Cost-Optimal Evaluation of Centralized and Distributed Microgrid Topologies Considering Voltage Constraints

Hallie Dunham, Dylan Cutler, Sakshi Mishra, Xiangkun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus Citations


Optimal design of hybrid renewable mini-grids requires both economic and power quality considerations. Existing modeling approaches address these considerations via separate or loosely coupled models. Here, we extend REopt—a techno-economic optimization model developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory—to consider both within a single model. REopt formulates the design problem as a mixed-integer linear program that solves for a site's optimal technology mix, sizing, and operation to minimize life cycle cost. REopt has traditionally assumed a single node system. In the work presented here, we expand the REopt platform to consider multiple connected nodes with associated voltage constraints. In order to do this, we model power flow using a fixed-point linear approximation method. We then use the model to explore design considerations of mini-grids in Sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically, we evaluate under what combinations of transmission line distance and capacity it is technically viable and economically preferable to build multiple isolated mini-grids versus an interconnected, centralized system.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)88-97
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy for Sustainable Development
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Energy Initiative

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-7A40-76343


  • Centralized microgrid
  • Decentralized microgrid
  • Energy economics
  • Linearized power flow
  • Mini-grid
  • Power quality
  • Renewable energy optimization
  • Techno-economic energy modeling


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