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Design and Simulation of an Inverter with High Frequency Sinusoidal

PWM Switching Technique for Harmonic Reduction in a Standalone/

Utility Grid Synchronized Photovoltaic System
A.Z.M.Shahriar Muttalib1, S.M.Ferdous2, Ahmed Mortuza Saleque3

Dept. of EEE
American International University- Bangladesh (AIUB)
Banani, Dhaka-1213

Inverters are one of the major parts of any Photovoltaic Systems those are intended to
feed power to any isolated standalone ac loads or to synchronize with the utility power grid
systems. This paper discusses the design and simulation of a typical 1kW experimental precise
sinusoidal Photovoltaic inverter which is intended to feed ac power at a standard 50Hz
frequency to a mini grid powered by Photovoltaic solar cells. The very well-known and
popular sinusoidal pulse width modulation (SPWM) technique with very high carrier
frequency (in the order of kHz) has been chosen as the control scheme of the inverter by which
it is also possible to synchronize the module to feed power on the 1-phase utility power grid.
To get a desirable sine wave output from the inverter with good power quality and acceptable
range of efficiency, all the variables have been properly optimized and designed accordingly.
The high carrier frequency switching scheme enables to design a low pass smoothing filter for
harmonic elimination resulting a reduction in Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) with small
sized inductors and capacitors. As a prototype, the proposed circuit has been designed to
supply small ac power, where the same design can be adopted and implemented to feed high
power on the same grid only by increasing the device power ratings.

For any grid tied photovoltaic (PV) system, inverter is the essential piece of equipment
that changes the DC power from the PV array to AC power used in the electrical grid. Inverters
transform DC power from the PV array into AC power for the grid. Since solar arrays behave
like batteries powered by the sun, inverters have to manipulate the DC voltage and current to
maximize the power produced by the arrays. For high efficiency DC-AC conversion and peak
power tracking, it must have low harmonic distortion along with low electromagnetic
interference (EMI) and high power factor [1]. An inverter is evaluated after design by using the
Inverter performance and testing standards which are IEEE 929-2000 and UL 1741 in the US EN
61727 in the EU and IEC 60364-7-712 [2].
The total harmonic distortion (THD) generated by the inverter is regulated by international
standard IEC-61000-3-2 [2]. It requires that the full current THD be less than 5% and voltage
THD be less than 2% for harmonic spectra up to 49 th harmonic. At partial load, the THD is
usually much higher.
Inverters are necessary for any of the following energy sources PV power modules.
Variable speed wind power system.

Battery used in wind/PV power system.

The poor P.F. and content in inverter significantly degrade the power quality at the grid interface.
Now designed topologies will enable the inverter to operate with new unity P.F. and THD less
than 3-5%. [3]
There are three basic approaches to inverter design One inverter inverts all DC power (central inverter)
Each string or multistring unit has its own inverter (string inverter)
Each module has a built-in inverter (module inverter)
Costing of the unit, besides efficiency and power quality would dictate the most economical
design for a given system.



A. Standalone System
In general, stand-alone system is used in the rural areas where there is no sufficient facility
to get an access to the main grid due to the technical problem or economical unfeasibility.
Conventionally there are two main applications for stand alone system which are battery charging
and solar water pumping. Battery charging is required to provide the necessary support where there
is low solar irradiation and night time. Several types of batteries are available which includes lead
acid, nickel cadmium, redox, and vanadium batteries and so on. But while choosing the optimum
battery its better to focus on the following issues:
Deep discharge
Low charging / discharging current
High energy storage efficiency
Low cost
Two main reasons which have been identified as limiting criteria for the cycle life of batteries
are incomplete charging and prolong operation at a low state of charge (SOC). If the capacity of
the battery is increased the depth of discharge will be reduced which will eventually lead to long
life time but it will not be an economically viable solution while replacing the battery. As these
charged batteries are going to be used during low irradiation of the Sun, an efficient inverter is
required to feed AC to the main grid. Inverter of standalone system should maintain some features
such as sinusoidal voltage, good voltage regulation and low harmonics in the output.

FIG.1.Schematic principle of a stand-alone PV system supplying a building

B. Hybrid
In order to provide ecumenical, reliable and continuous power supply a combination of PV,
wind and fossil foul generation are integrated to form a hybrid system which guarantees the same
supply reliability as the public grid. Under favourable weather condition the demand first meet by
the PV generator and supplying the surplus energy to the batteries simultaneously. During
unfavourable weather or facing probable of danger of deep discharge, gas or diesel fuel generators

provide the support to the system. At windy sites, as PV and wind energy converters are
complementary to each other a proper optimization of these two units will reduce the operating
time and fuel consumption of other fossil fuel powered sources.

FIG. 2.Schematic principle of a hybrid system with PV, wind, and diesel generators

C. Grid Concept
Grid connected PV system always have a connection via a suitable inverter. Normally a
highly PV integrated network has an adverse impact as the system is going to be introduced with
number of nonlinear devices. In order to eliminate this undesirable situation properly designed
filter is required which might not be an economical solution. So appropriately designed inverter
can be helpful for reducing the harmonics. Grid connected system can be categorized into two
kinds, one decentralized grid connected system and another one is central grid connected system.

FIG.3. Block diagram of the power supply for a house with a decentralized PV system and grid
Inverters are used to convert the DC output of PV or a storage battery in to AC electricity,
in order to be fed in to the grid or to supply a standalone system. Modern inverters are

bidirectional those are capable of operating in both inverting and rectifying nodes. In many
standalone PV installations, alternating current is needed to operate household utility appliances
at 230 V, 50 Hz frequency. Generally stand-alone inverter operates at 12, 24, 48, 96, 120 or even
240V dc depending on the power level [6].
Modern inverters are self-commutating (with IGBT or MOSFET semiconductor
switches) due to their better power quality, operation & performance. Typically MOSFETS/
IGBTs are used in unit up to 5kVA and 96V dc. They have the advantage of low switching losses
at higher frequencies. Only for very large PV inverters in the 10kW power range, thyristor
inverters (Grid/ force connected) are still used. The first self-commutating inverters performed
sine-wave modulation (SPWM sinusoidal pulse width modulation) of the output current on the
primary side and 50 Hz transformer to adapt the voltage level to grid voltage. In this paper, a
similar type of inverter is designed, modeled and analyzed to observe the performance. Such
inverters still contribute a significant market share.
Now-a-days, manufacturers offer devices with high frequency transformers instead, thus
reducing the weight at the cost of efficiency. In countries where grounding of the PV generator is
not mandatory, transformer less inverters are increasingly introduced. They are higher and more
efficient, but particularly care has to be taken on EMC (Electromagnetic compatibility) are fault
current detection.
Inverter efficiency is generally more important in PV applications but of particular
significance at partial load, as the bulk of energy is yielded at partial load. Furthermore, with a
large area PV generator coupled to the DC side of the inverter and the public grid on the AC side,
a set of standards have to be met with respect to harmonics and EMC. Some standard design
criteria and functionality of PV inverters are [6] Efficiency: will above 90% even at 5% of nominal load
Voltage and current quality: Harmonics & EMC
Overload capability: 20-30% of grid connected inverter
Precise & robust MPP tracking
Supervision of the grid, safety and maintain synchronisation

Data acquisition and monitoring

Good inverters in the KW power range have a typical efficiency range of 92-96% and up to 98%
for large central inverters. A newly developed inverter using the HERIC (Highly efficient and
Reliable Inverter Concept) topology reaches and efficiency of about 98%.

FIG.4.GeneralOverview of the designed system

Inverters also perform Maximum power point (MPP) tracking in order to optimally
operate the PV system. Generally MPP tracking is done by varing the duty cycle. Several MPP
tracking algorithm is available in literature and according to the chosen algorithm the MPP is
tracked by varing the duty cycle of the swithcing device. DC-DC converter is mostly used for
MPP tracking where as MPP it is only possible in an inverter when PWM signals are generated
by Multiple Pulse modulation. In this proposed inverter the modulation scheme (discussed
later)is SPWM (Sinusoidal Pulse Width Modulation)which is incapable of performing the MPP
tracking as the duty cycle in this schemeis continuously varing. So, for this type of inverter
which is using SPWM scheme, a separate DC-DC converter is needed for MPP tracking. The
design of a MPP tracker along with an algorithm is a tedious and cumbersome task and that sort
of discussion is beyond the scope of this paper.
In the inverter the input is dc which is constant voltage. So in order to get an A.C voltage
it requires such a controlling system where the amplitude as well as the frequency can be
controlled. For this kind of operation PWM (pulse Width modulation) inverters are being used.
There are various kinds of PWM scheme which includes single pulse modulation, multiple pulse
modulation and sinusoidal pulse width modulation (SPWM). But mainly we are going to focus
on SPWM scheme as it improves the situation of the inverter by directly controlling the output
voltage according to sine function. For the full bridge inverter the PWM is obtained by
comparing the frequency of a high frequency carrier with two sine waves. These two sine waves
are 1800 phase shifted with each other. The control waveform which is used to control the switch
is achieved by comparing a sine wave at a particular frequency with a triangle wave of fixed
amplitude with much higher frequency. The comparator gives out a pulse when sign voltage is
greater than the triangle voltage and this pulse voltage is used to trigger the respective switches
[4, 8].
The ratio between the triangular wave and sine wave must be an integer N, the number of
voltage pulses per half-cycle, such that
2N= fc / fs

FIG.5. SPWM modulation scheme

According to this scheme if the peak of sine voltage is less than the half the triangular
voltage harmonics less than the 2N are eliminated. For higher values of sinusoidal voltage,
higher order harmonics appear with amplitude of 15% less the fundamental [9].
The following equations are used in the sinusoidal PWM scheme:
Mf c Mf c
Ma s
Amplitude Modulation,
, As is amplitude of output frequency and
Ac amplitude of carrier frequency
Frequency Modulatio n,
fs is frequency of output signal and fc frequency of carrier frequency
i. Percentage of individual harmonics is calculated by the equation,

V dc
n 2


p 1

i 1

cos n i

n = nth harmonics


Percentage of total rms of the output voltage, Vn

2 2

% Vn 100 ( 2 p 2 p 1 )
p 1

, if Mf is even

% Vn 100

M f 1

p 1


2 p 1 ) M f



Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) is given by

, if Mf is odd



n 2 , 3,..

Vh Vout

In the sinusoidal PWM the amplitude and frequency both can be controlled. The switching
operation shifts the harmonics in the higher frequency. These harmonics shifted as the carrier
frequency increases. After shifting the harmonics in the higher frequency, it can be easily
eliminated by using low pass filter [5, 8, 9].
A. Generation of SPWM Signal
Sinusoidal pulse width modulation(SPWM) means that, the output voltage is controlled
according to a sine function. The control signal is achieved by comparing a reference sine wave
produced by an oscillator of a particular frequency f s with a triangular wave of fixed amplitude
with a much higher frequency fc (generally in kHz range). The basic circuit arrangement for
generating the necessary control signal is shown using the block representation of Fig.6.

FIG. 6. Block Diagram of SPWM generation

The conventional Wien-Bridge oscillator can be used to generate the reference sinusoidal
voltage.An inverting amplifier is needed to generate the necessary switching signal for negative
cycle as shown in Fig.6. The circuit arrangement for WienBridge oscillator is shown in Fig.7.
The output voltage of the oscillator is 2V at a frequency of 50Hz.

FIG. 7. Wien-Bridge Sine wave oscillator generating the reference sine wave at a frequency of
The carrier triangular waveform generating circuit is shown in Fig.8. The frequency of the
waveform is 1.6khz and the output voltage has a magnitude of 5V. For both the circuit, the
values of resistors and capacitors are calculated to generate the desired voltages at proper values
of frequencies as per design scheme.

FIG. 8. Triangular waveform generator that generates the high frequency carrier signals at a
frequency of 1.6khz.
Both the sine and triangular waves are compared with each other by using a simple comparator
circuit to generate the switching waveform S1 and S4 (i.e. for positive cycle switching). The
comparator detects the crossing points of the two signals and produces there from the required
control signal with desired duty cycle. This signal is applied to the gates of the switching devices
of the inverter and thus producing the chopped PWM voltage at the output. An inverted version
of the reference sine wave is again compared with the carrier wave to generate the switching
waveform S2 and S3 (i.e. for negative cycle). The total circuit arrangement is shown in detail in
Fig. 9.

FIG. 9. Complete circuit diagram to generate the switching wave form (S1, S4) and (S2, S3) for
the SPWM scheme.
For this inverter an unipolar switching scheme is used rather than bipolar switching as shown in
Fig.5 to achieve a better performance from the inverter. The simulated sine wave and triangular
wave obtained from the two oscillator circuit are shown in Fig.10.

FIG. 10.Simulated sinusoidal reference signal (50Hz) and triangular carrier signal (1.6 kHz)
generated by the switching waveform genetation circuit of FIG. 9.

B. Reduction of harmonics of the inverter output

Inverter output waveform may vary to a large extent depending upon the application and the
circuit used. In most cases, an AC load requires sinusoidal output but the mejority of the
inverters produce square wave voltages. Therefore, appropriate means are adopted to alter the
waveform of the inverter output to a more or less sinusoidal waveshape. Harmonic attenuation
can be achieved by several methods such as by resonating the load, by an LC filter, pulse width
modulation, sinewave synthesis, selected harmonic reduction an by polyphase inveters [9].
In this design reduction of harmonics is primarily done by pulse width modulation and using LC
C. Harmonic Attenuation by Pulse Width Modulation
Generally several PWM scheme is employedto reduce harmonics. Among of them sinusoidal
pulse width modulation is used for this inverter. Use of SPWM reduces further the harmonic
content at the inverter output, the reduction being more with large number of pulses per half
cycle. For the modulation scheme used here the value of N is equal to 1600/50 = 32; which
implies that all harmonic voltages below the 64th harmonics should be absent [8, 9]. But as a
bipolar triangular wave is used as carrier signal instead of unipolar signal, the number of
eliminated harmonics will be upto 32 because of the presence of the negative cycles in the signal.
D. Harmonic Attenuation by LC filter
The main function of the filter is waveshaping and it should be loss free. The simplest filter is the
single section LC filter. The series inductance and the shunt element a capacitance. In the series
inductance, harmonic voltages are developed and harmonic currents flow through the shunt
capaciatnce. In this filter, attenuation of the harmonic comonents increases with frequency. The
phase shift through the filter is also a function of frequency and is nearly zero at low frequencies
and approaches 180 at higher frequencies. The filter should be designed to make a good
compromisation between maximum inverter current and voltage regulation. The LC resonance
frequency should be less than the lowest harmonic to be attenuated. At the same time the load
power factor should be considered in selecting the individual values of L and C [9].
To get a pure sine wave output or an output with very low THD (Total Harmonic Distortion)from
a pure square wave, a Low pass filter with very sharpe response characteristic is required. At the
same time the size of the filter components will be large to filter out the low frequency harmonic
components specially the third and fifth harmonics. Modulation with a very high frequency
signal shifts the harmonic components to a higher frequency points which enablethe filtering
process much easier using a LC filter built with small sized inductor and capacitor with moderate
frequency response characteristics as a very sharpe response is not that much needed.
The LC low pass filter is a second order filter which eliminates all high order harmonics from
PWM waveform so that the inverter output id 50Hz, low distortion, pure sinusoidal output
voltagewave. The cut-off frequency of the low pass filter is selected such that, total THD is less
than 5%.
Though the LC filter is quite simple is quite simple but it has the disadvantage of poor regulation
at the inverter output. The value of inductor is calculated such that the voltage drop across the
inductor is less than 3% of the inverter output voltage, V 0 so that it satisfies the following
equation [6]Iload max x 2fL < 0.03V0

where Iload max is the maximum RMS load current and f is output voltage frequency (50Hz).
The regulation can be improved to some extent by using a LC tuned filter. But in this design the
voltage regulation i.e. the drop across the inductor, is improved by increasing the turn ratio of the
transformer by recalculating it after simulation.

The design of the inverter is done based on the following output specifications:
Input voltage (d.c)
Output voltage (a.c)
Output frequency
Total harmonic distortion
The output voltage should be free from harmonics within the range (150Hz-1.5 kHz).
The sequence of operation of the inverter can be represented with the following block diagram:

FIG. 11.Block diagram of operating sequence of inverter

The circuit arrangement of the inverter along with other components (except the control
signal generation circuit) is shown in Fig.12.

FIG. 12.Circuit arrangement of the full bridge inverter.

A. Power Specification
The power specification is needed to calculate so that the current which the switch has to
withstand can be determinded. For simulation purspose an ideal switch is used in order to

observe the output without any kind of loss across the switch. In practice MOSFET or IGBT can
be used in order to perform the switching task and at the same time the system will be self
commutating instead of forced or grid commutating.At the output the circuit should be able to
supply this amount of power to the load. This power specification is also being used to calculate
the load value.
Input side:
In the input side the voltage is 12V and power is 1kW. So the current rating is (1000/12) =
83.33amp. So switch should be selected so that it can withstand that amount current. In the
output the load is calculated from this power specification. In this case an ideal switch is selected
so that there is no power loss for it.
Output Side:
In the output it will experience the same amount of power and the output voltage is 240V (rms).
So the load should be, R = (240)2/1000 = 57.6
B. Input and output voltage specifation
The input and output voltage specification is used to select the turn ratio of the transformer. The
input voltage is 12V and the output voltage is 240V (rms). So it requires a step up transformer
whose gain is = (240 X 2 )/12 = 28.28. (i.e. on Primary side 100 turns and on secondary side
2828 turns)In this case an ideal transformer is being used to step up the voltage to meet the
specified output. In practical case there may be some sort of unpredictable change in the output
depending on the time constant of the system. The transformer is placed before the filter for
scaling down the filter size as the transformer it self takes part in filtering process.
C. Operation and simulation of the inverter circuit (without filtering)
As per design and control schemethecircuit arrangement is simulated in the Pspice (version16.3)asshown in Fig.13.

FIG. 13. Simulation of the inverter circuit along with necessary control signals simulated in
PSPICE 16.3.
The control signal of the (S1, S4) and (S2, S3) are shown in Figure 14 (a) and (b) respectively

FIG. 14 (a). Control signal for S1 and S4.

FIG. 14 (b). Control signal for S2 and S3.

It can be seen that, S1 and S4 are not closing at the same time and also S2 and S3 are as well. So
there is no short circuit exist in the whole operation. This is normally known as Blanking
time.After the switching the following chopped wave shape is obtained at the output of the
inverter as shown in Figure 15 (a).

FIG. 15 (a). Output voltage waveshape of the inverter before filtering.

The rms value of the output can be observed from the following wave shape of Figure 15(b). The
voltage is around 240V when steady state point is achieved.

FIG. 15(b). RMS value of the output voltage. The voltage is stepped up to a value of 240Vac
from 12Vdc. Stepping up of voltage is performed by a transformer.
The Fast Fourier Transformation(FFT) of the output voltage can be found out using Pspice which
is shown in FIG. 16.

FIG. 16. FFT of the output voltage of the inverter (without filtering).
It is to be noted that, all the harmonic components are shifted towards the high frequency.
Initially the frequency of the carrier signal was 800Hz which can easily be verified by the
presence of the 15th harmonics at 800Hz point of the above figure.
D. Harmonic calculation before filtering
The output voltage is,Vout = 240V. The amplitude of the fundamental component is 271.574V. So,
from Fig.16-

V1 271.5741V 192.031V (rms)


Vh Vout V1 240 2 192.0312 143.959V

THD (%)

Vh 143.959

V1 192.031

According to the Pspice simulation, the percentage of the harmonic is 80.5 which are really close
to the calculated value. Now this total harmonic distortion (THD) value has to be reduced to less
than 5% and to eliminate all the harmonics between 150 to 1.5 kHz. For this purpose two
common harmonic reduction techniques are used [9]i. Increasing the frequency of the control signal
ii. Using a low pass LC filter
E. Increasing the frequency of the control signal
In SPWM scheme the harmonic reduction is more effective with larger number of pulses per half
cycle. To reducetheTHD, the frequency of the carrier signal has been increased. By doing so the
lower order harmonics will be shifted towards the high frequency. But it will not reduce the
amplitude of the harmonics. At the beginning the time period of the carrier signal was 1.25msec
so that the frequency is 800Hz. But to reduce the THD value as per standard design
consideration,the frequency of the carrier signal has been increased by decreasing the time period
of the carrier signal. For this case it has been halved. Now the time period is 0.625msec and the
frequency is 1600Hz.
Before increasing the carrier frequency the THD value was 80.5% but after doubling the
frequency, THD value has reduced to 55.29%.By increasing the carrier frequency the harmonics
has been shifted to the higher frequency. Now this harmonics can be eliminated by using a low
pass filter.
F. Using a low pass LC filter
The output wave still contains a high amount of harmonics which can easily be understood from
the value of THD. But a simple low pass LC filter can be used to filter out this harmonics which
have been shifted to high frequency point due to modulation. This filtering or Wave shaping is
function should be performed by a filter that should have some inherited characteristics like- loss
free operation, good voltage transfer characteristics which should be independent of load and
finally the size, weight and cost must be low.
For harmonics attenuation single-section LC filter has been widely used. This kind of filter is
actually used to pass the low frequency and block the higher frequency. The frequency where is
starts to block is known as the cut-off frequency or resonant frequency. The following figure
represents a simple LC low pass filter:

FIG.17. Single section LC filter used for filtering and shaping the output voltage.
Here the capacitor maintains the load voltage constant whereas the inductor makes the current
smoother. The calculation is done by using the following equation:
f cut off
2 LC

So the filter allows only the low frequency components to pass [4]. The value for L and C need
to be optimized otherwise there will be the problem of voltage regulation. So calculative tradeoff between L and C is required and LC resonance frequency has to be less than the lowest
harmonic to be attenuated.
In this case the inductor has been assumed to be 100H. According to the output voltage
specification it is given that there should not be any harmonics from 150Hz to 1.5Khz. So the
cut-off frequency should be 150Hz. So the value of C is calculated asC= 1/[(100m)*(2 *150)2] = 11.25F
So at the output the filter looks like as follows:

FIG. 18. Simulation of the filter section of the circuit in Pspice.

After connecting the filter in the output side the harmonics is reduced to 0.41817%. After
connecting the filter the output voltage reduced to 184.46V. So the gain should be increased by |
184.46-240|/184.46 = 0.301 factor. So the gain becomes 28.284*1.301=36.8
A better harmonics reduction can be possible through cascading LC filter and size reduction of
the components can be partially achieved by using transformer in the filter. But none of the
techniques is used as complexity and higher costing of the filter is avoided.
G. Final Voltage Output
Final output voltage of the inverter is shown in Fig.19.(a). The rms value, the harmonic content,
calculated THD value and power outputs are shown in Fig.19. (b), (c), (d) and (e) respectively.

FIG. 19.(a). Final Output voltage from the inverter circuit which is almost sinusoidal in nature
with a very low THD value of 0.41876%.

FIG. 19.(b). RMS value of the output voltage which is equal to 240V.

FIG. 19.(c). Harmonic content of the output voltage. The figure shows that, there are almost
negligible harmonic contents between 150Hz to 1.5 kHz.
The following figure shows the final THD value:
FIG. 19.(d). Calculated THD value using Pspice.
The following figure shows that the output power is 1kW.

FIG. 19.(e). Output power of the Inverter.

The inverter output is totally depends on the switching operation. The output voltage depends
on the switch status. Here ideal switch has been used. In practical there should be a voltage drop
across it. As here the ideal switch has been used there is no voltage drop.
The transformer is also an ideal one. Because in this case neither linear nor non-linear
transformer are giving a nice value. The PWM sinusoidal Scheme proved to be very essential to
reduce the harmonics in the output voltage. As the frequency of the carrier signal increase the
THD value decreases. The harmonics in the output voltage is shifted in the higher frequency by
giving the carrier frequency a high value but it has no link with the amplitude of the amplitude of
the harmonics. Low pass filter has been used to eliminate harmonics after certain frequency. In
the filter the inductors are actually smoothing the current whereas the capacitor is holding the
output voltage constant. The LC combination has to be chosen like that way so it gives low
impedance so that it can passes to the output side and gives high impedance for the higher
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