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Distributed Generation Advantages Disadvantages

Updated on January 2, 2014

Distributed Generation is distributed resources or generating sources located at the load side of the power system. The power rating of this distributed generating sources will be fractional and can be sufficient to cater particular load centers in the distribution side.

Distributed Technology sources includes both renewable and non-renewable resources. In US as more stress was given on developing renewable energy sources, distributed generation along with smart grid technologies helps to increase the reliability, power quality and less carbon footprints

Distributed Generation Definition

Distributed Generation is defined as "Generation of electricity by facilitates that are sufficiently smaller than central generating plants so as to allow interconnection at nearly any point in the power system".

It is also defined as "All generation units with a minimum capacity of 50MW to 100Mw, that are usually connected to distribution network and that are neither centrally planned nor dispatched"

Typical Capcity
Solar, PV
A few Watts to several 100 kW
A few watts to few MW
IC Engines
A few 100 kW to tens of MW
Combined Cycle
A few MW to hndreds of MW
Micro turbine
A few tens of kW to few MW
Fuel Cells
A few tens of kW to tens of MW

Advantages of Distributed Generation:

Distributed Generation technologies includes generation sources such as Solar, Wind, Fuel cells, Biomass, IC Engines. The rating of the power generation sources will be from few kW to MW.

  • Distributed Generation increases the reliability of power supply to the consumers. As these generating units are at the load side in the power system, this significantly reduces Transmission and Distribution losses
  • The connection of distributed generation sources to the power system will improve the voltage profiles, power quality ans supports the voltage stability of the system. This allows the system to withstand higher loading conditions and reduce the cost of Infrastructure for building the transmission and distribution systems
  • Distributed Generation technologies can be made part of the smart grid or micro grid to improve the efficiency of the system
  • Compared to other conventional plants, these plants require less time for commissioning and payback period is also less compared to conventional plants.
  • Some Distributed Generation Technologies are flexible in operation, size and can also easily extendable
  • Some distributed Generation technologies have higher overall efficiency and low pollution such as combined heat and power (CHP) and some micro turbines
  • The right type of generating source suitable at that location can be installed and can generate power at cheaper cost

Disadvantages of Distributed Generation:

Distributed Generation technologies have some negative impacts on the environment as well as economic aspect

Wind turbines will have visual, acoustic and bird life impact

Wind farms and PV systems require large area compared to the conventional technologies for the same installed capacity

Small hydro, tidal and wave power plants may influence the ecosystem and fishery

Biomass may produce unpleasant emissions in case of incomplete combustion

The output of some of the renewable energy sources such as wind, PV are variable and difficult to prodict

Connecting the Distributed Generation sources to the grid is complex. Protection design requires good communication between Distributed Generation project developer and Grid authorities. during the design process

The main technical issue for connection of Distributed Generation to the grid relate to reliability, quality of supply, protection, metering and operational protocols for connection and disconnection, islanding and reactive power management

Connecting Distributed Generation to distribution network in the power system will introduce a source of energy at the point. This increases the fault level in the network and may complicate the fault detection and isolation


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