An increasing penetration of renewable energy may bring significant challenges to a power system due to its inherent intermittency. To achieve a sustainable future for renewable energy, a conventional power plant is required to be able to change its power output rapidly for a grid balance purpose. However, the rapid power change may result in the boiler operating in a dangerous manner. To this end, this paper aims to improve boiler control performance via a data-driven control strategy, namely Active Disturbance Rejection Control (ADRC). For practical implementation, a tuning method is developed for ADRC controller parameters to maximize its potential in controlling a boiler operating in different conditions. Based on a Monte Carlo simulation, a Probabilistic Robustness (PR) index is subsequently formulated to represent the controller’s sensitivity to the varying conditions. The stability region of the ADRC controller is depicted to provide the search space in which the optimal group of parameters is searched for based on the PR index. Illustrative simulations are performed to verify the efficacy of the proposed method. Finally, the proposed method is experimentally applied to a boiler’s secondary air control system successfully. The results of the field application show that the proposed ADRC based on PR can ensure the expected control performance even though it works in a wider range of operating conditions. The field application depicts a promising future for the ADRC controller as an alternative solution in the power industry to integrate more renewable energy into the power grid.
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