(19)
(11)EP 2 469 681 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
17.10.2018 Bulletin 2018/42

(21)Application number: 11193928.6

(22)Date of filing:  16.12.2011
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H02J 3/38  (2006.01)
H02J 3/26  (2006.01)

(54)

Methods and systems for operating a power generation system

Verfahren und Systeme zum Betrieb eines Stromerzeugungssystems

Procédés et systèmes de fonctionnement d'un système de génération d'énergie


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 21.12.2010 US 974469

(43)Date of publication of application:
27.06.2012 Bulletin 2012/26

(73)Proprietor: General Electric Company
Schenectady, NY 12345 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Teichmann, Ralph
    Schenectady, NY New York 12345 (US)
  • O'Brien, Kathleen Ann
    Niskayuna, NY New York 12309 (US)

(74)Representative: Brannen, Joseph Waclaw et al
Global Patent Operation - Europe GE International Inc. The Ark 201 Talgarth Road Hammersmith
London W6 8BJ
London W6 8BJ (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A2- 2 071 693
US-A1- 2009 000 654
US-B2- 6 750 391
WO-A2-2005/117136
US-A1- 2010 244 575
  
  • YU H ET AL: "A multi-function grid-connected PV system with reactive power compensation for the grid", SOLAR ENERGY, PERGAMON PRESS. OXFORD, GB, vol. 79, no. 1, 1 July 2005 (2005-07-01), pages 101-106, XP027840518, ISSN: 0038-092X [retrieved on 2005-07-01]
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The embodiments described herein relate generally to a photovoltaic (PV) power generation system, and more specifically, to systems for coupling multiple variable input single-phase direct current (DC) power sources to a symmetric three-phase alternating current (AC) grid.

[0002] Solar energy has increasingly become an attractive source of energy and has been recognized as a clean, renewable alternative form of energy. Solar energy in the form of sunlight may be converted to electrical energy by solar cells. A more general term for devices that convert light to electrical energy is "photovoltaic cells." Sunlight is a subset of light. Thus, solar cells are a subset of photovoltaic (PV) cells. A PV cell comprises a pair of electrodes and a light-absorbing PV material disposed therebetween. When the PV material is irradiated with light, electrons that have been confined to an atom in the PV material are released by light energy to move freely. Thus, free electrons and holes are generated. The free electrons and holes are efficiently separated so that electric energy is continuously extracted. Current commercial PV cells use a semiconductor PV material, typically silicon.

[0003] In order to obtain a higher current and voltage, solar cells are electrically connected to form a solar module. In addition to a plurality of solar cells, the solar module may also include sensors, for example, an irradiance sensor, a temperature sensor, and/or a power meter. Solar modules may also be connected to form a module string. Typically, the DC voltages output by the module strings are provided to a grid inverter, for example, a DC to AC voltage inverter. The DC to AC voltage inverter converts the DC voltage to a single or three-phase alternating current (AC) voltage or current. The three-phase AC output can be provided to a power transformer, which steps up the voltage to produce a three-phase high-voltage AC that is applied to an electrical distribution grid.

[0004] Electricity applied to the electrical distribution grid is required to meet grid connectivity expectations. These requirements address safety issues as well as power quality concerns. For example, the grid connectivity expectations include facilitating disconnecting the power generation system from the grid in the event of a transient event, for example, a power surge or power failure. Another grid connectivity expectation is that the generated power be conditioned to ensure that the power matches the voltage and frequency of the electricity flowing through the grid. For example, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has written a standard that addresses grid-connected distributed generation including renewable energy systems (IEEE 1547-2003). Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has also developed a standard, UL 1741, to certify inverters, converters, charge controllers, and output controllers for power-producing stand-alone and grid-connected renewable energy systems. UL 1741 verifies that inverters comply with IEEE 1547 for grid-connected applications. Examples of prior art systems may be found in US Patent Application Publication Numbers US 2009/000654 A1 and US 2010/244575 A1.

[0005] Specifically, a grid-connected PV power generation system must meet utility interconnection requirements including low voltage ride through (LVRT), voltage regulation, and power factor correction.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



[0006] The invention resides in a photovoltaic (PV) power generation system comprising a plurality of PV collector units each comprising at least one PV cell and a collector-side single-phase inverter. The plurality of PV collector units are configured for coupling with a poly-phase alternating current (AC) load. The system also comprises a grid-side inverter coupled between the collector-side single-phase inverter of each of the plurality of PV collector units and the load. The system also comprises a system controller communicatively coupled to each of the plurality of PV collector units and configured to control operation of the plurality of PV collector units. The system controller is further configured to coordinate operation of the plurality of PV collector units and the grid-side inverter; control operation of the plurality of PV collector units to separately control real and reactive power applied to each phase of the poly-phase AC load; and control operation of the plurality of PV collector units through at least one of a low voltage ride through (LVRT) event and a zero voltage ride through (ZV RT) event.

[0007] In another aspect, the invention resides in a method for converting direct current (DC) power to alternating current (AC) power for delivery to an electrical load, wherein the DC power is produced by a plurality of variable input power sources. The method comprises providing a plurality of photovoltaic (PV) collector units each including at least one PV cell and a collector-side single-phase inverter. The plurality of PV collector units is configured to generate a DC voltage and convert the DC voltage to a single-phase AC output. The method further comprises coupling a grid-side inverter between the collector-side single phase inverter of each of the plurality of PV collector units and the electrical load. The method further comprises communicatively coupling at least one system controller to the plurality of PV collector units; and programming the system controller to control operation of the plurality of PV collector units, including programming the at least one system controller to coordinate operation of the plurality of PV collector units and the grid side inverter; control operation of the plurality of PV collector units to separately control real and reactive power applied to each phase of the poly-phase AC load; and control operation of the plurality of PV collector units through at least one low of a voltage ride through (LV RT) event and a zero voltage ride through (ZV RT) event.

[0008] In yet another aspect, the invention resides in a power conversion system comprising the above photovoltaic (PV) power generation system wherein a plurality of collector-side single-phase inverters are configured to receive variable input direct current (DC) voltage and to provide a symmetric poly-phase alternating current (AC) to an electrical load.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0009] Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a block diagram of a known photovoltaic (PV) power generation system.

Figure 2 is a block diagram of a first exemplary embodiment of a PV power generation system that includes a plurality of collector-side inverters.

Figure 3 is a block diagram of a second exemplary embodiment of the PV power generation system shown in Figure 2.

Figure 4 is a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of a system controller that may be included in the PV power generation system shown in Figure 2.

Figure 5 is a block diagram of a first alternative embodiment of a PV power generation system that includes a plurality of collector-side inverters.

Figure 6 is a block diagram of a second alternative embodiment of a PV power generation system that includes a plurality of collector-side inverters.

Figure 7 is a flow chart of an exemplary method for controlling operation of the PV power generation systems shown in Figures 2-6.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



[0010] The methods and systems described herein facilitate controlling a plurality of variable input single-phase power sources to produce power suitable for distribution and/or transmission on a symmetric three-phase electrical grid. The methods and systems described herein fulfill grid connectivity expectations including, but not limited to, providing steady-state and transient symmetry, controlling reactive power, responding to a symmetric or asymmetric fault current, shaping a ramp rate, and providing low voltage ride through (LVRT) capabilities, while minimizing capital expenditures, power conversion losses, and line losses. The methods and systems described herein also facilitate supporting grid symmetry during temporary failure or permanent degradation of a portion of the power generation assets.

[0011] Technical effects of the methods and systems described herein include at least one of: (a) providing a plurality of photovoltaic (PV) collector units each including at least one PV cell and a collector-side single-phase inverter, wherein the plurality of PV collector units are configured to generate a DC voltage and convert the DC voltage to a single-phase AC output; (b) communicatively coupling at least one system controller to the plurality of PV collector units; and, (c) programming the at least one system controller to control operation of the plurality of PV collector units.

[0012] Figure 1 is a block diagram of a known photovoltaic (PV) power generation system 10. System 10 includes a PV collection device 12, an inverter 14, a transformer 16, and an electrical grid 18. As referred to herein, electrical grid 18 is a network of conductors and devices configured for distribution and/or transmission of electricity. Typically, PV collection device 12 includes a plurality of PV module strings coupled, for example, by a DC switch gear (not shown in Figure 1), that collects DC voltages from the PV module strings and outputs a DC voltage 30. DC voltage 30 is provided to inverter 14. Inverter 14 conditions DC voltage 30. For example, inverter 14 may be a DC/AC voltage inverter configured to convert DC voltage 30 to a three-phase low-voltageAC 32.

[0013] Three-phase low-voltage AC 32 is provided to power transformer 16. Transformer 16 generates a three-phase high-voltage AC 34, which is applied to a load, for example, electrical grid 18. System 10 also includes a system controller 36. System controller 36 is coupled to inverter 14 and configured to control operation of inverter 14.

[0014] Figure 2 is a block diagram of a first exemplary embodiment of a PV power generation system 100 that includes a plurality of PV collector units 102. In the first exemplary embodiment, the plurality of PV collector units 102 are coupled in a delta configuration. Figure 3 is a block diagram of a second exemplary embodiment of PV power generation system 100 that includes the plurality of PV collector units 102. In the second exemplary embodiment, the plurality of PV collector units 102 are coupled in a star configuration, also referred to as a wye configuration.

[0015] In both the first exemplary embodiment and the second exemplary embodiment, PV power generation system 100 also includes a grid-side inverter 104, a power transformer 106, and a system controller 108. PV power generation system 100 provides symmetric three-phase AC to electrical grid 18 (shown in Figure 1). Although described herein as providing AC to electrical grid 18, system 100 may provide AC to any suitable load. In the exemplary embodiment, each of the plurality of PV collector units 102 includes a PV collection device and a collector-side inverter. For example, a first PV collector unit 120 includes a first collector-side inverter 122 coupled to a first PV collection device 124. A second PV collector unit 126 includes a second collector-side inverter 128 coupled to a second PV collection device 130. A third PV collector unit 132 includes a third collector-side inverter 134 coupled to a third PV collection device 136. A fourth PV collector unit 138 includes a fourth collector-side inverter 140 coupled to a fourth PV collection device 142. A fifth PV collector unit 144 includes a fifth collector-side inverter 146 coupled to a fifth PV collection device 148. A sixth PV collector unit 150 includes a sixth collector-side inverter 152 coupled to a sixth PV collection device 154. Although illustrated as including six PV collector units, system 100 may include any suitable number of collector units that allows system 100 to function as described herein. PV collection devices 124, 130, 136, 142, 148, and 154 may include a single PV cell, a plurality of PV cells assembled into a PV module, a plurality of PV modules assembled to form a PV module string, or any other configuration of PV cells that allows system 100 to function as described herein.

[0016] Because each of the plurality of PV collector units 102 includes a PV collection device and a collector-side inverter, each of the plurality of PV collector units 102 may operate at approximately a unity power factor. Operating close to a unity power factor facilitates delivering a maximum real power with minimum line losses to grid 18. Furthermore, each of the plurality of PV collector units 102 is also able to operate at a maximum power point for the inverter/collection device combination. More specifically, each collector-side inverter can be controlled separately to match the impedance of the corresponding PV collection device, and therefore, operate at the maximum power point. For example, first collector-side inverter 122 is controlled by system controller 108 to operate at the maximum power point for first PV collection device 124. Since each of the plurality of inverters can operate at a distinct maximum power point, a unique maximum power is extracted from PV collection devices 124, 130, 136, 142, 148, and 154.

[0017] In the first exemplary embodiment, shown in Figure 2, a low-voltage single-phase AC 158 output by the plurality of PV collector units 102 is applied between two of three conductors of a three-phase system, first conductor 160, second conductor 162, or third conductor 164. Single-phase inverters 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, and 152 can be coupled to three-phase electrical grid 18 such that each inverter is connected between any two of the three conductors 160, 162, and 164. Conductors 160, 162, and 164 are coupled to power transformer 106 and grid-side inverter 104.

[0018] In the second exemplary embodiment, shown in Figure 3, low-voltage single-phase AC 158 output by the plurality of PV collector units 102 is applied to at least one of three conductors of a three-phase system, first conductor 160, second conductor 162, or third conductor 164. The single-phase inverters 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, and 152 can be coupled to the three-phase grid such that one output of each of the inverters is connected to one of the three conductors and the remaining output of each of the inverters is connected to a neutral conductor 166. Conductors 160, 162, 164, and 166 are coupled to power transformer 106 through grid-side inverter 104.

[0019] Power transformer 106 may be a standard three-phase transformer that generates a high-voltage three-phase AC 174 for application to electrical grid 18 (shown in Figure 1). In the exemplary embodiment, grid-side inverter 104 stabilizes and regulates voltage delivered to grid 18. During steady-state operation of system 100, a symmetric three-phase AC is provided by grid-side inverter 104. During transient events, for example, grid events such as power surges along the electrical grid or LVRT events, grid-side inverter 104 facilitates LVRT and zero voltage ride through (ZVRT), for example, by detecting and compensating for the voltage disturbance by injecting leading or lagging reactive power onto grid 18. Furthermore, grid-side inverter 104 may also provide power factor correction during steady state operation.

[0020] In the exemplary embodiment, system controller 108 provides control signals 176 to grid-side inverter 104 to perform the functions described herein. Furthermore, system controller 108 provides one or more of the plurality of collector units 102, and more specifically, at least one of collector-side inverters 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, and 152, with a power factor reference signal and/or a power curtailment signal upon detection of a grid event. The system controller 108 may provide additional information to those inverters connected to a common conductor 160, 162 or 164 including real and reactive power commands. System 100 minimizes coordination necessary between inverters 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, and 152, easing processing demands on system controller 108 and facilitating higher power production from each of the plurality of PV collector units 102. System 100 facilitates operating each of the plurality of collector units 102 at an individual maximum power point, eliminates DC wiring between collector units 102 and grid-side inverter 104, and provides rapid curtailment of collector units 102 during a grid event.

[0021] Furthermore, collector-side inverters 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, and 152 allow system 100 to provide symmetric three-phase AC power even during a temporary failure and/or permanent degradation of a subset of the plurality of PV collector units 102. For example, system 100 provides symmetric three-phase AC power even if one or more of collector-side inverters 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, and 152 has failed. If the loss of production of one or more of collector-side inverters 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, and 152 leads to an undesired asymmetry in generation system 100, DC/AC converter 104 is controlled such that real and reactive power is extracted from a conductor with excess power generation and provided to a conductor with a lack of power generation. In some embodiments, system 100 can also be controlled such that a controlled asymmetric generation system is presented to electrical grid 18 to compensate for grid asymmetries such as single-phase faults or asymmetric loads. In other words, system 100 facilitates separately controlling real and reactive power applied to each of conductors 160, 162, and 164.

[0022] In some embodiments, collector-side inverters 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, and 152 each include a memory unit 178. For example, memory unit 178 is positioned within, or coupled to, collector-side inverter 122. Memory unit 178 stores operating parameters used to control operation of collector-side inverter 122. More specifically, operating parameters that enable inverter 122 to ride through a grid event may be stored in memory unit 178. The grid event may be identified by system controller 108 and/or identified by inverter 122. For example, memory unit 178 may store a threshold grid voltage power command, a voltage ride through return command, and/or a reactive power command. In some embodiments, inverter 122 operates based on the threshold grid voltage power command when a grid voltage is less than a stored threshold grid voltage. The stored threshold grid voltage may indicate an occurrence of a low voltage ride through event or a zero voltage ride through event. The voltage ride through return command may include a predetermined time period, after which inverter 122 is instructed to begin providing power to electrical grid 18. Thevoltage ride through return command may also include a predefined ramp rate, with which inverter 122 is instructed to provide power to electrical grid 18. The reactive power command may control reactive power output of inverter 122 including when inverter 122 is to provide reactive power. Operating in response to operating parameters stored in memory unit 178 facilitates autonomous control of inverter 122 (i.e., controlling inverter 122 based on operating parameters not received from system controller 108). Moreover, memory unit 178 may include a computer-readable medium, such as, without limitation, random access memory (RAM), flash memory, a hard disk drive, a solid state drive, a diskette, a flash drive, a compact disc, a digital video disc, and/or any suitable memory that enables storage, retrieval, and/or execution of instructions and/or data. Moreover, system controller 108 may adj ust the stored operating parameters prior to an occurrence of a grid event.

[0023] Moreover, in some embodiments, the plurality of PV collector units 102 are geographically dispersed. System controller 108 may control the collector unit 120 to provide a different level of reactive power than is provided by the collector unit 150. Each of the plurality of geographically dispersed PV collector units 102 may be separately controlled to facilitate balanced operation of PV power generation system 100 and to minimize system losses internal to system 100.

[0024] Figure 4 is a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of system controller 108 (shown in Figure 1). In some embodiments, system controller 108 includes a bus 180 or other communications device to communicate information. One or more processor(s) 182 are coupled to bus 180 to process information, including information from sensors included in PV collector units 102. Processor(s) 182 may include at least one computer. As used herein, the term computer is not limited to integrated circuits referred to in the art as a computer, but broadly refers to a processor, a microcontroller, a microcomputer, a programmable logic controller (PLC), an application specific integrated circuit, and other programmable circuits, and these terms are used interchangeably herein.

[0025] System controller 108 may also include one or more random access memories (RAM) 184 and/or other storage device(s) 186. RAM(s) 184 and storage device(s) 186 are coupled to bus 180 to store and transfer information and instructions to be executed by processor(s) 182. RAM(s) 184 (and/or storage device(s) 186, if included) can also be used to store temporary variables or other intermediate information during execution of instructions by processor(s) 182. System controller 108 may also include one or more read only memories (ROM) 188 and/or other static storage devices coupled to bus 180 to store and provide static (i.e., non-changing) information and instructions to processor(s) 182. Processor(s) 182 process information transmitted from a plurality of electrical and electronic devices that may include, without limitation, irradiance sensors and power meters. Instructions that are executed include, without limitation, resident conversion and/or comparator algorithms. The execution of sequences of instructions is not limited to any specific combination of hardware circuitry and software instructions.

[0026] System controller 108 may also include, or may be coupled to, input/output device(s) 190. Input/output device(s) 190 may include any device known in the art to provide input data to system controller 108 and/or to provide outputs, such as, but not limited to, solar panel positioning outputs and/or inverter control outputs. Instructions may be provided to RAM 184 from storage device 186 including, for example, a magnetic disk, a read-only memory (ROM) integrated circuit, CD-ROM, and/or DVD, via a remote connection that is either wired or wireless providing access to one or more electronically-accessible media. In some embodiments, hard-wired circuitry can be used in place of or in combination with software instructions. Thus, execution of sequences of instructions is not limited to any specific combination of hardware circuitry and software instructions, whether described and/or shown herein. Also, in the exemplary embodiment, input/output device(s) 190 may include, without limitation, computer peripherals associated with an operator interface (e.g., a human machine interface (HMI)) such as a mouse and a keyboard (neither shown in Figure 4). Furthermore, in the exemplary embodiment, additional output channels may include, for example, an operator interface monitor and/or alarm device (neither shown in Figure 4). System controller 108 may also include a sensor interface 192 that allows system controller 108 to communicate with sensors. Sensor interface 192 may include one or more analog-to-digital converters that convert analog signals into digital signals that can be used by processor(s) 182. System controller 108 may also be coupled to external supervisory control systems such as a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, for example, a SCADA associated with a utility company, and/or a substation or network controller.

[0027] Figure 5 is a block diagram of an alternative embodiment 200 of a PV power generation system that includes a plurality of PV collector units 102. Components common to system 100 (shown in Figures 2 and 3) and system 200 are identified with identical reference numerals. In this embodiment, PV power generation system 200 includes grid-side inverter 104 and system controller 108. PV power generation system 200 also includes a power transformer 202. In this embodiment, plurality of PV collector units 102 includes first PV collector unit 120, second PV collector unit 126, third PV collector unit 132, and fourth PV collector unit 138. Each of the plurality of PV collector units 102 includes a PV collection device and a single-phase collector-side inverter. As described above, first PV collector unit 120 includes first collector-side inverter 122 coupled to first PV collection device 124. Second PV collector unit 126 includes second collector-side inverter 128 coupled to second PV collection device 130. Third PV collector unit 132 includes third collector-side inverter 134 coupled to third PV collection device 136. Fourth PV collector unit 138 includes fourth collector-side inverter 140 coupled to fourth PV collection device 142.

[0028] In this embodiment, PV collector units 102 can each be configured to operate at any power factor including unity power factor. Furthermore, each of the plurality of PV collector units 102 is also able to operate at a maximum power point for the inverter/collection device combination. For example, first collector-side inverter 122 is configured to operate at the maximum power point for first PV collection device 124. Because each of the plurality of inverters can operate at a distinct maximum power point, a maximum power is extracted from PV collection devices 124, 130, 136, and 142.

[0029] In the embodiment, as shown in Figure 5, power transformer 202 outputs a three-phase AC from two-phase AC. First collector unit 120 and second collector unit 126 are coupled and provide a low-voltage AC 260 having a first phase. Third collector unit 132 and fourth collector unit 138 are coupled and provide a low-voltage AC 262 having a second phase. Power transformer 202 divides low-voltage AC 260 having a first phase (i.e., the current provided by first PV collector unit 120 and second PV collector unit 126), and low-voltage AC 262 having a second phase (i.e., the current provided by third PV collector unit 132 and fourth PV collector unit 138) into balanced high-voltage three-phase AC 174 for transmission over electrical grid 18 (shown in Figure 1). Power transformer 202 may include, but is not limited to, a Scott-T transformer.

[0030] In this embodiment, and as described above with respect to system 100, grid-side inverter 104 stabilizes and regulates voltage delivered to electrical grid 18. During steady-state operation of system 200, a symmetric three-phase AC is provided by grid-side inverter 104. During transient events, for example, grid events such as power surges along the electrical grid or LVRT events, grid-side inverter 104 facilitates LVRT, for example, by detecting and compensating for the voltage disturbances by injecting leading or lagging reactive power into electrical grid 18. Therefore, grid-side inverter 104 may provide power factor correction. In the exemplary embodiment, system controller 108 provides control signals 176 to grid-side inverter 104 to perform the functions described herein. Furthermore, system controller 108 provides one or more of the plurality of collector units 102, and more specifically, at least one of inverters 122, 128, 134, and 140, with a curtailment signal upon detection of a grid event. System 200 minimizes coordination necessary between inverters 122, 128, 134, and 140, easing processing demands on system controller 108 and facilitating higher power production from PV collection devices 124, 130, 136, and 142. System 200 facilitates operating the plurality of collector units 102 at an individual maximum power point, eliminating DC wiring between collector units 102 and grid-side inverter 104, and providing rapid curtailment of PV collector units 102 during a grid event. Furthermore, system 200 reduces wiring complexity when compared to system 100. Moreover, system 200 reduces an amount of power electronics needed in grid-side inverter 104.

[0031] Figure 6 is a block diagram of another alternative embodiment 300 of a PV power generation system that includes a plurality of collector units 102. Components shared between system 100 (shown in Figures 2 and 3), system 200 (shown in Figure 4), and system 300 are identified with identical reference numerals.

[0032] In this embodiment, as shown in Figure 6, PV power generation system 300 includes system controller 108 and a power transformer 302. Plurality of PV collector units 102 includes a first PV collector unit 310, a second PV collector unit 312, a third PV collector unit 314, a fourth PV collector unit 316, a fifth PV collector unit 318, and a sixth PV collector unit 320. Each of the plurality of PV collector units 102 includes a PV collection device and a single-phase collector-side inverter. First PV collector unit 310 includes a first collector-side inverter 330 coupled to first PV collection device 124. Second PV collector unit 312 includes a second collector-side inverter 332 coupled to second PV collection device 130. Third PV collector unit 314 includes a third collector-side inverter 334 coupled to third PV collection device 136. Fourth PV collector unit 316 includes a fourth collector-side inverter 336 coupled to fourth PV collection device 142. Fifth PV collector unit 318 includes a fifth collector-side inverter 338 coupled to fifth PV collection device 148. Sixth PV collector unit 320 includes a sixth collector-side inverter 340 coupled to sixth PV collection device 154.

[0033] In this embodiment, each of the plurality of PV collector units 102 is configured to operate at a wide power factor range, including at unity power factor. The plurality of PV collector units 102 may be configured to operate at, for example, but not limited to, a range of power factors from approximately -0.9 to unity to 0.9. Furthermore, each of the plurality of PV collector units 102 is also able to operate at a maximum power point for the inverter/collection device combination. For example, first collector-side inverter 330 is configured to operate at the maximum power point for first PV collection device 124. Because each of the plurality of inverters 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, and 340 can operate at a distinct maximum power point, a maximum power is extracted from PV collection devices 124, 130, 136, 142, 148, and 154.

[0034] Notably, PV power generation system 300 does not include grid-side inverter 104. In this embodiment, collector-side inverters 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, and 340 are rated to stabilize and regulate voltage delivered to electrical grid 18 (shown in Figure 1). System controller 108 provides control signals to each of collector-side inverters 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, and 340 to provide electrical grid 18 with symmetric three-phase AC 174 during steady-state operation of system 300. Furthermore, during transient events, collector-side inverters 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, and 340 facilitate LV RT, for example, by detecting and compensating for the voltage disturbances by injecting leading or lagging reactive power into electrical grid 18, and therefore, providing a power factor correction. Furthermore, collector-side inverters 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, and 340 may be curtailed in response to a curtailment signal from system controller 108. System 300 may also be controlled to generate an asymmetric unbalanced generation system with respect to real and reactive power injection in response to grid conditions. For example, system controller 108 may provide collector-side inverters 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, and 340 with a power factor reference signal upon detection of a grid condition, for example, a load failure. Furthermore, collector-side inverters 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, and 340 may autonomously respond to grid conditions including high voltage and low voltage ride through conditions, providing Var support, frequency drop response, and automatic voltage regulation. System controller 108 provides control signals at a low data rate to optimize a response of system 300 and to minimize system losses during steady state operation. System controller 108 may also serve as a data acquisition system.

[0035] In the embodiment shown in Figure 6, the plurality of PV collector units 102 output a low-voltage single-phase AC 342, which is applied to one of three conductors, first conductor 160, second conductor 162, or third conductor 164. As an example, first inverter 330 and fourth inverter 336 are coupled between first conductor 160 and second conductor 162. Second inverter 332 and fifth inverter 338 are coupled between second conductor 162 and third conductor 164. Third inverter 334 and sixth inverter 340 are coupled between third conductor 164 and first conductor 160. Although illustrated in a delta configuration, first inverter 330, second inverter 332, third inverter 334, fourth inverter 336, fifth inverter 338, and sixth inverter 340 may also be coupled in a star configuration.

[0036] Conductors 160, 162, and 164 are coupled to power transformer 106. Power transformer 106 outputs high-voltage three-phase AC 174 for application to electrical grid 18.

[0037] Figure 7 is a flow chart 400 of an exemplary method 410 for controlling operation of PV power generation systems 100, 200, and 300 (shown in Figures 2-5). More specifically, method 410 converts direct current (DC) power to alternating current (AC) power for delivery to an electrical load, for example, electrical grid 18 (shown in Figure 1), wherein the DC power is produced by a plurality of variable input single-phase power sources, for example, PV collection devices 124, 130, 136, 142, 148, and 154. In the exemplary embodiment, method 410 includes providing 420 a plurality of photovoltaic PV collector units, each including at least one PV cell and a collector-side single-phase inverter, the plurality of PV collector units configured to generate a DC voltage and convert the DC voltage to a single-phase AC output. For example, PV collector units 102 (shown in Figure 2) are provided 420 and include PV collection devices 124, 130, 136, 142, 148, and 154, which generate a DC voltage, and collector-side single-phase inverters 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, and 152, which convert the DC voltage to single-phase AC 158 (shown in Figure 2).

[0038] In the exemplary embodiment, method 410 also includes communicatively coupling 422 at least one system controller, for example, system controller 108 (shown in Figure 2), to the plurality of PV collector units 102. Method 410 also includes programming 424 system control ler 108 to control operation of the plurality of PV collector units 102. Method 410 may also include programming 426 system controller 108 to transmit a curtailment signal to at least one of the plurality of PV collector units 102 upon detection of a load failure.

[0039] The above-described embodiments facilitate efficient and cost-effective operation of a solar power generation system. The methods and systems described herein facilitate conditioning power generated by a plurality of solar collector units for delivery to an electrical distribution grid. The power delivered to the electrical grid fulfills grid connectivity expectations including, but not limited to, steady-state and transient symmetry, reactive power control, provision of fault current, ramp rate shaping, and grid event ride through. Capital expenditures, power conversion losses, and line losses are minimized. The methods and systems descri bed herein facilitate supporting grid symmetry during temporary failures or permanent degradation of a subset of power generation assets. Furthermore, the embodiments described herein support and control symmetric and asymmetric fault currents.

[0040] Exemplary embodiments of a solar power generation system are described above in detail. The methods and systems are not limited to the specific embodiments described herein, but rather, components of the systems and/or steps of the methods may be utilized independently and separately from other components and/or steps described herein.

[0041] Although specific features of various embodiments of the invention may be shown in some drawings and not in others, this is for convenience only. In accordance with the principles of the invention, any feature of a drawing may be referenced and/or claimed in combination with any feature of any other drawing.

[0042] This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the invention, including making and using any devices or systems and performing any incorporated methods. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims, and may include other examples that occur to those skilled in the art. Such other examples are intended to be within the scope of the claims if they have structural elements that do not differ from the literal language of the claims, or if they include equivalent structural elements with insubstantial differences from the literal language of the claims.


Claims

1. A photovoltaic, PV, power generation system (100) comprising:

a plurality of PV collector units (102) each comprising at least one PV cell (124) and a collector-side single-phase inverter (122), the plurality of PV collector units configured for coupling with a poly-phase alternating current (AC) load (18);

a grid-side inverter (104) coupled between the collector-side single-phase inverter (122) of each of the plurality of PV collector units (102) and the load (18);

a system controller (108) communicatively coupled to each of the plurality of PV collector units (102) and configured to control operation of the plurality of PV collector units (102), wherein the system controller (108) is further configured to:

coordinate operation of the plurality of PV collector units (102) and the grid-side inverter (104);

control operation of the plurality of PV collector units (102) to separately control real and reactive power applied to each phase of the poly-phase AC load (18), and

control operation of the plurality of PV collector units (102) through at least one of a low voltage ride through event and a zero voltage ride through event.


 
2. A system (100) in accordance with claim 1, wherein the collector-side single-phase inverter (122) comprises a memory unit (178) that stores operating parameters, the collector-side single-phase inverter configured to operate in accordance with the operating parameters in response to at least one of measured grid conditions and a signal from the system controller (108).
 
3. A system (100) in accordance with claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the operating parameters comprise at least one of a threshold grid voltage power command, a voltage ride through return command, and a reactive power command.
 
4. A system (100) in accordance with claim 1, 2 or 3, wherein the system controller (108) is configured to transmit at least one of a power factor reference signal to at least one of the plurality of PV collector units (102), and a curtailment signal to at least one of the plurality of PV collector units upon detection of a load failure.
 
5. A system (100) in accordance with any preceding claim, wherein each of the plurality of PV collector units (102) is configured to operate at a maximum power point determined for the individual PV collector unit and to convert a direct current (DC) voltage to a single-phase alternating current (AC) output.
 
6. A system (100) in accordance with claim 5, further comprising a transformer (106) configured to receive the single-phase AC output and convert the single-phase AC output from a plurality of collector-side single-phase inverters to a balanced poly-phase AC output.
 
7. A power conversion system, comprising:

a PV power generation system (100) of any of claims 1 to 6, wherein

the plurality of collector-side single-phase inverters (102) are configured to receive variable input direct current (DC) voltage and to provide a poly-phase alternating current (AC) to an electrical load.


 
8. A method for converting direct current (DC) power to alternating current (AC) power for delivery to an electrical load, wherein the DC power is produced by a plurality of variable input power sources, said method comprising:

providing a plurality of photovoltaic, PV, collector units (102) each including at least one PV cell (124) and a collector-side single-phase inverter (122), the plurality of PV collector units (102) configured to generate a DC voltage and convert the DC voltage to a single-phase AC output;

coupling a grid-side inverter (104) between the collector-side single phase inverter (122) of each of the plurality of PV collector units (102) and the electrical load (18);

communicatively coupling at least one system controller (108) to each of the plurality of PV collector units (102); and

programming the system controller (108) to control operation of the plurality of PV collector units (102), including programming the at least one system controller to:

coordinate operation of the plurality of PV collector units (102) and the grid side inverter (104)

control operation of the plurality of PV collector units (102) to separately control real and reactive power applied to each phase of the poly-phase AC load (18), and

control operation of the plurality of PV collector units (102) through at least one low of a voltage ride through (LVRT) event and a zero voltage ride through (ZVRT) event.


 
9. A method in accordance with claim 8, further comprising programming the at least one system controller to:
transmit at least one of a power factor reference signal and a curtailment signal to at least one of the plurality of PV collector units (102) upon detection of a load failure.
 
10. A method in accordance with claim 8 or claims 9, further comprising programming the at least one system controller to:
coordinate operation of the plurality of PV collector units (102) to minimize system losses internal to a PV power generation system (100).
 
11. A method in accordance with any of claims 8 to 10, further comprising storing operating parameters within the collector-side single-phase inverter (122) that control operation of the collector-side single-phase inverter (122) upon detection of a grid event.
 


Ansprüche

1. Photovoltaik-, PV-, Stromerzeugungssystem (100), umfassend:

eine Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102), die jeweils mindestens eine PV-Zelle (124) und einen kollektorseitigen einphasigen Wechselrichter (122) umfassen, wobei die Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten zur Kopplung mit einer Mehrphasen-Wechselstromlast (AC-Last) (18) konfiguriert ist;

einen netzseitigen Wechselrichter (104), der zwischen dem kollektorseitigen einphasigen Wechselrichter (122) jeder der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) und der Last (18) gekoppelt ist;

eine Systemsteuerung (108), die kommunikativ mit jeder der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) gekoppelt und konfiguriert ist, um den Betrieb der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) zu steuern, wobei die Systemsteuerung (108) weiterhin konfiguriert ist, um:

den Betrieb der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) und des netzseitigen Wechselrichters (104) zu koordinieren;

den Betrieb der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) zu steuern, um die an jede Phase der mehrphasigen AC-Last (18) angelegte Wirkleistung und Blindleistung getrennt zu steuern, und

den Betrieb der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) durch mindestens eine von einer Niederspannungsdurchfahrt und einer Nullspannungsdurchfahrt zu steuern.


 
2. System (100) nach Anspruch 1, wobei der kollektorseitige einphasige Wechselrichter (122) eine Speichereinheit (178) umfasst, die Betriebsparameter speichert, wobei der kollektorseitige einphasige Wechselrichter so konfiguriert ist, dass er gemäß den Betriebsparametern in Abhängigkeit von mindestens einem der gemessenen Netzbedingungen und einem Signal von der Systemsteuerung (108) arbeitet.
 
3. System (100) nach Anspruch 1 oder Anspruch 2, wobei die Betriebsparameter mindestens einen von einem Schwellen-Netzspannungsleistungsbefehl, einem Spannungsdurchlaufbefehl und einem Blindleistungsbefehl umfassen.
 
4. System (100) nach Anspruch 1, 2 oder 3, wobei die Systemsteuerung (108) so konfiguriert ist, dass sie mindestens eines von einem Leistungsfaktor-Referenzsignal zu mindestens einer der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) und ein Reduzierungssignal zu mindestens einer der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten bei Erkennung eines Lastausfalls überträgt.
 
5. System (100) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei jede der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) so konfiguriert ist, dass sie an einem für die einzelne PV-Kollektoreinheit bestimmten maximalen Leistungspunkt arbeitet und eine Gleichspannung (DC) in einen einphasigen Wechselstrom-Ausgang (AC) umwandelt.
 
6. System (100) nach Anspruch 5, das weiter einen Transformator (106) umfasst, der so konfiguriert ist, dass er den einphasigen AC-Ausgang empfängt und den einphasigen AC-Ausgang von einer Vielzahl von kollektorseitigen einphasigen Wechselrichtern in einen symmetrischen mehrphasigen AC-Ausgang umwandelt.
 
7. Stromumwandlungssystem, umfassend:
ein Stromerzeugungssystem (100) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 6, wobei die Vielzahl der kollektorseitigen einphasigen Wechselrichter (102) so konfiguriert sind, dass sie eine variable Eingangsgleichspannung (DC) empfangen und einen mehrphasigen Wechselstrom (AC) an eine elektrische Last liefern.
 
8. Verfahren zum Umwandeln von Gleichstrom-(DC)-Leistung in Wechselstrom-(AC)-Leistung zur Abgabe an eine elektrische Last, wobei der Gleichstrom durch eine Vielzahl von variablen Eingangsstromquellen erzeugt wird, wobei das Verfahren umfasst:

Bereitstellen einer Vielzahl von Photovoltaik-, PV-, Kollektoreinheiten (102), die jeweils mindestens eine PV-Zelle (124) und einen kollektorseitigen einphasigen Wechselrichter (122) umfassen, wobei die Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) konfiguriert ist, um eine Gleichspannung zu erzeugen und die Gleichspannung in einen einphasigen AC-Ausgang umzuwandeln;

Kopplung eines netzseitigen Wechselrichters (104) zwischen dem kollektorseitigen einphasigen Wechselrichter (122) jeder der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) und der Last (18);

kommunikative Kopplung mindestens eines Systemreglers (108) an jede der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102); und

Programmierung der Systemsteuerung (108) zur Steuerung des Betriebs der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102), einschließlich der Programmierung der mindestens einen Systemsteuerung, um:

den Betrieb der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) und des netzseitigen Wechselrichters (104) zu koordinieren

den Betrieb der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) zu steuern, um die an jede Phase der mehrphasigen AC-Last (18) angelegte Wirkleistung und Blindleistung getrennt zu steuern, und

den Betrieb der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) durch mindestens eine Niederspannungsdurchfahrt (LVRT) und eine Nullspannungsdurchfahrt (ZVRT) zu steuern.


 
9. Verfahren nach Anspruch 8, umfassend weiter das Programmieren der mindestens einen Systemsteuerung, um:
mindestens eines von einem Leistungsfaktor-Referenzsignal und einem Reduzierungssignal zu mindestens einer der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) bei Erkennung eines Lastausfalls zu übertragen.
 
10. Verfahren nach Anspruch 8 oder Anspruch 9, umfassend weiter das Programmieren der mindestens einen Systemsteuerung, um:
den Betrieb der Vielzahl von PV-Kollektoreinheiten (102) zu koordinieren, um Systemverluste innerhalb eines PV-Stromerzeugungssystems (100) zu minimieren.
 
11. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 8 bis 10, das weiter das Speichern von Betriebsparametern innerhalb des kollektorseitigen einphasigen Wechselrichters (122) umfasst, die den Betrieb des kollektorseitigen einphasigen Wechselrichters (122) bei Erkennung eines Netzereignisses steuern.
 


Revendications

1. Système de production d'énergie photovoltaïque, PV, (100) comprenant :

une pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) comprenant chacune au moins une cellule PV (124) et un onduleur monophasé côté collecteur (122), la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV étant configurée pour un couplage avec une charge de courant alternatif polyphasée (CA) (18) ;

un onduleur côté réseau électrique (104) couplé entre l'onduleur monophasé côté collecteur (122) de chacune de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) et la charge (18) ;

un dispositif de commande de système (108) couplé en communication avec chacune de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) et configuré pour commander le fonctionnement de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102), dans lequel le dispositif de commande de système (108) est configuré en outre pour :

coordonner le fonctionnement de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) et de l'onduleur côté réseau électrique (104) ;

commander le fonctionnement de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) pour commander séparément une puissance réelle et réactive appliquée à chaque phase de la charge CA polyphasée (18), et

commander le fonctionnement de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) par l'intermédiaire d'au moins l'un parmi un événement de tenue aux creux de tension et un événement de tenue à tension nulle.


 
2. Système (100) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'onduleur monophasé côté collecteur (122) comprend une unité de mémoire (178) qui stocke des paramètres de fonctionnement, l'onduleur monophasé côté collecteur étant configuré pour fonctionner selon les paramètres de fonctionnement en réponse à au moins l'un parmi des conditions mesurées de réseau électrique et un signal provenant du dispositif de commande de système (108).
 
3. Système (100) selon la revendication 1 ou la revendication 2, dans lequel les paramètres de fonctionnement comprennent au moins l'un parmi une commande de tension de réseau électrique seuil, une commande de retour de tenue de tension, et une commande de puissance réactive.
 
4. Système (100) selon la revendication 1, 2, ou 3, dans lequel le dispositif de commande de système (108) est configuré pour transmettre au moins l'un parmi un signal de référence de facteur de puissance à au moins l'une parmi la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102), et un signal de limitation à au moins l'une parmi la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV lors de la détection d'une défaillance de charge.
 
5. Système (100) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel chacune de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) est configurée pour fonctionner à un point de puissance maximale déterminé pour l'unité de collecteur PV individuelle et pour convertir une tension en courant continu (CC) en une sortie monophasée de courant alternatif (CA).
 
6. Système (100) selon la revendication 5, comprenant en outre un transformateur (106) configuré pour recevoir la sortie CA monophasée et convertir la sortie CA monophasé à partir d'une pluralité d'onduleurs monophasés côté collecteur en une sortie CA polyphasée équilibrée.
 
7. Système de conversion d'énergie, comprenant :

un système de production d'énergie PV (100) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 6, dans lequel

la pluralité d'onduleurs monophasés côté collecteur (102) est configurée pour recevoir une tension de courant continu (CC) d'entrée variable et pour fournir un courant alternatif (CA) polyphasé à une charge électrique.


 
8. Procédé de conversion d'une puissance en courant continu (CC) en puissance en courant alternatif (CA) destinée à être fournie à une charge électrique, dans laquelle la puissance CC est produite par une pluralité de sources de puissance d'entrée variable, ledit procédé comprenant :

la fourniture d'une pluralité d'unités de collecteur photovoltaïque, PV, (102) comprenant chacune au moins une cellule PV (124) et un onduleur monophasé côté collecteur (122), la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) étant configurée pour générer une tension CC et convertir la tension CC en une sortie CA monophasée ;

le couplage d'un onduleur côté réseau électrique (104) entre l'onduleur monophasé côté collecteur (122) de chacune de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) et la charge électrique (18) ;

le couplage en communication d'au moins un dispositif de commande de système (108) avec chacune de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) ; et

la programmation du dispositif de commande de système (108) pour commander le fonctionnement de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102), comprenant la programmation de l'au moins un dispositif de commande de système pour :

coordonner le fonctionnement de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) et de l'onduleur côté réseau électrique (104) ;

commander le fonctionnement de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) pour commander séparément une puissance réelle et réactive appliquée à chaque phase de la charge CA polyphasée (18), et

commander le fonctionnement de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) par l'intermédiaire d'au moins l'un parmi un événement de tenue aux creux de tension (LVRT) et un événement de tenue à tension nulle (ZVRT).


 
9. Procédé selon la revendication 8, comprenant en outre la programmation de l'au moins un dispositif de commande de système pour :
transmettre au moins l'un parmi un signal de référence de facteur de puissance à et un signal de limitation à au moins l'une de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) lors de la détection d'une défaillance de charge.
 
10. Procédé selon la revendication 8 ou la revendication 9, comprenant en outre la programmation de l'au moins un dispositif de commande de système pour :
coordonner le fonctionnement de la pluralité d'unités de collecteur PV (102) pour minimiser les pertes de système internes à un système de production d'énergie PV (100).
 
11. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 8 à 10, comprenant en outre le stockage de paramètres de fonctionnement au sein de l'onduleur monophasé côté collecteur (122) pour commander le fonctionnement de l'onduleur monophasé côté collecteur (122) lors de la détection d'un événement de réseau électrique.
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description