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2012 3rd IEEE PES Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Europe (ISGT Europe), Berlin

Impact of High-Penetration PV
on Distribution Feeders
Rossen Tzartzev, Student Member, IEEE, W. Mack Grady, Fellow, IEEE, Jay Patel

response of a medium voltage distribution network to different

Abstract--This paper predicts the effects that high levels of levels of PV penetration.
photovoltaic penetration will have on the voltage magnitude and A more recent publication, [6], reports the effect that PV
power flow on five actual North American feeders. The studies generation loss has on a small theoretical power system by
are based on EPRI test feeders, and simulations are conducted conducting 1-second time step simulations with all PV
using EPRI’s OpenDSS computer simulation program. Results generators swinging together, as if they were all
for the five feeders studied, using PV penetration levels of 50% of
simultaneously covered by one cloud. The study does not take
total load, show that the voltage flicker due to shadow movement
will be approximately in the range of 0.5% to 2%.
into account individual cloud shadows and their effects on the
overall PV generation.
Index Terms--distributed power generation, photovoltaic, Feeder voltage and power losses due to cloud shading were
voltage fluctiations. studied with longer simulation time steps on European feeders
with precise load modeling in [7], which provided a good
I. INTRODUCTION comparison point for our results.
The EPRI study feeders provide precise real-world
electrical models and hourly load data which, when paired
with an experimentally-derived cloud model, was used to A. Photovoltaic Measurements
predict the impact that high-penetration PV will have on the Typical measurements of the maximum DC power output
voltage magnitude and power flow in distribution feeders. of a photovoltaic panel with cloud shadow movement are
Simulations using a 1-second time step were conducted for a shown in Fig. 1 [8]. These results are the basis for the cloud
duration of 15 minutes on five different feeders as the cloud model that was used in our simulations. Data for Fig. 1 were
model described in this paper moved over them. obtained using an I-V curve sweeper with a 5-second spacing
Variation of PV output due to a moving cloud cover is a between readings.
topic that has been studied since the mid 1980’s, with papers
written on the rate of power loss due to impeding cloud cover 160
[1], the effect it has on the real power flow in and out of the 120
Panel DC Watts

system [2], as well as the ability of the utility to deal with such 100

power fluctuations [3]. 80

The study presented in [1], [2], deals with a relatively large 40

sub-transmission and distribution system of the Public Service 20

Company of Oklahoma (PSO). The study identifies the Fig. 1. Ten Minute Window of PV Max Power Measurements with Cloud
forward and reverse power flow problem caused by cloud Shadow Movement..
fronts impeding on the photovoltaic generation of the system
and it recognizes, but does not address, the possible problem B. The Cloud Model
of voltage flicker. The effects of PV generation on losses and From Fig. 1, and many similar observations, we propose
bus voltages were examined in [4], [5], with [4] concentrating that the repeating pattern of circles in Fig. 2 represent moving
on single-bus response to shading and power ramp rates on a shadows due to clouds. When there is no shadow, the clear sky
small scale, and [5] describing the steady-state system maximum power for a given time of the day and panel
orientation, PPVMax, is used. When inside the 50-second
diameter, A, the power output of the panel is one-third of
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by
PPVMax. Finally, when inside the 5-second transition ring (C -
DOE and Virginia Tech, DE-EE0002062, Program Manager Ms. Holly A), a linear variation between PPVMax and one-third of PPVMax is
Thomas. used.
Rossen Tzartzev is with The University of Texas at Austin, USA
W. Mack Grady is with The University of Texas at Austin, USA
Jay Patel is with Kansas City Power & Light, USA

978-1-4673-2597-4/12/$31.00 ©2012 IEEE


B. Feeder 2

50 sec

5 sec

2 mins

5 to 7 meters
per second

For cloud shadow speed = 5 m/s, A = 250 meters, C = 300 meters

For cloud shadow speed = 7 m/s, A = 350 meters, C = 420 meters
Fig. 2. Repeating Pattern of the Proposed Moving Cloud Shadow Model.


Fig. 4. Feeder 2 Layout.
Five actual North American distribution feeders were
constructed and simulated using EPRI’s OpenDSS program C. Feeder 3
[9]. The feeders are shown in Figs. 3-7. The substations and
some of the remote buses used to establish the range of
voltage flicker are indicated with circles. Typical feeder
loadings for a summer day for these five feeders are 6.98 MW,
7.87 MW, 8.04 MW, 4.75 MW, and 4.94 MW, respectively.

A. Feeder 1

Fig. 5. Feeder 3 Layout.

Fig. 3. Feeder 1 Layout.


D. Feeder 4 the simulation, and thus the framework for our simulations was
A. Photovoltaic Panels
Photovoltaic sources with power rating equal to 50% of the
local bus load were connected to every load bus in the
distribution feeder model. It was assumed that the PV
inverters produce no reactive power. The output of each
photovoltaic source was independently varied in accordance to
its location in the moving cloud shadow pattern. In the
simulations it was assumed that the inverter can quickly track
the power swings caused by the changes in solar insolation
[10-12]. With all voltage control devices (i.e. switched
capacitors, transformer tap changers, etc) locked, and with the
load levels in a fixed position, any changes in substation
power flow and bus voltages were due entirely to variations in
PV generation.
B. Simulation Approach
The simulation for each feeder proceeded as shown in Fig.
8, where the cloud pattern approaches in 1-second steps,
eventually covering the entire feeder and establishing an
Fig 6. Feeder 4 Layout.
oscillating pattern of voltage and power swings. A load flow
simulation was performed for each 1-second step using Open
E. Feeder 5 DSS.

Heading angle
shown is 165º

y (north)

x (east)

Fig. 8. Cloud Model Applied to Distribution Feeder.

Fig. 7. Feeder 5 Layout. One 15-minute simulation is performed for East-West cloud
movement and another for North-South cloud movement. For
IV. SIMULATION METHODOLOGY both directions of approach, simulations with 5 m/s and 7 m/s
cloud speeds were performed. The flowchart in Fig. 9
One 15-minute period during an average summer afternoon summarizes the simulation approach.
was selected as the basis of the simulation. Bus load real and
reactive power were locked for the 15-minute period, all
voltage regulating functions were switched off, the capacitor
banks were locked to the state they were at the hour chosen for

Fig. 9. Simulation Approach. The clear boxes are implemented in MATLAB, while the shaded ones represent processes completed with the OpenDSS engine.

The results are best presented on a feeder-by-feeder basis.
The substation power from the two scenarios (E-W and N-S) is
observed, as well as the impact on bus voltage magnitudes.
Looking at the substation real power plots (e.g., see Fig. 10),
three distinct areas of the graph become obvious: a flat, steady-
state, region, where the photovoltaic generation is unimpeded
by clouds and is at its maximum; a ramp-up region, in which
the cloud model is slowly covering the feeder, causing
additional power to flow through the substation to make up for
the diminished power output of the photovoltaic generators; Fig. 12. Feeder 1 Substation Real Power Flow for N-S Shadow Movement.
and the oscillation region, which occurs when the cloud front
has completely blanketed the feeder. The voltage magnitude
plot is a mirror image to the power flow graph. The voltage
(e.g., see Fig. 11) starts out at its highest magnitude during full
sun, ramps down as the clouds are beginning to cover the
feeder, and by the time the feeder is blanketed over, an
oscillating pattern develops.
A. Feeders 1, 2, 3 and 5
Feeders 1, 2, 3, and 5 are grouped together because of their
similar behavior in the simulations. Compared to Feeder 4, the
loads on Feeders 1, 2, 3, and 5 are more dispersed, resulting in
smaller voltage flicker being predicted by the simulations. Fig. 13. End-of-Feeder 1 Voltage Flicker for N-S Shadow Movement.
Feeder 1 power flow and voltage magnitude graphs (i.e.,
Figs 10-13) in this section are fairly representative of Feeders B. Feeder 4
2, 3, and 5. Average voltage flicker, ∆V, for Feeders 1, 2, 3, Feeder 4 simulations showed the biggest voltage and power
and 5 is 0.5%, with values ranging from 0.1%, close to the swings from the five feeders studied. The loads on this feeder
substations, to as high as 1% toward the ends of the feeders. are close together and relatively far from the substation, as seen
Results for different cases (E-W vs. N-S) and different wind in Fig. 6, resulting in larger voltage swings than the ones seen
speeds (5 m/s vs. 7 m/s) are comparable. on the other four feeders. Average voltage flicker at Feeder 4 is
0.8%, but it increases to approximately 2% toward the end of
the feeder.

Fig. 10. Feeder 1 Substation Real Power Flow for E-W Shadow Movement.

Fig.14. Feeder 4 Substation Real Power Flow for E-W Shadow Movement.

Fig. 11. End-of-Feeder 1 Voltage Flicker for E-W Shadow Movement.

Fig. 15. End-of-Feeder 4 Voltage Flicker for E-W Shadow Movement.


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The authors gratefully acknowledge 1. the financial support
provided by DOE and Virginia Tech, “Field Verification of Rossen Tzartzev is a graduate student in the department of Electrical and
Computer Engineering at The University of Texas – Austin. He earned a
High Penetration Levels of PV into the Distribution Grid with BSEE (2003) and a MSEE (2007) from The University of Texas – Austin, and
Advanced Power Conditioning Systems,” DE-EE0002062, is currently working towards a PhD. His main area of research interest is
Program Manager Ms. Holly Thomas, 2. data and technical distributed generation and its effects on power systems. Rossen Tzartzev also
support provided by EPRI, and 3. the technical assistance of works at the Hal C. Weaver Power Plant and is a Registered Professional
Engineer in the state of Texas.
Mr. Melvin Schoech of CenterPoint Energy.
W. Mack Grady is a Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at
U.T. Austin. He received the BSEE from U.T. Arlington, and the MSEE
and PhD from Purdue. Dr. Grady was named Fellow of IEEE in 2000 "for
contributions to the analysis and control of power system harmonics
and electric power quality." He served as chairman of the IEEE-PES
T&D Committee and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas.

Jay Patel graduated with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the
Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly the University of
Missouri - Rolla) in December of 2004. Since 2006 he has been with KCP&L
where he presently serves as a Transmission Operations Engineer. At
KCP&L, he previously worked as a Distribution Planning Engineer where he
led the Electric Vehicle Impact Study and the Green Circuit Initiative. Prior
to KCP&L, he worked as a Distribution Engineer at OG&E.