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Fuel cell stacks produce a dc output with a 2:1 voltage variation from no load to full load. It is customary for a utility-scale fuel cell stack to consist of several hundreds of series-connected cells, each producing 0.6 V at full load. A power conditioner consisting of dc-dc and dc-ac converters is required for utility interface, which are operated in high frequency, employing pulsewidth-modulation control for voltage and current regulation. Due to their switch-mode nature, a common-mode voltage with respect to ground is generated. The common-mode voltage, in turn, contributes to the circulating ground current, which can interfere with the ground fault protection system. In addition, it also contributes to the neutral shift and electromagnetic interference. Moreover, the electrostatic potential to ground within the fuel cell stack needs to be limited for safe operation. This paper presents an analysis of common-mode voltage in several fuel-cell-powered converter topologies connected to the electric utility and discusses several mitigation methods suitable for utility-scale generation.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2009