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Design and Sizing of Short Term Energy

Storage for a PV System


L. Palma*
* Department of Electrical Engineering, Universidad de Concepción, Edmundo Larenas 219 Concepción, (Chile)

Abstract— Power generation in a PV system is defined by which have a large starting current, and requires supplying
its V-I, and V-P characteristics. These curves are function of up to eight times their nominal current for a few seconds.
instantaneous solar irradiation and cell temperature; and Similarly, for on-grid systems, grid codes may require
outline the maximum power that the system can supply at any
certain level of power contribution during system faults,
given moment. As a consequence of this PV systems lack
overload capacity, which is common in traditional rotating which typically last in the order of 5-10 cycles.
generators; and therefore, PV systems cannot supply short One possible approach to enable a PV system to have
term or transient load demands. To solve this issue two overload capability is to constantly operate 4-5% below its
approaches can be taken; one is to constantly operate the PV maximum power point; however, this has the drawback of
system below its maximum power level, which has the underutilizing the system and reducing overall energy
drawback of non-optimal energy harvesting. The other is
harvesting. Alternatively, the use of energy storage
integration of energy storage elements to the power
conditioning system, which allows optimizing power elements appears as a better solution, thus allowing energy
generation, while adding overload capacity. In addition, this harvesting optimization while introducing overload
approach also allows smoothing out short term irradiation capability to the system.
variations allowing the system to improve energy harvesting. Among the possible energy storage elements available
Focusing on the second approach analysis of short term today, the use of supercapacitors (or ultracapacitors) for
energy storage requirements in PV systems is performed in
this application appears as a good option, since they offer
this paper. As a result, sizing guidelines and a design
procedure for a supercapacitor based energy storage system better performance than batteries in terms of cycle life and
are developed. In addition, effectiveness of the proposed power density, and therefore making them a better choice
method on improving PV generator performance is tested for short term energy storage [7-11].
and verified through computer simulations. Consequently; this paper focuses on the development of
a sizing procedure for the required energy storage system
Index Terms-- Energy Storage, Photovoltaics, using supercapacitors, and on the selection of the most
Supercapacitors, Short term Transients.
appropriate converter to integrate the resulting
I. INTRODUCTION supercapacitor bank to the PV power conditioning unit. As
a result, a set of design guidelines are given which allow
Research and development on renewable energy
constructing a cost effective short term energy storage
sources and their integration with the loads or electric grid
system for this application.
has been driven by the ever-increasing energy demand and
augmented environmental concerns [1-2]. Among the II. SHORT TERM ENERGY STORAGE REQUIREMENTS
renewable energy sources wind and solar resources are
Given the operation characteristics of PV systems,
gaining wide acceptance and are expected to be an
where power generated is variable in terms of solar
important component in future energy systems. In
irradiation and temperature. To constantly supply the loads
particular, Photovoltaic (PV) generation should play a
an energy buffer that can absorb and supply energy in
major role, mainly due to their modularity, ease of
order to meet demand is required. In this sense energy
installation, and low maintenance costs [3-4].
storage can be divided into two types: long term and short
On the other hand, PV generation is characterized by its
term.
dependency on solar irradiation levels and panel
Long term energy storage is capable of sinking PV
temperature, thus power produced is not constant
power or supplying load demands for long periods of time,
throughout the day and can also be affected by short term
lasting typically from few minutes to several hours. The
disturbances such as passing birds or clouds. In addition,
main application of long term energy storage in PV
power generated by a PV system is restricted to the bounds
systems is to store energy during the day and supply the
set by their characteristic curves (V-I and V-P), and
load during the night (time shifting). Thus, for this kind of
therefore they lack the overload capability found in
application typically energy storage devices such as
traditional rotating generators which is associated with
batteries are required due to their relatively large energy
their inertia [5-6]. This characteristic is problematic in both
density, which for example in the case of Li-ion batteries
off and on grid systems. For example; an off-grid system
is in the range of 200 Wh/kg.
should have enough power reserve to supply motor loads,

978-1-5090-4682-9/17/$31.00 ©2017 IEEE 460


On the other hand, short term energy storage is intended the nominal power of the load and 't motor starting time.
for sinking or delivering power for periods of time ranging Starting time can be further divided into 't1 and 't2, which
from few seconds to several minutes. In this case the power correspond to an initial instant where the motor demands
required may be high; up to 8 times nominal power of the up to 8 times nominal power to break its mechanical
PV system but only for a short span of time. In this case, inertia, and a secondary time interval in which power is
high power density energy storage devices such as gradually reduced as the machine accelerates to its steady
supercapacitors, which have a power density around 6 state.
kW/kg, are a good alternative. PLoad
In the particular case of short term energy requirements 8Pnom
associated to PV systems there are three relevant situations
that can be considered. Two of them are associated with
on-grid systems, and one associated with both off-grid and
on-grid systems. In the case of on-grid PV systems there is
a requirement to emulate the effect of inertia found in 't1 't2
t
rotating generators. This allows the PV system to provide
't
support to the electrical system emulating the behavior of
a synchronous machine against the rate of change in Figure 1. Typical power demand for motor starting
frequency. This is done by supplying active power to the
Based on the power demand profile of fig. 1, the
grid in case of a sudden mismatch between generation and
required energy reserve can be calculated and results in
load. In this respect, it was shown in [12] that the energy
(3).
storage requirement associated with inertia emulation is
given by:
߱௠௢௧௢௥‫ ݃݊݅ݐݎܽݐݏ‬ൌ ͺܲ௡௢௠௜௡௔௟ ο‫ݐ‬ଵ
(3)
ο݂ ൅ Ͷܲ௡௢௠௜௡௔௟ ο‫ݐ‬ଶ ሾ‫ܬ‬ሿ
ʹ߬௜௡௘௥௧௜௔ ܲ௡௢௠௜௡௔௟
߱௜௡௘௥௧௜௔௘௠௨௟௔௧௜௢௡ ൌ ο‫ ݐ‬ሾ‫ܬ‬ሿ (1) Then, from (3) and considering that each time interval in
݂௡௢௠௜௡௔௟ this profile is defined by ο‫ݐ‬ଵ ൌ ͲǤʹο‫ ݐ‬and ο‫ݐ‬ଶ ൌ ͲǤͺο‫ݐ‬,
where: τinertia is the inertial time constant, Pnominal the the energy requirement for this transient is given by:
generator nominal power, fnominal the system nominal
frequency, and ∆f/∆t the rate of change of system ߱௠௢௧௢௥௦௧௔௥௧௜௡௚ ൌ ͶǤͺܲ௡௢௠௜௡௔௟ ο‫ݐ‬ሾ‫ܬ‬ሿ (4)
frequency. Typical values for τinertia range from 2 to 10
seconds, thus considering the maximum frequency Further, since motor starting times can last between 1-
deviation allowed (which usually is between +4% and - 15 seconds, from (4) it can be obtained that to
6%) it can be calculated that the maximum energy appropriately supply this transient a total of 72 seconds of
requirement is of 1.2 seconds of nominal power. nominal power are required. For this calculation, the worst
On the other hand, according to the analysis shown in case starting time of 15 seconds is considered which results
[12] the energy required to contribute to primary frequency in some bank oversizing, however this has the advantage
control in electrical grids is given by (2); of improving supercapacitor bank lifetime.
Of these three situations, clearly the most energy
߱௣௥௜௠௔௥௬௙௥௘௤௨௘௡௖௬ܿ‫݈݋ݎݐ݊݋‬ intensive transient is due to motor staring. Therefore, as
(2) the worst case from energy reserve stand point, it can be
ൌ ͲǤͲͷܲ௡௢௠௜௡௔௟ ο‫ݐ‬ሾ‫ܬ‬ሿ
used to properly size the energy storage element required
where; Pnominal is the nameplate power of the PV system, for the PV system.
and ∆t corresponds to the time interval defined by grid
standards for primary frequency control. Whereas III. INTEGRATION OF ENERGY STORAGE TO THE POWER
typically regulations in this respect define that the CONDITIONER
generator must have sufficient energy reserves to meet the Power conditioning systems for PV may be classified as
primary frequency control for a minimum period of 15 single or dual stage (fig 2) depending on their architecture.
minutes. Thus, it can be calculated that the energy reserve Single stage systems (fig 2a) are constructed using only a
associated with this function is of 45 seconds of nominal voltage source inverter with the PV array connected
power. Similarly, in the case of PV systems isolated from directly across its DC input terminals. For this type of
the grid or connected to relative weak grids such as system, a high voltage PV array consisting of many panels
microgrids; enough power reserves must be available to connected in series is required. In addition, due to its
supply transient loads such as motor starting, or other high construction, energy storage such as supercapacitors can
inrush current loads. These transients are of short duration, only be integrated in parallel with the PV array, which
usually ranging between 0.5-15 seconds, and of large main drawback is not allowing control over its charge and
magnitude (6-8 times the rated power). discharge. Therefore, poor utilization of the sorted energy
Moreover, typical load demand of these loads is is achieved since energy absorption or release is only
characterized by the profile shown in fig 1, where P nom is function of PV panel voltage variation.

461
ܸ஽஼௟௜௡௞
a b c ‫ ݊݅ܽܩ šƒۓ‬՜ 
a) ͲǤͷܸ௦௖
‫ܩ‬஽஼ି஽஼ǡௌ஼ (5)
ܸ
‫ ݊݅ܽܩ ‹ ۔‬՜ ஽஼௟௜௡௞
‫ە‬ ܸ௦௖
PV
Array
As can be seen from (5) the auxiliary converter should
have a variable voltage gain, which must double as the
Single Stage supercapacitor gets discharged. Moreover, since
Power
Conditioner supercapacitors are an energy storage element of relatively
b)
a b c low operating voltage, the auxiliary converter should be of
the buck-boost type to interface with the higher voltage in
DC/DC DC/AC
Converter Inverter the power converter DC-link.
Further, to determine the voltage gain that the auxiliary
converter has to supply, first the nominal voltage level of
the supercapacitor bank has to be determined. This value
Dual Stage
Power can be calculated in terms of the energy that needs to be
Conditioner
stored, the capacitance and nominal voltage of the
Figure 2 PV Power conditioner architectures a) single stage b)
dual stage
supercapacitor cells that will be used to construct the bank.
Taking this into consideration and using the well-known
equation for energy stored in a capacitor, (6) is obtained,
On the other hand, dual stage power conditioning
systems are constructed using a DC-DC converter ͺ߱‫݀݁ݎ݅ݑݍ݁ݎ‬
cascaded with an inverter (fig 2b). This allows integrating ܸௌ஼ ൌ (6)
the energy storage through the DC link established ͵‫ܥ‬௖௘௟௟ ܸ௖௘௟௟
between stages. It was shown in [16] that for this power ,where ωrequired is the energy storage requirement, Ccell the
conditioning architecture the most convenient approach cell capacitance, and Vcell is the cell voltage which for
for supercapacitor energy storage integration is the use of current supercapacitors ranges from 2,5 to 3V. Similarly,
an auxiliary power converter; which allows for better the number of supercapacitor cells that need to be
usage of the energy stored, and ensures good dynamic connected in series to achieve the voltage calculated in (6)
performance against load changes (fig 3). can be determined by:

PV a b c ͺ߱௥௘௤௨௜௥௘ௗ
Panel DC/DC DC/AC ݊௦௘௜௘௦௖௘௟௟௦ ൌ ଶ (7)
Converter Inverter
͵‫ܥ‬௖௘௟௟ ܸ௖௘௟௟
Furthermore, by combining (5) and (6), the maximum
voltage gain of the auxiliary converter can be calculated in
terms of the energy storage requirements and capacitor
DC/DC
Super
Capacitor
Converter cells to be used to implement the supercapacitor bank;
which results in (8);

͵ܸ஽஼݈݅݊݇ ‫ܥ‬௖௘௟௟ ܸ௖௘௟௟ (8)


Figure 3 Energy storage integration in a dual stage power ‫ܩ‬௠௔௫ ൌ
conditioner Ͷ߱௥௘௤௨௜௥௘ௗ

In this approach to manage the charge and discharge of


the supercapacitor, the auxiliary converter used has to be IV. DESIGN EXAMPLE
bi-directional. Further, if supercapacitors are used as Based on the results obtained in the previous sections, a
energy storage elements, the converter should supply design example of a supercapacitor bank for a PV system
enough voltage gain to properly interface with the power is performed. For this, a 5 kW PV plant connected to a
conditioner DC link. Calculation of the required voltage three phase 380 V, 50 Hz microgrid through a two-stage
gain can be done considering that to utilize 75% of the power conditioning system is considered (fig 3). Given the
energy stored in the supercapacitor a voltage drop of 50% grid voltage the DC link should be of 640 V, and thus from
should be allowed, which results in (5); where V DC link is (1), and (2) it is obtained that the energy storage
the voltage in the power conditioner DC link, and VSC is requirements for inertia emulation and primary frequency
the supercapacitor nominal voltage. control for this system are:

߱݅݊݁‫ܽ݅ݐݎ‬௘௠௨௟௔௧௜௢௡ ൌ ͳǤʹ ‫ כ‬ͷͲͲͲ ൌ ͸݇‫ܬ‬ (9)

߱௣௥௜௠௔௥௬௙௥௘௤௖௢௡௧௥௢௟ ൌ Ͷͷ ‫ כ‬ͷͲͲͲ ൌ ʹʹͷ݇‫ܬ‬ (10)

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$10000,0 18
On the other hand, considering that a 5 hp induction $9000,0 Supercapacitor Bank Cost
16
6
Converter voltage Gain
motor with a staring time of 15 seconds is connected to the $8000,0 14
4

Voltage Gain [p.u.]


$7000,0

SC Bank Cost [U$]


microgrid, the energy storage associated with its staring $6000,0
12
2
10
0
transient is calculated by (4) and results in: $5000,0
8
$4000,0
6
$3000,0
߱௠௢௧௢௥‫ ݃݊݅ݎܽݐݏ‬ൌ ͶǤͺ ‫͵ כ‬͹͵Ͳ ‫ͳ כ‬ͷ ൌ ʹ͸ͺ݇‫ܬ‬ (11) $2000,0 4
$1000,0 2

From these results, it becomes evident that the energy $,0


150 310 350 650 1200 1500 2000 3000 3400
0

required to supply the motor starting transient is the Cell Capacitance [F]

highest, thus using this value to design the required Figure 4 Supercapacitor bank cost and required converter voltage
gain comparison
supercapacitor bank covers the energy storage
requirements of the other two conditions.
This since the resulting bank in both cases has a volume
Commercial supercapacitors have capacitances ranging
of around 14,5 liters, which is larger than if 3000 or 3400
from 5 to 3400 F, and operating voltages from 2.7 to 3 V.
F cells are used, but have the advantage of requiring an
Therefore, banks with several possible capacitor cell
auxiliary converter of lesser voltage gain. Also, the cost of
configurations can meet the energy storage requirements
these two solutions is among the lowest. Moreover, from
of this system. Consequently, the possible design solutions
voltage gain point of view, the use of the 350 F cells
need to be compared in order to select the best alternative.
implies that a non-isolated buck-boost type converter can
Thus, considering a range of different cells, and using the
be used for implementing the auxiliary converter since a
DC link voltage and required energy storage calculated in
Gmax of 1.64 is easily achievable. On the other hand, the
(11) the number of cells and voltage gain of the auxiliary
use of the 2000 F cell requires a Gmax of 9.37 which
converter for each case can be calculated using (7) and (8).
requires the use of an isolated buck boost converter making
The resulting values are shown in Table I along with
the solution costlier. For this reason, it appears that the
volume and cost for each configuration.
most convenient option for implementing the
TABLE I
supercapacitor bank is the use of 280 series connected 350
NUMBER OF SERIES CONNECTED CELLS TO MEET F cells.
ENERGY REQUIREMENT
Bank Bank
Ccell Vcell nseries
Gmax Volume Cost V. SIMULATION RESULTS
[F] [V] cells
[L] [U$]
150 2.5 654 0.7 16 9.261
To verify the effectiveness of the energy storage system
310 2.7 316 1.45 16.8 3.460
designed computer simulations were carried out. For this,
350 2.7 280 1.64 14.7 2.944
a three-phase power conditioning system connected to a 5
650 2.7 151 3.05 22.5 5.490 kW PV array composed of 20 x 250 W panels and
1200 2.7 82 5.62 17.5 3.425 supplying power to a three phase 380 V, 50 Hz, microgrid
1500 2.7 65 7.03 16.1 2.761 is modeled in PSIM. In this model, the PV array is
2000 2.7 49 9.37 14.5 2.311 composed by two strings of 10 series connected panels
3000 3.0 26 15.62 10.6 1.474 which produce a maximum power voltage of 311 V and a
3400 2.85 26 16.81 10.3 1.638 maximum power current of 16.1 A. This PV array is
connected to a two-stage power conditioning system
As can be observed, for the same amount of stored composed by a boost converter which follows the
energy the use of larger capacitance cells appears to be a maximum power point of the system using a P&O
better choice, this since a lesser number of individual algorithm, and elevates its voltage to produce a 640 V DC
capacitors is required to implement the bank. However, link. The second stage of the power conditioner consists of
this has the drawback of requiring an auxiliary converter a three-phase voltage source inverter which interfaces with
of larger voltage gain, which can be problematic since the the microgrid. The supercapacitor bank designed in the
use of a high frequency transformer with a large turns ratio previous section is interfaced to the power conditioning
may be required. In addition, cost and volume of the system through an auxiliary converter consisting in a bi-
supercapacitor bank increases considerably if small cells directional buck boost.
are used, this since many cells are required. From Simulation results for system response against a
inspection of the data shown in Table I and fig 4 it appears transient generated by the start of a 5 hp three phase
that there exist two particular bank configurations that induction motor are shown in fig 5. As can be observed
result in good choice in terms of cost, volume, and from fig 5a, prior to the transient the PV power conditioner
converter voltage gain; which are the use of 350 F or 2000 system supplies 8.4 A per phase to the microgrid. At t =
F cells. 0.5 seconds the motor starts, and the current drawn by it
reaches a peak of 45 A (fig 5b), which is supplied by action
of the PV power conditioner to maintain microgrid voltage
constant. As the motor accelerates, current drawn is

463
Ipv a)
reduced until steady state is reached at t = 2 seconds where 20

motor current has a RMS value of 4.3 A. At this point 15


10
current injected to the microgrid is also adjusted and kept 5

at 4.3 A. And therefore, power supplied by the PV power 0

conditioner matches array generation (fig 5c). Vpv


400
300
Ia Ib Ic 200
100
40 0
0.5 1 1.5 2 2
0 Time (s)
-40 Isc b)
20
0
I(SS3) I(SS4) I(SS5) b) -20
-40

40 -60
-80
0
Vsc
-40 390
380
370
Iamg Ibmg Icmg c) 360
350
10 340
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.
-10 Time (s)

Figure 6 Simulation results a) PV array current and voltage during


0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5
Time (s) the transient, b) supercapacitor current and voltage during the
Figure 5 Simulation results a) three phase currents supplied by the transient
power conditioning system, b) current drawn by the motor load, c)
microgrid current In this paper analysis of short term energy storage
requirements for PV power conditioning systems
Voltage and current supplied by the PV array during the connected to microgrids is performed. As a result, it is
transient are shown in fig 6a. As can be observed, the input shown that the most stringent energy demand corresponds
stage of the power conditioner keeps following the MPP of to the transient generated by motor loads starting. To cope
the array, and thus PV current and voltage are maintained with this issue, design equations are developed to properly
at its maximum power voltage of 311 V and at a current of size the required energy storage element. In addition, a
15 A during the duration of the transient. On the other design criteria to adequately specify a supercapacitor bank
hand, to meet the power demand set by the starting of the meeting the energy requirement is presented and
motor load, power is drawn from the supercapacitor bank. evaluated.
As consequence at t = 0.5 sec. the supercapacitor is The effectiveness of the proposed energy storage sizing
discharged reaching a peak current of -44 A, which is method and supercapacitor bank design criteria is
gradually reduced as the motor accelerates (fig 6b). It can evaluated through computer simulations showing good
be observed that motor starting ends at t = 2 seconds, and results, allowing the system to ride through short term
therefore motor starting time in this simulation is of 1.5 transient disturbances.
seconds. During this time supercapacitor bank voltage
drops from the initial 374 V to 356 V, and thus energy
supplied to the load during the transient is of 14.78 kJ. That REFERENCES
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