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3, MAY 2003

Grid Current Regulation of a Three-Phase Voltage

Source Inverter With an LCL Input Filter
Erika Twining, Student Member, IEEE, and Donald Grahame Holmes, Member, IEEE

Abstract—Many grid connected power electronic systems, such in higher-power applications [1], [2]. However, systems in-
as STATCOMs, UPFCs, and distributed generation system inter- corporating LCL filters require more complex current control
faces, use a voltage source inverter (VSI) connected to the supply strategies to maintain system stability, and are more susceptible
network through a filter. This filter, typically a series inductance,
acts to reduce the switching harmonics entering the distribution to interference caused by grid voltage harmonics because
network. An alternative filter is a LCL network, which can achieve of resonance hazards and the lower harmonic impedance
reduced levels of harmonic distortion at lower switching frequen- presented to the grid.
cies and with less inductance, and therefore has potential bene- Reference [3] has shown how an inner “lag-lead” compensa-
fits for higher power applications. However, systems incorporating tion loop on the capacitor voltage of the LCL filter of a three-
LCL filters require more complex control strategies and are not
commonly presented in literature. phase grid-connected VSI actively damps the filter resonance
This paper proposes a robust strategy for regulating the grid and improves the stability of the control system. Similar re-
current entering a distribution network from a three-phase VSI sults have been achieved for single and three-phase grid-con-
system connected via a LCL filter. The strategy integrates an outer nected VSI systems using an inner capacitor current feedback
loop grid current regulator with inner capacitor current regulation loop [4], and in a number of single-phase uninterruptible power
to stabilize the system. A synchronous frame PI current regula-
tion strategy is used for the outer grid current control loop. Linear supply (UPS) applications [5]. However, these systems control
analysis, simulation, and experimental results are used to verify the filter capacitor output voltage rather than the grid current
the stability of the control algorithm across a range of operating and are therefore not directly applicable for grid power flow
conditions. Finally, expressions for “harmonic impedance” of the control. Multi-variable control strategies have been proposed to
system are derived to study the effects of supply voltage distortion regulate the grid current for VSIs connected through LCL filters
on the harmonic performance of the system.
[1], but these strategies are complex and sensitive to variations
Index Terms—Current regulation, grid connection, harmonic in system parameters. More recently, an analytical study of grid
distortion, LCL filter, linear analysis, voltage source inverter .
connected active rectifiers with LCL input filters incorporating
PI-based controls has been presented [2]. However, this work
I. INTRODUCTION still only considers the regulation of the ac current out of the in-
verter, rather than the current into the grid after the filter.
P OWER electronic converters are now used in many
grid-connected applications including STATCOMs,
UPFCs, and active interfaces for distributed generation systems
This paper proposes a robust strategy for regulating the grid
current of a converter connected to an electrical network through
a LCL filter. The essence of the scheme is to use a synchronous
(e.g., PV, wind etc.). These converters are commonly based on a
frame PI (SRFPI) controller to regulate the grid current, together
voltage source inverter (VSI) connected to the supply network,
with a simple inner capacitor current regulating loop to stabilise
operated to achieve objectives such as power flow regulation
the system.
or power factor optimization by regulating the current into the
To determine the transient performance of the system, a
grid using schemes such as synchronous frame controllers, Pre-
P Resonant controller is considered first. Unlike the SRFPI
dictive Current deadbeat control, or hysteresis-based strategies.
controller, the P Resonant controller can be easily reduced to
Typically, simple series inductors are used as the filter interface
a single-phase equivalent system so that conventional stability
between the VSI and the grid network. However, these filters
analysis techniques may be applied. Stable operation of this
require high switching frequencies to acceptably attenuate
controller at fundamental frequency is confirmed using a
switching harmonics, particularly in weak-grid applications
linearised model of the inverter/grid system. Then, using the
where the supply is sensitive to these harmonics.
knowledge that the P Resonant controller has similar per-
In contrast, the alternative LCL form of low-pass filter
formance characteristics to the SRFPI controller [6], stability
offers the potential for improved harmonic performance at
analysis for this controller is shown to be sufficient to predict
lower switching frequencies, which is a significant advantage
the stability of a SRFPI controller.
Next, reduced quality current regulation caused by grid
Manuscript received June 14, 2002; revised November 1, 2002. This work supply voltage harmonics is investigated by determining
was supported by the Australian Research Council. This paper was presented
at PESC’02, Cairns, Australia, June 23–27, 2002. Recommended by Associate the harmonic impedance of the proposed control strategy,
Editor J. H. R. Enslin. and methods of tuning the current regulator to mitigate this
The authors are with the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems distortion are considered.
Engineering, Monash University, Clayton Campus, Victoria 3800, Australia
(e-mail: Finally, the experimental results obtained using a DSP control
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TPEL.2003.810838 platform are presented to verify the robustness of the proposed
0885-8993/03$17.00 © 2003 IEEE

Fig. 1. Three-phase VSI system.

control algorithm and to study the system’s harmonic perfor- back control of the grid current is unstable [4]. However, control
mance at a practical level. of this current should be possible in the same way as voltage
regulation for a UPS is achieved [5], by making an outer grid
II. SYSTEM MODELLING current feedback controller drive an inner capacitor current reg-
ulating loop.
Fig. 1 shows the converter system considered in this inves- Fig. 2 shows an ASM single-phase equivalent representation
tigation, comprising a standard three-phase VSI driven from a
of the controller/inverter system, where represents the grid
constant voltage DC bus and connected to the grid through a
current reference signal. From this figure, it can be seen how the
LCL filter. Note that the assumption of a constant dc voltage “outer” grid current feedback loop provides a reference value,
is reasonable if the dc capacitance is large or if dc bus voltage
, to the “inner” capacitor current feedback loop and the output
ripple compensation is included within the PWM control algo-
of the inner loop then determines the VSI output voltage, .
rithm. For this investigation, it is further assumed that the system
Representing the system with this single-phase model allows it
is balanced, and that the VSI switching frequency is sufficiently to be analyzed using conventional stability analysis techniques.
high that it will have negligible effect on the inverter control
The inner loop has a simple proportional gain transfer func-
loop dynamics.
tion, since it only stabilises the control system and its steady-
Under these assumptions, the converter system can be rep-
state errors do not affect the accuracy of the outer control loop.
resented using a linearized “average switching model (ASM),” The outer loop is shown in Fig. 2 as a generic transfer func-
where the inverter switches are replaced by a function repre-
tion . This transfer function could be the single phase
senting their averaged value over each carrier interval. Provided
equivalent of a SRFPI controller, but this has the complication
the controller does not saturate the VSI output, this linearised
of being difficult to model because of dependencies between
inverter model has been shown to achieve very accurate results the three phases. For simplicity, it would be preferable to use a
in this type of application [7]. Furthermore, the ASM approach
current regulation scheme that is independent between phases,
allows classical stability analysis techniques to be used to in-
such as a P Resonant controller, which is equally applicable
vestigate the system fundamental, transient and harmonic re-
to single or three phase systems. This also has the benefit that
sponses, and it is easily implemented in a simulation package since these two controllers are known to have almost identical
such as Matlab Simulink with greatly reduced simulation times
stationary frame performance characteristics [6], single-phase
compared to full switched models.
stability analysis of a P Resonant scheme can then directly be
applied to determine the transient performance of a SRFPI con-
III. CONTROL STRATEGY troller. This is the approach used here.
The primary aim of the control scheme is to modulate the
inverter to regulate the magnitude and phase angle of the grid A. SRFPI Controller Model
supply current, so that the real and reactive power entering the SRFPI controllers are commonly used in three-phase systems
network can be controlled. It is known already that direct feed- and operate by transforming the three-phase ac currents into

Fig. 2. Single-phase representation of proposed control strategy (notation defined in Fig. 1).

DC components in the synchronously rotating frame so that the

steady-state error that is normally associated with the applica-
tion of PI control to ac quantities can be eliminated [6]. The
strategy also has the particular advantage of independent con-
trol of the real and reactive current components, which translates
directly to real and reactive power flow control. This is advanta-
geous for this application, where the grid supply currents can be
directly regulated in the synchronous frame and transferred back
into the stationary frame to provide references for the simple
inner loop (single-phase) capacitor current controllers as shown
in Fig. 3.
Fig. 3. Synchronous reference frame PI control strategy (notation defined in
The transfer function of a SRFPI controller in the rotating Fig. 1).
frame is given by

transient performance can be readily analyzed using classical

control theory

Using the transformation techniques described in [6], the
equivalent stationary - - frame representation of the SRFPI
controller can be developed as (2). It is this form that is used IV. STABILITY ANALYSIS OF SINGLE PHASE MODEL
to compare the transient performances of the SRFPI and the The open-loop and closed-loop transfer functions of a single
P Resonant controllers in Section IV. The main concern phase ASM of the system with a P resonant controller are given
with (2), shown at the bottom of the page, is the significant by (4) and (5), respectively, as shown at the bottom of the next
off-diagonal terms, which represent cross coupling between page, where: , ,
phases and make an ASM single-phase representation difficult. , .
Analysis of this system has determined that its stability is pri-
B. P Resonant Controller Model marily determined by the outer loop proportional gain , as
In contrast, the P Resonant controller transfer function, illustrated in Fig. 4 which shows how the position of the closed
given by (3), is already in the stationary frame and is indepen- loop poles of the P Resonant system vary with for three dif-
dent between phases. This transfer function has infinite gain ferent values of (see Section VI for component values). In all
at fundamental frequency and therefore also eliminates steady three cases the system is stable for between zero and approx-
state error [6], while the phase independence means that its imately one (per unit). Based on these results, an initial value of


(a) (b)

Fig. 4. Variation of P+resonant VSI system closed loop poles with control parameter K . (a) K = 20, K = 50, 0 < K < 10. (b) K = 50, K = 50,
0 < K < 10. (c) K = 100, K = 50, 0 < K < 10.

was chosen for the simulation and experimental work ciently damped response at the resonant frequency of the LCL
presented here. This value was later increased to achieve an im- filter whilst maintaining an acceptable phase margin.
proved harmonic response as described in Section V. The integral gain, , of the controller acts to eliminate
The primary function of the inner loop gain, , is to damp steady state error at the fundamental frequency. Due to the
the resonant peak introduced by the LCL input filter as shown complexity of the plant transfer function, simulation and exper-
in Fig. 5. However, as also contributes to the overall loop imental techniques were used to tune this value. The integral
gain, increasing its value can compromise the system stability. gain required to achieve a good steady-state and transient
Therefore a value of was chosen to achieve a suffi- response was found in this way to be .



Fig. 5. Variation of open-loop frequency response with control parameter K

K =
( 0:5, K = 50). Fig. 6. Open-loop frequency response of proposed control strategies.

From (2), it can be seen that the diagonal terms of the SRFPI i.e., the relationship between a harmonic voltage disturbance
controller are the same as the (single-phase) transfer function into the system, and the resultant injected grid current harmonic
of the P Resonant controller (3) apart from a scaling factor. component. This impedance provides a simple measure of the
It is these diagonal terms that lead to the same steady-state re- harmonic sensitivity of a current regulation scheme, and is a
sponse of zero steady-state error at the fundamental frequency. useful tool to assist with the design of AC filters to achieve ac-
However, it would be expected that the cross coupling terms ceptable levels of harmonic distortion.
of the SRFPI controller might cause some differences between With some manipulation, the harmonic impedance for each
the transient performances of the two controllers, and hence this phase of the P Resonant system described in Section III-B can
issue needs to be considered further, as follows: be shown to be (6). Similarly, from (2), the harmonic impedance
Fig. 6 shows the open-loop frequency response for both the matrix for the SRFPI controller can be derived as (7). With fur-
P resonant and SRFPI controllers, where it can be seen that ther algebra, the diagonal terms of (7) can be shown to be equiv-
the cross-coupling terms of the SRFPI system have only a small alent to that of the P Resonant converter (6). Finally, the results
influence on the performance of the controller around the funda- from the previous section suggest that the cross-coupling terms
mental frequency. Outside of this region, the frequency response will have negligible influence on the performance of the SRFPI
of the two controllers is practically identical. This suggests that controller at harmonic frequencies. Hence it is reasonable to
the transient analysis of the single-phase P Resonant controller conclude that analysis of the P Resonant system is sufficient
can be directly applied to the SRFPI controller, and hence that to predict the harmonic performance of the SRFPI system also.
the stability of the SRFPI control algorithm is also primarily de- See (6) and (7) shown at the bottom of the next page, where ,
termined by outer loop proportional gain . , and are defined in Section IV. refers to the
th element of the transfer function matrix given in (5).
In order to minimize the harmonic current distortion
Previous experimental investigations have shown that even produced by the converter system under distorted supply
small levels of supply voltage distortion can result in signifi- conditions, the harmonic impedance should ideally be infinite
cant current distortion using current regulators that are tuned for all low order harmonics. In other words, the inverter should
for a fundamental response [7]. The work reported here has produce zero harmonic current for all values of harmonic
identified that this distortion comes about because the control supply distortion. In practice, Fig. 7 shows the harmonic
schemes described in the previous section have a limited band- impedance magnitude and phase verses frequency for two
width and are therefore unable to adequately compensate for values of . It can be seen from this figure that while the
grid supply voltage harmonics. It is noted in passing that most harmonic impedance goes through a minimum close to the
previous studies in this area have assumed a sinusoidal funda- LCL resonant frequency, , its absolute magnitude generally
mental supply, and appear not to have considered the effect of increases as increases. Hence the grid current distortion
grid network harmonic voltages. caused by grid supply harmonics will decrease for a higher
proportional gain . But the transient system response will
A. Calculating Harmonic Impedance also become more underdamped as this gain increases.
The sensitivity of each controller to grid harmonic distortion Fig. 8 shows the SRFPI controller transient response for
can be investigated by calculating its “harmonic impedance,” values of and with a 2% 5th harmonic

Fig. 7. Harmonic system impedance for +

P resonant controller (a)

and a 1% seventh harmonic in the grid supply voltage. While

the current distortion has been reduced from 7.8% to 5.2% as
increases, the transient response is correspondingly more
oscillatory. These results show the tradeoff that can be made
between a regulator’s harmonic performance and its transient
response when operating into a distorted supply.
In [8] it was shown that converter devices can be used as “har-
monic current sinks” within a distribution system and thereby
reduce the levels of harmonic voltage distortion at the point of
common coupling. In contrast to the harmonic current mitigation
described above, this filtering application requires that the
harmonic impedance of the converter system be minimized.
However, careful design is required to avoid overloading the
inverter and causing harmonic voltage magnification at other (b)
points within the distribution system. The harmonic impedance Fig. 8. VSI transient response for 2% fifth and 1% seventh supply distortion.
derived above also provides a useful tool for further investigating K
( = 20 K = 50). (a) K = 0:5. (b) K = 1:0.



Fig. 10. Grid current harmonic spectra for K.

Fig. 9. Grid current waveform for K.

these effects of converter systems on the harmonic voltage

distortion levels within distribution systems. However, such
investigation is beyond the scope of this paper.


An experimental platform based on a DSP controller was used
to confirm the accuracy of the ASM analysis described above,
and to test the practical robustness and harmonic performance
of the control algorithms developed. The particular circuit pa-
rameters are mH, mH, F,
F (the supply variac inductance was used as in-
ductor of the LCL filter). The system is rated at 10 kVA and
has a 415 V supply voltage and a 700 V dc bus.
A SRFPI controller was implemented for the outer grid cur-
rent regulation, with an additional PI controller to maintain the
Fig. 11. Grid current waveform for 2 K.
dc link voltage at the specified value. This controller acts as
an outer control loop, providing the real current demand to the
SRFPI controller. (Note that in a complete system, the bulk of
the real and reactive current references would be generated by
higher-level control loops. However, the operation of these con-
trol loops is beyond the scope of this paper, so simple default
values were used.) The operation of the dc voltage control loop
was also decoupled from the current regulator by giving it a sig-
nificantly longer time constant.
To load the system, the dc link of the converter system was
simply connected to a resistor, and the inverter then acted as
an active rectifier. However, since a VSI is of course implicitly
bidirectional, the results are readily applicable to any type of
grid-connected application.
Fig. 9 shows the measured supply phase current for a step
change in the reactive current reference, . The real current Fig. 12. Grid current harmonic spectra for 2 K.
reference, , is supplied by the dc voltage controller. These
results confirm that the proposed control algorithm is stable at harmonic spectra of the phase current distortion, with fifth and
full supply voltage, achieves zero steady state error at funda- seventh harmonic distortion caused by the supply voltage har-
mental frequency and has a good transient response as antici- monics and a total harmonic distortion (THD) of 10.5%. Figs. 11
pated. However, it can be seen that the measured phase currents and 12 show the improvement that was achieved by doubling
have significant levels of harmonic distortion. For this test, the the proportional gain , to achieve a reduced harmonic cur-
supply voltage distortion was measured at approx. 2.3% with rent distortion of THD 6.7%. This increased is still well
the fifth and seventh harmonics dominating. Fig. 10 shows the within the stability margin, since there is no significant transient

oscillation visible in Fig. 9. It is further noted that the reference [7] E. Twining, “Modeling grid-connected voltage source inverter opera-
signal in both cases contains a small level of harmonic distor- tion,” in Proc. AUPEC’01, 2001, pp. 501–506.
[8] H. Akagi, H. Fujita, and K. Wada, “A shunt active filter based on voltage
tion (THD 2%). This is, in part, due to the ripple in the dc bus detection for harmonic termination of a radial power distribution line,”
voltage. It is expected that this distortion would be minimized by IEEE Trans. Ind. Applicat., vol. 35, pp. 638–645, 1999.
passing the signal through a low pass filter. This would fur-
ther reduce the levels of grid current distortion without affecting
the performance of the dc voltage controller significantly.
Erika Twining (S’02) received the B.Eng. and
M.Eng.Sc. degrees from the University of Mel-
VII. CONCLUSION bourne, Parkville, Australia, in 1995 and 2000,
respectively, and is currently pursuing the Ph.D.
This paper has presented a robust control algorithm to reg- degree in the Department of Electrical and Computer
ulate the grid current entering a distribution network from a Systems Engineering, Monash University, Clayton,
three-phase VSI system via an LCL input filter. Linear analysis, She was a Graduate Electrical/Instrument Engi-
simulation and experimental results are used to verify the sta- neer at Orica Pty., Ltd., from 1996 to 1998. During
bility of the algorithm across a range of operating conditions. this time, she worked at a number of manufacturing
sites in Victoria and NSW, Australia, where she was
Expressions for “harmonic impedance” of the system are de- involved in the design and maintenance of power
rived to study the effects of supply distortion on the harmonic distribution and process control systems. Her major research interests include
performance of the system. It is shown that the controller can grid connected PWM converters, distributed generation, power quality, and
voltage compensation in weak distribution networks.
be tuned to achieve an improved overall response when oper-
ating into a distorted supply, at the expense of some reduction
in transient stability margins. Hence, an acceptable harmonic
performance can still be achieved with a lower value of input Donald Grahame Holmes (M’87) received the
inductance than would be required for a simple inductive filter, B.S. degree and M.S. degree in power systems
engineering from the University of Melbourne, Mel-
which offers potential for significant reductions in filter cost. bourne, Australia, in 1974 and 1979, respectively,
and the Ph.D. degree in PWM theory for power
electronic converters from Monash University,
REFERENCES Victoria, Australia, in 1998.
[1] M. Lindgren and J. Svensson, “Control of a voltage-source converter He worked for six years with the local power com-
connected to the grid through an LCL-filter-application to active pany developing SCADA systems for power trans-
filtering,” in Proc. Power Electron. Spec. Conf. (PESC’98), Fukuoka, mission networks, before returning to the University
Japan, 1998. of Melbourne as a faculty member. In 1984, he moved
[2] M. Liserre, F. Blaabjerg, and S. Hansen, “Design and control of an LCL- to Monash University to work in the area of power electronics, and he is now an
filter based three-phase active rectifier,” in Proc. 2001 IEEE Ind. Ap- Associate Professor. He currently heads the Power Electronics Research Group,
plicat. Conf., 2001, pp. 297–307. Monash University, where he manages graduate students and research engineers
[3] V. Blasko and V. Kaura, “A novel control to actively damp resonance working together on a mixture of theoretical and practical R&D projects. The
in input lc filter of a three-phase voltage source converter,” IEEE Trans. present interests of the group include fundamental modulation theory, current
Ind. Applicat., vol. 33, pp. 542–550, 1997. regulators for drive systems and PWM rectifiers, active filter systems for quality
[4] N. Abdel-Rahim and J. E. Quaicoe, “Modeling and analysis of a feed- of supply improvement, resonant converters, current source inverters for drive
back control strategy for three-phase voltage-source utility interface sys- systems, and multilevel converters. He has a strong commitment and interest
tems,” in Proc. 29th IAS Annu. Meeting, 1994, pp. 895–902. in the control and operation of electrical power converters. He has made a sig-
[5] P. C. Loh, M. J. Newman, D. N. Zmood, and D. G. Holmes, “Improved nificant contribution to the understanding of PWM theory through his publi-
transient and steady state voltage regulation for single and three phase cations and has developed close ties with the international research commu-
uninterruptible power supplies,” in Proc. 32nd Ann. IEEE Power Elec- nity in the area. He has published over 100 papers at international conferences
tron. Spec. Conf. (PESC’01), 2001. and in professional journals, and regularly reviews papers for all major IEEE
[6] D. Zmood, D. Holmes, and G. Bode, “Frequency-domain analysis of TRANSACTIONS in his area.
three-phase linear current regulators,” IEEE Trans. Ind. Applicat., vol. Dr. Holmes is an active member of the IPC and IDC Committees of the IEEE
37, pp. 601–610, 2001. Industrial Applications Society.