Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Leon M. Tolbert

Committee Members

Fred Wang, Burak Ozpineci, Bin Hu


With the extraordinary market growth in grid-connected PV systems, there is increasing interests in grid-connected PV inverters. Focus has been placed on cheap, high-efficiency, and innovative inverter solutions, leading to a high diversity within the inverters and new system configurations. This dissertation chooses cascaded multilevel inverter topologies for grid-connected PV systems to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency.

First, a single-phase cascaded H-bridge multilevel PV inverter is discussed. To maximize the solar energy extraction of each PV string, an individual maximum power point tracking (MPPT) control scheme is applied, which allows independent control of each dc-link voltage. A generalized nonactive power theory is applied to generate the reactive current reference. Within the inverter’s capability, the local consumption of reactive power is provided to realize power factor correction. Then, the modular cascaded H-bridge multilevel inverter is connected to a three-phase utility system and nine PV panels. Individual MPPT control is also applied to realize better utilization of PV modules. Also, mismatches between PV panels may introduce unbalanced power supplied to the three-phase grid-connected system. Thus, a modulation compensation scheme is applied to balance the three-phase grid current by injecting a zero sequence voltage. A modular cascaded multilevel inverter prototype has been built and tested in both the single-phase and three-phase PV system. Simulation and experimental results are presented to validate the proposed control schemes.

The three-phase cascaded voltage source inverter (VSI), as another cascaded inverter topology, is also proposed for grid-connected PV applications. The equivalent model and average model of the three-phase cascaded VSI are established to realize the central control. In addition, the control scheme applied in the traditional three-phase two-level VSI is modified for this application. Simulation and experimental results are presented as well. The targets of reducing the cost and improving the overall efficiency of the PV inverters can be achieved by applying the cascaded PV inverters and the proposed control schemes.

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