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Impact Study on Intentional Islanding of Distributed

Generation Connected to a Radial Subtransmission
System in Thailands Electric Power System
Pradit Fuangfoo, Member, IEEE, Wei-Jen Lee, Fellow, IEEE, and Ming-Tse Kuo, Student Member, IEEE

AbstractTraditional interconnection standards avoid the is-

landing operation of distributed generators (DGs) because of
concerns of equipment failure and safety. However, in some cases,
allowing the islanding operation of DGs in a radial subtransmis-
sion system could improve system reliability and decrease outage
cost during power outages or a scheduled maintenance. This
paper presents an impact study on a DG connected to a radial
subtransmission system. The dynamic study is conducted to show
how to manage DGs and electric power systems for the proper
intentional islanding in specific cases.
Index TermsDistributed generation (DG), dynamic perfor-
mance, impact study.


C URRENTLY, many distributed generators (DGs) are in-

stalled in electric power systems (EPSs). Many more
units are expected to be installed in the future because of their
advantages over large remote generation units [1]. Researchers
[1][3] have been trying to maximize the benefits of DGs in the Fig. 1. Case of a subtransmission system connected to Thailands EPS.
system. Deploying DGs operating in islanding mode is one of
the main research topics in this area. When there is a fault in This paper starts with the forming of the islanding part and
the system, the protective devices will isolate the faulted area introduces the impact study and related issues for the islanding
while maintaining service continuity in the rest of the system. operation. Finally, the procedures for proper landing operation
However, a faulted area with a DG can be operated in islanding are proposed.
mode if the islanding part can be isolated. This operation can
improve system reliability and reduce the outage cost from loss
of supply [4][6]. However, utilities normally do not permit in- II. F ORMATION OF I SLANDING O PERATION
tentional islanding operation without a thorough impact study. A. Test System
Since the islanding is formed after a disconnection from the
main grid, utilities cannot guarantee that the islanding system As shown in Fig. 1, a sample system with seven buses, five
will remain stable, and the DG is relied upon to control the loads, two DG units (DG1 = 90 MW and DG2 = 50 MW), and
voltage and frequency to be within the normal operating ranges. a subtransmission system (115 kV) connected to Thailands
The safety issue is also an important concern since line crews EPS is used as the test system. To simplify the study, the
do not know if the faulted part is still active. drooping governor characteristics of both DGs are set at the
same value.
The size, type of DG, and the type of control modes including
disturbances will affect the islanding operation of DGs. All of
Paper ICPSD-06-34, presented at the 2006 Industry Applications Society these need to be studied before operating intentional islanding.
Annual Meeting, Tampa, FL, October 812, and approved for publication
in the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRY APPLICATIONS by the En- In this paper, it is assumed that the protective devices can
ergy Systems Committee of the IEEE Industry Applications Society. separate the faulted part from the islanding area before DGs can
Manuscript submitted for review October 10, 2006 and released for publication perform intentional islanding operation. Another assumption
June 9, 2007.
P. Fuangfoo is with the Provincial Electricity Authority, Bangkok 10900, is that the protective devices can adjust settings automatically
Thailand (e-mail:; after the islanding operation is engaged. Finally, this paper
W.-J. Lee and M.-T. Kuo are with the Energy Systems Research Cen- will concentrate only on synchronous generators (SGs) since
ter, University of Texas, Arlington, TX 76019 USA (e-mail:; squirrel cage induction generators cannot function during an
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TIA.2007.908184 islanding operation [7].
0093-9994/$25.00 2007 IEEE

Fig. 2. Power outputs of (a) DG1 and (b) DG2 at different load conditions Fig. 3. SGs operated in islanding mode at different load conditions presented
operated in islanding mode after applying a fault on line #100#101 at t = 2 s by (a) frequency deviation at bus #103 and (b) voltage at bus #103 after applying
for five cycles. a fault at line #100#101 at t = 2 s for five cycles.

B. Forming of Islanding Operation

frequency deviation is 0.02 p.u. or a frequency over 51.0 Hz
Islanding can be formed because of system faults or sched- for 1.5 s, which is longer than the relay setting under normal
uled maintenance. They create different operating conditions operating conditions. To avoid the disconnection of DGs under
that require different handling procedures and considerations islanding operation mode, protective relay settings have to be
for islanding operation. Islanding detection is beyond the scope changed to accommodate the situation. Additionally, during
of this paper and will not be discussed. islanding operation with 100% loading, DGs operate under
1) Forming Islanding Caused by Fault: From Fig. 1, when an overload condition resulting in low system frequency and
the fault occurs at the line between #100 and #101, the islanding voltage, as shown in Fig. 3.
is formed. Fig. 2 shows that both DG1 and DG2 share the One can see that the system frequency reaches 49 Hz, which
system load at the same ratio due to the same speed droop. In is lower than the underfrequency relay pick up at t = 3 s. Load
practice, the protective devices may disconnect DGs because shedding will be the only solution to maintain system integrity
of the out-of-protection setting limits of frequency and voltage [10]. Therefore, the area with DGs should be equipped with a
due to load generation mismatch, as shown in Fig. 3. The only proper load shedding scheme to maintain the system frequency
case that may allow the operation under islanding conditions is and reach the steady-state condition quickly after islanding.
when the load is around 80% of the peak load, which is close The well-coordinated criteria of underfrequency relay setting
to the total generation of DGs. Even in this case, the maximum and load shedding scheme are required to assure appropriate

Fig. 5. Dynamic performances of SGs operated in islanding mode at different

load conditions presented by (a) frequency deviation, and (b) voltage at bus
#103 during the large motor starting at t = 60 s.

coordination. There are three criteria for optimizing the amount

of load shedding and coordination with turbine underfrequency
protection [8].
1) The load-shedding setting should prevent underfrequency
excursions below 0.95 p.u. for longer than 30 s.
2) The system frequency should recover fast enough to pro-
vide adequate margin with the turbine protection scheme.
3) Frequency overshoot caused by over shedding of load
should be limited to less than 1.0 Hz deviation from the
normal system frequency.
2) Forming Islanding Caused by Maintenance: From Fig. 1,
if maintenance is needed for the upstream system including
the subtransmission line linking the main grid and the local
Fig. 4. Dynamic performances of SGs operated in islanding mode at differ-
ent load conditions (a) power output of DG1, (b) frequency deviation, and system, the subsystem will be disconnected from the grid. This
(c) voltage at bus #103 after disconnecting line #100#101 at t = 2 s. is the other possibility for islanding operation to be done. The

Fig. 6. Load following and load rejection patterns.

Fig. 8. Power outputs of DG1 when applying a fault at bus #106 during SGs
operated in islanding mode at different load conditions for (a) five cycles, and
(b) ten cycles.

simulation results are similar to the islanding system due to

system faults, as shown in Fig. 4. However, the power output
and voltage oscillations are smaller than in the case of islanding
created by a fault. In case of a load condition of 80% of peak
demand, the maximum frequency deviation is only 0.008 p.u. of
frequency over 50.4 Hz for 1.5 s. The islanding system, loading
80% of peak demand formed by separating the islanding part
from the main grid during normal conditions, can operate with-
out any change in the protection scheme during the transition
period. However, if the total load and total generation has a
bigger gap, such as loading at 60% and 40%, the frequency
deviation is nearly 5 and 15 Hz, respectively. These are not
acceptable from the protection point of view even if the voltage
changes are acceptable. In case of a full load, the frequency and
Fig. 7. Load following and load rejection performance of SGs operated
on islanding mode at different load conditions presented by (a) frequency voltage are unacceptable since the total load is greater than the
deviation, and (b) voltage at bus #103. total generation of both DGs. Prearrangements are needed for

Fig. 9. Dynamic performances after applying a fault at bus #101 when SGs
operated in islanding mode at 80% load of peak demand for ten cycles.

intentional islanding operation when generation and load have

a large mismatch.


The major disturbances affecting the dynamic performance
of a system with DGs can be categorized into the following
1) load disturbances such as large load rejection;
2) generator disturbances because of plant shutdown;
3) contingency disturbances due to faults in the system.
Usually, transient stability studies focus on the moment 3 to
5 s following disturbances. The dynamics of excitation systems,
underfrequency load shedding, automatic voltage regulators
(AVRs), and speed governing systems are all active in this time
frame [9]. Nevertheless, dynamic stability studies cover longer
time intervals, sometimes up to 40 s. Generators and control
devices will respond to the disturbance to maintain synchro-
nism in the system. DGs are a kind of generators connected to
the system close to the loads. They are more sensitive to the
disturbances occurring at the customer site such as large load
The impact of disturbances during the islanding operation is
very important since the islanding system is a weak system.
A large motor starting, load following and load rejection, and
fault in the islanding part create significant impacts on the
performance of the islanded system and will be studied.

A. Large Motor Starting

Normally, a large motor starting would cause a voltage sag
for a short period because of a high starting current (24 times
of rated current) with a low power factor. The level of voltage
sag depends on the stiffness of the system. If a motor connects
Fig. 10. Effect of control operating modes of SGs connected to the islanding
to a weak system, a drop in voltage is higher than the motor system presented by (a) power output of DG1, (b) frequency deviation, and
connected to a strong system. Since the islanding system is (c) voltage at bus #103.

Fig. 11. Flowchart of the islanding operation of DGs.

relatively weak, the effect of starting a large motor requires After that, the shunt admittance is replaced with the normal
further investigation. motor load. Fig. 5 shows that the maximum frequency de-
The load conditions of 40%, 50%, and 60% of peak load viation is 0.012 p.u. or a frequency below 49.4 Hz for
will be used in the study to avoid overloading conditions during 4 s, and the drop in voltage is less than 0.1 p.u. or a voltage
simulation. The motor capacity is assumed to be 14 MW (20% higher than 0.9 p.u. for all cases. Without proper coordination,
of total islanding load) at a power factor of 0.90 (running) and underfrequency relay may be activated to trip loads from the
is connected to bus #103. The starting current of the motor is islanded system in some cases.
assumed to be 3.0 times of the rated current at a power factor
of 0.30. Since the behavior of a motor during starting depends
B. Load Following and Load Rejection
on both the control device and the motor itself, the worst case
scenario would be when there is a constant shunt admittance It is normal for electric energy demand not to remain constant
during starting or the static motor starts for 4 s before the all the time. The fluctuation depends on load behaviors. The
motor load changes back to the normal condition. The initial load following capability affects the performance of DGs
shunt admittance is 0.140j0.445 p.u. relative to a 100-MVA during operation in islanding mode. If DGs cannot support
base. The simulation starts at t = 60 s, then the motor load is load changes, the system might have a dynamic stability prob-
switched on by inserting the initial shunt admittance for 4 s. lem. Load rejection has almost the same characteristic as

load following, except that the step of load change might be the outage cost from loss of energy supply may be high. This is
higher. The load following and load rejection patterns for the the reason why many utilities are paying attention to intentional
test system are shown in Fig. 6. Though Fig. 7 shows that islanding to improve system reliability and service continuity
the system remains in synchronism during load following, for their customers. Nevertheless, not all types of DGs can
20% load rejection creates frequency deviation of 0.05 p.u. operate in islanding mode. The study results show that an SG
or a frequency over 52.5 Hz for 5 s (at load 40% of peak with governor and exciters control can be operated in islanding
demand the duration is longer than 5 s), and voltage at 1.17 p.u. mode, including the doubly fed induction generator. A dynamic
for 0.5 s. impact study is required to analyze performances of the DGs
With such high-frequency deviation, some utilities may not under islanding operations. Most cases show that protection set-
allow this operation because it can cause equipment failure or tings need to be changed during islanding operation. The basic
malfunctioning. Therefore, it is necessary to study the load requirement is that the total generation must be greater than
characteristics and load profiles before performing islanding the total load. During the transition to islanding operation, the
operation. system will have a small oscillation if the difference between
total generation and total load is small. However, if the total
C. Fault on Islanding Part load is greater than total generation, the load shedding scheme
is required. For resynchronization, a synchronization check
Fault is a severe disturbance occurring in the system. This relay is also required. The differences of voltage, frequency,
paper applies a three-phase fault at bus #106 for five and ten and phase angle at resynchronization should comply with IEEE
cycles. The islanding system can remain stable in both cases
because of the fault occurring far from the generators, as shown
in Fig. 8. For longer fault duration, larger oscillations happen. R EFERENCES
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shown in Fig. 11. Normally, adaptive protection, which Power Systems, IEEE 1547-2003.
changes the setting of protective devices from the normal
protection scheme to islanding-mode protection scheme, is
necessary for this operation. For DGs operating in islanding
mode, the negative-sequence relay (46) is required for systems
having high unbalance voltage to protect DGs from negative Pradit Fuangfoo (S01M07) received the B.E.
sequence current. To synchronize DGs to the main grid, the degree in electrical engineering from Kasetsart Uni-
DGs have to adjust their frequency, voltage, and phase angle versity, Bangkok, Thailand, in 1994, the M.E. degree
in electrical engineering from Chulalongkorn Uni-
close to the main grid before synchronization. The differences versity, Bangkok, in 1997, and the Ph.D. degree in
have to be smaller for larger DGs to reduce the disturbance electrical engineering from the University of Texas,
during synchronization [11]. Arlington, in 2006.
Since 1990, he has been with the Provincial Elec-
tricity Authority (PEA), Bangkok. Currently, he is
working with the Research Division, Power System
VI. C ONCLUSION Research and Development Department, PEA. His
research interests comprise electric power system analysis, distributed gen-
In practice, it may take 23 h or more to repair a faulted part eration, power system reliability, power system planning, microgrid systems,
from a permanent fault. If loads cannot transfer to other circuits, power quality, transient stability, and transient analysis.

Wei-Jen Lee (S85M85SM97F07) received Ming-Tse Kuo (S03) received the B.S. and M.S.
the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering degrees in electrical engineering from the Depart-
from the National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, ment of Electrical Engineering, National Sun Yat-
R.O.C., in 1978 and 1980, respectively, and the Ph.D. Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, R.O.C. He is
degree in electrical engineering from the University currently working toward the Ph.D. degree at the En-
of Texas, Arlington, in 1985. ergy Systems Research Center, University of Texas,
In 1985, he joined the University of Texas, where Arlington.
he is currently a Professor with the Electrical Engi- His major interests include electric power system
neering Department and the Director of the Energy analysis, deregulated power systems, power system
Systems Research Center. He has been involved in transients, and dynamic stability.
research on power flow, transient and dynamic stabil-
ity, voltage stability, short circuits, relay coordination, power quality analysis,
and deregulation for utility companies.
Dr. Lee is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas.