IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - 48

By Shay Bahramirad,
Amin Khodaei, Joseph Svachula,
and Julio Romero Aguero

Building resilient
Integrated Grids
One neighborhood at a time.

HE MICROGRID, AS DEFINED BY THE U.S.
Department of Energy, is "a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy
resources (DERs) with clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the electric utility grid."
DERs consist of distributed generation (DG) and distributed energy storage (DES) installed at utility facilities, e.g.,
distribution substations, DG sites, or consumer premises.
A microgrid must have three distinct characteristics: 1) the
electrical boundaries must be clearly defined, 2) there
must be control systems in place to dispatch DERs in a
coordinated fashion and maintain voltage and frequency
within acceptable limits, and 3) the aggregated installed
capacity of DERs and controllable loads must be adequate
to reliably supply the critical demand. The microgrids may
be operated in two modes:
1) Interconnected to the grid: under this mode, the microgrid
can import, export, or have zero power exchange with
the grid. This type of operation is generally designed for
normal conditions (no system contingencies), and its
objective is to improve grid performance and efficiency
by using local DERs, e.g., to defer capacity investments,
reduce system losses, and improve local reliability.
2) Disconnected from the grid: under this mode, the
microgrid is allowed to operate islanded from the grid;
this is also commonly known as intentional islanding.
This type of operation requires the DERs within the
microgrid to be dispatched in a coordinated fashion to
provide voltage and frequency regulation. Successful

T

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MELE.2014.2380051
Date of publication: 27 February 2015

48

I E E E E l e c t r i f i cati o n M agaz ine / March 2015

islanded operation may also entail the implementation
of energy demand management, e.g., demand response
or curtailment, to achieve generation-load balance. This
type of operation is generally intended to provide service
to remote locations (permanent islanded operation) or to
provide continuous supply during contingencies (temporary islanded operation). In the latter case, the microgrid
is expected to return to interconnected operation once
the contingency has been addressed.
A variety of applications have been identified for
microgrids. The very first modern microgrids were deployed
in university campuses, conceivably due to the availability of
funding for research initiatives and internal expertise in
engineering and science. Microgrid deployment is becoming
an increasingly attractive solution for commercial and industrial consumers who require premium reliability and power
quality levels and/or are interested in pursuing economic
benefits from the strategic dispatch of their DERs, e.g., consumers who want to take advantage of available incentives
and use idle capacity from backup generation to export
power to the grid.
Moreover, there are growing numbers of microgrid
deployments in remote locations since they can be a more
efficient and viable solution to provide electric service than
upgrading or building transmission and distribution (T&D)
facilities. For instance, the microgrids can be operated in
interconnected mode to provide peak shaving and defer
capacity investments otherwise needed in remote locations,
or they can be operated in islanded mode and used to supply
service to isolated areas. The latter approach has been used
extensively to provide service to remote rural areas, traditionally via conventional generation (e.g., reciprocating engines
and small hydrogeneration), and more recently via combined
dispatch of conventional and renewable DGs. Military
2325-5987/15©2015IEEE



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