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Microgrid Standards and Technologies

Benjamin Kroposki, Senior Member, IEEE, Thomas Basso, Member, IEEE, and Richard DeBlasio,
Senior Member, IEEE

Abstract—Microgrids are intentional islands formed at a Any time a microgrid is implemented in an electrical
facility or in an electrical distribution system that contain at least distribution system, it must be well planned to avoid
one distributed energy resource and associated loads. Microgrids problems. For microgrids to work properly, a switch must
that operate both electrical generation and loads in a coordinated
open and the DER must be able to carry the load on the
manner can offer benefits to the customer and the local utility.
The loads and energy sources in a microgrid can be disconnected islanded section. This includes maintaining suitable voltage
from and reconnected to the utility system with minimal and frequency levels for all islanded loads. Depending on the
disruption, thereby improving reliability. Any time a microgrid switch technology, momentary interruptions may occur during
is implemented in an electrical distribution system, it must be transfer from grid-parallel to islanded mode. If power is lost,
well planned to avoid problems. This paper discusses current the DER assigned to provide power to the intentional island
microgrid technologies and standards that are being developed to
should be able to restart and pick up the island load after the
address implementation of microgrids.
switch has opened. Power flow analysis of island scenarios
Index Terms—Microgrid, Intentional Islanding, Distributed should be performed to ensure that proper voltage regulation
Energy Resources, Distributed Generation, Distributed Storage, is maintained and establish that the DER can handle inrush
Interconnection currents from large loads. The DER must be able to load-
follow during islanded operation and sense if a fault current
has occurred downstream of the switch location. When power
I. INTRODUCTION is restored on the utility side, the switch must not close unless
the utility and islanded portions are in synchronism. This
MICROGRIDS are intentional islands formed either at a requires measuring the voltage on both sides of the switch to
customer facility or location that includes parts of the local allow synchronization of the island and the utility [2].
utility distribution system that have at least one distributed
energy resource (DER) and associated loads. Figure 1 shows Open for a Utility

a schematic diagram for two types of microgrids: utility Microgrid DG Load

microgrids which contain parts of the utility and Distribution Feede r

industrial/commercial microgrids which only include from S ubstation

customer facilities [1]. DER can be either distributed Interconnection Interconnec tion O pe n for a Indus trial/
Switc h Sw itch Comm erical Microgrid
generation (DG) or distributed storage (DS) and are often
both used to provide energy within the microgrid. In a
microgrid, the loads and energy sources can be disconnected Poss ible
Control S yste ms
from and reconnected to the utility with minimal disruption to DG DS Lo ad Lo ad

the local loads. There are many potential benefits to Distributed

Ge nera tion
D istributed

customers from the use of microgrids including improving

reliability by providing power to the islanded portion of the
electric power system (EPS) during a utility outage and Figure 1. Microgrid Diagram
resolving power-quality issues by reducing total harmonic
distortion at the loads. There are also utility benefits such as
resolving overload problems by removing load from the EPS II. MICROGRID TECHNOLOGIES
by allowing a part of the EPS to intentionally island and
allowing for maintenance on the utility system while Microgrids consist of several basic technologies for
intentionally islanded customers still remain powered. operation these include: distributed generation, distributed
storage, interconnection switches, and control systems. One
This work was supported at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory by
of the technical challenges is the design, acceptance, and
the Department of Energy under Midwest Research Institute Contract No. DE- availability of low-cost technologies for installing and using
AC36-99GO10337. microgrids. Several technologies are under development to
B. Kroposki (e-mail:, T. Basso (e-mail:
allow the safe interconnection and use of microgrids shown in, and R. DeBlasio (e-mail:
are with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO 80401 USA. Figure 1.

©2008 IEEE.
the energy to and from AC power. Many utility connections
Distributed generation (DG) units are small sources of for batteries have bi-directional converters, which allow
energy located at or near the point of use. DG technologies energy to be stored and taken from the batteries.
typically include photovoltaic (PV), wind, fuel cells, Supercapacitors, also known as ultracapacitors, are electrical
microturbines, and reciprocating internal combustion engines energy storage devices, which offer high power density and
with generators. These systems may be powered by either extremely high cycling capability. Flywheel systems have
fossil or renewable fuels. Some types of distributed recently regained consideration as a viable means of
generation can also provide combined heat and power by supporting critical load during grid power interruption
recovering some of the waste heat generated by the source. because of their fast response compared to electrochemical
This can significantly increase the efficiency of the DG unit. energy storage. Advances in power electronics and digitally
Some of the DG technologies require a power electronics controlled fields have led to better flywheel designs that
interface in order to convert the energy into grid compatible deliver a cost-effective alternative in the power quality
AC power. The power electronics interface contains the market. Typically, an electric motor supplies mechanical
necessary circuitry to convert power from one form to energy to the flywheel and a generator is coupled on the same
another. These converters may include both a rectifier and an shaft that outputs the energy, when needed, though a
inverter or just an inverter. The converter is compatible in converter. It is also possible to design a bi-directional system
voltage and frequency with the electric power system to which with one machine that is capable of motoring and regenerating
it will be connected and contain the necessary output filters. operations.
The power electronics interface can also contain protective
functions for both the distributed energy system and the local The interconnection switch is the point of connection
electric power system that allow paralleling and disconnection between the microgrid and the rest of the distribution system.
from the electric power system. These power electronic New technologies in this area consolidate the various power
interfaces provide a unique capability to the DG units and can and switching functions (e.g., power switching, protective
enhance the operations of a microgrid. If a power electronics relaying, metering, and communications) traditionally
interface is not used, the DG will typically have a set of provided by relays, hardware, and other components at the
protective relays and switches to safely interconnect with the utility interface into a single system with a digital signal
EPS. processor. Grid conditions are measured both on the utility
and microgrid sides of the switch through current
Distributed storage (DS) technologies are used in transformers and potential transformers which determine
microgrid applications where the generation and loads of the operational conditions. The interconnection switches are
microgrid cannot be exactly matched. Distributed storage designed to meet grid interconnection standards (IEEE 1547
provides a bridge in meeting the power and energy and UL 1741 for North America) to minimize custom
requirements of the microgrid. Storage capacity is defined in engineering, site-specific approval processes, and lower cost.
terms of the time that the nominal energy capacity can cover To maximize applicability and functionality, the controls are
the load at rated power. Storage capacity can be then also designed to be technology neutral and can be used with a
categorized in terms of energy density requirements (for circuit breaker, as well as faster semiconductor-based static
medium- and long-term needs) or in terms of power density switches like thyristors and integrated gate bipolar transistor
requirements (for short- and very short-term needs). technologies and applicable to a variety of DG assets with
Distributed storage enhances microgrid systems overall conventional generators or power converters. NREL has
performance in three ways. First, it stabilizes and permits DG worked with ASCO Power Technologies [3], General
units to run at a constant and stable output, despite load Electric[4][5], and Northern Power Systems [6] to develop
fluctuations. Second, it provides the ride through capability advanced interconnection technologies that allow distributed
when there are dynamic variations of primary energy (such as generators to parallel with the Area EPS for uninterrupted
those of sun, wind, and hydropower sources). Third, it electrical service and sell electricity to the Area EPS.
permits DG to seamlessly operate as a dispatchable unit.
Moreover, energy storage can benefit power systems by The control system of a microgrid is designed to safely
damping peak surges in electricity demand, countering operate the system in grid-parallel and stand-alone modes.
momentary power disturbances, providing outage ride- This system may be based on a central controller or imbedded
through while backup generators respond, and reserving as autonomous parts of each distributed generator. When the
energy for future demand. utility is disconnected the control system must control the
local voltage and frequency, provide (or absorb) the
There are several forms of energy storage available that instantaneous real power difference between generation and
can be used in microgrids; these include batteries, loads, provide the difference between generated reactive
supercapacitors, and flywheels. Battery systems store power and the actual reactive power consumed by the load;
electrical energy in the form of chemical energy. Batteries are and protect the internal microgrid.
DC power systems that require power electronics to convert
planned in advance. This should include information about
III. MICROGRID STANDARDS the protective device status, generation levels, load levels, and
system voltages.
IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee 21 (SCC21) is
supporting the development of IEEE P1547.4 Draft Guide for The transition to island mode can be a result of scheduled
Design, Operation, and Integration of Distributed Resource or unscheduled events. Scheduled transitions are intentional
Island Systems with Electric Power System [2] as part of the events with the time and duration of the planned island agreed
further development of IEEE 1547-2003 Standard for upon by all parties involved. Unscheduled transitions are
Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power inadvertent events that are initiated by loss of utility and may
Systems [7]. Currently in draft form, this document will cover be automatically initiated by protective equipment, equipment
microgrids and intentional islands that contain DER failure, etc.
connected with utility electric power systems. It provides
alternative approaches and good practices for the design, When operating in the island mode, the microgrid must be
operation, and integration of the microgrids and covers the designed to provide the real and reactive power requirements
ability to separate from and reconnect to part of the utility of the loads within the island and serve the range of load
while providing power to the islanded electric power system. operating conditions. The microgrid should also provide
The guide covers the DER, interconnection systems, and frequency stability and operate within the specified voltage
participating EPSs. It is intended to be used by EPS designers, ranges. Voltage regulation equipment within the microgrid
operators, system integrators, and equipment manufacturers may need to be modified to meet the needs of the intentional
when planning and operating microgrids. Its implementation island. Once in island mode, generation and load
will expand the benefits of DER by enabling improved EPS management become key. There should be an adequate
reliability and building on the requirements of IEEE 1547- generation reserve margin that is a function of the load factor,
2003. the magnitude of the load, the load shape, reliability
requirements of the load, and the availability of the
IEEE 1547.4 covers key consideration for planning and generation. To balance the load and generation, various
operating microgrids. This includes: impacts of voltage, techniques (e.g., load management and load shedding) can be
frequency, power quality, inclusion of single point of common used. If the load requirements are larger than the installed
coupling (PCC) and multiple PCCs, protection schemes and DER generation, it may be necessary to disconnect some load
modifications, monitoring, information exchange and control, or reduce power consumption by other means. The microgrid
understanding load requirements of the customer, knowing should have the proper amount of reactive load acceptance
the characteristics of the DER, identifying steady state and and rejection to maintain system voltage stability and prevent
transient conditions, understanding interactions between overvoltage excursions beyond the limits of the system.
machines, reserve margins, load shedding, demand response, During the island mode, voltage stability and dynamic reactive
cold load pickup, additional equipment requirements, and capability must be adequate. For example, if there is a motor
additional functionality associated with inverters. start that requires a large amount of reactive power, there
should be sufficient reactive power capacity to correctly bring
The guide also discusses the normal operating modes of a the system back into stability. During the island mode,
microgrid. Under most cases, this guide should be followed transient stability also should be maintained for load steps,
for strategies to maintain desirable operation of the system DER unit outage, and island faults. All faults must be cleared
under parallel and island modes. During normal parallel within the island. Protective device coordination should be
operation with the utility, the DER operates in accordance maintained but can be changed if needed through adaptive
with IEEE 1547-2003. Knowledge of the operating relaying. The time it takes to change these settings should
conditions of the system prior to islanding and control of also be examined. This may require additional
those conditions will facilitate a smooth transfer to an island communications. There should also be sufficient monitoring
particularly in response to abnormal events and when parts of to operate and understand the status of the microgrid. If there
the utility are included in the microgrid. The DER units in a are multiple DER units in the microgrid, they may be operated
microgrid may be dispatched using a number of strategies. in an economic dispatch mode by managing which one will be
The specific methodology will depend on operating operated based on the cost of generation.
constraints, control of the DER, and the strategy of the local
utility operator. The generation control may be under the When reconnecting the microgrid back with the utility
utility operator or the DER owner. The monitoring, system, monitoring should indicate that the proper conditions
information exchange, and control equipment required for the exist. After a utility disturbance, reconnection should not
microgrid should normally be in operation during parallel happen until the utility voltage is within acceptable limits and
mode. It is necessary to make this information available to phasing is correct. The integrity of the system grounding and
the microgrid control scheme such that a transition can be neutral system should also be verified prior to reconnection.
If an unscheduled event triggered the disconnection from the
utility, the time before reconnection may be extended to Based Interconnection Technology, NREL Report No.
insure the utility is stable. Active synchronization is usually TP-560-37200, 2005. Available:
required to match the voltage, frequency, and phase angle of
the islanded system to the utility if a minimum disturbance on [6] J. Lynch, V. John, S. M. Danial, E. Benedict, I. Vihinen,
reconnection is desired. Another reconnection method B. Kroposki, C. Pink (2006). Flexible DER Utility
employs a synchronization check device which only Interface System: Final Report, September 2004--May
reconnects the systems within certain phase differences. The 2006, 222 pp.; NREL Report No. TP-560-39876.
microgrid should parallel with the utility without causing Available:
excessive power disturbances. [7] IEEE Standard for Interconnecting Distributed
Resources to Electric Power Systems, IEEE Standard
Microgrids can provide improved electric service reliability VII. BIOGRAPHIES
and better power quality to end customers and can also
benefit local utilities by providing dispatchable load for use Benjamin Kroposki (S’90, M’93, SM’00) received his BS and MS
during peak power conditions or allowing system repairs in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. Mr.
without effecting customer loads. Any time a microgrid is Kroposki is the Distributed Energy Systems Integration group
implemented in an electrical distribution system, it must be manager at NREL. He serves as chairman for IEEE P1547.4 Guide
well planned to avoid problems. IEEE SCC21 is developing a for Design, Operation, and Integration of Distributed Resource
guide to help electric power system designers, operators, Island Systems with Electric Power Systems. Mr. Kroposki is
currently pursuing his Ph.D. at Colorado School of Mines and is a
system integrators, and equipment manufacturers understand registered professional engineer in Colorado.
the considerations for implementing microgrids. Uniform
adoption of the IEEE P1547.4 guidelines for microgrids help Thomas Basso (M’80) is a senior scientist in the NREL Distributed
all parties understand the technical requirements for Energy and Electricity Reliability Program. Prior at NREL, he conducted
microgrids to operate. outdoor accelerated weathering of photovoltaic (PV) modules and was
NREL project leader for PV Management under the NREL/Department
of Energy PV Advanced R&D Project. He serves as secretary for IEEE
Standards Coordinating Committee 21, 1547, P1547.2, P1547.3,
V. ACKNOWLEDGMENT P1547.4, and P1547.6. He is also a Member of IEC JCG DRES, IEC
The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions TC8, ASME, and American Solar Energy Society.
of the IEEE P1547.4 Working Group members and especially
Richard DeBlasio (M’65, SM’83) is technology manager of the
C. Abbey, D. Bassett, D. Beach, D. Birlingmair, D. Costyk,
NREL/Department of Energy Distributed Energy and Electricity
M. Davis, P. Della, G. Ello, A. Garsils, G. Johnson, J. Reliability Program, which includes Distribution and Interconnection
Koepfinger, B. Peterson, C. Rogers, D. Sammon, J. Stevens, R&D at NREL. Before joining NREL in 1978, he was with the US
C. Vartanian, and M. Vaziri for their work on the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, D.C. (1974–1978) and
development of the IEEE P1547.4 standard. Underwriters Laboratories (1972–1974). He is an electrical engineer,
a senior member of IEEE, an IEEE SA Standards Board member, and
chair of IEEE SCC 21 on Fuel Cells, Photovoltaics, Distributed
Power, and Energy Storage.
[1] B. Kroposki, R. Lasseter, T. Ise, S. Morozumi, S.
Papathanassiou, and Nikos Hatziargyriou, Microgrids:
Technologies and Testing, IEEE Power and Energy
Magazine, May 2008.
[2] IEEE Draft Guide for Design, Operation, and Integration
of Distributed Resource Island Systems with Electric
Power Systems, IEEE Standard P1547 Draft 4.
[3] B. Kroposki, S. Englebretson, C. Pink, J. Daley, R.
Siciliano, D. Hinton, Validation of IEEE P1547.1
Interconnection Test Procedures: ASCO 7000 Soft Load
Transfer System; NREL Report No. TP-560-34870, 2003.
[4] Z. Ye, D. Finney, R. Zhou, M. Dame, B. Premerlani, B.
Kroposki, S. Englebretson, Testing of GE Universal
Interconnection Device, NREL Report No. TP-560-
34676, 2003. Available:
[5] Z. Ye, M. Dame, B. Kroposki, Grid-Connected Inverter
Anti-Islanding Test Results for General Electric Inverter-