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com/solar
Voltage control in low voltage networks
by Photovoltaic Inverters PVNET.dk
MAKING MODERN LIVING POSSIBLE
A consequence of the price reduction of solar photovoltaic
(PV) systems is that the installed capacity will also increase
in the years to come. Thus, more distributed generation
will be installed in the public low voltage distribution
network (LV network). This results in a paradigm shift in the
operation of the LV networks, since the power fow becomes
bidirectional. Questions about the operation of the LV
networks are therefore being asked, in order to prepare for
the future increase in solar PV capacity.
Danfoss Solar Inverters, Technical University of Denmark
(DTU) and the two DNOs EnergiMidt and stkraft have taken
the opportunity, to answer some of these questions, in order
to facilitate a smooth grid integration of solar PV systems
into the LV network on a large-scale. This is done through
various research and demonstration projects and by
participating in standardization work and similar activities.
Solar PV generation in the Low Voltage Network
Several technical challenges may appear when increasing the
capacity of solar PV in the LV network:
Overvoltage at the end user
Overloading the infrastructure (distribution transformer and
cables)
Voltage unbalance
Voltage harmonics and ficker
Protection system failure
Based on a survey among Danish distribution network operators
(DNOs), the most urgent issues are overvoltage, overloading
of the infrastructure and voltage unbalance. The scope of this
investigation is to analyze the two frst and most important
subjects as they are highly inter-dependent. The 3rd and 4th
items on the urgency scale has been studied by Danfoss Solar
Inverters in reference [1] and [10] and is not covered here.
A comprehensive analysis conducted by the Danish energy
association, Dansk Energi, including more than 1100 LV feeders,
shows that around 0.4% of all the investigated feeders will
experience overvoltage when the solar PV capacity is around
0.7 kW per user on all the feeders [2]. The amount of 0.7 kW
per user corresponds to a total capacity of 3500 MW, which
is expected to be installed in Denmark by year 2030 [3].
Doubling this amount of solar PV to a total of 7000 MW will
result in approximately 0.6% of the feeders having problems
with overvoltage [2]. A solar PV capacity of at least 5000 MW
is regarded as an optimum in the future energy-mix [4], [5]
and 7000 MW can cover around 20% of the yearly Danish
electrical energy demand and around 100% of the peak-load.
Roughly speaking, there are approximately 70 000 distribution
transformers in Denmark, thus installing 7000 MW solar PV
capacity corresponds to installing 100 kW per distribution
transformer, which is also the typical smallest distribution
transformer used in Denmark.
Some LV networks will of course reach a higher amount of
installed solar PV capacity, thus the probability of having this
type of problems will increase in local feeders. Several solutions
have been suggested until now in order to cope with the
overvoltage phenomena at high solar PV penetration in the LV
network:
Voltage control using reactive power generation from PV
inverters
Curtailment of active power from the solar PV systems
Network upgrade of cables and distribution transformers
Battery storage and energy bufer at solar PV systems
Voltage control at the secondary side of the distribution
transformer by on-load tap changers
(Seasonal) changes of the tap position of the distribution
transformer
Energy management systems / load controls at users
Voltage control through reactive power injection from PV inverter
is one of the easiest to implement in the LV network because of
the versatility of the PV inverter [6]. Todays PV inverters have
the following methods included for voltage control: constant
power factor (PF), constant reactive power, Q(U) control and PF(P)
control, more about this later.
Curtailing the active power from the solar PV systems seems
a very easy way of mitigating the overvoltage and has been
investigated by researchers and DNOs [7]. However, the owner
of the solar PV system cannot estimate the impact of this control
scheme upon the economic aspects of the investment and
should therefore be avoided. An interesting conclusion is: At
frst glance it seems that local or central regulation of reactive power
comes frst among the possible strategies. Active curtailment would
then be activated when reactive compensation is no longer sufcient
to avoid upper voltage constraints [7]. Danfoss Solar Inverters
recommends the same approach.
The typical approach applied prior to PV inverters contributing
to the voltage control involved increasing the grid capacity by
upgrading the distribution transformers to a larger power rating
or by reinforcing the LV feeders by addition of parallel lines or
replacement of old lines with higher capacity ones. The last listed
methods in are not covered here.
According to the study Connecting the Sun conducted by
the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) [8] and
research done at Fraunhofer [9], the cost of the described
approaches, when applied to a typical LV network
(250 kVA distribution transformer with 122 users and 180 kW solar
PV capacity) are:
Curtailing the active power to 70% of installed capacity:
3600 /year
Reinforcing the network: 3000 /year
Reactive power injection: 1500 /year
considering the maximum tolerated loading of the transformer
and cables is 150% of the rated power and also supposing the
voltage at the distribution box (PCC) is kept below 1.03 p.u. when
a new solar PV system is installed [9].
Methods
Exceeding the prescribed 10 minutes average voltage limits
defned by EN50160 and/or overloading the LV network
components are two possible scenarios when installing many
solar PV systems in a network. To analyze these phenomena,
computer simulations have been performed using a commonly
accepted power system simulation tool: Power Factory
DIgSILENT. A gradually increasing amount of solar PV capacity
has been integrated in a model for a typical distribution network
and its infuence over the voltage magnitude and the loading of
components has been observed using one year hourly samples
of consumption and solar PV power generation. The simulation
model includes only three-phase symmetrical consumers/
generators thus removing the possibility of voltage unbalance.
A simple PV inverter model is implemented by using an
RMS three-phase AC current source and two voltage control
algorithms.
Regarding the orientation of the solar PV systems, it is assumed
that all systems are oriented south with a 45 inclination,
see Figure 1. This is considered to be the worst case scenario
since during sunny days at noon the highest solar PV power
production will be experienced with south oriented installations.
30 45
South
E
a
s
t
W
e
s
t

Figure 1:
Physical orientation of the residential solar PV systems.
Figure 2 shows that by distributing the solar PV systems in
orientation and inclination the hosting capacity can be further
increased with more than 10% compared with solar PV systems
only pointing south and with 45 inclination.
900.00
800.00
700.00
600.00
500.00
400.00
300.00
200.00
100.00
-
1 2 4 5 6 3 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 11 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 19 23
Time [h]
P
o
w
e
r
[
W
]
Distributed orientation
Common orientation
Figure 2:
Clear sky average hourly PV power generation for Common/
distributed oriented systems.
The hosting capacity of a LV network is defned by the amount
of solar PV power, which can be installed in the LV network
before certain limits are reached. The limits considered in this
investigation are the overloading of the LV cable-sections, the
overloading of the distribution transformer and the overvoltage
at the outermost distribution box (PCC), for each of the simulated
8760 hours. The loading of the LV cable-sections is evaluated by
comparing the current in each cable-section with its nominal
value. Hence, 100% loading of the cables is equivalent to one
specifc cable-section being operated at its nominal current. The
loading of the transformer is evaluated in a similar manner. The
overvoltage is evaluated by reading the hourly maximum voltage
recorded at the distribution boxes (PCC). The hosting capacity
of the LV network is reached when any bus voltage within the
network is exceeding the 10% voltage criteria from the EN50160
standard.
Two types of standard Volt-VAR control schemes are investigated:
the power factor depending on active power output of the PV
inverters, PF(P), and
reactive power depending on the terminal voltage of the PV
inverter, Q(U), as defned in Figure 3.
PF*
P
inv
[pu]
0. 95 for I nom 16 A/phase
0. 90 for I nom > 16 A/phase
0.5 1.0
1
Power factor by active power control as defned in TF 3.2.1 based on
VDE AR N 4105.
Q*[pu]
U [pu]
inv
m

Two generic Q(U) curves, including the defnition of m = Q/ U.
Figure 3:
Standard voltage control methods for modern PV inverters, PF(P) and
Q(U).
Slack bus
Line1 Line2 Line3
P,Q
Aggregated
distribution
networks
10 kV
0.4 kV
4x
PV
4x
PV
5x
PV
2x
PV
2x
PV
1x
PV
2x
PV
2x
PV
3x
PV
2x
PV
4x
PV
1x
PV
6x
PV
3x
PV
3x
PV
1x
PV
2x
PV
2x
PV
1x
PV
1x
PV
1x
PV
3x
PV
2x
PV
2x
PV
1x
PV
1x
PV
1x
PV
4x
PV
2x
PV
3x
PV

Figure 4:
Generic distribution network with solar PV generation at each user. The ring connection is open. The indicated number of PV inverters in the
boxes means a lumped PV inverter model.
A generic LV grid model developed at DTU, with 71 users and a 100 kVA distribution transformer is used in the simulations, being
considered as representative for most LV networks in the area of STKRAFT Net A/S, see Figure 4.
All users are equipped with solar PV systems, of equal size and
orientation. Furthermore, a simple MV network is implemented
in order to observe the voltage variations in the 10 kV network as
well. The energy consumption for each of the 71 users is based
on time-series containing 8760 hourly values for a year of generic
consumption, see Figure 5.
The solar PV generation is based on synthesized hourly irradiance
by the PVsyst software, taking both clear sky and covered sky
into consideration. All loads and PV inverters are assumed being
connected through three phases. The PF for the loads is being
held constant at 0.95, inductive.
Normalized electrical power consumption for a typical Danish
household. A typical Danish household consumes 3.44 MWh per
year.
Specifc energy production for a 1 kW solar PV system for the town
of Brdstrup, DENMARK. A typical solar PV system produces around
900 kWh per installed kW.
Figure 5:
Yearly consumption (top) and solar PV production (bottom) for a
typical household and solar PV system. X-axis is time of day [h],
Y-axis is time of year [month] and z-axis is average power [kWh/h].
Trees Dont Grow to the Sky
The following results are for the worst case scenario where
all solar PV systems are facing south with 45 inclination, as
previously mentioned. The hosting capacity of the LV networks
can be increased by additional 10-15% if the solar PV systems
are evenly distributed in orientation as in Figure 1. All results are
summarized in table II. The results presented here are for one LV
network only, but we still believe in the general result.
The results in Figure 6 show that without voltage control the
overvoltage phenomena starts for a solar PV capacity of 1.5 kW
per user (total 107 kW). By applying a standard PF(P) control
scheme with PF equal to 0.95 at nominal power, the overvoltage
condition is avoided up to a solar PV penetration level of 1.8 kW
per user. By applying Q(U) control, the overvoltage condition is
mitigated up to 2.0 kW per user (total 142 kW). The overvoltage
issue is not solved by upgrading the distribution transformer on
the contrary increasing the size of the distribution transformer
has a slight negative efect.
The loading of the distribution transformer is documented in
Table I. More than 140 kW solar PV power can be installed on the
100 kVA distribution transformer before it becomes overloaded.
This is in agreement with the 150% hosting capacity in [9].
Table I:
Frequency of loading of the 100 kVA distribution transformer when
no voltage control is applied and increasing penetration of solar PV
capacity.
Solar PV
penetration
[kW]
Number of hours for a loading level at:
100% 110% 120% 130%
0 1 0 0 0
36 1 0 0 0
71 1 0 0 0
107 1 0 0 0
142 14 0 0 0
178 142 76 27 3
A solar PV penetration of maximum 178 kW is possible without
overloading the LV cables, when no voltage control is applied.
Applying voltage control will decrease the hosting capacity of
the LV cables due to the additional reactive current.
Figure 7 shows the yearly losses in the LV cables and distribution
transformer, when the solar PV capacity is increased from 0 kW
to 178 kW. The losses are seen to drop with approximately 700
kWh when installing 36 kW to 71 kW solar PV, no matter of how
the voltage is controlled, or not. Up to 107 kW can be installed
without generating more losses compared with the no solar PV
case. When exceeding the 107 kW solar PV capacity, the losses
for the Q(U) voltage control methods start to increase faster
compared with the PF(P) case. This is because the amount of
reactive power is required by the grid voltage and the Q(U) curve.
Figure 6:
Comparison of voltage control methods. Base case is (a) without voltage control. In case (b) the standard PF(P) is applied and in case (C) the
Q(U) is applied, with m = 4. The Q(U) control is also applied in the night, thus increasing the minimum voltage on the feeder. In case (d) the
distribution transformer is upgraded to 160 kVA but without applying voltage control.
Figure 7:
Energy losses for the four cases, when increasing the solar PV capacity. Minimum losses of 5.3 MWh per year are reached for a total solar PV
capacity of 71 kW, but up to 107 kW can be installed and still keep the losses below the case with no solar PV.

Installed PV: 178 kW
Installed PV: 142 kW
Installed PV: 107 kW
Installed PV: 71 kW
Installed PV: 36 kW
Installed PV: 0 kW
Minimum Voltage Limit
Maximum Voltage Limit
PV
(
a
)
(
b
)
(
c
)
(
d
)
(
a
)
(
b
)
(
c
)
(
d
)
(
a
)
(
b
)
(
c
)
(
d
)
(
a
)
(
b
)
(
c
)
(
d
)
V
o
l
t
a
g
e

(
p
u
)
60 / 10 kV
transformer
10 / 0.4 kV
transformer
Outermost
distribution box
Yearly min/max voltage for diferent cases
1.1
1
0.9

Load
MV_T LV_T
Bus 1 Bus 2
2.5% Voltage Increase on the LV
lines in the 0.4 kV net
Tap position
+2.5%
2.5% Voltage Increase
lines in the MV lines
Voltage across the 10
kV network: 5%
Voltage drop on the LV
lines in the 0.4 kV net
5%
(a) Trafo 100 kVA. No Volt Var Control
(b) Trafo 100 kVA. PF(P)
(c) Trafo 100 kVA. Q(U)
(d) Trafo 160 kVA. No Volt Var Control
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
Total PV installed in the network [kW]
P
o
w
e
r

L
o
s
s
e
s

[
M
W
h
]
Total active power lossess in transformer and cables

Table II: Comparison of hosting capacity for the four investigated
cases. For the loading of the distribution transformer: a range is
given when the sum of overloading hours is higher than 86 hours
per year and an approximate value is given when the sum is below
86 hours per year. For the scenario with no solar PV penetration, the
total yearly losses in the network including transformer are 6.0 MWh
and the maximum hourly reactive power exchange through the
transformer is 15 kVArh, inductive.
Case Hosting capacity
[kW]
Total yearly
energy loss
at full
penetration
[MWh]
Maximum
hourly
reactive power
exchange
through
transformer
[kVArh]
Over-
voltage
Trans-
former
loading
Base case with
100 kVA trafo
107 142-178 5.8 -30 (ind)
160 kVA trafo,
no control
107 n.a. 7.0 -30 (ind)
PF(P),
minimum
PF = 0.95
124 ~142 6.7 -53 (ind)
Q(U), low
sensibility
142 107-142 7.8 -66 (ind)
Scaling up the result in Figure 7 and Table II to the Danish
situation with around 70 000 distribution transformers, the
hosting capacity of the LV network, without reinforcing, is in
the range 7500 MW 8700 MW solar PV. By installing 5000 MW
solar PV capacity, the yearly network losses can be reduced
with around 50 GWh, corresponding to the consumption of
approximately 14 500 households.
Recommendations for voltage control in LV feeders
Based on these results, if overvoltage is observed at the users
site the following order of actions may be applied:
PF(P) for all PV inverters on the feeder
Q(U) for all PV inverters on the feeder
Increase self-consumption at peak production hours, either
by timing the starting hour of local appliances or by using the
trigger-signal which some inverters ofer
Lower active output power of PV inverters (only in emergency
cases for short periods), can be done through the set-up
menus, or the P(U) function which some inverters have
included
Upgrade LV cables, upgrading the distribution transformer
might not help
Install energy storage devices
For Danfoss Solar Inverters of the type DLX (single phase
connection) and TLX (three phase connection) the PF(P) voltage
control can be activated by selecting one of the following
country-codes:
Inverter /
country-code
EN50438-DK
LV1 /
Danmark
16A
LV2 /
Danmark
> 16A
LV3
DLX n.a.
PF(P) with
minimum
PF = 0.95
PF(P) with
minimum
PF = 0.90
n.a.
TLX + /
TLX PRO+
No voltage
control
No voltage
control
(constant
PF = 1.0)
If required, the TLX PRO+ can also be confgured to Q(U) voltage
control, contact Danfoss Solar Inverters at:
inverter-application@danfoss.com for more information.
Recap
A typical distribution transformer can host up to 140% - 150%
solar PV capacity, without sufering from overloading. The
hosting capacity of LV networks can be increased with additional
10% - 15% if the solar PV systems are evenly distributed in
orientation.
The total hosting capacity for the 70 000 distribution
transformers in Denmark is in the range 7500 MW 8700 MW
solar PV, without reinforcing the LV networks. Thus, a large-scale
grid integration of solar PV systems into the energy system
should not be a major problem for the DNOs. However, the
transmission system operator, in this case Energinet.dk, will have
to include the multi MW solar PV into their planning and make
use of the available primary frequency support and fault ride
through capabilities, etc., in modern inverters.
The losses in the LV network can be reduced with 10-15% by
installing 40-70% solar PV capacity compared with the nominal
size of the distribution transformer. Applying this particular
fnding to the 70 000 distribution transformers in Denmark, the
yearly savings would correspond to the energy consumption of
around 14 500 households.
Overall, it has been found that applying voltage control in the
LV networks has a benefcial infuence in respect to an increase
of the solar PV penetration. Both PF(P) and Q(U) control types
improve the voltage profle at the outermost distribution box
(PCC).
The full report can be downloaded at www.danfoss.com/solar/knowledge and at www.PVNET.dk
Questions to this report can be addressed to sbk@danfoss.com
DKSI.PM.208.D1.02 Produced by Metaphor | March 2013
References
[1] R. D. Lazar and A. Constantin, Voltage Balancing in LV
Residential Networks by Means of Three Phase PV Inverters,
in proc. European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference
EUPVSEC, September 2012.
[2] Dansk Energi, DEFU rapport RA 579 - Solceller og
spndingsvariationer i 0,4 kV net, [online] www.
danskenergi.dk, July 2012.
[3] Dansk Energi, Energinet.dk and DONG Energy, Scenarier for
solcelle udrulning i Danmark, [online] da.scribd.dk, 2012.
[4] B. Mller, S.Nielsen, K. Sperling, A Solar Atlas for Building-
Integrated Photovoltaic Electricity Resource Assesment,
in proc. International Conference on Sustainable Energy and
Environmental Protection SEEP, June 2012.
[5] G. B. Andresen, Solenergi kan blive en vigtig brik i Danmarks
grnne omstilling, in Mandag Morgen newsletter, [online]
www.mm.dk, 17-9-2012.
[6] G. Kerber and R. S. H. Witzmann, Voltage Limitation by
Autonomous Reactive Power Control of Grid Connected
Photovoltaic Inverters, in proc. IEEE Conference on
Compatibility and Power Electronics, 2009.
[7] C. Gaudin, A. Ballanti and E. Lejay, Evaluation of PV
curtailment option to optimize PV integration in Distribution
Network, in proc. CIRED Workshop, 2012.
[8] European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA),
Connecting the Sun, [online] www.connectingthesun.eu,
2012.
[9] T. Stetz, F. Marten, M. Braun, Improved Low Voltage Grid-
Integration of Photovoltaic Systems in Germany, in IEEE
trans. on Sustainable Energy, 2012.
[10] S. B. Kjr, Flicker and Photovoltaic Power Plants, in proc.
European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference EUPVSEC,
September 2010.
Danfoss Solar Inverters A/S
Ulsnaes 1
DK-6300 Graasten
Denmark
Tel.: +45 7488 1300
Fax: +45 7488 1301
E-mail: solar-inverters@danfoss.com
www.danfoss.com/solar
The PVNET.dk project studies how to facilitate large-scale grid
integration of solar PV into the existing grid. This is done by
examining diferent types of grid-voltage control, applying
SmartGrid functionalities and introducing novel ancillary services
integrated into the inverters. The background for the PVNET.
dk project is the already ongoing Photovoltaic Island Bornholm
(PVIB I - III) projects, the EcoGrid EU project, and the Danish Cell
Project.
The frst part of the PVNET.dk project will establish the theoretical
framework for integrating large amounts of solar PV into the grid.
The project will suggest, analyze and assess diferent solutions.
In the second part, the proposed solutions are implemented
into solar PV installations already deployed during the PVIB
projects. Finally, the operation of the network without and with
the developed solutions will be verifed in a third part, which runs
parallel to the frst two.
The project consortium is formed by:
Danfoss Solar Inverters, which is in charge of the project
management and also providing the inverter platform and test
facilities;
Centre for Electric Technology at the Technical University of
Denmark, which will develop the required algorithms and test
them with a hardware-in-the-loop grid simulator, for making solar
PV systems `SmartGrid enabled and will also be the link to the
EcoGrid EU project;
EnergiMidt, a DNO which have been in the Danish PV-business for
two decades and making the link to the PVIB projects and the IEA
photovoltaic power system programme task 14;
stkraft, which is the local distribution network operator on the
island of Bornholm.
The PVNET.dk project is in part fnanced under the Electrical
Energy Research Program (ForskEL, grant number 10698),
administrated by Energinet.dk