Test-Based Modeling of Photovoltaic Inverter Impact on Distribution Systems
Laura M Wieserman1, Santino F Graziani1, Thomas E McDermott2, Roger C Dugan3, Zhi-Hong Mao1
1University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States
/2Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, United States
/3Electric Power Research Institute, Knoxville, TN, United States

Distributed PV has important effects on overcurrent, overvoltage and islanding protection. These effects are more difficult to analyze because the faulted behavior of PV inverters is less well understood than for rotating machines. Full transient models of the inverter can be accurate, but that approach requires inverter design details and simulation software that doesn’t easily interoperate with utility protection system software. Further, anomalous model behaviors often emerge at different grid conditions, and these are difficult to fix in a proprietary model. Testing provides another approach to characterize inverters, validate models or answer questions of application. This earlier work found major impacts from the inverter design, firmware, operating point and balance-of-system components.
Our objective is to characterize PV inverters from black-box testing, leading to standard test reports that could provide parameter sets for widely-implemented models in software tools. The tool vendors can then develop standard inverter models, as they did for rotating machines and exciters.
Besides fully detailed transient models, inverters can be represented with steady-state current sources, dynamically controlled current sources or non-linear frequency-dependent black boxes. Type-test data could support the last three kinds of model. Short circuit and sag tests would encompass the basic fault types, reporting the maximum transient and rms currents, with angles, over all power levels and points-on-wave in four time ranges: 0 to 1 cycles, for close and latch consideration
1 to 4 cycles, for equipment withstand
4 to 30 cycles, for interrupt ratings
30 cycles and beyond, for backup protection analysis Open circuit tests would vary output power and power factor, and report the maximum rms voltage from 1 to 10 cycles after the event. Without models, the type-test data could also provide upper limits on the expected overvoltages and overcurrents.