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Generator Reactive Power Limits and Voltage Stability

A.E. Efthymiadis Y.-L-I. Guo

Manchester Centre for Electrical Energy, UMIST
Manchester M60 lQD, UK

2 Generator Reactive Power

Abstract Capability
Generator reactive power limit is a key factor in volt- For a given generator shaft power, its reactive output
age instability. When the field or armature current is limited by either field or armature winding heat-
limit becomes active, the generator reactive power ing. These thermal capabilities impose limitations
limit becomes voltage dependent. These operational on the generator reactive power capability, which is
limits and the shifting between field limit and ar- normally represented by synchronous generator ca-
mature limit, are fully investigated. Further, careful pability curves, as shown in figure 1.
examination of generator reactive power character-
istics, reveals the effect of generator reactive power
capability on system voltage stability. It is shown
that a generator can be active or passive in support-
ing voltage stability, even when its reactive power
is limited. An indicator is proposed for identifying
critical generators, based on this observation.

1 Introduction Figure 1: Generator capability curves

Voltage stability has become a major concern for
both power systems operation and planning [l].For The basic function of a generator Automatic i*olt-
static or quasi-static analysis, the power flow prob- age Regulator(AVR) is t o control the generator ter-
lem is particularly closely associated with voltage minal voltage, through adjustment of its field cur-
stability assessment. However, since voltage stability rent or, effectively, reactive power output. Thus: for
problems are usually associated with stressed oper- normal operation conditions, a generator can be rep-
ation conditions, conventional models, such as the resented as a P\bus. However, field current is lim-
PV-PQ bus transition for modelling generator reac- ited by thermal considerations and generator reac-
tive power limits, are deemed t o be inadequate for tive power output must observe the limitation as de-
voltage stability analysis. Generator reactive power fined by the capability curves. If the reactive power
capability plays a crucial role in maintaining system demand rises above the generator reactive capabil-
voltage stability and, therefore, better modelling of ity, after a short time delay, overexcitation protec-
this has attracted some research attention [a, 3, 4, 51. tion will reset the field current to a preset value and
This paper investigates further the operational thereafter the generator will operate under constant
limits of generator reactive power capability and field current.
their effect on power system voltage stability. A The generator reactive power capability as limited
weighted least square error method is suggested t o by the field thermal constraints can be approximated
identify the parameters for modelling generator re- through the equivalent circuit shown in Figure 2.
active power limit. It is shown t h a t a generator can Here V is generator terminal v-oltage, P is generator
be active or passive in supporting voltage stability, real power output, Q is the corresponding reactive
even when its reactive power is limited, depending on power limit and E , is an equivalent EMF behind an
the system operation state. An indicator for identi- equivalent reactance X , . This equivalent circuit is
fying critical generators, based on this observation, is similar in form t o the steady state equivalent circuit
proposed. Moreover, t o illustrate the significance of for a round rotor generator, under constant excita-
the improved modelling, voltage stability margins for tion. Therefore, it represents the trend of generator
different representations of generator reactive power reactive power production well under such conditions
capability, are evaluated and compared, using a sam- and is thus physically suitable for modelling gener-
ple system. ator reactive power capability under rotor current

Power System Control and Management, 16-18April 1996, Conference Publication No. 421, 0 IEE, 1996

n-ords, generator real pon-er output P and terminal

voltage 1 have much influence on its reactive power
The heating resulting from I ' R in the armature
imposes another limit on generator operation. that
is. generator armature current must be kept within
a. Schematic b Equivalent Circuit
its maximum. From figure 2.
Figure 2 : Generator equivalent circuit

Note that for nor mal operation. V I , , corresponds

limit. This equivalent circuit leads to the following t o the generator maximum hIT7-4 capaciti if I,, cor-
relationship: responds to its maximum armature current. H o w
ever, if generator teiminal voltage is reduced sub-
stantially, t o ensure armature thermal stability, ei-
When field current exceeds its limit, the generator ther the generator active poner output should be
is switched t o constant excitation operation. The reduced through generator redispatch. or the reac-
restrained reactive power output becomes tive power output should be reduced through field
current reduction. In the latter case, the available
reactive output is
Q = 1-2 -p2

However, due to the effect of saturation and arma-

This reactive power capability also varies with sys-
ture reaction, generator capability curves can not be
tem operation state when generator terminal voltage
directly derived from synchronous machine steady
control is lost.
state equations and are obtained through experi-
For longer term voltage stability analysis, equa-
ments. Therefore X , in the equivalent circuit of fig-
tions 2 and 5 form the basic limits of the reactive
ure 2 and in equations 1and 2 , is not the synchronous
power capability of a generator. It is clear that foi
reactance. Although the equivalent circuit in figure
a given P , when either field or armature current is
2 has been recommended for modelling generator re-
limited, the available reactii e power of a generator
active power limit [2, 3 , 51,the determination of X,
is a function of its terminal voltage. LVe refer to this
and E , have not yet been adequately addressed.
function as the generator (2-1- curve, shown in figure
Generator capability curves are normally available
at the nominal terminal voltage 16, 71, but their di-
rect inclusion in the evaluation process would incur
a heavy computational burden. Thus, approximate
analytical expressions are preferred. To best sim-
ulate the generator capability curve, X , and E,
should be identified such that each Q k , correspond-
ing t o a Pk from equation 2 , is as close t o the cor-
responding Q k O from measurement (i.e., on the ca-
pability curve) as possible. A weighted least square
error method is proposed here t o serve this purpose.
The objective function is

Figure 3: Generator &-V curve

Min.Err = z w k ( Q k 0 -
(3) Note that other constraints, namely armature core
Where Vo corresponds t o generator nominal terminal end heating and angular stability consideration, ex-
voltage, wk is the weighting factor for the k-th point. ert further limitations on generator reactive power
The closer Pk is t o the generator normal real power capability in underexcitecl conditions. But voltage
output, the bigger the W k . instability occurs when a system is reactive power
With the identified values of E, and X,, equation deficient, therefore underexcited conditions will not
2 represents t h e effect of the field thermal limit on "PP1 Y .
generator reactive power capability. It can be seen The active limit in figure 3 represents the reac-
that this reactive capability varies with the system tive power capability of a generator. It can be seen
operation state, especially when generator terminal that the field current limit or the armature current
- control is lost. which is very likely to oc-
voltaffe limit may be the effective limit of generator reactive
cur when voltage instability is approaching. In other nower canabilitv. The Doint where this change " over

occurs is determined by the simultaneous solution of and

equations 2 and 5, i.e., we have x,P2
E& (12)

However, this is unlikely t o happen, since a generator

will normally not operate in an underexcited condi-
tion when a voltage stability problem is impending,
and long before this, the armature limit comes into
Thus, when V > Vc,field current limit is in force Play.
and the generator reactive power capability is given When armature current limit is active, from equa-
by equation 2 ; when V 5 Ifc, armature current limit tion 5, we have
comes into play, the maximum reactive power should
be determined by equation 5 .

3 Effect of Generator Reactive Therefore, the generator can only passively con-
Power Capability on System tribute t o system voltage stability and the worst sit-
uation corresponding t o % = 00 happens when
Voltage Stability
When generator reactive capability is constrained by
field or armature current limit, the reactive output
becomes voltage dependent. The derivative of reac- and
tive generation with respect t o terminal voltage pro- Q = 0. (15)
vides further insight into the effect of a generator in
supporting system voltage stability.
From this point of view, 3 is a good indicator
for identifying critical generators in terms of voltage
When field current limit is active, from equation
2, we can obtain
stability. The bigger the 3, the weaker the gener-
ator. For normal operation, a generator has minus
infinite derivative of reactive output with respect t o
its terminal voltage, and thus provides robust volt-
age support. When a generator reactive output is
This equation suggests that there exists a special limited, this derivative becomes larger. When this
voltage k,, indicator changes its sign from negative t o positive,
the role of the generator in supporting voltage sta-
when V = V,, =0
bility also changes from active t o passive.
when V > Ifs, 3< 0 The above discussion also reveals two possible
when V < V,, >0 mechanisms for reducing voltage instability.
These bands clearly demonstrate that when V > V,, Exploiting generator overload capability can be
a. generator is actively supporting system voltage sta- very useful in preventing voltage collapse, be-
bility in spite of the fact that its reactive power out-
put is limited by the field current, because the reac-
cause that helps t o maintain% near minus in-
tive output can still increase when required, as in-
dicated by the system voltage decrease. However, 0 Reducing active power outputs of generators at
when terminal voltage drops beyond V,, generator or near a load centre can, t o some extend, pro-
reactive output decreases with system voltage, thus, vide more reactive power support, thus improv-
only passively supporting system voltage stability. ing voltage profile and decreasing $$$.
This is a very severe situation and the special volt-
dge is
4 Applications t o Voltage Sta-
(9) bility Analysis
and the corresponding reactive power output is The IEEE 30 bus system [8] was chosen as an ex-
Q -%--
x,P2 ample to demonstrate the effects of generator re-
' - 4X, E& (lo) active capability representations on system voltage
profiles and voltage stability. The data for represent-
The most serious condition corresponds t o % aP- ing generator reactive power limits are coordinated
proaching infinity, where so that field limit, armature limit and the conven-
tional reactive power limit coincide at rated condi-
v=-x,p (11) tions. X s = 1.5 is assumed for all generators.

At the base loading condition, none of the above

reactive power limits is violated and all the generator Stress level I 1.
terminal voltages are kept at their reference values.
When all the system loads and real power genera-
tions are uniformly stressed, the limiting conditions G5 0.8427
are shon-n in table 1, where C denotes conventional G8 0.5638
constant Q limit, F denotes field limit and A denotes GI1 0.4998
armature limit G13 1 0.6015 1 -0.099 I 0.6014 I 0.008 I
Table 2: Severity of generator reactive limits

F/A F A4 generator reactive output is constrained by the field

G5 C. C C limit, it can still actively or passiveIy assist system
voltage stability, depending on the system operation
state. When a generator reactive power is limited
by the armature capacity, it can only passively con-
tribute to power system voltage voltage stability The
difference in voltage stability margins can be signif-
icant for the conventionad and the improved repre-
sentations of generator capabilities.

Table 1: Generator reactive limiting conditions References

In table 1 above, stress level 1.795 corresponds tjo [1] IEEE Committee Report. Voltage stability of
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