Model predictive control of microgrids for real-time ancillary service market participation

James R. Nelson, Nathan G. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


This study develops two model predictive control approaches to optimize microgrid dispatch, one with participation in real-time ancillary service markets and the other without participation. Results are compared to a baseline logic-based control with case study data taken from a grid-tied 326 kW solar photovoltaic, 634 kW/634 kWh battery, and 350 kW diesel generator microgrid portfolio designed to serve an office building. Annual performance evaluations show that model predictive control algorithms can reduce operating expenses by up to 13.73% when compared to logic-based controls, and through participation in ancillary service markets, model predictive control can reduce net operating expenses by up to 23.47%. Revenue from ancillary service equated to 12.03% of operating costs, with approximately two-thirds of revenue from spinning reserve and one-third from non-spinning reserve. Model predictive control with ancillary services maintained battery state of charge an average of 38.78% higher than batteries dispatched by model predictive control without market participation. This reduced battery cycling losses, minimized battery operation and maintenance expenses, and improved battery lifetime. Sensitivity analyses indicate that model predictive control with more granular time steps and longer prediction horizons changes the dispatch schedule to further reduce operating costs. Intraday simulations indicate that both model predictive control algorithms can adapt to differences in environmental conditions and pricing signals to minimize operational costs. This generalizable finding suggests the inherent modularity, scalability, and robustness of the proposed algorithms can benefit a variety of microgrid configurations and use cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114963
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Ancillary service
  • Microgrid
  • Model predictive control
  • Optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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