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Static and Dynamic VAR Planning to Support

Widespread Penetration of Distributed
Generation in Distribution System
Tareq Aziz, Student Member, IEEE, Tapan K. Saha, Senior Member, IEEE and N. Mithulananthan,
Senior Member, IEEE

Abstract-- Integration of small distributed generation (DG)

units to weak distribution system is a major concern for power
system engineers. Recent grid standards demand small DG
operation with power factor control mode. Lack of sufficient
reactive power support brings the problem of slow voltage
recovery under post-fault condition. This paper presents a
comprehensive VAR planning with a mixture of both static and
dynamic compensators. In a system with number of DG units, a
suitable location has been sorted out for minimum number of
STATic COMpensator (STATCOM) to keep DG units remain
interconnected. . With help of cost analysis, STATCOM rating
has been minimized to ensure economic voltage restoration,
which eventually increase DG intake in distribution system. An
IEEE industrial test system with various motor loads has been
used for simulation and analysis.
Index Terms-- Distributed generation, Dynamic reactive
power compensation, Grid code, Voltage recovery Time,
STATCOM rating.


NCENTIVES for installation of distributed generation (DG)

units around the world have increased considerably over the
last few years. Emerging environmental concerns have put
more emphasis on renewable energy based distributed
generation. This could include wind, solar, biomass, storage
and other wide range of energy sources, which are not
necessarily generation in the traditional utility sense.
Therefore, the more general term distributed resources (DR)
have been used in literature. Making renewable a reliable
source of energy, despite its irregular nature, is a big
challenge. Grid requirements and standards are trying to shape
the conventional control strategies to allow flawless
integration of renewable as well as non-renewable based DG
in the main grid. IEEE 1547-2003 establishes the basic
interconnection rules and several other standards are moving
to line up more closely to it [1].
The two most common adverse interactions of any type of
DR with distribution system are a) voltage regulation and b)
interference with over-current protection [2]. Voltage
This work was supported by the CSIRO Intelligent Grid Flagship
Collaboration Research Fund.
Tareq Aziz (, T. K. Saha ( and
N. Mithulananthan ( are with the School of
Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, The University of
Queensland, Qld 4072, Australia.

instability problems occur in a system that cant supply

reactive power demand during heavy loading and disturbances
like faults. This problem is more severe in case of weak grids.
With induction motors making up an ever increasing portion
of power system loads, the focus on reactive power support
becomes more obvious. Induction motor instantly becomes
large VAR consumers upon disturbances pushing the grid
voltage to very low levels and making fault recovery difficult
to achieve. Specific standards define the allowed voltage range
that bounds the maximum permitted voltage variation at DG
node under both transient and steady state conditions. The post
fault voltage recovery time at DG bus is the crucial part of
these standards as it demands DG to trip, if recovery time
exceeds certain limit [3], [4] . With increased penetration of
DG units, early tripping of DG due to local disturbance can
further risk the stability of the whole system. As grid standards
request distributed generators bellow certain size to operate
with constant power factor control mode [5], system operator
holds responsibility to maintain the voltage profile within
acceptable range at all nodes under all operating conditions.
In a grid with weak voltage support from remote
generators, the problem of voltage fluctuation and fault
recovery issues of DG units can be solved by using dynamic
reactive power compensation. Capability of STATCOM to
instantly absorb and deliver VARs makes it an excellent tool
to prevent temporary voltage anomalies. Compared to Static
Var Compensator (SVC), STATCOM offers faster operation
because of voltage source converter (VSC) and no delay
associated with thyristor firing [6]. The main advantage of
STATCOM over SVC is that the compensating current does
not depend on the voltage level at the point of common
coupling and compensating current is not lowered as the
terminal voltage drops [7]. Studies have shown that by placing
a dynamic reactive power compensator at the point of
common coupling of DG, transient and steady state stability
can be improved, ultimately allowing DG units to be
connected to network. For example, in a wind turbine
integrated system, dynamic reactive power compensation is
provided by a STATCOM or SVC located at the point of
common coupling [8], [9], [10] to enhance system stability
margin. In a recent study [11], a sensitivity index based
methodology has been developed to place STATCOM on a
bus other than distributed generator bus to improve uptime and
avoid tripping of small scale generators. The approach limits

the number of high-cost dynamic compensator device

STATCOM to a single location in a distribution system with
multiple dispersed generators. But this study has not estimated
the required rating of STATCOM to improve uptime of DG.
This paper presents a comprehensive analysis to estimate
the required ratings of STATCOM with a target to fulfill two
objectives: improved uptime and reduced cost of restoring
voltage. Simulation results have been demonstrated on an
industrial test system with large number of induction motors.
Available grid interconnection requirements for distributed
resources have been introduced in section II. Section III
describes the brief methodology followed to achieve improved
voltage profile in pre-fault and post-fault conditions. Section
IV presents STATCOM details along with its dynamic model.
Section V presents and analyses the results obtained. Section
VI draws conclusions with scope of future work.
Grid codes have been specified for distributed generators
under both - steady state and transient conditions. Usually,
these operation requirements for DG units are specified at the
point of common coupling. In general, the steady state
operation requirements include reactive power generation
capability for DG units, steady state voltage operating range,
frequency operating range and voltage quality [12], [13].
A. Reactive power provision
DG units are not allowed to regulate voltage actively at
point of common coupling according to IEEE Std 1547-2003
[5]. FERC orders 661 [14] fixes power factor at the coupling
point between 0.95 leading to 0.95 lagging for large wind
parks over 20MW. In Australia, distributed generation with a
capacity of less than 30MW shall not actively regulate the
voltage at coupling point and power factor must lie in between
1 to 0.95 leading for both 100% and 50% real power injections
B. Steady State Voltage Operation range
Steady state voltage level at each load connection point is
one of the most important parameters for quality of supply.
Like most other countries, in Australia, continuous voltage
operating range has been defined as 10% of nominal voltage
C. Interconnection system response to abnormal voltage
IEEE Std. 1547-2003 states that any DR unit should cease
energizing the electric power system during abnormal system
conditions according to the clearing times shown in Table I.
Clearing time is the time between the start of an abnormal
condition (due to some fault) and DG ceasing to energize the
local area [5]. For DG units with generation capacity larger
than 30 kW, the listed clearing times are default values though
these can vary among utilities. Hence, the clearing times in
Table I have been taken as default values for the present study.

Voltage Range (p.u.)
Clearing time (Sec)
V < 0.5


0.5 V < 0.88


1.1 < V < 1.2


V 1.2



A test distribution system has been integrated with
distributed generators where total demand of real power has
been supplied by DG units. As DG supplies the total demand
required by connected loads, this approach converts the test
system to a normal interconnected microgrid. In order to fulfil
steady state voltage requirement as in section IIB, optimal
reactive power compensator placement is performed. Tabu
search [16], which is a heuristic optimal technique has been
used as an optimization tool for finding compensator
placement and sizes in the present work. The objective
function of the problem can be expressed as follows to
minimize system energy loss and capacitor investment cost.


q ,q

( ) k
i =1

C i q 0i +

e , j T j Ploss , j ( x

,q j)


j =1

In this formulation, power flow equations are used as

equality constraints and VAR source placement restriction,
reactive power generation restrictions, transformer tap-setting
restriction, bus voltage restriction and power flow of each
branch are used as inequality constraints. In the objective
function, L and I represents number of load levels and
candidate locations to install the capacitors. q 0 stands for the
sizing vector whose components are multiples of the standard
size of single fixed capacitor bank, q j is the control scheme
vector at load level j whose components are discrete variables.
Investment cost associated with capacitor installed at location
i is given by C i (q i ) . Power loss at a load level j with time
duration T j is given by Ploss, j T j and ke, j stands for different
energy loss cost for each load level.
With three phase short circuit fault near to generator bus,
time domain simulation is performed to check dynamic
voltage restoring capability of the generator and load bus.
Dynamic compensator (here STATCOM) is required only if
static compensators fail to meet the grid requirement as
mentioned in Table I. The node with highest inductive
dV / dI R has been chosen as location for STATCOM. Details
of this procedure can be found in [11].
STATCOM is a Voltage Source Converter (VSC) based
system that injects or absorbs reactive current, independent to
grid voltage. Figure 1 shows the basic block diagram of
STATCOM. Reactive current injected or absorbed by
STATCOM will profoundly influence grid node voltage. It is
modeled either only as reactive current source or as a current
source with active and reactive components. The current

injected by STATCOM depends on pulse width modulation

(PWM) method used along with operational limits and
characteristics of Insulated Gate Bi-polar Transistors (IGBT)
in use. Therefore, current injected by STATCOM has
appropriate limiters, which are dynamic in nature [7]. The
magnitude and/or phase shift of the voltage source converter
(V) must be controlled to maintain the bus voltage (Vs)
STATCOM controller block has been shown in Fig. 2 [17].
With id and iq as reference currents in d-q reference frames,
the active and reactive power injected by STATCOM can be
expressed as
PSTATCOM = V (id cos + iq sin )

QSTATCOM = V (id sin iq cos )


capacitive reactive power. For asymmetric rating,

STATCOMs need to have a complementary reactive power
source. The rating of STATCOM decides the maximum
reactive power that can be injected or absorbed. Usually they
have some extra capability called the transient capability [9],
which is available to the system for a short period of time.
Impact of placement on this transient capability has been
observed in this work. Analysis for finding minimum rating of
STATCOM has also considered necessary assumptions for
network parameters such as X/R ratio and short circuit
Static & dynamic- in both reactive power compensation;
final rating of the device is usually determined by system
economics. But in a renewable based distribution system,
where a major portion of demand is supplied by DG,
minimum capacity of STATCOM must be adequate for the
system to restore voltage after temporary disturbances. Cost
analysis presented in section V will focus on this economic
restoration of voltage maintaining grid code.
A. Test distribution System and Analytical Tool
An IEEE 43 bus industrial distribution system with
21.76MW and 9MVAr of real and reactive power load,
respectively has been studied as test system [18]. This test
system has been shown in Fig. 3. The system has five different
levels of voltage rated at 69kV, 13.8kV, 4.16kV, 2.4kV and as
low as 0.48kV. Along with optimization, all the results
presented in this paper were simulated with DigSilent
PowerFactory 14.0 [19].

Fig. 1. Basic STATCOM model.

Fig.3. Single line diagram of 43 bus test system.

Fig. 2. Controller Block for STATCOM [17]

STATCOM ratings are based on many parameters, which

are typically ruled by the amount of reactive power required to
recover and ride through faults in distribution system. Usually,
STATCOM has a symmetrical rating concerning inductive and

DG units considered in this study are conventional

synchronous generators with unity power factor operation. DG
connection details for 43bus test system have been shown in
appendix. The system is supplying peak demand of 28.82MW
with a short circuit capacity of 300MVA. Grid X/R ratio has
been taken as 4. Low values of both - short circuit capacity
and X/R ratio implies it as a weak grid and hence requires

dynamic compensating device to restore voltage to pre-fault

condition [20].
B. Capacitor and STATCOM placement
As mentioned previously, Tabu search technique has been
used to find out the suitable location of fixed compensator in
the system at peak load condition to maintain the primary
requirement of grid code i.e. steady state voltage. With an
objective function of minimizing grid loss with minimum
available capacitor banks,
50% of the buses have been
chosen as candidate bus. Table II shows the optimal capacitor
places along with sensitivity values dV / dI R at the optimal
compensation nodes. These values are calculated numerically
with small perturbations. A negative dV / dI R on bus 39
clearly shows that, bus 39 requires STATCOM to support
voltage recovery after fault near to generator bus.

Fig 4. Voltage at Bus 4 with DG1


Presence of
Sensitivity index
dV / dI R (Vp.u/Ip.u.)


0.20 (Capacitive)
0.25 (Capacitive)
0.33 (Capacitive)
0.2 (Capacitive)
0.2 (Capacitive)
0.03 (Capacitive)
0.25 (Capacitive)
-0.25 (Inductive)
0.25 (Capacitive)
0.2 (Capacitive)
0.2 (Capacitive)
0.33 (Capacitive)
0.25 (Capacitive)


C. Voltage Recovery with STATCOM

Voltage recovery requirement in [3] and [5], specifies that
the DG terminal voltage must come back to 90% of its normal
operating voltage within 2 sec after a fault takes place in
location near to generator bus. In present work, 43 bus test
system under peak load condition is subjected to a three phase
low impedance fault (with a fault reactance of 0.05 ) at bus
31 and the fault is cleared after 10 cycles. Figure 4 compares
the performance of voltage recovery for bus 4 for different
cases, namely without compensators, with capacitors and with
STATCOM at bus 39. Figure 5 shows voltage at bus 50 where
the second DG unit is connected for the same cases. Results
are tabulated in Table III, which shows that other than
STATCOM at bus 39, no controller arrangement can support
grid requirement at bus 4 as they have recovery time greater
than 2sec. For bus 50, recovery time is found less than 2sec in
all arrangements considered. So for further investigation, the
present work concentrates on voltage profile at bus 4. For
primary study, STATCOM reactive power has been set at
1.1MVAr (according to Table II).

Fig 5. Voltage at Bus 50 with DG2

DG node

4 (DG1)
50 (DG2)


bus 39
3.02 Sec
0.6 Sec

2.04 Sec
0.42 Sec

1.61 Sec
0.31 Sec

As mentioned earlier, according to common practice,

dynamic reactive power compensators are usually placed at
the point of common coupling to support fast voltage
recovery. Now STATCOM of same rating is placed on
generator bus 4 to compare with the results listed in Table III.
Time domain simulation plot showing the voltage profile is
given in Fig. 6, which shows that voltage recovery is delayed
to 5 cycles with STATCOM placed at bus 4 compared to
STATCOM at bus 39.
Time domain plot of reactive power output from
STATCOM of rating 2.2MVAr with two different placements
has been shown in Fig. 7. Because of lengthy overshoot
period, placement at bus 4 requires STATCOM with higher
transient capability to restore voltage. So in terms of
transient/overload capability too, bus 39 is the optimum place
for placing STATCOM in this system.

Fig 6. Voltage at Bus 4 with DG1

Fig 8. Voltage restoring time with various combinations of Capacitors and

This plot shows that as STATCOM size is lowered below

0.4MVAr, combination with any size of available capacitors
fail to restore the voltage within 2 sec after a three phase fault
occurs at bus 31. A STATCOM of rating greater than
0.4MVAr with a combination of any size of capacitor makes
the uptime less than 2sec.
Minimum restoring time 1.56sec is achieved with a
combination of 4MVAr of STATCOM and 0.15MVAr of
capacitor. Dynamic reactive power output from 4MVAr
STATCOM, which is injected at bus 39 has been plotted in
Fig. 9.

Fig 7. Dynamic reactive power from STATCOM at bus 39 and bus 4

D. STATCOM Rating Study

An investigation of various sizes of STATCOM on voltage
restoring time has been performed through multiple time
domain simulations. As dynamic reactive power devices are
very expensive [9], a mixture of static and dynamic
compensators have been placed at bus 39 to minimize the cost
of restoring voltage. Commercially available 3-phase capacitor
sizes with real cost/kVAr have been used for the present study
[21]. Here the capacitor sizes range from 0.15MVAr to
2.85MVAr. STATCOM range has been chosen from 100kVAr
to 7MVAr [22]. Upper limits of capacitor and STATCOM
have been selected 2.85MVAr and 7MVAr respectively so
that reactive power injection at node does not violate voltage
limit 1.1p.u at bus 39 under steady state condition. Fig 8.
shows voltage restoring time vs. combination of capacitor and
STATCOM rating plot.

Fig 9. Dynamic reactive power output from 4MVAr STATCOM with

minimum restoring time of 1.56sec

E. Cost Analysis for Restoring Voltage

A cost analysis for the combinations of static and dynamic
compensator for restoring voltage has been plotted in Fig. 10.
Capacitor cost has been taken as 8$/kVAr whereas
STATCOM cost has been taken as 50$/kVAr [10]. Fig. 10
plots the cost of restoring voltage for restoring times found
with different mixture of capacitor and STATCOM from
Section V.D. In our present work, primary focus is to maintain
grid code and avoid tripping of DG units. Hence STATCOM

value lower than 0.4MVAr with all sets of capacitor

combinations will be discarded because of restoring time
greater than 2sec. The lowest restoring time 1.56sec as found
earlier in Section V.D would cost 2,01,200$ according to the
cost estimate/kVAr. But this might not be economically
feasible option.
An analysis of Fig. 10 shows that the lowest cost of
restoring voltage is 21,200$ for a combination of 0.4MVAr
STATCOM with 0.15MVAr capacitor. This combination
results in an uptime of 1.78sec which is certainly maintaining
grid code. The resulting bus voltage at bus 39 with this
combination of compensator is 0.98p.u. To bring the bus
voltage to 1 p.u., capacitor with a rating of 0.75MVAr is
required, which makes the total reactive power injection 1.15
MVAr at steady state. This amount is almost equal to MVAr
requirement by Tabu search (1.1MVAr) for maintaining
steady state voltage as in Table II. Because of choosing a
higher rating capacitor, cost increases by around 7200$. As
can be seen from these results, around one-third of total
reactive power required at steady state needs to be allocated
from dynamic source to ensure grid compatible voltage

Location bus
MVA rating
Power factor




Fig 10. Cost analysis for restoring voltage at DG bus

With a widespread penetration of distributed generation,

there is an urge of economic reactive power planning for
todays stressed system. In this paper, we have investigated a
unified approach toward planning of static and dynamic
compensator in a distributed manner to improve uptime of DG
units and make them remain energized during abnormal
conditions. A study has been done to minimize the size of
expensive dynamic VAR compensator i.e. STATCOM.
Results show that cost of voltage restoration after fault can be
minimized with proper placement and combination of fixed
and dynamic compensator in a system. Cost analysis helps to
choose economic rating of compensators. Future work will be
focused on quantitative relationship between post fault
recovery voltage and network/ control parameters with
required controllable range.










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