Mitigating grid disturbances with power electronic devices
October 26, 2023
Daniel Wang

Daniel Wang

With the push to build a more resilient and reliable grid in full swing, the challenge of stabilizing the flow of electricity grows ever more complex. However, despite a profusion of change, some things remain the same: the demand for affordable and reliable electricity.

Incorporating technologies like photovoltaics, wind turbines, and EVs means more points in the system are vulnerable to instability. Issues like voltage sags, flickers, and harmonics can lead to malfunctioning or damaged equipment, production losses, and reduced power quality—all of which can and will impact your bottom line.

Luckily, this wave of innovation also brings solutions to mitigate these challenges. Recent developments in power electronic devices are proving to be invaluable tools in power systems engineering.

In this article, we explore the application of power electronic devices for fast compensation in power systems, discussing their principles, advantages, some of their crucial applications, and their role in maintaining stability in the grid.

Principles of power electronic devices

Power electronic devices are electronic components that can efficiently and rapidly control the flow of electrical power. They’re based on semiconductor devices like power diodes, transistors, and thyristors. Power electronic devices convert electrical energy from one form to another, adjust voltage and current levels, and control the power flow.

Advantages of power electronic devices

Power electronic devices offer several game-changing advantages in power system applications. First, they provide fast response times, allowing for quick compensation and mitigation of power disturbances. What really makes this capability so crucial is that it can prevent equipment damage while maintaining a stable power supply. Plus, power electronic devices have high efficiency, which minimizes energy losses and promotes sustainable power usage. Moreover, they offer flexibility in terms of voltage and current control, enabling precise and customized compensation according to specific system requirements. And because they’re compact and easy to integrate into existing power systems, there’s no need for significant infrastructure modifications.

Applications of power electronic devices for fast compensation

Voltage sag compensation: Voltage sags, or voltage dips, are sudden reductions in voltage levels that can disrupt sensitive equipment operation. Power electronic devices, like voltage source inverters (VSIs) or static synchronous compensators (STATCOMs), can detect voltage sags and rapidly inject compensating voltages to restore the nominal voltage levels. This application is vital in industries with sensitive equipment, such as semiconductor manufacturing and healthcare, where even momentary voltage sags can cause significant disruptions.

Flicker mitigation: A flicker is an undesirable variation in the brightness of lighting systems caused by fluctuating voltage levels. Power electronic devices, like static var compensators (SVCs) or dynamic voltage restorers (DVRs), can monitor voltage fluctuations and inject compensating currents or voltages to mitigate flicker. This application is particularly important in commercial and residential areas, where flickering lights can create visual discomfort for occupants.

Harmonic filtering: Nonlinear loads, including electronic devices and variable frequency drives, generate harmonics that can distort the power quality. Power electronic devices, such as active filters or passive harmonic filters, can effectively filter out unwanted harmonics and ensure a clean power supply. This application is crucial in industrial settings where harmonics can lead to equipment malfunctions, increased losses, and reduced efficiency.

Dynamic voltage control: Power electronic devices can also regulate voltage levels in power systems. Devices like voltage controllers or static synchronous voltage regulators (SSVRs) monitor voltage variations and adjust the output voltages accordingly. This application ensures stable voltage levels, compensates for fluctuations, and improves power quality. It is especially important in areas with unstable grid conditions or voltage-sensitive equipment.

Renewable energy integration: With the increasing integration of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, power electronic devices play a significant role in ensuring their seamless integration into the power grid. Devices such as grid-connected inverters or power converters enable efficient power conversion, voltage control, and synchronization with the grid. This application facilitates the effective usage of renewable energy, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and promoting sustainable power generation.

Injecting efficiency into power systems through power electronics

Power electronic devices provide fast and efficient compensation for power disturbances in modern power systems. Their ability to rapidly control voltage and current levels, filter harmonics, and mitigate power quality issues makes them indispensable for various applications. The advantages of fast response times, high efficiency, flexibility, and compactness make power electronic devices essential for voltage sag compensation, flicker mitigation, harmonic filtering, dynamic voltage control, and renewable energy integration.

As power systems continue to evolve, the application of power electronic devices will play a vital role in ensuring a stable, reliable, and sustainable power supply.

Adapting to the future is a multifaceted venture. It demands an in-depth grasp of your present capabilities and a sharp outlook of what lies ahead.

With an international team of specialists on deck, PSC is the ideal partner for navigating the evolving demands of the industry. Whether you need strategic guidance or hands-on expertise to assist with product selection and integration, we’re a partner you can rely on.