Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Energy Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Leon M. Tolbert

Committee Members

Fei (Fred) Wang, Fangxing (Fran) Li, Seddik M. Djouadi


As renewable energy sources with power-electronic interfaces become functionally and economically viable alternatives to bulk synchronous generators, it becomes vital to understand the behavior of these inverter-interfaced sources in ac grids devoid of any synchronous generation, i.e. inverter-based grids. In these types of grids, the inverters need to operate in parallel in grid-forming mode to regulate and synchronize their output voltage while also delivering the power required by the loads. It is common practice, therefore, to mimic the parallel operation control of the very synchronous generators that these inverter-based sources are meant to replace. This practice, however, is based on impractical assumptions and completely disregards the key differences between synchronous machines and power electronic inverters, as well as the dynamics of the dc source connected to the inverter. This dissertation aims to highlight the shortcomings of conventional controllers and derive an improved grid-forming inverter controller that is effective in parallel ac operation without sacrificing dc-link stability.

This dissertation begins with a basis for understanding the control concepts used by grid-forming inverters in ac grids and exploring where existing ideas and methods are lacking in terms of efficient and stable inverter control. The knowledge gained from the literature survey is used to derive the requirements for a grid-forming control method that is appropriate for inverter-based ac grids. This is followed by a review and comparative analysis of the performance of five commonly used control techniques for grid-forming inverters, which reveal that nested loop controllers can have a destabilizing effect under changing grid conditions. This observation is further explored through an impedance-based stability analysis of single-loop and nested-loop controllers in grid-forming inverters, followed by a review of impedance-based analysis methods that can be used to assess the control design for grid-forming inverters. An improved grid-forming inverter controller is proposed with a demonstrated ability to achieve both dc-link and ac output stability with proportional power-sharing. This dissertation ends with a summary of the efforts and contributions as well as ideas for future applications of the proposed controller.

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