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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.

I. INTRODUCTION

T

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

stability.

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:

ritwik.majumder@se.abb.com).

Color versions of one or more of the gures in this paper are available online

at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.

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.

II. STABILITY ISSUES IN MICROGRIDS

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

3244 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER SYSTEMS, VOL. 28, NO. 3, AUGUST 2013

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.

MAJUMDER: SOME ASPECTS OF STABILITY IN MICROGRIDS 3245

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.

III. SMALL SIGNAL STABILITY

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

gains.

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

3246 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER SYSTEMS, VOL. 28, NO. 3, AUGUST 2013

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.

IV. TRANSIENT STABILITY

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

(1)

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

[36].

V. VOLTAGE STABILITY

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 .

MAJUMDER: SOME ASPECTS OF STABILITY IN MICROGRIDS 3247

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.

VI. STABILITY IMPROVEMENT IN MICROGRID

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

power.

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

3248 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER SYSTEMS, VOL. 28, NO. 3, AUGUST 2013

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.

VII. EIGEN VALUE AND TIME DOMAIN RESULTS

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

sharing.

MAJUMDER: SOME ASPECTS OF STABILITY IN MICROGRIDS 3249

Fig. 17. System structure in different stability study cases. (a) Small signal

stability. (b) Islanding transients. (c) Load shedding. (d) Reactive compensation.

TABLE I

SIMULATION CASES

TABLE II

GRID DATA

TABLE III

LOAD IN THE MICROGRID

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.

TABLE IV

CONVERTER AND CONTROLLER

TABLE V

DG CONTROLLER GAINS

TABLE VI

MICROGRID LINE IMPEDANCE

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;

3250 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER SYSTEMS, VOL. 28, NO. 3, AUGUST 2013

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

balance.

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.

MAJUMDER: SOME ASPECTS OF STABILITY IN MICROGRIDS 3251

Fig. 24. Oscillations in system frequency and load shedding in islanding.

Fig. 25. Settling time of system frequency with load shedding in different

microgrids.

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.

VIII. CONCLUSIONS

Overall this paper focuses on various types of microgrids to

investigate

different stability issues and their main reasons;

different improvement methods and comparative perfor-

mances.

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

simulations.

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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.

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