You are on page 1of 6

E2 - 1

2011 International Conference on Electrical Engineering and Informatics

17-19 July 2011, Bandung, Indonesia

A Modular Multilevel Inverter Using Single

DC Voltage Source for Static Var Compensators
Firman Sasongko1, Hadyan Nur Buwana2, Riko Iswara3, and Pekik Argo Dahono4
School of Electrical Engineering and Informatics, Institute of Technology Bandung
Jl. Ganesha 10, Bandung 40132, Indonesia

Abstract Multilevel inverter has emerged as a new solution of

power converter for high power applications. Many efforts have
been done to obtain the best performance of multilevel inverter
to provide the need of power converter for high-power mediumvoltage applications. Multilevel inverter using modular-cascaded
topology with single dc voltage source is presented in this
manuscript. Inverter topology, features and control method will
be discussed. Simulation results for static var compensator
application are included to verify the effectiveness of the
proposed method.

alternative solution to achieve a simple structure converter

with a fast control response for high-power applications.
The concept of multilevel converters has been introduced
since 1975. Since then, various multilevel converter
topologies were proposed [7], [8]. These converters are
suitable for high-power medium-voltage applications. The
main advantage of multilevel converter is that high output
voltage can be obtained without series connection of
switching devices. Moreover, better output waveforms can be
obtained without the need of high switching frequency
Keywords Multilevel inverter, modular cascade inverter, static operation with the associated high switching losses.
In this paper, a new modular multilevel inverter topology
var compensator.
based on cascaded H-bridge cells is proposed. Neither
complicated transformer nor separate dc sources are required.
Reactive power compensation has become an indispensable A single dc source is used for the whole single-phase H-bridge
requirement to provide a better power system performance [1], cells. High output voltage is accomplished by the use of
[2]. Var compensator system has three major roles: improving identical single-phase transformer connected in series at the ac
the transient stability, damping the power oscillation, and side. Each cell output voltage can be controlled using phase
supporting the grid voltage to prevent voltage instability. In difference between each leg. The output voltage harmonics
recent years, static var compensators are preferable to their are minimized by controlling the phase differences of Htraditional counterpart of using rotating synchronous bridge cells. By using fundamental switching frequency, all
condenser and mechanically switched capacitors or inductors H-bridge cells have identical device rating and utilization
[3], [4]. Static var compensator provides faster time response factor. The use of identical power cells leads to a modular
to absorb or generate the reactive power. The advances of structure, which is an effective means for cost reduction. The
power electronic devices, analytical tools, and micro- proposed inverter topology and also control scheme for static
computer technologies has create the more sophisticated var compensator are presented. Simulated results show the
power converter to be used for static var compensator and effectiveness of the proposed multilevel inverter for static var
compensator application.
other high-power applications.
Multilevel system is especially important in high-power
applications such as Flexible AC Transmission System
(FACTS). At present, most of FACTS controllers that have
been installed worldwide are using conventional two-level
inverter modules that are interconnected by using a special
design multipulse transformer [5], [6]. In order to reduce the
switching losses, the inverter switching devices are switched
at the fundamental frequency. The transformer is configured
in such a way so that certain low-frequency harmonics are
eliminated. The output voltage is controlled by adjusting the
dc voltage of the inverter with the consequence of slow
control response. Thus, a multilevel inverter may become an

978-1-4577-0752-0/11/$26.00 2011 IEEE


Multilevel inverter can be considered as a series connection
of several ac voltage sources as shown in Fig. 1. In most
applications, the resultant of the voltage must be adjustable in
magnitude and low in harmonic contents. In high-power
applications, PWM switching operation is avoided because of
switching losses problem. Thus, the inverter switching devices
must be operated at fundamental frequency. To comply with
these constraints, the following methods can be chosen:
i) Controlling the dc voltage and using a special
connection transformer to reduce the harmonics.

ii) Controlling the devices gating signals to produce a

staircase waveform which control the output voltage
and reduce harmonic contents.
The first method is simple but the response is slow because
of large time constant of dc circuit. Moreover, a special
transformer connection is necessary. The second method is
more promising because of faster control response by using
controlled switching of inverter legs. Separate dc sources are
necessary if no galvanic isolation provided in the ac side.
Using many large dc electrolytic capacitors is prone to failure.
Therefore, using single dc capacitors with galvanic isolated
system is preferable here.
Several choices are available to use transformer as a
galvanic means. A special connected transformer can be used
to reduce the harmonics, which however, different
transformers have to be used if the number of levels is
changed. Thus, modularity of the system cannot be achieved.








For N H-bridge cells, the general expression of phase

output voltage can be obtained as








where h is odd harmonic number only. For N = 5, using

transformer ratio of 1 : r, the phase-to-phase effective
fundamental output voltage is






B. Output Voltage Control

Inverter cell output voltage of the proposed multilevel
inverter is determined by phase difference of each leg. Each
single-phase H-bridge inverter is operated under quasi squarewave mode as shown in Fig. 3, ensuring the same utilization
factors of each level. The effective output voltage is controlled
by adjusting the angle. The effective fundamental voltage of
each cell can be defined as


It can be seen from (2) and (4) that the output voltage varies
linearly to cosines of 2. This feature has the advantage to
generate a simple switching control scheme.


Fig. 1. Series connection and phasor diagram of several voltage sources.

The preferred system is the one without custom-made

transformer. An ordinary transformer can be used to reduce
the harmonic contents by controlling the gating signals of the
inverters. Reference [8] proposes the gating pattern by
controlling switching angle for each level which produced a
staircase waveform. However, utilization factor of each level
is different and so does the losses of each level and cooling
system requirements.
A. Circuit Arrangement
Fig. 2 shows the topology of the proposed modular
multilevel inverter discussed in this paper. All single-phase Hbridge inverter and transformer are identical, therefore, can be
considered as one module for each level. A single large dc
capacitor is connected in parallel on dc side. IGCTs or IGBTs
can be used as the switching devices. In practice, a small LCL
filter is usually connected on the ac side to reduce high-order
harmonics. As the output voltage levels increase, the filter
may be omitted.
The proposed method produces a staircase waveform by
controlling the phase angle differences among inverter levels.
In general, for N H-bridge cells, the optimum phase angle
difference is 60o/N which associated with the order of
harmonic contents of



Fig. 2. Modular cascaded multilevel inverter and its waveform.



where is system frequency; the subscript d and q are daxis and q-axis voltage/current component respectively.
Because the grid voltage vector is always aligned with daxis voltage component vgd, the q-axis component of grid
voltage vgq is always zero. The instantaneous active and
reactive power in dq synchronous reference frame can be
expressed as
Fig. 3. Signal waveform of each inverter leg in each cell.

C. Comparative Evaluation
In order to clarify the performance of the proposed modular
multilevel inverter system, a conceptual design of static var
compensator with 10 MVAR rating is used. It is assumed that
the static var compensator is designed to operate on mediumvoltage of distribution system (20 kV). The proposed
multilevel inverter design is then compared to the ones using
quad-series [6] and cascaded [8] inverter systems. Using the
most advanced power switching devices with rating up to
6kV/6kA, the dc source voltage can be as high as 3.1 kV.
Table I shows performance comparison among the three types
of static var compensator.
A static var compensator can be considered as voltage
source converter which connected in parallel to the power grid
through series inductance as shown in Fig. 4. The line
resistance is usually very small and can be neglected. The
objective of multilevel inverter control system is to ensure dc
voltage and reactive power flow at a desired command. When
the inverter voltage vi is higher than grid voltage vg, inverter
current will lead the voltage by 90o (reactive power injection).
On the contrary if the inverter voltage vi is smaller than grid
voltage vg, then inverter current will lag the voltage by 90o
(reactive power absorption). Thus, controlling the inverter
voltage magnitude means controlling the reactive power flow.
Although theoretically var compensator does not exchange
active power to the grid, the inverter internal losses will cause
the capacitor voltage to deviate from its nominal value. By
adjusting the phase angle between inverter and grid voltages,
the active current will flow in/out to keep the dc voltage
The circuit equation for three-phase system as in Fig. 4 can
be written as


Voltage level
DC voltage
Power switch

Inverter Topology
3100 V
3100 V
3100 V
single phase
S P = 1:2
S YP = 3:2
Identical but not
and modular and modular




angle and









6.6 7.2%

3.6 7.6%



In dq synchronous reference frame, this equation can be

written as follows:
Fig. 4. Static var compensator model and its operation modes.

From (7), the active and reactive power control can directly
be determined by active and reactive current provided a
constant grid voltage. Therefore, controlling the reactive
current iiq alone is sufficient to control reactive power to the
grid. Moreover, to keep a constant dc voltage by controlling
active power flow, only the active current iid need to be
controlled. Thus, a fast current controller is desirable in this
method to achieve the system with fast dynamic time response.
A. Static Var Compensator with Proposed Multilevel Inverter
The complete control system and block diagram of the
proposed static var compensator is shown in Fig. 5. There are
two reference values in this system, which are the dc voltage
and q-axis current reference
proportional to reactive power q. The control system will then
produce * and * commands, which will control the active
and reactive power respectively. The *and * angle can be
obtained from d- and q-axis voltage references as

compensate the errors. The output of the current controllers is

the desired d-axis and q-axis inverter output voltages. By
using a look up table, the required and angle can be
B. Decoupled Current Control
The plant block diagram as shown in Fig. 5 implies that the
d- and q-axis currents cannot be controlled independently. To
solve the coupling problem, a feed-forward technique as
shown in current controller block diagram of Fig. 5 is used.
The actual output currents Iid and Iiq are multiplied by the line
reactance LC to produce additional signals to cancel out the
coupling effects. By using this method, the d-axis currents can
be controlled independently as shown in Fig. 6. The control
method for q-axis current has the same approach. The inverter
is assumed to have a unity gain, so the inverter output voltage
Vid is equal to the voltage reference Vid*.
From Fig. 6, the transfer function of d-axis current can be
determined as





where K is a topology characteristic constant and r is the

transformer ratio. The K value will be unique for each cell
numbers as in (3) with h = 1. For N = 5, K is equal to 7.45,
while for N = 3, K is equal to 4.49.
The inverter output voltage must be synchronized to the
power grid voltage. For this purpose, a phase locked loop
(PLL) circuit is used to obtain the grid voltage angle . This
angle will be used for all dq transformation process.
is compared to the actual dc
The dc voltage reference
which then will be processed by a PI
capacitor voltage
. The
controller to generate the d-axis current reference
actual d- and q-axis currents, which obtained from inverter
currents using dq transformation, are then compared to the
reference values and the PI current controllers will




The damping ratio C and undamped natural frequency nC

can be obtained as follows:





By using critically damped control response, the damping

ratio is C = 1 and the current control gain KC and time
constant TC can be determined as



Fig. 5. Proposed static var compensator system and its control block diagram.


1 ms


From Fig. 7, the transfer function can be obtained as

The damping ratio dc and undamped natural frequency ndc

are given by

Fig. 6. Decoupled current control block diagram.

C. DC Capacitor Voltage Control

Single dc capacitor is used in the proposed system. A
simple control system is required to maintain dc voltage level.
By avoiding the resonance condition between dc capacitor and
line reactor, reduction of the dc voltage fluctuation can be
achieved. A simple right-hand rule can be used to determine
the required capacitance for single capacitor circuit with
nominal reactive power of QVAR [8] as follows:





This factor may range from 5-20% practically. Using the

regulation factor of 10% in the 10 MVAR of static var
compensator system connected to 20 kV of distribution
system, the required capacitance C is 8.28 mF for 3.1 kV
nominal dc voltage.
If the total system losses can be expressed as D, then the
inverter active power flow can be defined as
The instantaneous dc capacitor voltage can be written as



where Vdc is the average dc voltage and vdc is the dc voltage

ripple. From Fig. 5, (16) and (18), the block diagram for dc
voltage control can be depicted as in Fig. 7 assuming an ideal
current control with unity gain.

Fig. 7. DC capacitor voltage control block diagram.


By using critically damped control response, the damping
ratio is dc =1, leading to control system parameters as follows:

The dc capacitor voltage may deviate from its nominal

value because of overall losses in the inverter. The regulation
factor of dc voltage is defined as

A/V with

5 ms



To verify the proposed multilevel inverter topology as
static var compensator, the simulation using 7-level inverter
was carried out. The system configuration and system
parameters are shown in Fig. 5 and Table II. The system is
connected to low-voltage distribution system of 380 V and
controlling a 5 kvar of reactive power flow. The utility voltage
is assumed to be balanced three-phase system with constant
magnitude and frequency.
The simulation results of the proposed static var
compensator can be seen from Figs. 89. The system has the
capability to inject/absorb 5 kvar of reactive power. Fig. 8
shows the phase voltage and current of the proposed
multilevel inverter when the reactive power is change from 2
kvar leading to 5 kvar leading and finally to 5 kvar lagging.
The inverter voltage reacts instantaneously whenever the
reactive power reference is changed suddenly. Although the
reactive power reference changes from injecting to absorbing
mode, the inverter voltage can adapt the reactive power
demand with fast time response.

System Voltage VG
Var Rating QVAR
DC Voltage Vdc
Interface Inductance LC
Source Impedance LS
Cell Number N
DC Capacitor C
Regulation Factor
Transformer Turn Ratio r

380 V 50 Hz
5 kvar
12% (11 mH)
2% (1.8 mH)
8.337 mF

processed and run in DS1104 via PCI card slot. The GUI
platform will provide the inpuut references such as reactive
power and capacitor voltage reeferences, and also shows the
system parameters continuoussly, e.g. the system voltage,
inverter voltage and current, phase
angle, injected reactive
power and dc capacitor voltage.



Fig. 8. Simulated results when the reactive poweer is step changed.


Fig. 10. Experimenntal control system.

This paper has proposed a modular cascaded multilevel
witching pattern and control
inverter. Inverter topology, sw
system for static var compensator have been presented in
detail. The simulation resultts show that the proposed
multilevel inverter has a fast dynamic response to
the system. With the
inject/absorb reactive power to/from
proposed control system schem
me, the control response can be
adjusted as desired. Moreovver, the dc voltage can be
maintained at a constant level unnder dynamic condition.
In general, the proposed topoology has the advantages of its
modularity, equal utilization factors
among inverter blocks
and simple control procedure. As
A a single dc capacitor is used,
neither unbalance problem nor complex
controllers are existed.
Thus, the proposed modular muultilevel inverter provides some
features with which very appliicable to low-cost high-power

Fig. 9. Simulated result of DC capacitor voltage wheen the reactive power is

step changed.

The dc voltage can be kept constant at approximately

V and only a small distortion occurs when the reactive power
is changed, as can be seen from Fig. 9.. The selection of
regulation factor will affect the distortioon in the capacitor
To further validate the proposed systeem and its control
strategy as a static var compensator, a protootype of seven-level
modular inverter is being built and will
carry out the
experiment based on Table II parameters. The
T control system
will be implemented in dSPACE (DS1104) platform which
has MPC8240 250 MHz core processor with DSP
a powerful
TMS320F240 as slave. The controller can provide
system for floating point numbers calculatioon.
For real time evaluation of the control system, a Graphical
User Interface (GUI) will be designed using MATLAB/
in Fig. 10. The
Simulink and dSPACE platform as can be seen
previously explained control scheme willl be automatically



L. Gyugyi, Power electroniics in electric utilities: static var

compensators, in Proc. IEEE, vool. 76, no. 4, pp. 483-494, Apr. 1988.
J. Dixon, L. Moran, J. Rodriguuez and R. Domke, Reactive power
compensation technologies: statee-of-the-art review, in Proc. IEEE, vol.
93, no. 12, pp. 2144-2164, Dec. 2005.
E. Larsen,, Benefits of GTO-based
compensation systems for
electric utility applications, IEE
EE Trans. Power Del., vol. 7, pp. 20562064, Oct. 1992.
A. E. Hammad, Comparing the voltage control capabilities of present
and future var compensating techniques
in transmission systems,
IEEE Trans. Power Del., vol. 11, pp. 475-484, Jan. 1996.
C. Schauder, et al., Developmennt of a 100 Mvar static condenser for
voltage control of transmission syystems, IEEE Trans. Power Del., vol.
10, pp. 1486-1496, July 1995.
H. Fujita, S. Tominaga, and H.
H Akagi, Analysis and design of an
advanced static var compensattor using quad-series voltage-source
inverters, IEEE Trans. Ind. Appplicat., vol. 32, pp. 970-978, July/Aug.
J. Rodriguez, J. S. Lai, and F. Z.. Peng, Multilevel inverters: A survey
of topologies, controls, and appliications, IEEE Trans. Ind. Electr., vol.
49, pp. 724-738, Aug. 2002.
F. Z. Peng, et al., A multilevell voltage-source inverter with separate
dc sources for static var generattion, IEEE Trans. Ind. Applicat., vol.
32, pp. 1130-1138, Sept. /Oct. 19996.