Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are currently in the works to launch the only tool that can control large-scale distributed energy resources (DERs) like rooftop solar panels in real time.
PNNL recently published research demonstrating the Coordinated Real-time Sub-Transmission Volt-Var Control Tool’s (CReST-VCT) effectiveness in coordinating and distributing solar energy.
According to PNNL’s website the proposed tool determines how to increase power system resilience for any given grid. The main objective of the tool is to increase grid voltage stability by coordinating the operation of DERs in real time. This coordinated process uses an algorithm that operates in real time at every 5 minutes interval. Frequent updates minimize fluctuations in voltage. The CReST-VCT tool calculates the upper and lower limits of the “virtual power plant,” or aggregated DERs, and coordinates them to minimize grid voltage fluctuations.
When the operational condition of the distribution system and transmission system are unknown to each other, there are operational issues for distributing solar power. The prototype allows missing information about the DERs in the transmission and distribution systems to be exchanged. The tool can eliminate potential operational issues for distributing solar polar, including blackouts, voltage instability and shorter life spans.
“The prototype CReST-VCT improves the ability of electricity grid to integrate diverse distributed renewable resources from electricity consumers into common operational assets for managing system reliability, and building resiliency at the grid level,” PNNL senior power system research engineer Xinda Ke said. “The proposed tool will allow customers to consistently deliver reactive power in response to grid needs, maintain power quality, and grid reliability.”
The CReST-VCT is the only tool that has been tested successfully on a full-scale utility model, the PNNL research team reports.