Grid Interfaces for Flexible and Resilient Distribution Systems

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Bilakanti, Nishant
Divan, Deepakraj M.
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The growing penetration of distributed energy resources (DERs) and microgrids is leading to fundamental changes in power system planning, operations, and control at unprecedented scope and speed. Utilities and their interconnection processes are struggling to cope with the numerous issues associated with high DER and microgrid penetration. Current interconnection practices for large-scale DERs and microgrids involve detailed system impact studies that require advanced skill sets, are time-consuming, costly, and do not guarantee compliance with the utility interconnection rules. This work proposes Island Interconnection Devices (IIDs) as standardized utility-owned and utility-controlled grid interfaces to simplify the grid integration of DERs and microgrids by eliminating the requirement for detailed system impact studies. The IID solution is a forward-thinking, streamlined, and proactive approach to accelerating the deployment of DERs and microgrids while guaranteeing compliance with the ever-evolving utility interconnection rules and managing integration and operational risks. With the increasing frequency of extreme weather events resulting in prolonged grid outages, there is a growing interest in utilizing DERs and microgrids as a cost-effective means to improve the resilience of the distribution system. This work proposes a distribution system architecture consisting of IIDs, smart electrical distribution panels, and DERs to enable flexible and resilient distribution systems. It enables the operation of the distribution system as an interconnected network of microgrids with bottom-up black-start and service restoration functions. Upon loss of utility supply, this approach can black-start feeder segments, form microgrids, and rapidly restore service with priority given to critical loads. Furthermore, by networking neighboring microgrids to form a microgrid cluster, the proposed grid architecture provides increased reliability and resilience benefits to customers within their footprint and surrounding areas. By isolating failures and providing alternative pathways for the continuity of electricity supply, the proposed architecture is expected to enhance the resilience of the distribution system by minimizing the magnitude, frequency, and duration of power outages.
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