How to Effectively Manage a Microgrid
The main concern with managing the operations of a microgrid is its relationship with the main grid. This relationship depends on the demand that is put on such microgrids. The extent to which a microgrid will be dependent on the main grid is decided by the load requirements and its size and scale. Microgrids which operate solely on solar power often do not generate adequate energy to remain independent from macrogrids.
The microgrid connects with the main grid at a point where an equal voltage is maintained between the two coupling points. A switch is placed at the coupling point which can automatically or manually separate the microgrid from the main grid. Microgrids are not only an emergency measure but also cut costs by using local resources which may be too small for traditional grid use.
The Layered Structure of Managing Microgrids
Microgrids are especially difficult to manage when they operate in their “island mode” disconnected from the main grid. Hence, grid operators must have real-time insight into the load demands generated and the various distributed energy resources (also known as DER). Some of the various types of DER are controllable loads, load shedding and other forms of distribution management.
Better management of microgrids involves the use of a layered structured where each component within the layer belongs to a layer or system which can exhibit control and timescale in its domain. Such “advanced distribution management systems” (ADMS) consist of the following layers.
- DMS or the distribution management system which is primarily responsible for detecting faults and voltage fluctuations within the grid.
- SCADA or supervisory control and data acquisition, which takes care of alarm generation, managing events, and various positions.
- Outage management systems, which handles major power outages and customer demands.
- Energy management systems, responsible for monitoring the cost of demand the relationship between the grid and the market.
- Demand side management systems, for predicting and managing fluctuations and peaks in demands.
Utilizing such a layered structure, ADMS gains the capability to monitor grid activities in real-time and conduct an analysis. DMS combined with the SCADA systems manages the various energy shortages in the grid along with remote fault identification and isolation.
Utilizing such ADMS models, grid operators can easily handle the fluctuations in demand and faults in such microgrids through automated control systems. Such a layered approach leads to better optimization of grid resources and increased independence from macrogrids.
Microgrids today are increasingly gaining popularity due its energy-conserving and cost-effective nature. The main advantage lies in their ability to work in the island mentioned above mode which allows them to retain functionality even when the main grid goes down. While microgrids have numerous advantages, there are certain challenges in its way. One of the main hurdles that lie in the widespread use of microgrids is the inability of traditional macrogrids to couple with them efficiently. However, most of the progressive policies that are made today support the use of microgrids.