Evolutionary changes in
the regulatory and operational climate of traditional electric utilities and the
emergence of smaller generating systems such as microturbines have opened new
opportunities for on-site power generation by electricity users. In this context,
distributed energy resources (DER) - small power generators typically located
at users' sites where the energy (both electric and thermal) they generate is
used - have emerged as a promising option to meet growing customer needs for electric
power with an emphasis on reliability and power quality.
portfolio of DER includes generators, energy storage, load control, and, for certain
classes of systems, advanced power electronic interfaces between the generators
and the bulk power provider. This paper proposes that the significant potential
of smaller DER to meet customers' and utilities' needs, can be best captured by
organizing these resources into MicroGrids.
MicroGrid concept assumes an aggregation of loads and microsources operating as
a single system providing both power and heat. The majority of the microsources
must be power electronic based to provide the required flexibility to insure operation
as a single aggregated system. This control flexibility allows the MicroGrid to
present itself to the bulk power system as a single controlled unit that meets
local needs for reliability and security.
The MicroGrid would most likely exist on a small, dense group of contiguous geographic
sites that exchange electrical energy through a low voltage (e.g., 480 V) network
and heat through exchange of working fluids. In the commercial sector, heat loads
may well be absorption cooling. The generators and loads within the cluster are
placed and coordinated to minimize the joint cost of serving electricity and heat
demand, given prevailing market conditions, while operating safely and maintaining
power balance and quality. MicroGrids move the PQR choice closer to the end uses
and permits it to match the end user's needs more effectively. MicroGrids can,
therefore, improve the overall efficiency of electricity delivery at the point
of end use, and, as micrgrids become more prevalent, the PQR standards of the
macrogrid can ultimately be matched to the purpose of bulk power delivery.
The MicroGrid structure assumes an aggregation of loads and microsources operating
as a single system providing both power and heat. The majority of the microsources
must be power electronic based to provide the required flexibility to insure controlled
operation as a single aggregated system. This control flexibility allows the MicroGrid
to present itself to the bulk power system as a single controlled unit, have plug-and-play
simplicity for each microsource, and meet the customers' local needs. These needs
include increased local reliability and security.
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