MicroGrids and Distributed Generation: The Future of Energy

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1. MICROGRIDS: INTRODUCTION The definition of a Microgrid by the U.S. Department of Energy Microgrid Exchange Group (MEG) is: “A Microgrid is a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid. A Microgrid can connect and disconnect from the grid to enable it to operate in both grid-connected or island-mode.” [DOE12] Microgrids can be considered as the building blocks of the Smartgrid, or even as an alternative path to what is nowadays starting to be known as a Supergrid. Additionally, it can be divided into two broad categories: despachable (controllable output to meet fluctuations in demand) and non-despachable (uncontrollable and unpredictable output. [KELLY] The emergence of the Microgrids came after realizing that the architecture of the electricity grid existing nowadays (Figure 1) is getting obsolete, since it is based on the idea of a top-down system, which is predicated on unidirectional energy flows. [ASMUS09] The individual constituent parts will vary, but it will always have a Master Controller responsible of matching the load with generation in both island mode or grid-connected, provide real-time response and fault protection, connect and disconnect from the grid, and make predictive and forecasting analysis. Also, it requires a fast and secure communication to monitor real-time connection status to act as Energy Manager. [SANCHEZ] It also requires a protection system in which the sources are interfaced using power electronics, so it definitely needs unique protective solutions to provide functionality. [CERTS03] As already explained, its operation differs to the traditional LV network. A ... ... middle of paper ... ...dustrial communities Orlando, USA CERTS03 Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions Integration of Distributed Energy Resources. The CERTS Microgrid concept California, USA, 2003 KELLY Kelly, Nick PhD. Energy Systems Research Unit. Strathclyde University Micro-generation and Domestic Energy Demand Glasgow SMITH11 Smith, Merrill. Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability U.S. Department of Energy’s Research & Development Activities on Microgrid Technologies Jeju, South Korea, 2011 HATZIARGYROU04 Hatziargyrou, Nikos. National Technical University of Athens Overview of Microgrids, Problems and Solutions Bilbao, Spain, 2004 STANTON12 Stanton, Tom. National Regulatory Research Institute Are Smart Microgrids in Your Future? Exploring Challenges and Opportunities for State Public Utility Regulators Maryland, USA, 2012

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