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The enabling of ac microgrids in distribution networks allows delivering distributed power and providing grid support services during regular operation of the grid, as well as powering isolated islands in case of faults and contingencies, thus increasing the performance and reliability of the electrical system. The high penetration of distributed generators, linked to the grid through highly controllable power processors based on power electronics, together with the incorporation of electrical energy storage systems, communication technologies, and controllable loads, opens new horizons to the effective expansion of microgrid applications integrated into electrical power systems. This paper carries out an overview about microgrid structures and control techniques at different hierarchical levels. At the power converter level, a detailed analysis of the main operation modes and control structures for power converters belonging to microgrids is carried out, focusing mainly on grid-forming, grid-feeding, and grid-supporting configurations. This analysis is extended as well toward the hierarchical control scheme of microgrids, which, based on the primary, secondary, and tertiary control layer division, is devoted to minimize the operation cost, coordinating support services, meanwhile maximizing the reliability and the controllability of microgrids. Finally, the main grid services that microgrids can offer to the main network, as well as the future trends in the development of their operation and control for the next future, are presented and discussed.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2012