In today’s world, a lot of machines and associated infrastructure around us are labeled “SMART” – smart inverters, smart grids, smart factories, smart cars, smart transportation, and smart city to name a few. So, what does it take for a machine or infrastructure to be smart? Smart machines or infrastructure are defined simply as systems (or system of systems) that react to external stimuli and more importantly learn, readjust and evolve to the stimuli received to support one or more function(s).
With the increasing penetration of distributed renewable energy sources connecting to the electrical grid, traditional inverters are forced to up the ante to pave way for SMART inverter functionality. SMART inverter functions can handle the unpredictability attributed to these renewable energy sources. Using solar photovoltaic as a case in point, the change in weather condition from full sun to a high cloud cover can cause variability in the energy harvested translating into grid instability. SMART inverters are seen as an effective means to mitigate/avoid the stress imposed on the grid from distributed renewable energy sources.
Key Smart Inverter Grid Support Functions include remote on/off, power factor control, reactive power control, volt-var control, anti-islanding trip off, ride through of low/high voltage and ride through of low/high frequency. Smart inverters are also required to be able to function and communicate with the grid in a consistent and reliable way. EPRI and Department of Energy have made headway in definition and standardization of communication protocols and common functions for a smart inverter. The ability to provide fast and reliable communication, easy integration into existing SCADA systems and need for scalable software with performance monitoring capabilities are some of the other focus areas covered in this standardization endeavor.
The need for more sophisticated control and monitoring, as more distributed energy sources get connected to the grid, will become both a compelling and an inevitable need. Come talk to POUNDRA – we can help your SMART inverters walk the talk.