IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER DELIVERY, VOL. 24, NO. 2, APRIL 2009
Analysis of Converter Transformer Failure in HVDC Systems and Possible Solutions
G. Bhuvaneswari, Senior Member, IEEE, and B. C. Mahanta
Abstract—An HVDC transmission system has a converter transformer as one of its main components. The failure of the converter transformer is one of the major concerns for electric power utilities all over the world. Invariably, the top portions of the secondary windings of the converter transformers fail whereas the primaries are left unaffected. In this paper, an effort has been made to analyze the causes for these failures by means of modeling a practical HVDC system existing in India which ties up Talcher and Kolar and has a length of 1368 km. The modeling and analysis have been carried out in the MATLAB/SIMULINK environment. Based on the analysis, possible solutions for this problem have been suggested, such as providing passive ﬁlters on the secondary windings of the converter transformer, connecting a parallel capacitor on the dc side of the converter and R-C snubbers across the secondary windings. The suggested solutions have been compared to bring out their relative merits and demerits. Index Terms—Commutation overlap, converter transformer failure, harmonics, HVDC system.
UE to the evolution of power semiconductor devices, HVDC transmission has been gaining popularity ever since its ﬁrst commercial operation in 1954. The advent of HVDC technology  has been so rapid that it is widely applied all over the world for bulk power transmission over long distances. It is popularly employed for interconnecting two asynchronous systems not only through overhead lines but also through submarine cables. The power supply is made available to islands and remote places by means of HVDC transmission. Due to revolutionary progress in ﬂexible ac transmission systems (FACTS) devices , HVAC is emerging as a tough competitor of the power carrier to HVDC. But still, the HVDC transmission system has an edge over HVAC, due to the advent of higher capacity power-electronics devices, such as insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), integrated-gate commutated thyristors (IGCTs), metal–oxide semiconductor ﬁeld-effect transistors (MOSFETs), and gate turnoff thyristors (GTOs). But most of the HVDC stations still use the thyristor
Manuscript received July 16, 2007; revised October 25, 2007. Current version published March 25, 2009. Paper no. TPWRD-00413-2007. G. Bhuvaneswari is with the Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, New Delhi 110016, India (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). B. C. Mahanta is with NTPC Ltd., Talcher, Orissa 759101, India (e-mail: email@example.com). Color versions of one or more of the ﬁgures in this paper are available online at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org. Digital Object Identiﬁer 10.1109/TPWRD.2009.2014271
as the switching device for the converter-inverter circuit. Voltage-source converters (VSCs) , which use self-commutating devices such as IGBTs or GTOs, are increasingly being used for HVDC transmission systems with limited power-handling capacity known as “HVDC Lite.” These do not cause any power-quality (PQ) problems. HVDC systems are also gaining importance because of the increased use of renewable energy resources for power generation. HVDC systems are used to transmit electricity from remotely located nonconventional energy sources to thickly populated cities. Even in conventional power stations, it is easier to transmit electricity by HVDC from a remotely located power station closer to the location of the coal or natural gas, rather than to set up a power station closer to the thickly populated city and to transport coal from remotely located coal mines. The converter transformer is one piece of vital equipment in the HVDC transmission system. It serves as the isolating device between the power transformer and the dc link and steps down the voltage as required by the thyristor converters. It is equipped with onload tap changers on the primary side to maintain the ac voltage supplied to the thyristor converters constant at all conditions. But frequent failure of the converter transformer is a major cause for concern to the electric power utilities all over the world. Invariably, it is found that the secondary winding of the converter transformer is the one that fails. Generally, 12 pulse thyristor converters are employed in HVDC transmission to eliminate the ﬁfth and seventh harmonics and this is achieved by connecting the secondary windings in Y- fashion to introduce a 30 phase shift. But the ﬁfth and seventh harmonics are very much present in the secondary windings although they are absent in the primary side. The secondary windings should have been designed to withstand these harmonic contents. The failure analysis of HVDC systems reported by CIGRE  states that out of 22 failures in the last few years, 14 failures were secondary winding failures. In India, almost all failures have taken place on the secondary windings of the converter transformers. Such failures have been attributed to corrosive oil-forming copper sulphide sediments, voltage transients arising during the commutation process, and temperature rise. It has also been suggested that repetitive voltage transients initiate partial discharge and eventually result in the failure of the converter transformer , . The harmonic leakage ﬂuxes cause thermal problems in the converter transformer which may lead to its failure as discussed in . Grant and McDermid in  stated that a converter transformer shows signs of insulation degradation due to thermal aging after a few decades of normal operation. In this paper, an effort has been made to analyze the HVDC system from an electrical power engineer’s point of view
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SYSTEM CONFIGURATION In the present scenario. passive harmonic ﬁlters are installed on the source side to mitigate these harmonics and to supply the reactive power required by the converters at fundamental frequency. It is observed that the source-side voltage and current total harmonic distortions (%THD) are within 2%. The capacitors in the passive ﬁlters on the ac side act as the source of reactive power for the converters at the fundamental frequency. 1. Fig. these harmonics should have been taken into consideration and graded insulation for the secondary winding should have been put in place. thus. 2 depicts the schematic of this Simulink  model. Talcher. converter transformers are made up of single-phase—three winding transformer units. Schematic of the converter transformer connection. The NTPC Kaniha Station. the 11th. So. each of the three winding type. is the source side of this bipolar link and Kolar on the south of India is the receiving end of the link.5 kV/ s and it is repetitive in nature. current THD. The corresponding THD values have been tabulated in Table I. But to the authors’ best knowledge. The total length of this HVDC transmission line is 1368 km and it is the second longest HVDC
line to date in the world. Passive ﬁlters of the double tuned type are connected in the source side to eliminate the 11th-. it can be concluded that secondary windings are highly stressed with these harmonic burdens of load. While designing the converter transformer. But the converters generate 12th. respectively. the stress level to which these windings is being subjected to is quite large as the voltage waveforms indicate.and delta-connected transformer secondary windings and for sending and receiving ends of the HVDC line. The primary sides are connected in star with grounded neutral. The voltage and current waveforms and their THD in the primary and secondary side of the converter transformers at the sending end are shown in Figs.
. 23rd-. double-tuned passive ﬁlters are connected to eliminate the 12thand 24th-order voltage harmonics. 13th-. it is observed from the secondary winding voltage waveforms that the rate of change of voltage with respect to time (dv/dt) across the secondary winding is around 1. Generally.BHUVANESWARI AND MAHANTA: ANALYSIS OF CONVERTER TRANSFORMER FAILURE
Fig. In this HVDC system. But when the voltages and currents in the secondary winding of the converter transformer are analyzed. situated on the eastern coast of India. and 36th harmonic voltages on the dc side. SIMULATION OF THE SYSTEM AT FULL LOAD The system has been simulated at full load along with passive ﬁlters in service. These voltage transients are always present in the secondary winding of the converter transformer and increase as the ﬁring angle increases. In the dc side. are connected in Y. renected across it with the values being 45 spectively.
to ﬁnd out the root cause for the failure of the converter transformer secondary. it is found that voltage and current total harmonic distortion (THD) are greater than 20% at a ﬁring angle of 13 at the sending end rectiﬁer. thus polluting the power supply. Three single-phase transformers.6 F. Fig. 23rd. each 12-pulse converter is made up of 84 12 1008 thyristor devices. has a total capacity of 3000 MW from which 2000-MW power is being tapped by this HVDC line.-Y and two thyristor converters are connected in series to achieve 12-pulse operations. and 25th-order current harmonics. Each thyristor has an R-C snubber conand 1. II.
IV. Due to the 12-pulse thyristor converter operations. which is the biggest power station in India. Each leg in the bridge rectiﬁer consists of 84 thyristors in series for the upper portion and another set of 84 thyristors for the lower portion. the waveforms and the corresponding THD of the voltage and currents at the sending end are presented here. the failure of the converter transformer eventually becomes inevitable. MODELING AND ANALYSIS The Talcher–Kolar HVDC line has been taken as the reference model for analysis of the secondary winding harmonics and their effects on the converter transformer. This leads to the partial discharge phenomenon and. 1 shows the schematic of the converter transformer connections. The voltage rating is 500 kV and the full-load current is 2000 A. The system parameters are presented in the Appendix. Since voltage THD. Hence. and the waveforms are identical for star. III. only one station (the Tjele converter station in Denmark) has employed active ﬁlters on the ac side all over the world . Some solutions have also been suggested to eliminate these problems. Hence. 24th. The system is modeled in Simulink using the power system blockset and various analyses are carried out. 2000 MW of power is transmitted through the bipolar link. 3–6. and 25th harmonics are generated in the source side of the converter. Two six-pulse thyristor groups are connected in series so that each converter carries the full-load dc-link current and develops half the dc-link voltage. 13th. However. Secondary windings of the converter transformers are connected in Yto achieve a 30 phase shift so that the 12-pulse thyristor converters can be fed. Similar passive ﬁlters are also connected on the dc side to mitigate harmonics. These ﬁlters are generally of the single or double tuned type. the converter acts as a harmonic current source. Some of the stations are employing active ﬁlters on the dc side of the converters. Also.
24. 2. the insula-
Fig. Schematic of the Simulink model of the Talcher–Kolar bipolar HVDC system. (a) Voltage waveform. 3. (b) Current THD. A. (a) Voltage THD. 4. Hence. Waveforms at the primary of the converter transformer at the sending end. High Harmonic Contents on the Secondary Winding of the Converter Transformer % in the Both voltage and current THD are very high secondary side of the converter transformer. Harmonic spectrum of the voltage and current at the primary of the converter transformer at the sending end. NO. VOL.816
IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER DELIVERY.
Fig. 2. APRIL 2009
Fig. POSSIBLE CAUSES OF CONVERTER TRANSFORMER FAILURE From the simulation results.
V. it has been seen that the following two phenomena might be primary causes for converter transformer failures. (b) Current waveform.
and the winding behaves like a ﬁlter.5 kV/ s.
tions of the secondary windings are severely stressed due to the presence of these higher order harmonics. voltage transients are generated during the commutation process. both of these phenomena cause an immense amount of stress to the insulations of the secondary winding of the converter transformer. Insulation grading across the length of the winding is carried out. These transients increase as the ﬁring angle increases and degrade the insulations of the secondary windings of the converter transformers. (a) Voltage THD. 2) Oscillations of the winding in space: During the second time interval. If there is no proper insulation grading of the individual turns. Waveforms at the secondary of the converter transformer at the sending end. Space harmonics are generated and oscillation of the winding takes place. different frequencies penetrate the winding at different velocities. this transient surge voltage distribution gives rise to a complicated system of oscillations within the winding.
. in practice. the transient surge effects across the transformer windings are as follows. inductive and resistive elements come into the picture. it is difﬁcult to achieve optimal grading of the insulation according to the literature. High Commutation Overlap The converter transformer source impedance is very high and. These phenomenon continue until the critical frequency of the winding. CIGRE analysis  of the converter transformer failure clearly describes that commutation voltage transients have been the major cause for converter transformer failure in the recent past. are repetitive in nature.
Fig. Voltage and current THD at the secondary of the converter transformer at the sending end.BHUVANESWARI AND MAHANTA: ANALYSIS OF CONVERTER TRANSFORMER FAILURE
TABLE I VARIOUS THD AT FULL LOAD WITH THE EXISTING SYSTEM
Fig. 6. no signiﬁcant amount of current can penetrate the winding due to inductance. (a) Voltage waveform. Since the surge is aperiodic and contains a spectrum of frequencies when it strikes at the transformer terminals. 5. but. Currents during this period ﬂow as capacitive currents in the winding. Frequencies greater than this critical frequency cannot penetrate the winding. then the turns adjacent to the line will be highly stressed compared with the turns closer to the neutral. Hence. (b) Current THD. (b) Current waveform. Here. These commutation voltage spikes that are seen during the changeover of current from one phase to another. The rate of change of voltage (dv/dt) across the secondary windings is observed to be 1. then insulations will be stressed and prone to failure in the long run even if this transient period is very small. hence. These voltage transients  stress locally the part-to-part and turn-to-turn insulation of the secondary windings of the converter transformer. 1) Uneven voltage distribution across the winding: In the initial part of the transient period which exists for a few microseconds. As the voltage transients in the converter transformer are repetitive in nature and if there is any possibility of improper insulation grading in the windings. As per Greenwood .
ﬁlters are included in the source side and in the present conﬁguration. A reduction of these voltage transients can be achieved in the following ways: 1) reduction of commutation overlap.
TABLE II VARIOUS THD AT FULL LOAD WITH CAPACITORS CONNECTED ON THE DC SIDE OF THE CONVERTERS
VI. Thus. the commutation process becomes faster and voltage transients during commutation will be contained.818
IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER DELIVERY.54 F. The maximum voltage spike is observed to be 150 kV during commutation which was originally 200 kV without the capacitor. 2. NO.  on the dc side of the converter as depicted in Fig. 24.
Fig. 2) Inclusion of Filters on the Secondary of the Converter Transformer: Generally. Waveforms on the secondary winding of the converter transformer with capacitors connected across the dc side of the converter. voltage transients are introduced during the changeover of current from one phase to another. (a) Voltage THD. The capacitor will also counter the effect of source inductance to decrease the commutation overlap. 9. VOL. 8. The capacitance simulation are value is decided with an aim to nullify the reactance effect of the converter transformer connected to each 6-pulse thyristor is decided by a hit-and-trial by converter. It will prevent the dc-link voltage from sagging. The corresponding voltage and current waveforms and the respective harmonic spectrums are shown in Figs. PROPOSED SOLUTIONS TO OVERCOME THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE SECONDARY WINDINGS Due to the higher source impedance of the converter transformer. 7. there is a reduction of voltage spikes. When the system is simulated with this conﬁguration. 1) Reduction of Commutation Overlap: Commutation overlap can be reduced by introducing the capacitor . Only the ﬁfth harmonic
current is observed to be predominant in the secondary winding of the converter transformer. then it will help
. (b) Current THD. there is no space to add ﬁlters in the secondary of the converter transformer. 2) inclusion of the ﬁlters on the secondary of the converter transformer. APRIL 2009
Fig. Voltage THD is observed to be reduced to 17% from 20%. 7. The value of repeating computer simulations with an aim to minimize the losses in the resistance and to keep the source current within limits. Schematic of the capacitors connected to the dc side of the converters. (b) Current waveform. 8 and 9 and in Table II. THD of the voltage and current on the secondary winding of the converter transformer with capacitors connected across the dc side of the converters.
Fig. (a) Voltage waveform. 3) introducing RC snubbers on the secondary of the converter transformer. But if there is a way to introduce ﬁlters on the secondary side. The R-C values considered for 65 and 89.
Also. Here. (a) Voltage waveform. A smaller value of is taken in order to reduce the reactive power generation as it has already been supplied by passive ﬁlters present on the source side. (b) Current THD. the value of has been calculated by using LC and a quality factor of 150 has been chosen. the ﬁfth and seventh harmonic ﬁlters will mitigate the ﬁfth and seventh harmonic current. Waveforms on the secondary winding of the converter transformer with capacitors connected across the dc side of the converters and ﬁfth and seventh harmonic passive ﬁlters in service. and the reactive power requirement by the converters will be supplied by the ﬁlters on the source side. Voltage and current THD on the secondary winding of the converter transformer with capacitors connected across the dc side of the converters and ﬁfth and seventh harmonic passive ﬁlters in service.BHUVANESWARI AND MAHANTA: ANALYSIS OF CONVERTER TRANSFORMER FAILURE
Fig. It is observed that current THD on the secondary side is getting reduced to 7% from 21% and voltage THD is observed to be coming down to 14% from 21%. 11. there is no straightforward procedure for deciding and . 10. However. RC snubbers can be connected from terminals to ground or in parallel to the winding section. These have to be checked by means the values of of computer simulations. However. The value of has been taken as 0. It is observed that there is no provision for the surge arrestor in the secondary of the converter transformer in the Talcher–Kolar system. and Table III. The system has been simulated with ﬁfth harmonic ﬁlters on the secondary side of the converter transformer along with capacitor on the dc side of the converters. it will deﬁnitely be useful to include passive ﬁlters in the secondary side to reduce the voltage stress across the secondary windings of the converter transformer.
TABLE III VARIOUS THD AT FULL LOAD WITH FIFTH AND SEVENTH HARMONIC FILTERS AND CAPACITORS CONNECTED ON THE DC SIDE OF THE CONVERTERS
a winding section. the ﬁlters on the source side can be further simpliﬁed if part of the reactive power requirement can be met by the secondary side ﬁlters. In both cases.  of a winding or
Fig. the overvoltages set up a resonance oscillation inside the winding with high amplitude that can cause damage to the insulation. These switching overvoltages can be suppressed by RC snubbers. Soyal  has stated that high-frequency transient voltages below the protection level of the surge arrestor can cause severe internal voltage stresses that can result in dielectric breakdown of the winding section. When the ﬁfth and seventh harmonic passive ﬁlters are put on the secondary side. 3) Provision of RC Snubbers on the Secondary of the Converter Transformer: Excessive overvoltages can occur in the transformer windings if the exciting overvoltage has the same frequency as the natural frequency . Design of Fifth and Seventh Harmonic Passive Filters: Single-tuned passive ﬁlters are designed according to . respectively. 10. (a) Voltage THD. space has to be created for introducing the ﬁfth and seventh harmonic ﬁlters on the secondary side of the transformer. further improvement in current harmonics is observed. Hence. To avoid these. 11. (b) Current waveform.5 F. In these cases. although lightning arrestors are installed
. accordingly. The voltage and current waveforms and corresponding THDs are depicted in Figs. the maximum voltage spike is observed to reduce to 125 kV from 200 kV. keeping the losses to a minimum . The capacitor connected across the dc side of the converter will help to reduce the commutation overlap.
to reduce the secondary winding harmonics and the cost on the primary side ﬁlters can also be reduced.
The waveforms obtained by connecting snubbers across winding terminals and the corresponding THDs are presented in Figs.
on the primary of the converter transformer. the HVDC system has been simulated by connecting RC snubbers (a) across the secondary windings and (b) between phase terminals and ground. Voltage and current THDs with RC snubbers connected between the winding terminals at the secondary of the converter transformer. it is found that a combination of passive ﬁlters of the ﬁfth and seventh order installed in the secondary side of the transformer along with an R-C snubber in the dc link yields maximum reduction in the current harmonics and commutation overlap voltage spikes. To check the validity of the proposed solution. Here. a combination of the dc-link capacitor and passive ﬁlters seems to be yielding the best results. The commutation overlap caused by large reactance of the transformer results in a huge rate of the change of voltage.820
IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER DELIVERY. Waveforms with the RC snubbers connected between the winding terminals at the secondary of the converter transformer. It is envisaged that the
. NO. 12 and 13 and in Table IV. From the simulation results obtained. 12. the analysis on the stresses of the converter transformer secondary can be summarized as follows: The stresses are caused invariably by harmonics present in the voltages and currents in the secondary winding. the secondary windings are very much affected by the harmonics and the voltage spikes caused by commutation overlap. the results obtained are identical. APRIL 2009
Fig. The rate of change of voltage—dv/dt also reduces considerably. To obtain accurate results on the stress reduction with the introduction of
Fig. an accurate transient modeling of the transformer winding is very much essential. 2. if the snubbers are properly chosen. (a) Voltage waveform. Three solutions have been proposed by the authors to reduce the intensity of problems caused by voltage transients. (a) Voltage THD. (b) Current waveform. The design of the capacitor is based on the energy balance method . VOL. It is found that although the ﬁlters installed in the primary side of the converter transformer eliminate the harmonics in the source end. due to the limitations of the Simulink/Matlab software. Hence. 2) connecting passive ﬁlters on the secondary side. and 3) connecting RC snubbers across the phase windings or winding terminal to ground. the capacitance value is taken as 3 F and 750 . Fine tuning of the R-C parameters will reduce the losses. CONCLUSION This paper presented the analysis of the HVDC transmission system of the 2000-MW capacity that exists between Talcher and Kolar in the Indian subcontinent. But there is no deﬁnite procedure to calculate the value of resistance. VII. The voltage THD comes down to 15% in this case. transient modeling of the transformer winding could not be performed accurately. Thus. (b) Current THD. Out of these three solutions. 13. These ill effets can be minimized by the following techniques: 1) connecting a capacitor in the dc link.
TABLE IV VARIOUS THD WITH RC SNUBBERS CONNECTED BETWEEN THE WINDING TERMINALS
secondary side ﬁlters and R-C snubbers. they will help to reduce insulation stresses in the secondary winding of the converter transformers. However. 24. These are predominantly the ﬁfth and seventh order. Zinc–oxide varistors are connected across the converters to protect them against overvoltages. It is found that whether snubbers are connected across the winding terminals or they are connected between line and ground.
Eng. Zhao. 2001. C. Available: http://library.” in Proc. C.” in Proc. CIGRE Paris Symp. Summer Meeting.5 MVA. vol. India. Natick. 1700/1635/1635 A.abb. vol.  A. drives. Kolbol. Inc. pp. J.  Simulink/MATLAB Manual—On-Line Documentation. pp. 1–5. New York: Wiley. C. Power System Harmonics. He has more than a decade of experience in the power generation sector. 208–213. U.. Madras..” in Proc. 2.BHUVANESWARI AND MAHANTA: ANALYSIS OF CONVERTER TRANSFORMER FAILURE
installation of ﬁlters on the secondary side will also simplify the design of secondary windings of the converter transformer and the requirement of ﬁlters on the source side will be reduced. Available: http://www.K. pp. 2nd ed. Resistance of the transmission line: 12. Since 1997. Soc. Forrest.” in Proc. Mendes. and B. IEEE Power Eng. “Assessment of thermal aging of HVDC converter tyransformer insulation. 2001. Transmission Distribution Conf. China. and drives.Tech. Allard. pp. Oct. 1031–1035.  P. and J. India.. [Online]. Yg.  O.. and F. High Voltage Direct Current Transmission. Soc. and Ph. Generator transformer: 600 MVA. 2006.
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