Utility-scale photovoltaic generators: a review on trends, grid code requirements and challenges

Nadia M. L. Tan, Agileswari K. Ramasamy, Vigna K. Ramachandaramurthy, Marayati Marsadek, Mohd. R. Othman, Ibrahim Ariffin


This paper provides an overview of the global trends in utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) installed capacity. This paper also presents a comparison of grid-connection requirements of six countries in the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia for utility-scale PV generators in normal and abnormal grid conditions. Many country-based grid codes and international standards (IEEE 1547) for interconnection of inverter-based renewable energy generators are demanding stricter grid-connection compliance from utility-scale PV generators to ensure power system safety and reliability as its penetration level increases. This paper then discusses the economic and technical impacts, and explores the preparedness of PV generation systems in meeting the grid code requirements.


Dynamic voltage support; Fault-ride-through; Grid code; Grid connection requirements; Large-scale solar; Low-voltage ride-through

Full Text:



REN 21 Steering Committee, “Renewables 2017 Global Status Report”, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, 2017.

REN 21 Steering Committee, “Renewables 2016 global status report”, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, 2016.

“Global market outlook for solar power 2017 - 2021”, Solar Power Europe, Brussels, Belgium, 2018.

D. Geibel, et. al. , “Utility-scale PV systems: grid connection requirements, test procedures and European harmonisation”, Photovoltaics International, vol. 4, May 2009.

B. Weise, “Impact of K-factor and active current reduction during fault-ride-through of generating units connected via voltage-sourced converters on power system stability”, IET Renewable Power Generation Journal, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 25-36, Jan. 2015.

IEEE Standard for Interconnection and Interoperability of Distributed Energy Resources with Associated Electric Power Systems Interfaces. IEEE 1547-2018, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.,New York, Apr. 2018.

A. Cabrera-Tobar, et. al. , “Review of advanced grid requirements for the integration of large scale photovoltaic power plants in the transmission system”, Renew. Sustain. Energy Reviews, vol. 62, pp. 971-987, May 2016.

“Global Wind Energy Outlook 2008”, Global Wind Energy Council, Oct. 2008. [Online]. Available: http://gwec:net/publications/globalwind-energy-outlook/gweo-2008/

“PVPS Annual Report 2016”, IEA PVPS, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.iea-pvps.org

Peninsular Malaysia electricity supply outlook 2017, Energy Commission, Malaysia, Aug. 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.st.gov.my

N. Longman, “Top 10 solar-producing countries”, Energy Digital, May 2017. [Online]. Available http://www.energydigital.com/renewableenergy/top-10-solar-producing-countries

“12 countries leading the way in renewable energy”, Click Energy, Aug. 2017. [Online]. Available https://www.clickenergy.com.au/newsblog/12-countries-leading-the-way-in-renewable-energy

“Egypt - Renewable Energy — export.gov”, Export.gov, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.export.gov

A. Jager-Waldau, “PV status report 2017”, European Commission JRC Science for Policy Report, Luxemborg, European Union, 2017. [Online]. Available: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu

M. Gianni, “PV market, business and price developments in Italy”, Gestore Servizi Energetici, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.gse.it

“Trends in Photovoltaic Applications 2016”, IEA-PVPS, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.ieapvps.org

“World energy outlook 2017 China : Key findings”, International Energy Agency, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.iea.org/weo/china/

“Status of renewable energies in Japan”, Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.isep.or.jp/en

“Energy policies of IEA countries”, International Energy Agency, 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.iea.org

Fraunhofer ISE. Net installed electricity generation capacity in Germany in 2018. 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.energycharts.de

A. Etxegarai, et. al. , “Review of grid connection requirements for generation assets in weak power grids”, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 41, pp. 1501-1514, Jan. 2015.

VDE-AR-N 4120:2015-01: Technical requirements for the connection and operation of customer installations to the high-voltage network (TCC High-Voltage), National Grid Electricity Transmission, Germany, Oct. 2015.

The Grid Code, Issue 5, Revision 21, National Grid Electricity Transmission, United Kingdom, Mar. 2016.

Technical Rules, Western Power, Australia, Dec. 2011.

Technical regulation 3.2.2 for PV power plants above 11 kW, Energinet, Denmark, July 2016.

Solar Energy Plants Grid Connection Code, Egypt ERA, Egypt, Mar. 2017.

Energy Commission Malaysia. “The Malaysian grid and distribution codes”, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.tnb.com.my/business/malaysian-grid-code.html

Energy Commission Malaysia. “Guidelines on large scale solar photovoltaics plant for connection to electricity networks [Electricity supply act 1990 (Act 447)]”, Feb. 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.st.gov.my

IEEE recommended practice and requirements for harmonic control in electric power systems, IEEE Standards 519-2014, pp. 1-29, June. 2014.

A. Richter, et. al. , “Transformer suitability for a successful load shedding in the TSO control area”, International ETG Congress, Bonn, Germany, Nov. 2015, pp. 186 – 191.

C. Rahmann, and A. Castillo, “Fast frequency response capability of Photovoltaic power plants: The necessity of new grid requirements and definitions”, Energies, vol. 7, pp. 6306-6322, Sept. 2014.

R. Amirante, et. al , “Overview on recent developments in energy storage: Mechanical, electrochemical and hydrogen technologies”, Elsevier J. Energy Conversion and Management, vol. 132, pp. 372-387, Jan. 2017.

E. Serban, et. al. , “Voltage and frequency grid support strategies beyond standards”, IEEE Trans. on Power Electron., vol. 32, no. 1, Jan. 2017.

A. Al-Shetwi, et. al. , “A review of the fault ride through requirements in different grid codes concerning penetration of PV system to the electric power network”, ARPN J. Engineering and Applied Science, vol. 10, no. 21, pp. 9906–9912, Nov. 2015.

B. Craciun, et. al , “Overview of recent grid codes for PV power integration”, in Proc. 13th Int. Conf. Optimization of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (OPTIM), Brasov, Romania, May 2012, pp. 959–965.

A. Basit, et. al. , “A Review of grid requirements for wind farm in Denmark and China”, presented at China Wind Power 2012, Beijing, China, Nov. 2012.

Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). (2017, Mar.). Black system South Australia 28 September 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.aemo.com.au

H. Berndt, et. al. , ”Transmission Code 2007: Network and System Rules of the German Transmission System Operators”, Verbandder Netzbetreiber - VDN – e.V. beim VDEW, Germany. [Online]. Available: https://www.vde.com

VDE. Forum on Network Technology/Network Operation (2017, May). Summary of the Draft VDE-AR-N 4120:201705. [Online]. Available: https://www.vde.com

M. Tsili and S. Papathanassiou, “A review of grid code technical requirements for wind farms”, IET Renewable Power Generation, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 308-332, Sept. 2009.

N. Ullah and T. Thiringer, “Variable speed wind turbines for power system stability enhancement”, IEEE Trans. Energy Convers., vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 52-60, Mar. 2007.

N. Ullah, et. al. , “Voltage and transient stability support by wind farms complying with the E.ON Netz grid code”, IEEE Trans. Power Syst., vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 1647-1656, Nov. 2007.

S. Muyeen, et al. , “Low voltage ride through capability enhancement of wind turbine generator system during network disturbance”, IET Renewable Power Generation, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 65–74, Dec. 2008.

S. Muyeen, et. al. , “A variable speed wind turbine control strategy to meet wind farm grid code requirements”, IEEE Trans. Power Syst., vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 331-340, Feb. 2010.

Z. Chen, et. al. , “A review of the state of the art of power electronics for wind turbines”, IEEE Trans. Power Electron., vol. 24, no. 8, pp. 1859-1875, Aug. 2009.

I. Erlich and F. Shewarega, “Grid codes in power systems with significant renewable-based generation”, in Smart Grid Handbook, 1st ed., vol. 1, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Aug. 2016, pp. 322–332.

J. Niiranen, et. al., “Low-voltage ride-through testing of wind turbine converters at ABB helps wind turbines meet the requirements of IEC61400-21 more quickly”. ABB Press Release, Apr. 2009. [Online]. Available: http://www.abb.com

T. Neumann, et. al. , “Enhanced dynamic voltage control of Type 4 wind turbines during unbalanced grid faults”, IEEE Trans.Energy Convers., vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 1650–1659, Dec. 2015.

P. Denholm, et. al. , “On the path to SunShot: Emerging issues and challenges in integrating high levels of solar into the electrical generation and transmission system”, NREL, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.nrel.gov

G. Lammert, et. al. , “Modelling and dynamic performance of inverter based generation in power system studies: an international questionnaire survey”, CIRED - Open Access Proc. Journal, vol. 2017, no. 1, pp. 1899–1902, 2017.

A. Anzalchi and A. Sarwat, “Overview of technical specifications for grid-connected photovoltaic systems”, Energ. Conver. Manage., vol. 152, pp. 312–327, Oct. 2017.

Nur I. Zolkifri, et. al, “Performance analysis of Malaysian low voltage distribution network under different solar variability days,” Indonesian J. Elec. Eng. & Com. Sci., vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 1152 -1160, Mar. 2019.

J. Antonanzasa, et. al., “Review of photovoltaic power forecasting”, Solar Energy, vol. 136, pp. 78–111, Oct. 2016.

P. Ochsner, et. al. , “Spatial modelling of grid connected PV plants with 3D irradiance values”, 28th European Photovoltaic Solar Energ. Conf. and Exhibition, Paris, France, Sept./Oct. 2013, pp. 3597–3600.

M. Tamaki, et. al. , “Development of PCS for battery system installed in megawatt photovoltaic system”, 15th Int. Power Electron. and Motion Control Conf., EPE-PEMC 2012, Novi Sad, Serbia, Sept. 2012, pp. 1–4.

S. Vavilapalli, et. al. , “Design and real-time simulation of an AC voltage regulator based battery charger for large-scale PV-grid energy storage systems”, IEEE Access, vol. 5, pp. 25158–25170, Dec. 2017.

A. Cabrera-Tobar, et. al. , “Topologies for large scale photovoltaic power plants”Renew. Sustain. Energy Reviews, vol. 59, pp. 309–319, Jan. 2016.

S. B. Kjaer, et. al. , “A review of single-phase grid-connected inverters for photovoltaic modules”, IEEE Trans. Ind. Appl., vol. 41, no. 5, pp. 1292–1306, Sept./Oct. 2005.

T. Kerekes, et. al. , “An optimization method for method for designing large PV plants”, IEEE J. Photovoltaics, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 814–822, Apr. 2013.

“Demand response and energy efficiency roadmap: maximizing preferred resources”. Folsom, California: California Independent System Operator; 2013.

M. Obi and R. Bass, “Trends and challenges of grid-connected photovoltaic systems – A review, Renew. Sustain. Energy Reviews, vol. 58, pp. 1082–1094, May 2016.

W. Omran, et. al. , “Investigation of methods for reduction of power fluctuations generated from large grid-connected photovoltaic systems”, IEEE Trans. Energ. Convers., vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 318–327, Mar. 2011.

Ameerul A. J. Jeman, et. al. , “Fault analysis for renewable energy power system in micro-grid distributed generation”, Indonesian J Elec. Eng. & Com. Sci, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 1117–1123, Mar. 2019.

X. Yuan, et. al. , “An improved method of instantaneous symmetrical components and its detection for positive and negative sequence current”, in Proc. of CSEE 2008, vol. 28(1), pp. 52–58, Jan. 2008.

R. Inzunza, et. al. , “Development of a 1500Vdc photovoltaic inverter for utility-scale PV power plants”, IEEE 2nd Int. Future Energy Electron. Conf. (IFEEC), Taiwan, Nov. 2015, pp. 1–4.

P. Sochor, et. al. , “Low-voltage-ride-through control of a modular multilevel single-delta bridge-cell (SDBC) inverter for utility-scale photovoltaic systems”, IEEE Trans. Ind. Appl., vol. 54, no.5, pp. 4739 –4751.

M. R. Maghamiab, et. al. , “Power loss due to soiling on solar panel: A review”, Renew. Sustain. Energy Reviews, vol. 59, pp. 1307–1316, Jun. 2016.

P. Sochor and H. Akagi, “Theoretical comparison in energy-balancing capability between star- and delta-configured modular multilevel cascade inverters for utility-scale photovoltaic systems”, IEEE. Trans. Power Electron., vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 1980–1992 Mar. 2016.

Y. Yu, et. al. , “Power balance of cascaded H-bridge multilevel converters for large-scale photovoltaic integration”, IEEE Trans. Power Electron., vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 292–303, Jan. 2016.

H. Choi, et. al. , “Large-scale PV system based on the multiphase isolated DC/DC converter”, 3rd IEEE Int. Symp. on Power Electrons. Distributed Generation Systems (PEDG), Aalborg, Denmark, Jun. 2012, pp. 801–807.

DOI: http://doi.org/10.11591/ijeecs.v18.i2.pp573-585
Total views : 100 times


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

shopify stats IJEECS visitor statistics