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The steady increase in photovoltaic (PV) installations calls for new and better control methods in respect to the utility grid connection. Limiting the harmonic distortion is essential to the power quality, but other requirements also contribute to a more safe grid-operation, especially in dispersed power generation networks. For instance, the knowledge of the utility impedance at the fundamental frequency can be used to detect a utility failure. A PV-inverter with this feature can anticipate a possible network problem and decouple it in time. This paper describes the digital implementation of a PV-inverter with different advanced, robust control strategies and an embedded online technique to determine the utility grid impedance. By injecting an interharmonic current and measuring the voltage response it is possible to estimate the grid impedance at the fundamental frequency. The presented technique, which is implemented with the existing sensors and the CPU of the PV-inverter, provides a fast and low cost approach for online impedance measurement, which may be used for detection of islanding operation. Practical tests on an existing PV-inverter validate the control methods, the impedance measurement, and the islanding detection.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2005