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Archives for Transmission Systems

Transmission Bases for Sizing Wind and Solar Projects

Unlike base load power plants such as nuclear and some coal plants which operate near full capacity for days at a time, solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind farms are variable resources whose output is dependent on the minute-by-minute change in weather conditions. For solar PV arrays, clouds and atmospheric interference are the sources of variability. While for wind power installation, gusts and weather patterns are the main culprits. This difference in operating characteristic for variable resources requires a novel approach to determining the impact of transmission capacity on the size of the plant.

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A Closer Look at Wind Curtailment

Figure 1

Wind farms are unique to power systems in that the construction and development time is much shorter than that of transmission lines and other bulk system facilities.  Wind farms can be placed into service well ahead of any planned upgrades, or even proposed non-wind power plants.  In these situations, the wind farms may be allowed to interconnect on a conditional basis or an energy basis; i.e., if congestion is present, they may be first to lose transmission access or have to share the available capacity with other generators, including other wind farms.  Hence, it is important to be able to estimate potential curtailment subject to transmission congestion.  In a previous article, we introduced the raw elements of the methodology for estimating curtailment of wind farms due to transmission congestion.  (See A Methodology for Estimating Potential Curtailment of Wind Farms, Pterra Tech Blog, September 2010).   We now look at the overall methodology applied for the purposes of making annual or seasonal projections of curtailment. 

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A Methodology for Estimating Potential Curtailment of Wind Farms

Figure 1

A wind farm integrated into a transmission grid is subject to curtailment due to temporary or long-term insufficient capacity on the transmission lines.  Maintenance outage of a nearby line, dispatch of competing wind farms and availability of other generators are examples of system events that may limit injection capacity.  In general, events that increase transmission utilization present potential curtailment conditions for wind farms, and so the daily and seasonal load cycles, and changes to interchange and import/export patterns can influence injection capacity as well.

In measuring the potential curtailment of a wind farm for, say, the incoming year, it is important to take into account the wind availability as well.  It may seem likely that curtailment will occur when the load is highest and transmission use is greatest; however, this condition may occur in summer when wind availability is low.  Hence, we have the common situation that at summer peak, the available transmission is low, but the wind capacity is also low, resulting in no or minimal curtailment.  Some operating wind farms have observed that most curtailments occur in the spring and fall periods where grid use may be relatively low but wind farm capacities are high.

One approach to estimating potential wind farm curtailment is to simulate the hourly chronological performance of the combined generation and transmission system taking into account outages, unit commitment, least cost dispatch and load variations.  This method is widely known as production simulation.  In addition to being data intensive and laborious to setup, the simulation duration can be significant, especially if one chooses to run multiple years in a Monte Carlo simulation.  This Blog presents a methodology that is based on an analytical model that is generally much simpler to develop than production simulation models and provides some unique insight into how and how often curtailments come about.

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High Voltage Concern at Wind Farms?


If we think about wind turbines as induction generators, one would assume that these would be VAR (reactive power) sinks, demanding vars from the grid to be able to deliver watts. However, that may be true from the point of view of only the wind turbines themselves. In reality, wind farms are far more than a group of small generators. Electrically, wind farms that deliver at bulk power levels to the grid behave more like a small urban subtransmission grid with characteristics that are far removed from those of a large power facility such as a coal, oil, nuclear or natural gas plant.

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Lights Out at Copacabana

Itaipu Hydro-electric Damby R. Austria

On Nov 10, 2009, a massive power failure blacked out Brazil’s two largest cities and other parts of Latin America’s biggest nation leaving millions of people in the dark. Transmission connecting the large Itaipu dam to Brazil and Paraguay apparently tripped disconnecting some 17,000 megawatts of power. I was on Copacabana Beach years ago for a training course and can only imagine the disruption that the outage may have caused. A blackout in a major city is not a fun time.

But blackouts are interesting to study. More often than not, the initiating cause is something innocuous, such as the infamous overgrown trees in the 2003 Northeastern US-Canada blackout. (An announcement just came out that the 2007 Brazil blackout that was blamed on hackers was due to sooty insulators!) So when the news report says, “A storm near the hydro dam apparently uprooted some trees that caused the blackout,” I am inclined to consider that the trees hit some transmission lines which could have led to the isolation of Itaipu. That’s not so far-fetched. You never know what a failure-bunching event such as the major storm that hit Itaipu could do to redundancy and good planning practice. Reliability is only as good as the next blackout!

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HVDC Technology: DC Overlay on an AC System

by R. Austria, K. Dartawan, M. Elfayoumy, M. Gutierrez, R. Tapia


“Will a 2,000 MW HVDC line transfer 2,000 MW?”

The answer, which we’ll try to explain in this blog, is “plus or minus” if the DC line is being built to overlay an existing AC system. In such a situation, the DC line may continually carry 2,000 MW but the incremental transfer will not necessarily equal 2,000 MW.

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Wind Farm Integration: Analytical Requirements

by Pterra Consulting

Whereas, power plants using renewable energy sources were not too long ago considered exotic, today they are the new face of energy — the wind mill replacing the smokestack as the symbol of electric power generation. Spurred by governmental incentives, renewable energy sources are rapidly changing the nature and composition of power systems. They are still a fraction of the overall energy portfolio, but the renewables’ level of penetration of energy markets is growing. In most US RTOs and power pools, the queue for interconnection projects is dominated by renewables, primarily wind farms.

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Wind Farm Integration: On the Use of Agreggate Models

By J. Chen, M. Gutierrez, R. Austria

As an increasing number of wind turbines are connected to the power system, more and more wind farm interconnection studies are requested. Usually a wind farm consists of tens of wind turbines and the interconnecting cables. The wind turbines are mostly the same type for each wind farm, but the cables interconnecting these wind turbines vary in length, capacity and configuration, depending on the farm design, terrain, easements, etc.

Top 3 Reasons

Here are the top 3 reasons a transmission analyst may need to avoid modeling each turbine and each cable in the wind farm for the interconnection study, including:

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On Using Aggregate Models of a Wind Farm

(A serialized and expanded version of this article can be found here)

As an increasing number of wind turbines are connected to the power system, more and more wind farm interconnection studies are requested. Usually a wind farm consists of  tens of wind turbines and cables. The wind turbines are mostly the same type in one particular wind farm, but the cables interconnecting these wind turbines vary in length, capacity and configuration. A transmission analyst may need to avoid modeling each turbine and each cable in the wind farm for the interconnection study for one or more of several possible reasons:

  1. It is laborious to setup the detailed model. For example, a 300 MW wind farm would comprise of 200 1.5-MW wind turbines interconnected at a distribution level voltage such as 34.5 kV in a feeder network similar to that of a suburban housing development. The simulation software for power flow, short circuit or stability analysis may not accommodate carrying detailed models for all the existing and proposed wind farms. To consider the dimensions, take the case of a system with some 5000 MW of installed wind capacity. Detailed modeling of the wind farms would require about 4000 turbine models, 5000 additional nodes and the same number of additional branches in the database.
  2. The detailed model requires representation of distribution level feeder circuits that increase the “spread” of branch impedances in the power flow model. “Spread” here refers to the range of impedances included in the database. (see further discussion about spread or diversity in the article, “Converging the Power Flow”). Too much spread can lead to difficulties in solving, or converging, the power flow.

In view of all the above reasons, it may be sufficient to aggregate groups of wind turbines into equivalents that capture their net impact on the transmission system.

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