Photovoltaic Impact Assessment of Smart Inverter Volt-VAR Control on Distribution System Conservation Voltage Reduction and Power Quality

Fei Ding, Adarsh Nagarajan, Murali Baggu, Andu Nguyen, Sarah Walinga, Michael McCarty, Frances Bell, Sudipta Chakraborty

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This report presents an impact assessment study of distributed photovoltaic (PV) with smart inverter Volt-VAR control on conservation voltage reduction (CVR) energy savings and distribution system power quality. CVR is a methodology of flattening and lowering a distribution system voltage profile in order to conserve energy. Traditional CVR relies on operating utility voltage regulators and switched capacitors. However, with the increased penetration of distributed PV systems, smart inverters provide the new opportunity to control local voltage and power factor by regulating the reactive power output, leading to a potential increase in CVR energy savings. This report proposes a methodology to implement CVR scheme by operating voltage regulators, capacitors, and autonomous smart inverter Volt-VAR control in order to achieve increased CVR benefit. Power quality is an important consideration when operating a distribution system, especially when implementing CVR. It is easy to measure the individual components that make up power quality, but a comprehensive method to incorporate all of these values into a single score has yet to be undertaken. As a result, this report proposes a power quality scoring mechanism to measure the relative power quality of distribution systems using a single number, which is aptly named the 'power quality score' (PQS). Both the CVR and PQS methodologies were applied to two distribution system models, one obtained from the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and another obtained from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). These two models were converted to the OpenDSS platform using previous model conversion tools that were developed by NREL. Multiple scenarios including various PV penetration levels and smart inverter densities were simulated to analyze the impact of smart inverter Volt-VAR support on CVR energy savings and feeder power quality. In order to analyze the CVR benefit and PQS, an annual simulation was conducted for each scenario.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages80
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5D00-67296


  • CVR
  • distributed PV
  • power quality
  • smart inverter
  • volt-VAR


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