ABSTRACT: This study presents an original control algorithm for a hybrid energy system with a renewable energy source, namely, a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) and a photovoltaic (PV) array. A single storage device, i.e., a supercapacitor (ultracapacitor) module, is in the proposed structure. The main weak point of fuel cells (FCs) is slow dynamics because the power slope is limited to prevent fuel starvation problems, improve performance and increase lifetime. The very fast power response and high specific power of a supercapacitor complements the slower power output of the main source to produce the compatibility and performance characteristics needed in a load. The energy in the system is balanced by d.c.-bus energy regulation (or indirect voltage regulation). A supercapacitor module functions by supplying energy to regulate the d.c.-bus energy. The fuel cell, as a slow dynamic source in this system, supplies energy to the supercapacitor module in order to keep it charged. The photovoltaic array assists the fuel cell during daytime. To verify the proposed principle, a hardware system is realized with analog circuits for the fuel cell, solar cell and supercapacitor current control loops, and with numerical calculation (dSPACE) for the energy control loops. Experimental results with small-scale devices, namely, a PEMFC (1200 W, 46 A) manufactured by the Ballard Power System Company, a photovoltaic array (800 W, 31 A) manufactured by the Ekarat Solar Company and a supercapacitor module (100 F, 32 V) manufactured by the Maxwell Technologies Company, illustrate the excellent energy-management scheme during load cycles.
Journal of Power Sources.