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SYNCHRONOUS CONDENSER MODE OPERATION OF HYDRO GENERATING UNITS OF UJVN LIMITED

BACKGROUND Hydropower generating units are basically alternators or synchronous generators which are a type of doubly excited A.C machines. Prime mover in case of a hydropower generating unit is the water turbine. D.C. excitation is provided at the rotor field which is rotated by the turbine action and the rotating e.m.f. generated in the stator gets magnetically locked to run in synchronism without any slip, hence the name synchronous machine. For the transmission of a certain amount of AC power to a load centre, a low power factor would mean greater load current. Such a current would result in greater I 2R loss in the transmission lines, transformers and alternators. As a consequence, the entire energy system would operate at a reduced efficiency. Further, a greater load current at low power factor means poor voltage regulation of the transmission lines, transformers etc. and this would result in an unsatisfactory operation of the utilization devices like induction motors, fluorescent tubes etc. Thus from the view point of efficiency, voltage regulation and better operation of the utilization devices, load power factor should be as close to unity as is economically viable. That is why; hydropower generating units are designed to operate at 0.9 power factor (lag) which means the current lags the voltage by an angle of 25.84°. The power factor i.e. cosø is the ratio of the active power (MW) i.e. VI cosø to the apparent power (MVA) i.e.VI while the reactive power (MVAR) is VI sinø. Thus under rated conditions a 100 MVA hydropower generating unit can produce 90 MW active power and 43.58 MVAR reactive power. REACTIVE POWER Reactive power is produced when the current waveform is out of phase with the voltage waveform due to inductive or capacitive loads. Current lags voltage with an inductive load and leads voltage with a capacitive load. Only the component of current in phase with voltage produces real or active power that does real work like running motors, heating etc. Current is in phase with voltage for a resistive load like an incandescent light bulb. Reactive power is necessary for producing the electric and magnetic fields in capacitors and inductors. NEED FOR REACTIVE POWER It is known that the reactive power flow or low power factor is caused by the electrical loading devices that operate on the principle of electromagnetic induction such as lighting ballasts, reactors, solenoids, lifting magnets and most notably induction motors etc. An electromagnetic device requires an additional current known as the reactive current.
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For improving the voltage profile of the system. When the synchronous generator is supplying reactive power. introduction of static VAR compensation equipment and operating the generator as “Synchronous Condenser”. there must be an arrangement for the free running of turbine in air. the KVA rating requirement of the system becomes higher when the power factor is lower for delivering the same kW load. is called a “Synchronous Condenser”. In case of axial reaction turbines such as Kaplan turbine. The turbine blade metal temperature increases while rotating in air due to air friction which may further increase the turbine bearing temperature which is very near to the runner. Page 2 of 11 . it has a lagging power factor and its mode of operation is referred to as over-excited. SYNCHRONOUS CONDENSER A synchronous motor. When a generator consumes reactive power. the common methods adopted are the introduction of LT/HT capacitor in the net work. The additional reactive current must be carried by all power system components upstream of the load which increases the voltage drop and also develops additional heating. The active or real power in MW (P) and the reactive power (Q) in MVAR are like the two sides of a coin. in a power system. moreover there is no need to make special arrangements for making the runner chamber water free. in which the active power (P) is associated with the system frequency and the reactive power (Q) with the voltage profile. OPERATION OF HYDRO CONDENSER MODE GENERATING UNIT IN SYNCHRONOUS For operating hydro generating unit in synchronous condenser mode. fully closed blades operation may reduce the machine losses and temperature rise due to lesser air friction. To operate hydro generating units as synchronous condensers the water supply is required to be blocked and units are run with loads of only air friction. In other words. Hence continuation of effective cooling arrangement of turbine in synchronous condenser mode operation is essential and a mechanism for sprinkling of cooling water in the runner blades becomes necessary. it has a leading power factor region and is under-excited. So all the power system elements such switchgears. transmission and distribution lines and even the power plant generators must be overrated.This reactive current provides only the magnetizing force required for the operation of the device. transformers. whose primary function is to improve the power factor of an electrical system and with no mechanical load / prime mover on it. The oversized power system elements also lead to more power loss in the elements.

insulation begins to degrade and over time this could result in equipment damage. If the generator overheats. thereby extending thermal limits. under varying load conditions. Page 3 of 11 . To supply reactive power. generators are limited by their current-carrying capability. Figure-1 shows the combined limits on real and reactive production for a typical generator. Increasing reactive power output heats up the field windings and the armature. Reactive power capability requirements are dictated by the power system and transmission line parameters. Synchronous motors/condensers can be over-exited or under-exited by varying their field current in order to generate or absorb reactive power. shown as the armature heating limit in the Figure-1. iron & copper) and insulation. Thus a special arrangement is required for making the runner chamber water free for which heavy duty compressed air system is employed to depress water level in the draft tube at least below the bottom of runner. which is limited by the thermal properties of the metal (i. A more efficient coolant allows the generator to dissipate more heat. Sophisticated Quadrature Droop Control (QDC) scheme has to be introduced in the AVR circuit to adjust the reactive power (MVAR) of the machine during the synchronous condenser mode of operation and prevent reactive circulating current in the armature of the machine. The ability of a generator to provide reactive power depends on its real power generation which is represented in the form of generator capability curve or D curve. Apart from that design changes are required to be carried out in the excitation system of the hydro generating unit especially in the Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR). the generator must increase the magnetic field to raise the voltage it is supplying to the power system. Generator capability may be extended by using better coolant in the generator. REACTIVE POWER CAPABILITY A generator„s output capabilities depend on the thermal limits of various parts o f the generator and on the system stability limits. this means increasing the current in the field windings.In case of radial reaction turbine such as Francis turbine there is no option of runner blade movement and the turbine in general remains submerged in water. this capability becomes an MVA limit for the armature of the generator rather than a MW limitation. Near rated voltage. Like most electric equipment. synchronous condensers can continuously regulate reactive power to ensure steady transmission voltage.e.

without exceeding the rated temperature rise. the opportunity cost of extending generator real or reactive power supply amounts to the millions of rupees that would be needed to replace damaged generator equipment and lost revenue during repair.15 Page 4 of 11 .Figure-1 GENERATOR CAPABILITY CURVE or D-CURVE At the edges of the D-curve.8 x (SCR) x maximum kVA)/1. may impose further limits on generator output. without exceeding the rated temperature rise and becoming completely unstable. It is the maximum amount of reactive MVA the machine can generate when operating over excited. The over excited rating of the machine is referred to as the “Synchronous Condenser Capability”. at rated frequency and voltage.40-rated power factor) x maximum MVA output. The characteristics of the generator step-up transformer that connects the generator to the electric transmission system. at rated frequency and voltage. Empirical formula for same is as below: MVAR (over excited) = (1. It is the maximum amount of reactive kVA which the machine can absorb when operating under excited. Empirical formula for same is as below: kVAR (under excited)=(0. The under exited rating of the machine is referred to as the “line charging capability”. as well as operational policies of the transmission system.

While not having the short-term overload capability of generators and synchronous condensers.OTHER REACTIVE POWER COMPENSATION/CONTROL DEVICES: Apart from synchronous condenser. Since SVCs use capacitors they suffer from the some degradation in reactive capability as voltage drops. Consequently. shunt capacitor banks should first be used to allow unity power factor operation of nearby generators. 1994). SVCs provide direct control of voltage (C. SVCs provide rapid control of temporary overvoltage. the STATCOM uses self-commutated power electronics to synthesize the reactive power output. Switching takes place in the sub cycle timeframe (i. Kirby. output capability is generally symmetric. Taylor. precise regulation of voltage and unrestricted. following options are available for reactive power compensation: Static VAR Compensators (SVC) SVC is a combination of conventional capacitors and inductors with fast switching capability. similar to the SVC. STATCOMs are current limited so their Page 5 of 11 . largely transient-free. The STATCOM is similar to the SVC in response speed. SVCs are expensive. this is very valuable when there is little generation in the load area. Static Synchronous Compensator (STATCOM) The STATCOM is a solid-state shunt device that generates or absorbs reactive power and is one member of a family of devices known as “Flexible AC Transmission System (FACTS)” devices. Voltage is regulated according to a slope (droop) characteristic. They also do not have the short-term overload capability of generators and synchronous condensers. because SVC is a capacitor bank at its boost limit.W. STATCOM capacity does not suffer as seriously as SVCs as capacitors do from degraded voltage. control capabilities. Advantages include fast. capacitor bank switching. The range can be designed to span from absorbing to generating reactive power. the controls can be designed to provide very fast and effective voltage control (B. and the use of power electronics. Rather than using conventional capacitors and inductors combined with thyristor switching. providing as much capability for production as absorption. But on the other hand SVCs have limited overload capability.e. 1997). providing a continuous range of control. The remaining capacitive capability of an SVC is a good indication of proximity to voltage instability. The solid-state nature of the STATCOM means that. SVC applications usually require harmonic filters to reduce the amount of harmonics injected into the power system by the thyristor switching. in less than 1/50 of a second). The critical or collapse voltage becomes the SVC regulated voltage and instability usually occurs once an SVC reaches its boost limit.

This attribute greatly increases the usefulness of STATCOMs in preventing voltage collapse. Series Capacitors and Reactors Series capacitors compensation is usually applied for long transmission lines and transient stability improvement. The reactive generation I2XC compensates for the reactive consumption I2XL of the transmission line. Shunt Reactors Shunt reactors are mainly used to keep the voltage down. Mechanically switched shunt capacitor banks are installed at major substations in load areas for producing reactive power and keeping voltage within required limits. mechanically switched capacitor banks have the advantage of much lower cost. Compared to SVCs. capacitor banks are discrete devices. Switching speeds can be quite fast. For voltage stability shunt capacitor banks are very useful in allowing nearby generators to operate near unity power factor. For transient voltage instability. but they are often configured with several steps to provide a limited amount of variable control. Page 6 of 11 .MVAR capability responds linearly to voltage as opposed to the voltage-squared relationship of SVCs and capacitors. Like inductors. thus generating reactive power when it is most needed. for transient voltage instability the switching may not be fast enough to prevent induction motor stalling. in the case of light load and load rejection. Precise and rapid control of voltage is not possible. Series capacitor reactive generation increases with the current squared. the stable parts of the system may experience damaging over voltages immediately following separation. This maximizes fast acting reactive reserve. There are several disadvantages of mechanically switched capacitors. If voltage collapse results in a system. the switching may not be fast enough to prevent induction motor stalling. Like shunt capacitor. Series compensation reduces net transmission line inductive reactance. This is a self-regulating nature of series capacitors. Shunt Capacitors The primary purposes of transmission system shunt compensation near load areas are voltage control and load stabilization. The reactive power output drops with the voltage squared during voltage emergencies. and to compensate the capacitive load of the line. Current limiting reactors are used to minimize switching transients. Precise and rapid control of voltage is also not possible in this case. At light loads series capacitors have little effect. by absorbing the reactive power.

it gives out its full capacity even when system voltage decreases. 3) The system harmonics do not have any effect on the performance of the synchronous condenser as compared to static VAR devices. 2) Synchronous condenser has fine control system through AVR by virtue of which it can efficiently adjust to varying system conditions. It is a concept of FACTS controller for series compensation with the unique capability of power flow management among multiline of a substation. The controller can control active and reactive power flows in a transmission line.Unified Power Flow Controller (UPFC) A UPFC is an electrical device for providing fast power component control on highvoltage electricity transmission networks. Interline Power Flow Controller (IPFC) IPFC is a type of flexible AC transmission system (FACTS) based solution for rapidly enhancing reliability and upgrading transmission capacity of a line on a longterm and cost-effective basis. generally not attainable by conventional thyristor controlled systems. The UPFC uses solid state devices. which provide functional flexibility. The UPFC is a combination of a static synchronous compensator (STATCOM) and a static synchronous series compensator (SSSC) coupled via a common DC voltage link. It uses a pair of three-phase controllable bridges to produce current that is injected into a transmission line using a series transformer. Page 7 of 11 . The UPFC allows a secondary but important function such as stability control to suppress power system oscillations improving the transient stability of power system. 4) The kVAR output of the synchronous condenser is not limited by the system voltage condition. OPERATION OF HYDRO GENERATING CONDENSER: PROS & CONS UNITS AS SYNCHRONOUS Pros: 1) Synchronous condenser can supply as well as absorb kVAR almost equal to its full rating.

hereafter. Page 8 of 11 . That is. Therefore.6)” specifies that “the VARh payment shall be at the rate of 10 paisa/kVARh w. and this will be applicable between the Regional Entity. except Generating Stations.2010. 2) Synchronous condenser consumes real/active power equal to about 3% of the machine„s reactive-power rating for no-load windage losses and the auxiliary consumption (i.f. 7) Fault down time in synchronous condenser is much higher than other static VAR devices. unless and otherwise revised by the commission”. and the regional pool account for VAR interchanges. 9) “Indian Electricity Grid Code (Section 6-6.e.05 paisa/kVARh per year. This rate shall be escalated @ 0.e. cooling water system etc). The tariff for the reactive power is miniscule compared to that of the active power tariff charged by the generating company. a 50.MVAR synchronous condenser requires about 1.Cons: 1) Synchronous condenser are rotating machines with moving parts and auxiliary systems. 3) Synchronous condenser being a synchronous machine requires a prime mover to get synchronized with the grid and is not self starting thus the demand for reactive power with the help of synchronous condenser cannot be met instantly as compared to other static VAR devices.4. hence are subject to operational wear and tear and require maintenance which is higher than that of any other static VAR device. 6) Synchronous condenser mode operation of generating unit cannot be distributed throughout various locations in the grid except wherever a hydro/gas power plant is available. 4) Specially trained staff and officers are required in every shift of the powerhouse to run a hydro generating unit in synchronous condenser mode of operation. it does not seem to be sensible to utilize hydro generating unit for generating reactive power by consuming active power from the grid instead of generating active power. compressed air system. 5) The rating of the synchronous condenser is limited as per the installed capacity of the hydro generating unit and cannot be increased beyond that as and when required while the rating of static VAR devices can be enhanced as and when system requirements change by easily installing more such devices quickly. 01. UERC states the same language but does not specify the rate for VARh tariff. 8) The basic cost of the synchronous condenser is much higher than other static VAR devices.5 MW of real/active power for operation.

14) High pressure compressed air system is required to be installed for depressing the water level in the runner chamber of the reaction turbine which is an additional auxiliary and shall result in additional capital expenditure. 12) In case of run of river HEPs. the regulation stays mum on the synchronous condenser mode of operation. AVR. As per the NRPC guidelines for grid operation. 11) The auxiliary consumption increases multifold due to operation of the compressed air system even before operation of the machine as synchronous condenser. where ever feasible.10) A large space is required for placement of compressed air system in the already congested turbine floor which is a problem. hydro stations having synchronous condenser facility shall ensure the readiness of the facility and availability of the competent staff round the clock particularly during the night shift. the storage capacity of the barrage is almost nil or very small and if the hydro generating units are operated in synchronous condenser mode. Therefore. During synchronous condenser mode of operation. For existing hydro generating units above 100 MW the regulation states that AVR with two separate channels having independent inputs and automatic changeover must be installed. cooling water system. bearings. Therefore. Till date no payment has been made for the reactive power generation at any of the power stations of UJVN Ltd as tariff for the reactive power has not been decided till date. synchronous condenser mode of operation is not recommended for existing hydro generating units in perspective of UJVN Limited UJVN Ltd gets paid by UPCL for the active power being generated in its hydro generating stations. water may have to be spilled resulting in generation loss. protection etc. however. Page 9 of 11 . CONCLUSION Central Electricity Authority (Technical Standard for Connectivity to the Grid) Regulations 2007 states that new hydro generating units having rated capacity of 50MW and above shall be capable of operating in synchronous condenser mode. fully trained and competent staff shall have to be deputed in the hydro stations whose machines are to be operated in the synchronous condenser mode of operation. the machines will either absorb or pump reactive power in to the grid and in turn shall consume active power to the tune of 3% of its capacity from the grid which will again result in revenue loss. shall have to be highly sophisticated and advanced for proper operation. 13) The overall cost of the hydro generating units will increase as the same machine will have to be designed for motoring operation and the auxiliaries such as SEE.

Looking beyond the active power deficit. capacitor banks etc. which means that within an allowable limit. 54/32 units of such reactors need to be switched on or off as per the requirement.28f which means an increase/decrease of 1Hz in frequency results in increase/decrease of 6.2/50/63/80 MVAR.5 Hz. Page 10 of 11 . Now if we consider a switchable reactor with 50 MVAR rating.000 MW against which there is deficit of around 2. In other words. Thus for getting the correct picture in context of Uttarakhand. the net variation in frequency may result in variation from (-)9. various parameters related to the SLDC must be carefully studied and trend analysis must be conducted to know actual requirement of the reactive power in the state grid and the related action to be taken in various conditions must be judiciously chalked out before undertaking any type of reactive power compensation scheme.9.500 MW. operating 66 MVA single hydro generating unit of upcoming Vyasi HEP in synchronous condenser mode cannot play the position of principal driver to save the grid from collapse.7% in MVAR demand. considering a power factor of 0.42% to (+)15. the reactive power demand comes out to be approx. Reactive power related to the reactive load is directly proportional to 2 f or 2x3. In this scenario when a frequency variation can play havoc in the grid. The capital as well as the operating cost of the static reactive power compensating equipments such as reactor.000 MVAR. the MVAR varies from 19700 MVAR to 15400 MVAR. then just to meet this variation of 2700 MVAR/ 1600 MVAR on account of frequency variation. information from the generation utilities having hydro generating units with synchronous condenser mode operation facility must be obtained to know the practical aspects of the synchronous condenser mode of operation of hydro generating units and the challenges in doing so. is very small as compared to the synchronous condenser.17. So the primary target of the generating stations should be to meet this active power deficit instead of considering the reactive power compensation through synchronous condenser mode of operation. Powergrid allows a variation of 4Hz in frequency from 48.The average active power demand in the Northern Grid is about 35.28% of MVAR.14f or 6. Likewise.5 to 52. Usually switchable reactor is available with rating of 31. more over the operation of the static reactive power compensating equipments is also very simple as compared to the operation of the synchronous condenser therefore the option of installing static reactive power compensating equipments in the substations and the load centers must be exhausted before venturing in to synchronous condenser mode of operation of hydro generating units.

2010. 11. Dr.BIBLIOGRAPHY Websites: 1. 7th International R&D Conference. 13. www. 3. Power System Operation Corporation Ltd (POSCO).org Meeting/Regulations/Notifications/Papers: 1.11. Hydro Manual. David Gerstenkorn. Henary. 2007.org 4.nic. 14. MOM of 70th Operation Coordination Committee (OCC) of NRPC dated 13. 9. Electricity Act. CEA Regulations.nrldc.S. NRPC. Page 11 of 11 . 12.cea. Government of India. Notification No: 12/X/STD (CONN)/GM/CEA (21-Feb-07) of CEA. S. “Report of the task force on measures for operationalising open access in the power sector”. 2007.12. Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB). P. www.K. State Grid Code.nldc. 2003. http://www.in. http://www.nldcindia. “Improving transmission system efficiency using a synchronous condensor”. NRLDC. Soonee. Morgan L. 4. “Electrical Machinery”. Guidelines for grid operation during winter months.in 2. 2. Technical Standards for Connectivity to the Grid. “Reactive Power and System Frequency Relationship: A Case Study”.in 3. Reactive Power Management – a resource handbook. 6. 7. 4-6 February 2009. Suruchi Jain. Operating Procedure of Northern Region 2012-13. Planning Commission. 8. Vineeta Agrawal. Bhimbhra. 5.cercind. UERC Regulations. www. CERC Regulations. 10.