Compatibility Study of Protective Relaying in a Grid-Connected Fuel Cell

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A 200-kW fuel cell produced by International Fuel Cells (IFC), a United Technologies Company, began operation at the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) in early June 2003. The NTRC is a joint Oak Ridge National laboratory (ORNL) and University of Tennessee research facility located in Knoxville, Tennessee. This research activity investigated the protective relaying functions of this fully commercialized fuel cell power plant, which uses ''synthesized'' protective relays. The project's goal is to characterize the compatibility between the fuel cell's interconnection protection system and the local distribution system or electric power system (EPS). ORNL, with assistance from the Electric Power ... continued below

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Staunton, R.H. April 15, 2004.

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Description

A 200-kW fuel cell produced by International Fuel Cells (IFC), a United Technologies Company, began operation at the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) in early June 2003. The NTRC is a joint Oak Ridge National laboratory (ORNL) and University of Tennessee research facility located in Knoxville, Tennessee. This research activity investigated the protective relaying functions of this fully commercialized fuel cell power plant, which uses ''synthesized'' protective relays. The project's goal is to characterize the compatibility between the fuel cell's interconnection protection system and the local distribution system or electric power system (EPS). ORNL, with assistance from the Electric Power Research Institute-Power Electronics Applications Center (EPRI-PEAC) in Knoxville, Tennessee, monitored and characterized the system compatibility over a period of 6 months. Distribution utility engineers are distrustful of or simply uncomfortable with the protective relaying and hardware provided as part of distributed generation (DG) plants. Part of this mistrust is due to the fact that utilities generally rely on hardware from certain manufacturers whose reliability is well established based on performance over many years or even decades. Another source of concern is the fact that fuel cells and other types of DG do not use conventional relays but, instead, the protective functions of conventional relays are simulated by digital circuits in the distributed generator's grid interface control unit. Furthermore, the testing and validation of internal protection circuits of DG are difficult to accomplish and can be changed by the vendor at any time. This study investigated and documented the safety and protective relaying present in the IFC fuel cell, collected data on the operation of the fuel cell, recorded event data during EPS disturbances, and assessed the compatibility of the synthesized protective circuits and the local distribution system. The project also addressed other important and timely issues. For instance, the study includes an evaluation of the effectiveness of the fuel cell's synthesized relay protection scheme relative to the recently issued IEEE 1547 interconnection standard. Together, these activities should serve to reduce the number of unknowns pertaining to unconventional protective circuits, to the benefit of DG manufacturers, vendors, prospective and current users of DG, and electricity suppliers/distributors. Although more grid-connect fuel cell interruptions were encountered in this study than originally anticipated, and the investigation and findings became quite complex, every effort was made to clearly summarize the interconnection causes and issues throughout the report and especially in the summary found in Sect. 4. ORNL's funding of this study is sponsored equally by (1) the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Distributed Energy Resources and (2) the Distributed Generation Technologies program of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2004/12
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/885585 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 885585
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc891602

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • April 15, 2004

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 23, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Nov. 22, 2016, 11:08 p.m.

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Staunton, R.H. Compatibility Study of Protective Relaying in a Grid-Connected Fuel Cell, report, April 15, 2004; [Tennessee]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc891602/: accessed November 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.