [19]). One method of
analysis is based on the construction of the Lyapunov function.
A microgrid model for the transient stability analysis with the
converter interfaced sources is shown in Fig. 8. The real and
reactive power outputs of the converters relate the individual
converter state equations through the network equation to derive
the system model.
To apply direct method of transient stability analysis, it is nec-
essary to construct a Lyapunov function. The Lyapunov func-
tion for a microgrid can be selected from the droop controller
variables [19], which are converter operating frequency and
lter capacitor voltage . The function can be written as
Fig. 9. Transient stability modeling with mixed sources.
Fig. 10. Aspect of voltage stability: Stable (s) and unstable (u) points.
The function can be derived with a separate constant for each
state variable or combination of them satisfying the Lyapunov
criteria. If a synchronous machine is present in the system, one
can model themin a simplied way employing a classical model
where the generators are represented with the swing equation
(Fig. 9). The constant impedance loads are not generally in-
cluded in the functions. However with a dynamic load, these
techniques can be extended with the transient voltage depen-
dency of the load. The source and the load behavior can be de-
composed into slow and fast subsystems for transient analysis
The voltage stability problem in a microgrid may appear due
to various reasons as mentioned in Section II. The voltage sta-
bility problem in a microgrid can be demonstrated using the
P-V and Q-V curves. The P-Vcurve indicates the maximum
loadability while Q-V curve shows the necessary amount of re-
active power at the load end for desired voltage. In a microgrid,
if a VSCis injecting (Fig. 10) power to a load , the load
powers can be related with the terminal voltage and the
load voltage .
The reactive power generation can be expressed in
terms of the terminal voltage , load voltage and
the load power . It must be noted that the reactive power
control is much faster with a VSC compared to a synchronous
machine. The reactive power sharing with a sudden change
in the reactive power demand or supply must be controlled
properly to avoid converter reactive limit or system oscillation.
With different types of loads, the reactive power demand may
vary with the load characteristics. Three voltage stability cri-
teria related to the reactive power are shown in Fig. 10. For all
the cases, the system stability curves are shown with stable
and unstable points. Condition-1 shows the stability curve
for the reactive power generation and the reactive power
consumption . The systemis stable when is pos-
itive as indicated in Fig. 10. The rate of change in the reactive
power consumption with the load voltage is compared to the rate
of change in the reactive power generation with the voltage in
condition-2. Condition 3 is derived from condition-1 and con-
dition 2. It shows the stability criteria for rate of change in the
converter terminal voltage with the load voltage.
The key issues in this analysis would be 1. Reactive power
control strategy. 2. Load characteristics. 3. Slow increase of the
power demand. 4. Outage of one part of the network.
In this section various methods to improve the stability in a
microgrid are discussed.
A. Stabilizer
Stabilizers can be used in the VSC interfaced micro sources
to improve the small signal stability. Fig. 11 shows the stabi-
lizer for a DG and it can be seen that the voltage magnitude,
frequency and the power output of the connected DG are fed to
the stabilizer. It is to be noted that the stabilizer can be included
in any of the control loop shown in Figs. 6 and 7. Separate stabi-
lizing equipment (for existing VSCs) or a supplementary control
loop can improve the stability of a VSC interfaced DG.
1) Modulating and provide a fast response stabiliza-
tion but may lead to systemoscillation in a continuous load
switching scenario.
2) Modulating and can also provide an effective
stabilization loop. This option is suitable for both grid con-
nected and grid forming sources.
3) Modulating and provide a much slower stabiliza-
tion but effective in remote microgrid scenarios, where the
regulations are not time critical.
B. Reactive Compensation With DSTATCOM
The reactive compensation in a microgrid is necessary to
maintain the voltage within acceptable limits. The voltage reg-
ulation problems are more in utility and remote microgrids.
1) In grid connected mode, the voltage regulation problem
appears mostly on the load end of the feeder.
2) In islanded mode, the voltages may fall below acceptable
limit anywhere and identifying the compensation location
is harder.
Fig. 12 shows a DSTATCOM connected close to the crit-
ical load to ensure required power quality. When the voltages
fall below the lower limit, the DSTATCOM can inject reactive
The DSTATCOM can be controlled
Fig. 11. Stabilizer for DGs.
Fig. 12. Reactive compensation with DSTATCOM.
based on local measurements of the point it is connected;
based on communicated measurements and coordinated
control with the DGs [37].
The communicated measurements can be used to modulate
the converter output voltage reference as shown in
Fig. 13.
C. Energy Storage System: Flywheel
Energy storage system provides the stability improvement in
a microgrid by injecting active (sometimes also reactive power)
power during power shortage, DGtrip, islanding, load dynamics
and ride through till the backup diesel gensets come live. There
are many energy storage devices available in the market. The
ywheel is one of the high performance energy storage solu-
tions. With a ywheel system it is possible to inject power in
the MW range even within one fourth of a cycle [38]. The basic
structure of a ywheel systemconnected to a microgrid is shown
in Fig. 14. The ywheel system is connected to the microgrid
Fig. 13. Converter control for DSTATCOM with communication.
Fig. 14. Flywheel storage for microgrid stability.
Fig. 15. Converter control for ywheel storage.
with back to back converters. The rst converter works as y-
wheel drive and maintains the DC side voltage. The grid side
converter injects real and reactive power based on the measured
frequency and voltage. The power injection is usually based on
droop control outside an acceptable frequency or voltage range.
A possible control solution is shown in Fig. 15.
D. Load Shedding for Stability Improvement
The most crucial role of load shedding in the microgrid sta-
bility takes place during islanding. A sudden loss of the grid
creates power imbalance and the load shedding for the power
balance is time critical in a microgrid. The load shedding can
be achieved with different methods,
Fig. 16. Different methods of load shedding for microgrid stability.
Breaker interlock: A xed switch is interlocked with the is-
landing switch to shed some xed loads. This method is fast and
effective but xed (Fig. 16, option 1).
Under Frequency Relay: The most common way to shed
load in a microgrid is to detect under frequency and trip the
relays. However, this method is slow and could be much
slower with presence of a large storage.
PLC Based Load Shed: PLC based load shedding schemes
are activated based on number of generators operating
under frequency condition and amount of load connected
to the system. However it requires high amount of moni-
toring and during transients the time to shed load is often
too long.
Advanced Methods: Advanced load shedding method
(Fig. 16, option 2) can use monitored data and network
model for an optimization process.
In this section simulation results investigating different sta-
bility issues and stability improvement methods are presented
(Figs. 2 and 3). Only a few key results, with the most common
stability improvement methods (Fig. 3, top row) for small signal
stability, transient stability and voltage stability are presented to
demonstrate the concepts. The simulation cases are shown in
Table I. The cases are linked with the identied stability issues
in Sections IIIV and the improvement methods in Section V.
The simulation cases are shown in Fig. 17. It is to be noted that
these are simplied representations of the schemes. The micro
source and the system parameters are presented in Tables IIVI.
A. Small Signal Stability
The most common reason of small signal stability issues in
a microgrid is the feedback controller (Fig. 2). In this case, the
impact of the feedback gains on the system stability is tested by
gradually increasing the power controller gain. The eigenvalue
trajectory with change in the power controller gain is shown in
Fig. 18 [for the example microgrid Fig. 17(a)].
It can be seen that the system becomes unstable for a
higher value of the feedback gain . However in many
scenarios a higher gain is required to ensure proper load
Fig. 17. System structure in different stability study cases. (a) Small signal
stability. (b) Islanding transients. (c) Load shedding. (d) Reactive compensation.
A supplementary control loop (Figs. 3 and 11) can ensure
system stability while using high feedback gain. For sim-
ilar change in the power controller gain as in Fig. 18, the
eigenvalue trajectory with the supplementary control loop
is shown in Fig. 19.
Fig. 18. Eigenvalue trajectory as function of power controller gain.
The time domain results with the high power controller gains
(with and without the supplementary controller) are shown in
Fig. 20. The values of the power controller gains are changed
from to at 0.2 s. The system becomes unstable with the
high feedback gains as shown in Fig. 20(a). The supplementary
controller can make the system stable as shown in Fig. 20(b).
The active power output of the DG is shown as .
The system damping with different converter control loops
(Fig. 9) are compared with 10% change in the power reference.
The rise time and the settling time are shown in Fig. 21. It can
be seen that
injecting damping signal in the current control loop always
provides the fastest response (rise time);
the settling time is much higher in the remote microgrid as
compared to the facility microgrid;
Fig. 19. Eigen trajectory as function of power controller gain with supplemen-
tary control loop.
Fig. 20. System stability with and without supplementary control loop.
(a) System instability with high power controller gains. (b) Supplementary
controller with high gain power controller.
Fig. 21. Damping in converter control loop.
the control loops for damping (Figs. 7 and 8) have different
impacts on the facility and the remote microgrid in term of
the response timings. The rise time varies in both the cases
proportionally from current control loop to power control
loop. However the variations of control loops have little
impact on settling time in case of the facility microgrid.
B. Islanding Transients
In this section, the transient stability issues following an is-
land (Fig. 2) are demonstrated. There are various factors in a
fault and subsequent islanding.
It is required to shed some load to achieve the power
Fig. 22. System instability during islanding due to power imbalance.
Fig. 23. System stability during islanding with storage. (a) Power injection by
storage. (b) RMS voltage at load bus.
However, the load shedding procedure takes some time.
In a fault, the system may lose stability very rapidly before
the loads are cut off Fig. 22.
A fault ride through can be provided by a DSTATCOM
Fig. 12. (The normal operation of the DSTATCOM de-
scribed in Fig. 13 can provide the reactive support.)
The support from the DSTATCOM provides time to shed
load [39].
The value of the dc capacitor supplying the DSTATCOM
should be chosen such that there will be no appreciable
drop in the dc bus voltage during the transients.
Thus the DC capacitor value is derived from the energy
requirement during the transition.
It must be noted that this support from the DSTATCOM is
limited with the device rating Fig. 13.
In a microgrid, storage plays an important role during islanding.
The power injection from the storage (until the loads are cut off)
can ensure 1) system stability, 2) power quality, and 3) normal
operation of the DGs.
The storage can provide the stabilizer action (Figs. 14 and
15) throughout the system operation for both grid connected
and islanded mode. With battery storage it is possible to supply
power for longer time and this is useful following a major power
imbalance e.g., islanding.
Fig. 23 shows the system response during an islanding with
power support fromthe storage. It can be seen that the extra load
requirement is picked up by the battery at 0.15 s (islanding) and
at 0.65 s the storage power output is reduced to zero as the loads
are shedded accordingly.
Fig. 24. Oscillations in system frequency and load shedding in islanding.
Fig. 25. Settling time of system frequency with load shedding in different
C. Load Shedding
The impact of the load shedding on the system stability is
shown in this section. With the example microgrid [Fig. 17(c)],
an islanding with 20% extra load is simulated. The islanding is
followed by a load shedding to achieve the power balance. The
systemresponses with different load shedding methods (Fig. 16)
are shown in Fig. 24.
It can be seen that the performance of the conventional
frequency relay deteriorates with presence of a motor load.
For critical network it is recommended to use the advanced
load shedding method with superior performance Fig. 16.
The settling times in different microgrids are compared
in Fig. 25. It can be seen that with the motor load, the
frequency based load shedding has a longer settling time
and that is quite high in case of the remote microgrid.
D. Reactive Compensation
The reactive compensation method with the DSTATCOM
(Figs. 12 and 13) is used in different types of microgrids. As
mentioned the compensation is achieved by the coordinated
control of the DSTATCOM and the other DGs.
This improves the RMS voltage in the feeders as shown
Fig. 26(b). It can be seen that without compensation the volt-
ages fall much below the acceptable level [Fig. 26(a)]. The
RMS voltage drops (%) for different microgrids with reactive
compensation are shown in Fig. 27. It is to be noted that
for the facility and the utility microgrids the voltage drop
remains well within acceptable limit;
Fig. 26. Reactive compensation with DSTATCOM. (a) RMS voltage without
reactive compensation. (b) RMS voltage with reactive compensation.
Fig. 27. Reactive compensation with different microgrid: voltage drop.
for the remote microgrid however, the voltage drops are
around 6%8% (generally the acceptable value is 10% in
such microgrid);
critical load (in remote microgrid) should be close to the
DSTATCOM or other power quality equipment to have
tighter voltage regulation.
Overall this paper focuses on various types of microgrids to
different stability issues and their main reasons;
different improvement methods and comparative perfor-
While stability problems are instigated by different factors in
various types of microgrids, efcacy of the stability improve-
ment methods may vary largely depending on the application
and the system scenarios. Generalized and methodical stability
studies of various types of microgrids are described with dif-
ferent control methods, eigenvalue analysis and time domain
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Ritwik Majumder (M10) received the Ph.D. degree from Queensland Univer-
sity of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.
He is working at ABB Corporate Research, Vsters, Sweden. From 2004
to 2007, he worked with Siemens and ABB Corporate Research Centre, India.
His interests are in power systems dynamics, distributed generation and power
electronics applications.