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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Seamless solar PV integration in Moroccan buildings

PI: Mounir Ghogho (, International University of Rabat
U.S. Partner: Paul Flikkema, Northern Arizona University
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview:

A high density of installed photovoltaic (PV) systems poses grid integration challenges. Excessive ramps and peaks of the injected PV power into low-voltage grids are some of the most important challenges that may destabilize the grid and even cause blackouts. The penetration of PV in buildings in Morocco is still very low. The potential for roof-mounted PV power generation in Morocco has been estimated to each 10TWh, representing 40% of the country's total electricity consumption. Despite this high potential, there are two main obstacles to the uptake of PV in buildings, the first being the capital investment cost, as no financial incentives are offered yet by the government, and the second being the conservative attitude of the national electricity utility company toward PV injection in the low-voltage grid.

To optimally design a battery-supported PV system, realistic household load profiles in Morocco must be used. The general objectives of this project are (1) to build a statistically significant dataset of household electricity consumption profiles in Morocco and make it available as open data to the scientific community; (2) to analyze the data using machine learning to assess and classify power quality at the household level; and (3) to develop scientific tools to investigate issues of sizing and operation of residential battery-supported PV systems in Moroccan settings from both the energetic and economic perspectives. Forecast-based control mechanisms will be devised for different scenarios. The results of the project should be of interest to the Moroccan Ministry of Energy and the national electric utility company. The International University of Rabat encourages through its technology transfer unit joint ventures with industry to turn research results into commercial products. The research team will explore this avenue at the end of the project. Overall, through their planned open data platform and outreach activities, the project team aims to contribute to the promotion of clean energy adoption in buildings and the modernization of the Moroccan electric grid.

Summary of Recent Events

During the quarter ending March 2018, the initial prototype of the acquisition system has been tested in a Moroccan house. The system has adequately recorded data of the electrical energy consumption on many days. The system collects the current and voltage signals, and compute the corresponding root mean square as well as the active and reactive powers.

Using the data obtained with the acquisition system the PI and his team have performed some preliminary data analysis to quantify the statistical behavior of the active and reactive powers over time. This includes the computation of histograms and correlation analysis.
Their system consists of a micro solar power plant for residential purposes connected to the electrical grid and is composed of three main components (besides the electrical grid): the PV Module which generates the energy that allows the system to operate; the battery which stores the energy generated by the PV module when needed; and the user's appliances which form the load of the system. The system can be divided into four chains: the PV-battery charger, the grid-battery charger, the PV-load feeding system and the battery-load feeding system. They have developed two different models: a circuit level model and a higher level model. The circuit level model describes the behavior of the currents and voltages in the PV panel, the battery, the load and the converters used in the system (DC-DC converters and the inverters). This type of model allows them to design the low level control to produce the reactive power required by the load. The higher level describes in a simplified manner the energy flows occurring between the main components. This model will be used to design the energy management system that will control the charge and discharge of the battery.

The team has completed the first version of the simulator of the system which is based on a higher level system model. They have devised an energy management system and initiated its evaluation on the simulator. They are currently in negotiation with Chroma to purchase a PV array emulator and a load emulator which will be used as part of the testbed for the microgrid system. The PV panel emulator considered is the Programmable DC power supply model 62000H-S. This device will allow them to emulate different types of solar panels under different environmental conditions. The load emulator considered is the Programmable AC&DC electronic load Model 63800. This device allow them to program the temporal behavior of the load to emulate the characteristics observed by the electrical demand in a typical Moroccan house.

In the next 3-6 months, the team will be working on improvement of their energy management system algorithm, completion of the PV system simulator, design and implementation of DC-DC converters and inverters. they will also hold a workshop on smart grid and solar PV energy.

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