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Integrating and Interconnecting PV Generation in Distribution Systems

Event Description and Agenda:

More than 475,000 solar energy systems were interconnected in the U.S. by the end of 2013, with 1 million expected by the end of 2017 according to Solar Electric Power Association. That number is expected to grow geometrically in the years ahead.

For a power grid that was conceived and developed around the concept of a centralized generation grid with complementary hub-and-spoke distribution system, the notion of increased - mostly solar photovoltaic - distributed generation (PVDG) systems spells mostly trouble. To veteran power engineers whose careers have been devoted to ensuring a safe and non-disruptive flow to the network, high penetration of PVDG warrants concern for that legacy distribution system on multiple fronts: consistent integrated systems reliability, overloaded circuits, questionable power quality and voltage fluctuations, inverter grid support and grounding options.

Things are changing, however. As distribution engineers encounter higher DG penetration conditions in multiple settings, their knowledge and expertise for integrating and interconnecting these often variable, intermittent energy resources with the grid is becoming safer and more reliable - main concerns for utilities, manufacturers, developers and regulators. They are finding ways to increase the grid resiliency, at the same time serving the growing and more sophisticated demands on the electricity system. This conference, featuring many of the industry's foremost technical experts, will examine fundamental interconnection challenges confronting distribution system professionals and how they are being addressed in practice. Utilities, leading national lab research specialists and distribution system service providers will cover these topics:

  • Typical interconnection process
  • Voltage regulation and imbalance
  • Effective anti-islanding measures
  • Mitigation of reverse power flow
  • Performance monitoring
  • Advanced inverter functions and standards updates
  • The promising role of storage
  • Regulatory changes under consideration 

 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

7:30 - 8:00 a.m. :: Registration and Breakfast

8:00 - 8:15 a.m. :: Welcome and Overview

Session I: What Is Happening Now and Why It's Different from "Business as Usual"

8:15 - 10:15 a.m. :: PV Interconnection and Integration Technical and Process Issues

This opening segment will review the interconnection process associated with integrating photovoltaic (PV) and other forms of distributed generation (DG) into an utility distribution system, as well as the bulk power system (as applicable). It will consider the following elements:

  • Application process
  • Fast-track technical screens
  • Supplemental screening and review
  • Impact studies
  • Detailed impact studies
  • Technical issues
  • Policy issues
  • Regulations
  • Timelines
  • Process improvements

Michael Coddington, Senior Electrical Engineering Researcher and Principal Investigator, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Kristen Ardani, Solar Technology Markets and Policy Analyst, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Michael Ropp, PhD, PE, President, Northern Plains Power Technologies, Senior Member of IEEE

Michael Conway, Director - Grid Integration, Borrego Solar

10:15 - 10:30 a.m. :: Networking Break

Benefits and/or Challenges at the Distribution Level of Distributed PV

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. :: Utility Issues

Two utilities with experience integrating an expanding amount of distributed energy resources will discuss the challenges they have and are confronting, how they've dealt with them, and benefits their utilities may be deriving within their system.

Marc Romito, Renewable Energy Resources Manager, Arizona Public Service (APS)

Babak Enayati, Lead Research Development and Demonstration Engineer - Utility of the Future, National Grid

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: Volt/VAR Support and Locational Benefits

As PV penetration continues to increase significantly in many service territories, current utility policy, standards and regulations prevent service providers from realizing the full benefit of inverter-based DG. This presentation will introduce and explore some of the widely unrecognized technical benefits of distributed solar including Volt/VAr support, locational benefits, deferred capital investment, avoided line losses and transmission price suppression.

Michael Conway, Director - Grid Integration, Borrego Solar

Jeff Lo, Vice President, Gridco Systems

12:00 - 1:00 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

Session II: Scoping Problems: Monitoring, Measuring, Preventing and Predicting Issues When Connecting PV Systems to the Grid

1:00 - 1:45 p.m. :: PV and DER Performance Monitoring - Practical Case Study

This session will provide information and analysis used to monitor the performance of various types of solar systems at Colorado Springs Utilities including how DER systems are measured for actual contribution to peak reduction.

John Romero, General Manager of Acquisition, Engineering and Planning, Colorado Springs Utilities

1:45 - 2:30 p.m. :: Using SCADA

Efficiency is the name of the game and mitigating issues while improving overall efficiency is the means. SCADA enables converting data into actionable information while keeping security and users in mind. Topics for this presentation address monitoring for real-time status, remote distribution of alarms and events, and using historical data to predict what might happen next.

Scott Kortier, Senior Technical Product Manager, Schneider Electric

2:30 - 3:15 p.m. :: The Potential Offered by Advanced Inverters

Many advanced inverters incorporate built-in communications control monitoring that allows access to system data from the aggregate scale down to a specific feeder scale.

John Berdner, Director - Worldwide Standards, enphase Energy

3:15 - 3:30 p.m. :: Afternoon Break

Session III: Mitigation Strategies for High Penetration and Large PV Systems

3:30 - 4:00 p.m. :: Overview of Mitigation Issues

There are multiple ways in which the impacts of high penetration PV and other distributed generation resources require mitigation. This segment will discuss the many dimensions of what the challenges are and the ways in which they can be addressed.

Michael Coddington, Senior Electrical Engineering Researcher and Principal Investigator, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

4:00 - 4:45 p.m. :: What's Next in Anti-Islanding Prevention Measures

Today's islanding detection technology is highly effective in preventing unintentional islanding of distributed energy resources in the deployment scenarios seen to date. However, new scenarios are emerging that will create new challenges and will eventually require a fundamental change in how unintentional islands are prevented--and also pave the way for successful formation of intentional islands. This presentation will describe the new challenges and the problems they cause, discuss several candidate solutions, and provide some groundwork for how the new solutions will facilitate a microgrid mode for distributed energy resources.

Michael Ropp, PhD, PE, President, Northern Plains Power Technologies, Senior Member of IEEE

4:45 - 5:30 p.m. :: Mitigating Challenges Resulting from Reverse Power Flow

This session will examine the areas of concern to be addressed when it might be possible for DG to back-feed distribution feeders and whole distribution substations.

John Gajda, Manager - DER Operations, Duke Energy

5:30 p.m. :: Day adjournment

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

7:30 - 8:00 a.m. :: Continental Breakfast

Session IV: Capabilities Roadmap to the Future

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. :: Advanced Inverter Functions and Standards Development Updates (UL 1741 and IEEE 1547)

Advanced inverters can address some of the challenges related to high penetration PV and distributed solar generation on the distribution system. Their functions will increase with PV deployment and related regulation and policy, addressing voltage and frequency ride through, real and reactive power control and ramp rate control.

John Berdner, Director - Worldwide Standards, enphase Energy

9:00 - 10:00 a.m. :: Integrating Thousands of Small DG Projects - Practical Case Study

This presentation will discuss the complex communication with advanced inverters and other DER technologies in real time, currently underway at APS.

Marc Romito, Renewable Energy Resources Manager, Arizona Public Service (APS)

10:00 - 10:15 a.m. :: Morning Break

Session V: Energy Storage and Grid Resiliency

10:15 - 11:00 a.m. :: Stabilizing the Distribution System through Behind-the-Meter Energy Storage -Overview of the Future of Distributed Storage from a Use Case Perspective

A recent RMI publication aimed to answer three key questions about energy storage and the grid:

  1. What services can energy storage provide to the electricity grid?
  2. Where should energy storage be deployed on the grid to provide the greatest number of these services?
  3. Where on the electricity grid should storage be deployed in order to create maximum net value?

After conducting a literature review and modeling four distinct energy storage use cases, the report posits that energy storage devices are capable of providing a suite of twelve fundamental services to the gird, and the further downstream in the electricity system that energy storage devices are located, the more services they are able to provide to the grid at large. This presentation will review these findings in detail, present four different behind-the-meter energy storage use cases where both individual and fleets of batteries are used to provide multiple, stacked services to the grid, and discuss regulatory barriers currently preventing behind the meter energy storage systems from providing net value to the U.S. electricity system.

Garrett Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Rocky Mountain Institute

11:00 - 11:45 a.m. :: Distributed Storage Practicality, Economics and Drivers for Supporting the Distribution System

The increasingly widespread deployment of distributed PV and other distributed energy resources (DERs) is imposing different demands on the operational characteristics of the electric distribution grid. Many utilities, worried about the real and perceived impacts of DERs on the grid, are specifying equipment upgrades to mitigate their concerns. However, these mitigation requirements are made without regard to the advanced capabilities of distributed storage, which can often preempt the concerns underlying the proposed mitigations. In this presentation, the cost-effective, safe and reliable alternatives of distributed storage are discussed. The presentation will conclude with an overview of recent research performed by the National Renewable Energy Lab in collaboration with SolarCity on the topic of inverter transient overvoltage.

Michael McCarty, Principal Power Systems Engineer, SolarCity

11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

Session VI: Capabilities Road Map to the Future

1:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. :: Integrated Distribution Planning: What's in Play Now

Many initiatives are under way in jurisdictions and by many system operators around the U.S. to stimulate indeed mandate that distributed generation play a significant role in future grid implementation efforts. This session will discuss measures that are in process in states such as California, New York, Massachusetts and Hawaii. It will especially focus on the technical and engineering consequences of these directives rather than the policy implications, and where utilities can turn for guidance when implementation comes into play.

Michael Coddington, Senior Electrical Engineering Researcher and Principal Investigator, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Tom Bialek, Chief Engineer - Smart Grid Team, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) invited

Babak Enayati, Lead Research Development and Demonstration Engineer - Utility of the Future, National Grid

Marc Romito, Renewable Energy Resources Manager, Arizona Public Service (APS)

John Gajda, Manager - DER Operations, Duke Energy

James McClanahan, Senior Principal - Energy & Utilities, West Monroe Partners

2:45 - 3:00 p.m. :: Afternoon Break

3:00 - 5:00 p.m. :: Can PVDG Systems and Utilities Co-exist and Thrive, Or Is a Disaster Looming? - Policy Discussion

In the last several years, utility customers have dramatically increased integration of PV and other DG systems to distribution and feeder systems. For utilities, this phenomenon is starting to have a material effect on the economics and engineering of operating the grid. For the PV industry, it is opening wide the door for a prosperous present and future. How do PV and utilities survive? Can they co-exist in a higher penetration world? This panel will discuss recent policy and market developments, analyze long-term viability of the PV, DG and DER industry and related high penetration concerns. It will also consider what implications these actions may have with respect to the concept of grid defection.

Moderator:

Michael Coddington, Senior Electrical Engineering Researcher and Principal Investigator, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Panelists:

Garrett Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Rocky Mountain Institute

Michael Conway, Director - Grid Integration, Borrego Solar

Peter Richardson, Attorney, Richardson Adams PLLC

John Romero, General Manager of Acquisition, Engineering and Planning, Colorado Springs Utilities

Nick Wagner, Commissioner, Iowa Utilities Board

Kristen Ardani, Solar Technology Markets and Policy Analyst, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

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