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Torsional Stability of Hydropower Units Under Inuence of Subsynchronous Oscillations

Johan Bladh, Per Sundqvist, and Urban Lundin
AbstractHydropower units are known to be comparatively insensitive to subsynchronous power oscillations. During a startup test of an electrical island in the Nordic power system, a series capacitor tripped due to a subsynchronous oscillation within the normal frequency range of hydropower unit torsional modes. Since no thermal units were connected, it is motivated to question the traditional view. In this paper, the small-signal and transient torsional mode stability of hydropower units are assessed through time-domain simulations. The model is based on the rst IEEE benchmark model for subsynchronous resonance which has been tuned to t one of the startup test system units for which detailed measurements are available. The stability conditions are investigated for several load conditions and machine congurations. It is found that the damping in the startup test system is sufcient to prevent growing oscillations. A fault however could expose the machines to high transient torques. Index TermsPower system restoration, self-excitation, shaft torque amplication, subsynchronous oscillation, subsynchronous resonance, synchronous generator stability, torsional interaction.

I. INTRODUCTION t is well known that thermal power production units risk torsional instability as a result of electromechanical interaction with series capacitors or power system controllers. These phenomena are grouped under the term subsynchronous oscillations (SSO). Numerous papers have been published on various aspects of this topic, see for instance [1][5]. To facilitate a common understanding of the phenomena, the IEEE has proposed a terminology [6], developed benchmark cases for numerical simulations [7], [8] and summarized previous work [9]. Hydropower units are generally considered to be at low risk of torsional mode instability due to their high generator-to-turbine inertia ratio and the large viscous damping torque acting on the turbine runner [10]. Consequently, the amount of published work on subsynchronous stability of hydropower units is small.
Manuscript received July 25, 2012; revised November 02, 2012 and March 16, 2013; accepted April 23, 2013. The research presented was carried out as a part of Swedish Hydropower CentreSVC. SVC ( has been established by the Swedish Energy Agency, Elforsk and Svenska Kraftnt together with Lule University of Technology, The Royal Institute of Technology, Chalmers University of Technology, and Uppsala University. Paper no. TPWRS-00871-2012. J. Bladh is with the Department of Power Technology, Vattenfall R&D Projects, SE-814 26 lvkarleby, Sweden (e-mail: P. Sundqvist is with the Hydropower Department, Vattenfall R&D Projects, SE-814 26 lvkarleby, Sweden (e-mail: U. Lundin is with the Division for Electricity, Department of Engineering Sciences, Uppsala University, SE-751 21 Uppsala, Sweden (e-mail: Color versions of one or more of the gures in this paper are available online at Digital Object Identier 10.1109/TPWRS.2013.2263811

A survey published by Andersson et al. in 1984 [11] shows that the inertia ratios of hydropower units are normally 10 to 40. However, modern design optimization tools have made it possible to obtain the same electrical performance using less material which tends to make the generator rotors lighter. Also old machines are made lighter on revisions by replacement of the rotor poles for new shorter ones. Despite the conviction of high viscous damping of torsional oscillations in hydro units, many authors [1], [11][14] have observed that numerical data is scarce. A common reference is [11], where the damping coefcient is stated to have a theoretical value of 1.0 pu at rated conditions and assumed to be 0.35 pu at no-load, a value that is questioned in the appended discussion of the same paper. In [13], a no-load damping of 0.8 pu is found to give a better match between measurements and simulations of rotational speed at load rejection, although at a time scale considerably longer than what is relevant here. Computational results in [15] suggest that the damping parameter is smaller at best efciency than at off-design points, both above and below best efciency. Clearly, more data would be valuable. Damping of subsynchronous oscillations is also provided by the incremental ohmic losses associated with the oscillating current components [10]. Among others, Bowler et al. [1] and Canay [4], [5] have studied the damping action of the effective stator circuit resistance. Kilgore et al. [2] have developed a simple analytical expression for the electrical damping based on the approximation that the stabilizing or destabilizing contribution from the rotor circuits can be disregarded. The background to this paper is a unique measurement of electrical and mechanical quantities on one large hydropower unit during a startup test of the Nordic power system, where a sustained subsynchronous power oscillation was observed within the normal range of hydropower unit torsional modes. It was asked if the special network topology and operating conditions during the test entailed an increased risk for torsional instability. In this paper, the torsional mode stability margins of the studied hydropower unit is assessed through parametric time-domain simulations. Like in [11], the model structure is the well-known IEEE benchmark model for SSR studies [11], which here has been parametrised and tuned to resemble the studied startup test generator connected to an equivalent innite bus representation of the electric network. Both the small-signal and transient torsional mode stability properties of the model are studied. The stability analysis performed in [11] is focused on the inertia ratio and the turbine damping. In this paper, also the inuence of the electric network resistance and the operating condition is assessed. Further, special attention is given to obtain valid numerical values of the shaft stiffness

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Fig. 1. Topology of the Nordic blackstart system, which is comprised of three hydropower stations connected through more than 850 km of transmission line. During a startup test in 2010, the series capacitor C1 tripped for subsynchronous resonance.

Fig. 2. Red curve is the active power output of G3 calculated from the threephase voltage and current. Grey curve is mechanical power supplied to the G3 turbine runner calculated from the measured torsion of the shaft. The noisy appearance of the mechanical power signal is not a result of poor measurement technique, but real torsional power oscillations.

and the turbine damping parameters, the latter of which is calculated from experimental data. The paper is outlined as follows. As a further background to the paper, Section II describes the Nordic startup test briey. In Section III, the relevant theory is reviewed. The computer model and simulation method is presented in Section IV. Section V treats the experimental determination of the turbine damping followed by simulation results in Section VI and conclusions in Section VII. Model parameters and details on the preparation of input data is given in the Appendix. II. OBSERVATIONS FROM A STARTUP TEST IN THE NORDIC POWER SYSTEM The startup capability of the Nordic Grid is tested on a regular basis within an electrical island comprised of nine hydropower generators with various ratings between 150 and 500 MVA, more than 850-km 400-kV transmission lines, three 200-MVAr shunt reactors, a 1100-MVAr series capacitor and a 500-MW HVDC link. The network topology is shown in Fig. 1. On a startup test, one hydropower generator in each power station starts automatically, powered only by the station battery reserve. Thereafter, the rest of the machines are started and synchronised locally at each power station. To maintain stability during the energization of the external grid, one generator in each power station is operated as a motor using its turbine runner as a mechanical load. When the whole test system is interconnected, the HVDC link is used as a load. The restoration process is normally monitored by phasor measurement units (PMUs). A thorough description and evaluation of the test in 2010 can be found in [16]. During the same test, the torsional shaft strain and the electric output power of one hydropower generator (G3) was recorded. Fig. 2 shows a 2-min sequence where the active power order to the HVDC converter station is ramped up from zero to 30 MW. The discharge of G3 has been reduced manually from no-load so that its turbine provides 35 MW (approximately 0.07 pu) of braking power. As the load increases, a subsynchronous power oscillation is observed in the electrical system. Both the series

Fig. 3. Spectrum of the electric and mechanic power signal from Fig. 2 in the low-frequency range obtained through FFT analysis. The electric power signal contains a subsynchronous frequency at 26 Hz. The mechanical power signal contains torsional oscillations at one and two times the angular shaft frequency as well as a wide peak around 17 Hz which is the torsional mode frequency.

capacitor and the HVDC converter station are equipped with automatic subsynchronous resonance protection which bypasses the series capacitor shortly after the sequence in Fig. 2. Fig. 3 shows the spectrum of the power signals in Fig. 2. The mechanical power signal exhibits oscillations at one and two times the angular shaft frequency as well as at 17 Hz which is the torsional mode. The frequency of the SSO is found around 26 Hz and can be seen to vary with the load condition.1 The complement of the oscillation frequency Hz lies in the range of hydropower shaft torsional modes which is 6 to 26 Hz [10]. It can be realized that the hydropower units involved in the Nordic startup scheme experience a quite unusual operating
1The two adjacent peaks in the upper plot correspond to the same mode that has moved as a result of the load step.

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Fig. 4. IEEE benchmark model available in the example library of PSCAD which has been modied to represent a hydropower generator (G3) feeding power into the blackstart test system.

condition. The network is small and the lines are lightly loaded which reduces the effective resistance of the electric network [10] and force the machines into under-excited operation. Hydraulic turbines are spinning in almost closed turbine chambers where very little is known about the viscous damping properties and how much the water contributes to the turbine inertia. Further, the inertia of several generator rotors has been reduced on recent revisions. This motivates a torsional stability study of a hydropower unit under inuence of subsynchronous oscillations with respect to the inertia ratio, electrical and mechanical damping, and to the operating condition. III. SUBSYNCHRONOUS OSCILLATIONS Following the denitions in [6], SSO is used as a collective term for torsional oscillations, electrical oscillations or a combination of the two at frequencies below the fundamental. Exchange of energy between the mechanical and electrical systems are referred to as torsional interaction. Subsynchronous resonance (SSR) is seen as a special case where the oscillations are lightly damped, undamped or negatively damped. The latter may lead to torsional instability. Torsional interaction between the mechanical system and active system components such as excitation controls, speed governors and HVDC controls is not treated in this paper. A. SSO in Series Compensated Systems A series capacitor in combination with inductive transmission network components such as machines, transformers and transmission lines constitute an electric resonance circuit. For a simple radial system such as the one in Fig. 4, the resonance frequency is calculated as (1) is where is the nominal system frequency (50 or 60 Hz), the capacitive reactance, and , i.e., sum

of the subtransient synchronous machine reactance, the transformer leakage reactance and the total transmission line reactance [6]. The quotient is referred to as the compensation level. A generating unit feeding power into a series compensated transmission network is exposed to two possibly harmful phenomena: 1) self-excitation and 2) transient shaft torque amplication. 1) Self-excitation: Self-excitation is driven by two distinct mechanisms which in practice are coupled and will co-exist: the induction generator effect and torsional interaction. The former is of purely electrical nature and attributed to the fact that the angular speed of the subsynchronous stator mmf, , is lower than that of the rotor main eld . In the reference frame of the subsynchronous mode, the rotor acts as an induction machine rotor running above synchronous speed. With a negative slip (2) the effective resistance of the machine seen from the stator terminals can be negative and possibly exceed the external network resistance in magnitude. In such case, and without other sources of damping, the subsynchronous oscillations will grow. Torsional interaction is a coupled electromechanical phenomena which can be explained without considering the effect of the rotor circuits [6]. Superimposed rotor oscillations of frequency will induce stator voltage components of frequency which will drive large currents if or is close to a natural frequency of the electrical system.2 The subsynchronous current component produces an oscillating component of airgap torque in phase with the rotor speed deviation, whereas the torque associated with the supersynchronous current is in anti-phase with the rotor speed deviation. By

reactance associated with the natural frequency is very small.

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neglecting the rotor circuit dynamics, Kilgore et al. [2] have derived a modal damping coefcient from electrical sources

where is the decrement factor [6]. Instead of the decrement factor, some authors prefer to use the logarithmic decrement (8)

(3) and are the resistance and reactance, respecwhere tively, of the electric circuit at . If the electrical damping is negative and of larger magnitude than the mechanical modal damping developed later on, the oscillations will grow. 2) Transient Shaft Torque Amplication: A sudden change of the synchronous frequency current in a series compensated system will produce transient currents at the natural frequency3 of the system [2]. If the complement of this natural frequency is close to the torsional mode frequency of a connected machine, the shaft torque following a system fault will reach levels which are much larger than they would in an uncompensated system [6]. This phenomenon is known as transient shaft torque amplication. B. Torsional Mechanics The torsional mode of the turbine-generator subsystem is what can accumulate and exchange energy with the electrical subsystem. The mechanical mode shape is largely determined by the generator-to-turbine inertia ratio (4) and are the generator and turbine inertia constants, where respectively. The node of the oscillation moves closer to the generator as increases. In the absence of damping, the angular deection is times larger at the turbine end of the shaft than at the generator end [11]. The effective modal inertia is obtained as [11] (5) If frictional losses and material damping (hysteresis) is neglected, the only source of mechanical damping is the speed deviation between the turbine runner and the surrounding water. Then, the modal damping from mechanical sources can be calculated approximately as (6) where is the turbine damping coefcient [11]. The reason for this square relation is that the energy dissipation per unit time at the runner is proportional to angular velocity deviation times damping torque. The angular velocity deviation is proportional to the amplitude in the angular deection, i.e., to . The damping torque is assumed to occur due to viscous forces, which are proportional to the shear stress in the uid, hence to (angular) velocity deviation, and hence also to . The modal damping can be calculated from the rate of decay of a damped torsional oscillation as (7)

which is more suitable for comparison of the damping contribution between different modes since it is not proportional to the oscillatory frequency [2]. The decrement of a torsional oscillation can be obtained experimentally from the measurements of shaft strain when the electrical force on the generator rotor is eliminated [12]. IV. METHOD Common methods to study SSR are eigenvalue analysis and time-domain simulation [8], [10]. The torsional stability of a hydropower unit is here analyzed by time-domain simulation since this method is applicable to both the self-excitation and transient torque amplication problems. This task does not require detailed modeling of the whole power system. In the chosen model, the hydropower unit G3 is modeled in detail and the power system is represented in a highly simplied manner. The measurements presented in Section II are used to tune the model. A. Model The model structure is based on the IEEE benchmark model available in the example library of the software PSCAD. It has been parametrized to represent the G3 hydropower unit feeding power into a series compensated grid. The electric network parameters have the same per unit values as in [7] and [11]. The electrical characteristics of the machine, shown in Appendix A, are obtained from data sheets and test protocols. The eld voltage is held constant at the level required to obtain the specied load condition. Mechanically, the unit is modeled as a spring-mass system, where the moments of inertia of the runner and generator rotor are specied along with shaft stiffness and runner damping. The mass moment of inertia of the generator rotor is specied by the manufacturer, but the corresponding value for the runner had to be calculated from geometrical and material data. How to include the rotating water is however not entirely clear. Here, the inertia of the water in the volume swept by the runner blades is added; the water accounts for 21% of the turbine inertia used in the simulations. The inertia of the shaft is neglected. The shaft stiffness is evaluated from geometrical parameters and material data using the Euler-Bernoulli beam theory with a form factor corresponding to a thick walled tube for each part of the shaft (details in Appendix B). The obtained value 9.17 pu/mech.deg is far outside the interval 1.2 to 2.7 that is found to be common in [12]. A possible explanation is that the shaft of the unit considered here is of tube type, i.e. constructed as a hollow cylinder with relatively thin walls. The calculated value had to be reduced by 20% to 7.33 pu/mech.deg (4700 pu) to get the 17-Hz torsional frequency found in the measurements. The damping contribution from friction and windage on the generator rotor is set to zero as well as the material damping. The turbine damping is computed from the measured shaft strain following a load rejection as described in Section V.

transient currents in an uncompensated system are dc components.

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B. Simulations For a given system and initial load condition, a parametric simulation is performed to identify the compensation level (network capacitance) associated with the maximum undamping, dened in [8] as the negative damping due to self-excitation obtained as the growth rate of angular velocity deviation when the mechanical damping is zero and the initiating disturbance is small. Using this worst-case compensation, another parametric simulation is performed where the network resistance and the mechanical damping are varied to obtain the stability boundary for the self-excitation case, i.e., the minimum electrical and mechanical damping required to prevent growing oscillations. At the electrical resonance frequency, the network reactance is very small. Hence, reducing can be viewed as shortening the transmission line. Finally, a transient torque amplication study is performed using the worst-case compensation level, the IEEE benchmark network resistance and the measured turbine damping from Section V. A three-phase fault is applied from steady state and cleared subsequently after sec. C. Cases Three different load conditions are simulated with the nominal machine parameters tabulated in Appendix A. Rated load operation, which is found to be the worst case, is then chosen for a machine conguration study where the inuence of both the inertia ratio and the electric machine characteristics are investigated. The simulated cases are specied below: Rated Parametrization according to Appendix A. Rated load: and . All the other cases are variations of and can be compared to this case. The angular offset between the generator terminals and the innite bus is changed so that the active power production is zero. The eld voltage is reduced slightly to maintain the reactive load . The eld voltage is reduced so that the generator absorbs 0.1 pu reactive power. The active power production is kept at 0.95 pu. The generator rotor inertia is reduced by 30 percent which changes the inertia ratio from 20 to 14. The new value is in the lower range of common inertia ratios and has been chosen arbitrarily. Round Rotor The electrical generator parameters has been replaced by those from the rst IEEE benchmark model [11], which gives the unit the electrical characteristics of a round-rotor generator and the mechanical properties of G3. V. ESTIMATION OF THE TURBINE DAMPING The grey curve of Fig. 5 shows the measured shaft strain scaled to equivalent power at nominal speed and the red curve shows the electric power. The machine is at motor operation when it is suddenly disconnected from the grid at . The guide vanes reach closed position at and after that a relatively undisturbed interval can be seen. The torsional oscillation is assumed to have the form (9) where is the damped4 oscillatory frequency and is the decrement factor known from (7). A value of is obtained as the mean decrement factor of the upper and lower envelope exponentials tted to approximately ten periods of torsional oscillation. Using (6) and (7), the turbine damping constant or (pu torque)/(pu speed deviation) is obtained. This value is higher than what is used in both [11] and [13]. One explanation is that the current value is obtained after a load rejection where the load was negative, i.e., a very different load condition. It could also be the case that the spread in per unit is covered by differences in turbine characteristics and scaling properties. VI. SIMULATION RESULTS Both the self-excitation and transient case simulations give nearly identical results regardless of the initial active power load condition. Therefore, simulations of G3 at zero initial active power and 0.3 pu reactive power are not shown in the graphs. However, it should be stressed that the mechanical damping

Fig. 5. Identication of the decay rate of a torsional oscillation following a load rejection. The machine is in motor operation when the breaker opens at . Thereafter it is driven forward only by its own angular momentum. The discharge is a few percent initially, and reduced to zero when the unit is disconnected. The angular speed starts to decrease as soon as the driving torque disappears, but does not change much in the rst couple of seconds. When the , the runner is spinning in a closed turbine guide vanes have closed at chamber and is not exposed to any external disturbances.

damped frequency is very close to the undamped frequency

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Fig. 6. Undamping as a function of the compensation level with .


Fig. 7. Torsional stability boundary at the worst-case compensation level for different values of the grid resistance and turbine damping.

dependence on active power loading is not represented in the model. A. Self-Excitation Fig. 6 shows the undamping for various levels of compensation (values of the grid capacitance) in the absence of mechanical damping and with the grid resistance . The undamping is an approximate measure of how much additional turbine damping that is needed for stability calculated from (6) and (7) as (10) where is the exponential growth rate of the angular velocity deviation of the turbine runner. The use of to denote undamping is taken from [8]. The undamping is found to increase with the excitation level, i.e., the higher the eld current, the more additional damping is required to maintain stability. Reducing the inertia ratio increases the level of undamping and broadens the resonance peak. This supports the established view of the inertia ratio as one of the main reasons why no adverse interaction between hydropower units and series compensated lines have been reported. Changing the electrical characteristics of the generator to represent a round rotor machine moves and broadens the resonance peak slightly, but it has no crucial effect on the undamping level at the specied conditions. Variation of single parameters (not shown) suggests that both the synchronous saliency and the subtransient saliency have a non-negligible effect on the stability properties. Fig. 7. shows the stability boundary for the specied system at the specied load condition, i.e., the combination of electrical and mechanical damping that yields sustained oscillations. The mechanical damping required for stability along the line in Fig. 7 can be compared to the maximum undamping in Fig. 6. Similar to the ndings in [8], the agreement between

the two gures is good for the cases that require small additional damping and worse for the case where the maximum undamping is larger. As expected the stability region grows with the inertia ratio. A round rotor machine and a low excitation level can also be seen to have a slightly larger stable region, but these effects are indecisive unless the machine is operated very close to the stability boundary. Note that the stability properties are not inuenced by the under excitation per se; the damping changes with the stiffness of the magnetic coupling across the airgap which increases with the eld current. The last two curves of Fig. 7 are the torsional stability boundaries calculated from (3) and (6) for and and with Hz. Based on Table III, and is set to 0.02 pu, which is the resistance of the d-axis damper winding . As can be seen, the behavior of the calculated curves agrees with the simulated, which indicates that the assumptions made in the derivation of (3) are adequate. The stability boundary is rather insensitive to the turbine damping and the inertia ratio as long as the network resistance exceeds, say 0.03 pu, which corresponds to 200 km of transmission line in the startup test system. The total length of the lines in the test system is 850 km and the electrical distance between the capacitor and closest hydropower station is 300 km. For lower resistance values, the stability criterion is determined by a combination of electrical parameters, excitation level, inertia ratio, and turbine damping. A high inertia ratio enlarges the stability region. B. Transient Shaft Torque Amplication Fig. 8 shows the maximum shaft torque for different values the fault clearing time . Minimal torque amplication occurs at which corresponds to one period of the torsional mode oscillation. This is in line with for instance [8] and [17]. A local minimum can also be seen around , i.e., one half period of the torsional oscillation. The explanation for this is not obvious since the solution of the two-body spring-

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is cleared at , the transient torques add up to almost 4 pu initially, compared to 2.6 pu for . VII. CONCLUSION The results presented in this paper support the prevailing view that hydropower units are more resilient to subsynchronous power oscillations than thermal units due to their relatively large inertia ratio. However, if the size of the electrical network is small as in the studied case, self-excitation may occur due to the induction generator effect regardless of the inertia ratio and the mechanical damping. This stability criterion is determined by the total effective resistance of the electrical circuit at the resonance frequency. In the studied startup test system, the transmission lines are long enough to prevent self-excitation even if the complement of the electrical resonance frequency would coincide with the torsional mode frequency. What determines the stability condition close to the stability boundary is a combination of many factors, where the turbine damping and the inertia ratio appears to be the most important. The experimental data in this paper suggest a turbine damping value of 1.26 pu for a large Francis wheel spinning in a closed turbine chamber. The electrical characteristics seem to act to the disadvantage of salient-pole machines, but this should be more thoroughly investigated before any denitive conclusions are drawn. A low excitation level has a small positive effect on the stability margins. Even if the damping is large enough to prevent self-excitation, a three phase fault on the worst possible level of compensation, cleared after 0.015 s would expose the shaft to a torque almost 2.5 times the rated, which could damage the unit. With a 30% lower inertia ratio, the transient torque could exceed 3 pu. A research project dedicated to investigate the inertia of the co-rotating water in hydraulic turbines, and how it depends on turbine type and load conditions, could give useful information both in this area of research and for other purposes. Further investigations on turbine damping are also needed, with respect to turbine type, load conditions and scaling properties. APPENDIX A PARAMETERS Table I lists the per unit bases used in this work. Table II lists the grid parameters used in the simulations. Table III lists the generator parameters used in the simulations. Table IV lists the mechanical parameters used in the simulations.

Fig. 8. Maximal shaft torque amplitude as a function of fault clearing time for and . the worst-case compensation level with

Fig. 9. Electrical torque on the generator rotor and mechanical torque on following a three-phase short circuit the shaft from the turbine runner , cleared subsequently at . Top graph: . at . Bottom graph:

mass system equations predicts a maximum [17]; however, it can easily be realized by observing the transient torques shown in Fig. 9. As discussed in Section III-A, a fault in a series compensated system produces transient currents at the system natural frequency . But the generator rotor sees two frequencies: one subsynchronous component at which is close to the torsional mode frequency , and one supersynchronous component at . Both components will affect the torsional oscillation through the electrical torque [4]. The phase of the subsynchronous torque component is such that it amplies rotor oscillations whereas the supersynchronous component has a damping effect. However, depending on the clearing time, the supersynchronous component adds to, or cancels partially the transient torque amplitude as can be seen in Fig. 9. If the fault

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tion for this is that each part of the shaft is quite short compared to its diameter. A better, and most likely lower value, could be computed by considering the Timochenko beam theory. REFERENCES



APPENDIX B CALCULATION OF SHAFT STIFFNESS To obtain the stiffness parameter in engineering units for a single part of the shaft, with constant cross section, one will need the shear modulus of the shaft material as well as the length and form factor of the shaft part. The form factor of a thick walled tube is (11) where and are the inner and outer radii, respectively. The shear modulus is on the order of 80 GPa. Using Euler-Bernoulli theory, the stiffness can be calculated as (12) The total stiffness of a shaft composed of two parts with the and is stiffnesses (13) , i.e., The shaft stiffness obtained for G3 is 5891.5 pu. As can be seen in Table IV, the value used in the simulation has been reduced to 4700 pu in order to get the simulated torsional frequency to agree with the measured. One explana-

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