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Load Sharing With Thyristor Controlled

Rectifier Substations
Abstract: Thyristor Controlled Rectifier Substations (TCRS)
accomplish energy management objectives by controlling load flow.
Voltage sources connected in parallel to a common grid share load
dynamically in a complex relationship between the DC output voltage
sources at fixed traction power substation locations and time variant
loads at moving vehicle locations. Conventional diode rectifier sources
with inherent voltage regulation produce a load profile that cannot be
changed at will. The load profile, and thus the load sensitive cost component of electrical demand is impacted only by train operating
policies. Voltage control capability allows the load profile of TCRS to
be adjusted within the constraints of train operating practices, and
demand-control energy management may be achieved. Efficient solutions to the problems of energy management design require an understanding of the relationships between networked sources and dynamic
loads. This paper presents the relationships between demand sensitive
electric utility costs, traction power source energy management, and
train operations and provides simplified quantitative expressions in
support of the basic principles.

loading (vehicles, passengers and losses). It is usually metered separately

at each traction power substation. Demand is a calculated short-term average of the measured energy usage, over a 15 or 30 minute interval. Energy
usage is usually stated in kilowatt-hours. Demand may be expressed in
either kilowatts or kilovolt-amperes.
Demand cost may be expressed simply, as $6.80 per KW or $5.80 per
KVA. In the latter case, good power factor will be rewarded and poor
power factor will be penalized. Energy usage cost is most often stated in
fixed blocks, with decreasing cost as energy usage increases (eg. 5.72$ per
Kwh for the first 2500 KW-hr., 3.0$ per Kwh for the next 3500 KW-hr.
etc.). The blocks may also be conditioned by the billing demand as i n :
3.06 per KW-hr. for the next 2500 KW-hr. increased by 170 KW-hr. per
KW demand. Note that this can represent a hidden demand charge when
an increase in demand shifts KWhr. from a less expensive block to a more
expensive block. This is the usual case for transit system electrical services.
While rate schedules vary from one provider to another, the demand
cost element may be as much as 50% of the total, and more. By the time
the transit system begins operations, energy usage costs are more or less
fixed by the design of the system and the operating requirements
(schedule). The main opportunity for energy management is in the control
of demand.


N ENTERING revenue service in 1996, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit

O D i s t r i c t (DART) LRT Starter System will become the first major transit system in North America to use thyristor controlled rectifier substations
(TCRS) for DC traction power service. The TCRS compensates for voltage drop under heavy load conditions allowing greater distances between
substations. A 21 mile segment that requires 19 conventional diode rectifier substations can be powered by 14 TCRS. Elimination of a substation
in the Central Business District (CBD) also avoids construction of an
expensive underground vault.
DART invested part of the capital investment savings produced by
using TCRS in the development of an EMS (Energy Management System).
The EMS is specified simply to limit the electrical demand for each TCRS
to some desired value related to the contract requirements of the electrical
utility. Reducing demand at each of the TCRS minimizes the total cost of
electric power related to operation of the system. An overriding design criteria requires that energy management objectives be secondary to continued and unimpeded train operations at all times.
Initial design discussions involved both technical and non-technical
representatives of the Electric Utility, TCRS manufacturer, LRV (Light
Rail Vehicle) manufacturer, System Design Consultant, and Communications Consultant along with DART design, maintenance and operations
personnel. Although sophisticated power system and train operation simulations would later provide accurate data for the basis of system design
decisions, the participants in the EMS design discussions needed simple
conceptual models using only basic electrical terminology to understand
the design process. This paper presents the derivation of several of those
concepts related to energy management, load sharing and thyristor controlled rectifier substations for the benefit of those who also find themselves in unfamiliar territory

Conventional Unregulated Diode RectiJiers

Traction power substations in the United States have historically used
conventional diode rectifier substations to convert alternating current (AC)
power provided by the electric utility into direct current (DC) power
required by the power delivery system (3hd rail or catenary). These rectifiers use naturally commutated two-terminal diodes and have very little in
the way of complex circuitry. They are, as a result, very reliable.
Diode rectifiers cannot be controlled, producing a fixed DC voltage
output. Although officially classified as unregulated, the fixed DC output
voltage has a negative load characteristic (droop), decreasing with increasing load current. This inherent regulation includes the effects of the AC
power source, rectifier transformer impedance, diode forward junction voltage, commutation overlap and voltage drops in the various series resistance elements. The load characteristic in the normal operating region (to
450% load) is quite linear and can be modeled for energy management
analysis as a fixed resistance. It is often convenient to include the voltage
drops in the feeder system to simplify the model.


terminal voltage at substation, volts
Ed0 theoretical no-load DC voltage, volts
IL load current, amperes



internal resistance

Inherently regulated voltage sources will try to deliver whatever power

is required by the load in accordance with ( I ) , even to the point of selfdestruction. They are, therefore, sized with generous safety margins and
must be equipped with protective devices to prevent destructive overcurrents. Connected to a network of other similar voltage sources. individual
loading at each substation is determined by the electric utility voltage, distance to adjacent substations, and the locationloperating mode of the LRVE

Energy Management
Energy management of traction power systems may be motivated by
economic interests or social concerns.1 The cost of purchasing electrical
power for transit operations generally includes two components: (1) energy
usage, and (2) a demand charge. Energy usage is related to the system
1 The traction power system, itself, is an expression of energy management for social reasons.


Three regions are defined

Tliyrisior Controlled Rectifiers

Thyristor Controlled Rectifiers have been used in industrial applications for more than 30 years and have been successfully applied on transit
systems in most parts of the world for more than twenty years. They differ
from the conventional diode rectifier in that the DC output voltage can be
controlled. Regulators can be designed to maintain a constant output voltage or current, simulate a conventional rectifier with a programmable
droop, or provide a rising characteristic (increasing output voltage with
increasing load). It can even provide a combination of all of these characteristics, dependent on the magnitude of the load current or varying with
time. Almost instantaneously, voltage can be reduced to zero and even
made negative allowing high speed protective functions with current forcing. These capabilities can be used to:

Vt = Esp

constant voltage



constant current


This particular strategy encourages stability of the DC system, provides

high power factor in the normal operating range, and limits overloads to an
acceptable value within the load profile for heavy traction service [2].

Compensate for electric utility voltage variations with time ( both

high and low);


Compensate for the inherent voltage regulation characteristic of the

rectifier/transformer unit;

Limitations OfSimulator5

A traction power network is complex to represent mathematically and

is always changing due to the varying magnitude and location of the LRV
loads with time. Power system simulators linked to train simulators provide exceptional accuracy for the determination of design parameters.
Generally the train simulator performs snapshot calculations of the LRT
loads and positions at regular intervals and presents this information to the
power system simulator (PSS) The PSS then resolves the dc terminal voltage and running rail negative rise at each LRV position. Runs are
repeated with substation outages simulated and with headways adjusted to
represent catch-up modes of operation. Designed for fixed voltage source
systems, these simulators do not generally include the capability to model a
voltage regulated source with a time-variant characteristic or with substation interactions over a communications circuit as required by an EMS2.
While the combined simulator provides accuracy and extensive useful
data, the internal workings are most often self-contained making it difficult
to visualize the interactions between substations and loads.

Compensate for voltage drops in the feeder system;

Compensate for voltage drops in the power delivery system;
Protect the rectifier/transformer from excessive long and short term
loading and short-circuits;
Control the flow of power from source to load(s) to achieve load
balance or energy management objectives.
Reference [I] expands upon this summary of the advantages of TCRS
in transit applications.
TCRS Equivalent Circuit
The TCRS rectifier uses thyristors, a three-terminal device similar to
the two-terminal diode except for the inclusion of a third terminal or gate.
Delaying the application of the firing signal to this gate shifts the point of
commutation from one element to another along the AC voltage wave to
select segments that have a lower average voltage. By convention the
phase delay angle is represented by the Greek letter a. The average DC
output voltage so achieved is proportional to the cosine of a. The model
for a TCRS rectifier is:

Basic Model For Load Sharing Discussion

Basic principals are more easily demonstrated by a simplified system
model consisting of a single static load, intermediate between two substations. By varying the location between the substations, the effect of the
movement of the LRV may be visualized. Examining the interaction with
distant substations indicates whether these may be ignored or should be
In the system model discussed (Figure 2). the LRV should be considered as moving from left to right from SI (substation 1) to S2 (substation
2). Substations placed to the left of S1 would interact in the same way as
those to the right and results visualizing SI as an intermediate substation
should be adjusted accordingly.
Nomenclature for use with Figure 2 is presented in Table I.


phase-control angle of retard

One strategy for application of the TCRS on a transit power system is

provide a constant voltage output up to 100% load, constant a at the
minimum allowable a up to 300% load and constant current at 300% to
prevent overloads as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2

Figure 1






Load Sharing With Conventional Diode Rectifiers


Unregulated diode rectifiers connected to a network share load quite

naturally and efficiently. As LRVs move along the track, the power that
they draw transfers from substation to substation without requiring any
switching or communications. While most of the power is drawn from the

amin minimum allowable phase delay angle
ESP setpoint value of voltage regulator
ICL setpoint value of current limit

2 For an exception refer to reference [3]



tions (Rn n+l) to the internal resistance (&):


Rn n+l



substation designation number


source voltage at substation n, volts


termination voltage at substation n, volts


voltage at load (LRV), volts

1 +SF


substation load current, amps

In n+l

circuit current flowing away from substation n towards substation n+l , amps


LRV load current, amps


internal resistance representation of substation n, ohms

Rn n+l

loop resistance between substations n and n+l, ohms

per unit (%/l00)of distance from substation n to n+l

index for substation and parameter identification





Dominance factor (DF) indicates how, in the makeup of the segment

current 121 , S3 is dominated by source S2:



substation on either side of the LRV, the drooping characteristic of the

inherent regulation curve ( I ) allows a portion of the load to be fed from
distant substations, although this becomes smaller with increasing distance.
Consider an LRV intermediate between S 1 and S2 at position a, with a
feeder breaker open at S2 so that I32 must be zero. Assuming E1 = E2
gives a simple expression for the contribution of each substation:



Numerical Example
Typically, for 750 V, 1500 KW substations on an LRT system having
6% total voltage regulation, the equivalent resistance will be 0.02 Q. The
segment loop resistance will be about 0.1 Q. (Substation spacing of 1 mile
with cross-bonded double track, 1 IS# running rails. 350 KCMIL catenary
on a 500 KCMIL messenger.) From (12) and (IS), SF = 5 and DF = 6.
From (IO) and ( I I), 86% of 121 is contributed by S2,14% by S3.
Increasing the substation capacity to 2500 KW will raise the stiffness
factor to 7.7, the dominance factor to 8.7 and the contribution of S2 to 121
to 90%. For the even more distant substations (S4 ... Sn) the added contribution is even less ( 10%of 10%. etc. ). Contribution from distant substations may be ignored for EMS purposes with little loss in accuracy for
stiffness factors greater than 5 .
DF provides an easy way to evaluate the need to consider distant substations. Given DF, the contribution of the next distant substation
expressed in per cent of the total is:


R12 + R2

A further simplifying assumption is justified on LRT systems using relatively large ( > 1500 KW) substations with relatively long distances ( > 1
mile) between substations. Then, the relationship reduces to:
I1 =

(1- a) IL


12 =

a IL



Care should be exercised in the use of these last simplified formulas

near substation locations, as the results can be misleading. Together, they
indicate that when the LRV is at St ( a = 0) the contribution from S2 is 0
and that when it is at S2 (a= I ) the contribution from S I is 0. This is
indeed the case when the substations and distances become sufficiently
large, as explained in the next section.

(16 )

DF+ 1

TCRS with voltage regulators set to produce a drooping characteristic

emulate conventional diode rectifier substations and will act as described in
the previous section. The slope of the voltage regulation curve is an adjustable parameter. This value can be chosen to produce a desired stiffness
factor, matching the requirements Of the inter-substation spacing and the
inherent voltage regulation of the transformer.rectifier.
In the normal operating range, below 100% rated load, the constant
voltage regulator will compensate for voltage drop due to load and the
TCRS will appear to the system as an infinitely stiff source. This is confirmed by examining (IO) to ( I 5 ) . Reducing Rs to zero requires that both
SF and DF be infinite and (10)and ( I 1) become:

Considering more than two sources requires more terms in the formuesting to determine when [his additional information is desirable. Refer
again to the discussion model (Figure 2) to examine how the right branch
current (121) will be composed on closing the circuit breaker at S2, allowiiig S3 to contribute.


Load Sharing With TCRS

Ias, making them more difficult to read and interpret. It is, therefore, inter-

R3 + R23

I,+l(percent) =

Thus, for a substation with a DF of 9, the next most distant substation will provide 10% of the current.

Coritr-ibutinn OfDistant Substations

12 =

= l+SF


a R12 + RI
12 =


R2 + R23 + Rg

12 =

1 3=



- 121



R2 + R23 + R3

13 =

A voltage source that is described as stiff is one that has a low equiv~ l l c n tresistance such that the voltage does not drop off greatly with increasiiip lo;id. Stiffness factor (SF) is the ratio of the resistance between substa-




= 0

The significance of this observation is to note that when all substations

are voltage regulated to a common value, distant substations will have no
contribution to a load intermediate between two substations. The load will
draw only from the two adjacent substations. Further, a load located at a
substation will draw only from that substation. The voltage regulator with
a level load line acts, in effect, to block any additional natural load sharing.


-= 10 ampdvolt




2 (800) - 750



- --

+ 0.5 (2 000) = 8.5



Shifting Load By Varying Source Voltage

The contributions of S1 and S2 are calculated from (19) and (20):

Simplified formulae thus far have included the implicit assumption that
source voltages at all substations are equal. This assumption is approximately true for conventional diode substations but need not be the case
with TCRS. Manipulating the source voltage o f a TCRS provides a
mechanism to shift load to, or from, the adjacent substations.
Returning to Figure 2 consider an LRV again at position a. A voltage
regulator at S2 allows us to ignore any contribution from S3 or higher. A
generalized expression where E1 # E2 is:

(1- a) IL-

I1 =

750 - 800
I1 =


= 1500 amps


= 500 amps


750 - 800
12 = (0.5) (2 000) +


E2 -E1

By setting the voltage of S2 50 volts higher than S i , 500 amps has

been shifted from the interior substation S2 to the stub-end substation S i . From (24) it is evident that to shift 100 amps from S i back
to S2 the setpoint voltage at S2 can be raised by 10 volts or the setpoint voltage at S i can be lowered by 10 volts.



(0.5) (2 000) -

E2 -E1

Shifting Load To Distant Substations

Note the similarity to (8) and (9). The second term in each case represents the portion of the current that flows into the load due to the voltage
difference between the two substations. Controlling the voltage at each
substation, relative to the adjacent substations controls the flow of current
from the substation to the load. The magnitude and direction of this current shift is determined only by the individual source voltages and the
resistance between the substations.

The technique is not limited to adjacent substations. Load may be

shifted away from any substation on the network to any other substation or
to multiple substations by a technique of cascading. It is only necessary to
make the voltage adjustments calculated using the load shift factor for each
intervening substation. For example if the intersubstation resistances from
S1 to S4 are all 0.1 R,100 amps of load can be shifted from S i to S4 by
raising the voltage setpoint at SI,S2, and S3 by 10 volts and maintaining
the same voltage at S 4 . S i will be reduced by 100 amps, S4 will be
increased by 100 amps, and S2 and S3 will remain unchanged. The load
shift will not propagate any further than S4 as the relative voltage difference between S4 and S5 does not change. Where intersubstation resistances differ, the voltage adjustment required to cascade the load shift must
be determined from the load shift factor.
Similarly, 200 amps can be shifted away from S1 with 100 amps provided by S2 and 100 amps provided by Sg. This requires that the voltage
setpoint at S3 remain unchanged while the voltage setpoint at S2 is raised
by 10 volts to affect the 100 amp transfer from S2 to Sg. At the same time
the voltage setpoint at S1 must be raised 30 volts in order to transfer 200
amps towards S2 and to allow for the increase in voltage at S2.

Load Shift Factor

It is useful in setting up the EMS to be able to determine the amount of
load that will be shifted for a specific change in DC output voltage. Loads
associated with normal running of chopper controlled or AC LRVs are
constant power in nature; varying the voltage at the load causes a change in
the load current to keep the product (power) constant. During periods of
acceleration, modern units are current limited representing a constant current load. For the constant current case it is only necessary to differentiate
I1 with respect to E1 in (19) holding ILconstant.
AI 1

- --



constant current


An expression may be developed in terms of power:

The function of the centralized EMS system is to monitor energy usage

and demand at each TCRS location , analyze the pattern of usage, and provide setpoint values to the voltage regulators at the TCRS. Current load
shift factors for each substation location calculated using (24) provide the
initial open-loop setup parameters.
Analysis of the projected average loading at each TCRS location produces a set of at-rest voltage setpoints that optimize the distribution of the
load under steady-state normal running conditions.
When a demand violation is threatened, the EMS examines the status
of each TCRS and determines the adjustments in loading to be made to
each one. Load is shifted away from the threatened unit and towards the
units best able to absorb the increase without risking additional demand
The load adjustments required are translated into voltage setpoint values using the current load shift factors which are then translated to the individual TCRS.

E12 E1 E2

P i = (1 - a) E1 IL+




2E1 -E2


a IL wattdvolt

constant current (23)


The constant power case can be developed from Figure 2 similarly, but
does not lend itself to simple expression and will not be covered here. The
load shift factor expressed in ampslvolt and based on the assumption of
constant current is sufficiently accurate for EMS purposes and has the
advantage of being independent of loading and load qistribution.
Numerical Example


With S1 regulated at 800 volts and S2 regulated at 750 volts, calculate

the load shift factor if the resistance between the two substations is 0.1 0
and the LRV load of 2 000 amps is located halfway between the two substations.

Energy management with TCRS depends upon the ability to control

the DC output voltage to shift load away from some units and
towards others.


Conventional diode rectifiers share load naturally due to the negative

slope of the inherent voltage regulation characteristic. The degree of
load sharing is a function of the Stiffness Factor, SF. For SF > 5 ,
load sharing from distant substations is minimal (< 15%). Load cannot be shifted arbitrarily.
TCRS may be operated constant voltage, constant current, or constant a. All three modes may be combined in one programmable
regulator: constant voltage to 100% of rated load; constant a along
the inherent voltage regulation line corresponding to the minimum
sustainable value of a and; constant current (current limit) at 3008
of rated load.
Operation of TCRS in constant voltage mode, with a level load line
prevents natural load sharing. An LRV located at a substation will
draw all of its power from that substation unless one of the adjacent
substations is operating at a higher voltage.
The load shift factor may be calculated as the reciprocal of the intersubstation loop resistance. This value, expressed in amps per volt,
may be used to calculate the current that will be shifted for a change
in the setpoint value of the voltage regulator. For an intermediate
substation, load shifting will occur in both directions and must be
calculated accordingly.
Load can be shifted away from a substation in danger of exceeding a
demand limitation towards one or more substations currently having
excess capacity. System minimum and maximum voltage constraints
limit the distance over which load may be shifted.

For the special case:

R 12 >> R 1 + R 2

Assuming: R 2 = R 3



[ I ] J. Flowers and S. Jacimovic, Why Use Thyristor Controlled Rectifiers? presented at the 1993 APTA Rapid Transit Conf., Miami, E.

General case: three terminal network, 2 sources, 1 load


- Ia.Ra-

I a=-.I




[Z] NEMA Pub. No. RI (.I968 [obsolete]

- I b . R b - Ec=O

[3] S. Jacimovic, Real Time Energy Management In The Transit Industry presented at the 1993 APTA Rapid Transit Conf. Miami, FL.

James B. Flowers (M69) graduated from Carnegie Mellon University In 1960

with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He worked for Westinghouse Electric
Corporation from 1960 to 1967 as a distribution equipment application specialist.
In 1967 he joined Jackson Bayley Electric Company to start a turnkey engineering
and project management division specializing in outdoor electrical power substation design and construction. From 1979 to 1984, Mr. Flowers ran a small consulting office, continuing to design and develop AC and DC power systems and
coordinated variable speed drive systems, primarily in the electroplating industry.
Mr. Flowers next served in various senior management positions for Controlled
Power Corporation from 1984 until 1991, entering the field of traction power system design in 1989. In 1999, along with two other principals, he founded Traction
Power Systems, Inc. and helped guide it through its startup years.



Mr. Flowers is a Registered Professional Engineer in Ohio and Arizona, a

member of the IEEE Industry Applications Society and has authored several technical papers for APTA and IEEE.