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  • 2023AlotaibiPhD

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A Current-Source Modular Converter for Large-Scale Photovoltaic Systems

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2023
Number of pages225
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The world is shifting toward renewable energy sources (RESs) to generate clean energy and mitigate the stress of global warming caused by CO2 emissions in recent decades. Among several RES types, large-scale photovoltaic (LSPV) plants are a promising source for meeting ambitious clean energy targets and being part of power generation. With the progress of high-power modular inverters, new opportunities have arisen to integrate them into LSPV systems connected to medium-voltage (MV) grids to obtain high efficiency and reliability, better system flexibility, and improved electrical safety compared with string or central inverters.

This thesis presents and implements a new current source three-phase modular
inverter (TPMI) based on a novel dual-isolated SEPIC/CUK (DISC) converter.
The TPMI is designed with a single power processing stage comprised of seriesconnected DISC submodules (SMs) to deliver MV into the utility grid. It outperforms conventional high-power inverters in terms of modularity, scalability, galvanic isolation compliance, and distributed maximum power point tracking (MPPT) capabilities.

The DISC converter employed as an SM in the proposed TPMI generates bipolar
output (i.e., both positive and negative voltages). In addition to having step-up
and step-down capabilities with a continuous input current, this converter shares an input side inductor, thereby reducing the number of components. The DISC structure, modulation method, operation, novel state-space model, and parameter design procedure are analysed in details. Then, simulation results are presented to validate the theoretical and analytical analyses of the DISC converter.

The proposed TPMI inverter is subsequently integrated into the LSPV grid
connection to prove its suitability for such applications. In the theoretical analysis, the advantages of TPMI structure over conventional topologies are discussed. Then, the modulation technique, and operational concept are presented, followed by a dedicated control strategy is implemented by adding a system and SM-level controllers. The system controller is required for the generation of uniform duty ratios for all SMs in order to regulate the power transfer. The SM level controller is introduced to ensure equal current and voltage distribution between SMs and to compensate for minor discrepancies between the various parameters. The entire TPMI system is demonstrated through MATLAB and Simulink simulations, with the objective being to deliver the rated (1 MW) power from the PV modules under normal operation,
uniform shading, and partial shading conditions and to match PV generation with the grid’s power demands. A downscaled 3-kW TPMI inverter was developed in the laboratory to validate its feasibility experimentally with its control strategy in different operating conditions. Finally, the TPMI performance is compared with
selected current source inverter topologies, which shows that TPMI obtains good
efficiency within the context of existing state-of-the-art current source converters.

Then, the TPMI structure is modified by redesigning its DISC SMs, which provides
several benefits, including a reduction in the number of switch devices operating at high frequency, thus decreasing switching losses, and an increase in efficiency. In this study, a half-cycle modulation (HCM) scheme is developed for the switches, and the operation of a modified DISC SM is analysed. Simulation and experimental results validate the performance of the modified TPMI topology and demonstrate its suitability for LSPV applications. According to the results of the comparison, the maximum power efficiency of the modified TPMI structure is 95.5%, which represents an improvement over the original TPMI structure.