Using Micro-Synchrophasor Data for Advanced Distribution Grid Planning and Operations Analysis

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This report reviews the potential for distribution-grid phase-angle data that will be available from new micro-synchrophasors (µPMUs) to be utilized in existing distribution-grid planning and operations analysis. This data could augment the current diagnostic capabilities of grid analysis software, used in both planning and operations for applications such as fault location, and provide data for more accurate modeling of the distribution system. µPMUs are new distribution-grid sensors that will advance measurement and diagnostic capabilities and provide improved visibility of the distribution grid, enabling analysis of the grid’s increasingly complex loads that include features such as large volumes of distributed generation. Large volumes of DG leads to concerns on continued reliable operation of the grid, due to changing power flow characteristics and active generation, with its own protection and control capabilities. Using µPMU data on change in voltage phase angle between two points in conjunction with new and existing distribution-grid planning and operational tools is expected to enable model validation, state estimation, fault location, and renewable resource/load characterization. Our findings include: data measurement is outstripping the processing capabilities of planning and operational tools; not every tool can visualize a voltage phase-angle measurement to the degree of accuracy measured by advanced sensors, and the degree of accuracy in measurement required for the distribution grid is not defined; solving methods cannot handle the high volumes of data generated by modern sensors, so new models and solving methods (such as graph trace analysis) are needed; standardization of sensor-data communications platforms in planning and applications tools would allow integration of different vendors’ sensors and advanced measurement devices. In addition, data from advanced sources such as µPMUs could be used to validate models to improve/ensure accuracy, providing information on normally estimated values such as underground conductor impedance, and characterization of complex loads. Although the input of high-fidelity data to existing tools will be challenging, µPMU data on phase angle (as well as other data from advanced sensors) will be useful for basic operational decisions that are based on a trend of changing data.

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