Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Degree Level



Electrical Engineering


Yue Zhao

Committee Member

Simon S. Ang

Second Committee Member

Roy A. McCann

Third Committee Member

Shengfan Zhang


Distributed Energy Resources, Microgrids, Model Predictive Control, Neutral-Point Voltage, Three-Level Converters, Virtual Space Vectors


Three-phase three-level (3-L) voltage source converters (VSC), e.g., neutral-point clamped (NPC) converters, T-type converters, etc., have been deemed to be suitable for a wide range of medium- to high-power applications in microgrids (MGs) and bulk power systems. Compared to their two-level (2-L) counterparts, adopting 3-L VSCs in the MG applications not only reduces the voltage stress across the power semiconductor devices, which allows achieving higher voltage levels, but also improves the quality of the converter output waveforms, which further leads to considerably smaller output ac passive filters.

Various control strategies have been proposed and implemented for 3-L VSCs. Among all the existing control methods, finite-control-set model predictive control (FCS-MPC) has been extensively investigated and applied due to its simple and intuitive design, fast-dynamic response and robustness against parameter uncertainties. However, to implement an FCS-MPC on a 3-L VSC, a multi-objective cost function, which consists of a term dedicated specifically to control the dc-link capacitor voltages such that the neutral-point voltage (NP-V) oscillations are minimized, must be designed. Nevertheless, selecting proper weighting factors for the multiple control objectives is difficult and time consuming. Additionally, adding the dc-link capacitor voltages balancing term to the cost function distributes the controller effort among different control targets, which severely impacts the primary goal of the FCS-MPC. Furthermore, to control the dc-link capacitor voltages, additional sensing circuitries are usually necessary to measure the dc-link capacitor voltages and currents, which consequently increases the system cost, volume and wiring complexity as well as reduces overall reliability.

To address all the aforementioned challenges, in this dissertation research, a novel FCS-MPC method using virtual space vectors (VSVs), which do not affect the dc-link capacitor voltages of the 3-L VSCs, was proposed, implemented and validated. The proposed FCS-MPC strategy has the capability to achieve inherent balanced dc-link capacitor voltages. Additionally, the demonstrated control technique not only simplifies the controller design by allowing the use of a simplified cost function, but also improves the quality of the 3-L VSC output waveforms. Furthermore, the execution time of the proposed control algorithm was significantly reduced compared to that of the existing one. Lastly, the proposed FCS-MPC using the VSVs reduces the hardware cost and complexity as the additional dc-link capacitor voltages and current sensors are not required, which further enhances the overall system reliability.