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Archives for Transmission Systems

Network Equivalents for the Power System Engineer

By R. Austria, M. Gutierrez, F. Luces

Very popular pre-2000, when computer processing bandwidth was at a premium and engineers had more time to put together study information on the desktop (the wooden one, not the one filled with integrated circuits), equivalencing appears to have gone the way of the calculator, the clock and the calendar. Ok, so not quite, as the smartphone does not yet have an “equivalent” function. This will have to wait until analytical programs for power system analysis are made portable. But nonetheless, today’s power engineers will more readily go for the brute force approach of “model everything” rather than take the extra time and effort of creating a simplified model.

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System Impact Study for a Proposed Transmission Interconnection Project in New York

By R. Tapia, M. Gutierrez and M. Infantado


Independent System Operators (ISO) constantly face the challenge of assessing the impact of facility additions to the power grid. They normally require a system impact study for any proposed interconnection of a large generating plant or transmission project. The purpose of this analytical study is to determine the potential adverse impacts of the interconnection of transmission facilities to a power system and whether it would cause any of the following:

  • Post-contingency thermal overloading on transmission lines and transformers,
  • Voltage criteria violations on substations,
  • Negative impact on the dynamic response of power system facilities,
  • Degradation on the transfer limit of transmission interfaces,
  • Increase in substation short circuit current that could possibly exceed the fault duty of existing circuit breakers.

The system impact study determines the impact of the proposed project by comparing simulation results of the case with the project in service against the case without the project. If adverse impacts were to be found, appropriate solutions to mitigate the violations would be required, except for the extreme contingency assessment which is performed for information purposes on issues such as avoidance of widespread load interruptions, uncontrolled cascading, and system blackouts among others.

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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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