A smart grid is defined as an intelligent, adaptive-balancing, self-monitoring power grid that accepts any source of fuel, regardless of fossil or renewable, and transforms it into a consumer’s end use with minimum human intervention and maximum reliability. The smart grid also allows the optimization of renewable energy use and minimizes the cumulative carbon footprint. However, synchronization of all operating power plants, including conventional and renewable ones, introduces new challenges due to their various infrastructure, dynamics, and operating characteristics.
There has been continuous progress on innovative ways of adopting smart grid schemes to new and existing curriculum in engineering and technology programs. However, the physical space needs and initial cost of distributed generation (DG) systems have made many institutions to be able concentrate on only power system simulation based studies. Hands-on inclusive smart grid applications have increased student interest for not only electrical power majors but also electronics and computer engineering technology majors due to the subjects covered in digital and graphical technologies based instrumentation and data acquisition of multiple energy resources.
This paper introduces a smart grid implementation using multiple DG sources, which include wind, solar, and hydrogen fuel cell in a junior level electrical power system class offered in a B.S. in Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology program. The DG sources include a 1 kW hydrogen fuel cell unit, 0.5 kW wind turbine, and 0.5 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) panel array. The DG units are connected to a DC bus bar where a state-of-the art data acquisition and control interface (DACI) developed by FESTO smart grid technologies constitutes a smart grid implementation supported by a low voltage data acquisition and control (LVDAC) software for monitoring and recording overall power system operation variables and finally synchronization with AC grid. This paper reports normal operating and contingency cases of the aforementioned DG system variables synchronized with an AC grid in a smart grid environment. Both DACI and LVDAC modules provide monitoring and recording of multiple variables such as voltage, current, power, and frequency values.
The operation of this smart grid scheme indicates that a large-scale DC power storage from multiple DG sources is feasible once reliable battery banks are available. The results of study is very promising in terms of increasing the student interest and enthusiasm to modern electrical power systems that is integrated to a smart-grid through a state-of-the art data acquisition and instrumentation system. This paper also reports harmonics and power quality issues caused by a large-size DC to AC inverter connecting the DG modules to the AC grid. This curriculum implementation finally provides an innovative opportunity for future engineering technology students to gain necessary up-to-date competencies in a smart grid environment.
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