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Digital Clamp Meter: A more versatile Measuring Instrument

Measurement of Current.. Yeah! the usual meter that comes in mind for current measurement is the ammeter. These meters have to be connec...

Tuesday, 29 December 2015


The power transmission system of today will see basic changes in the near future and Gas Insulated Transmission Line (GIL) is one of them. When overhead (OH) lines cannot be built, then the GIL offers an alternative solution by going underground with the same quantum of power as the OH line.

The gas insulation technology was introduced to sub-stations in the late 1960s and is widely used today because of its significant advantages. Application of GIL was started way back in the 1975, when the Siemens co. installed a GIL inside a tunnel for one of the pumped storage power stations in Germany. 

These lines can be laid above the ground, under the ground directly in soil or in underground tunnels depending upon the requirements. The introduction of 2nd generation GIL in 2001 using Nitrogen (N2) and Sulphur Hexa-fluoride (SF6) mixture and pipeline laying techniques to reduce the cost makes the GIL a long distance, bulk power transmission system with greater reliability and availability.

Construction of Gas Insulated Transmission Lines:

Gas insulated transmission line consists of a number of modular components which are assembled to make the complete GIL. They consists of an Aluminium conductor inside a tubular enclosure. The conductor is rested on cast resin insulators which keeps the conductor right in the centre of the outer enclosure. The outer enclosure is a strong aluminium alloy tube which provides the needed mechanical protection. The spacing between the conductor and the enclosure is filled with a mixture of Nitrogen and SF6 gas to provide the required electrical insulation.

Usually the SF6 percentage is small (about 20%). When these lines are buried directly into the ground, the outer ‘Al’ alloy enclosure is coated with a polyethylene layer throughout its entire length. Ultrasonic inspection technique is used to check the leakage of gas mixture. Fig 1 shows the construction of a GIL.

Fig.1: Construction of a GIL

Advantages of Gas Insulated Transmission Lines:

The advantages of Gas Insulated Transmission Lines (GIL), as compared to other transmission systems, are:

  • higher power transfer capability (3000 MVA/system for a rated voltage of 550 kV), 
  • superior Electro-Magnetic Compatibility (EMC), 
  • low losses (less than 150 W/m for a loading of 1800 MVA) and 
  • no fire or explosion hazard and hence higher safety. 

The insulating system is not subjected to aging and hence reduces the risk of internal failure. Since these lines are fully enclosed, hence are entirely protected from the environmental impacts. These lines have a very less maintenance requirement, only external inspection is needed. Because of these features the GIL system has an expected life of more than 50 years. The housing i.e. the outer enclosure is solidly grounded and therefore makes the GIL a safe system.  

The capacitance of GIL is very low (55nF/km) as compared to XLPE cables, and hence the compensation required in the form of reactors is usually not needed for lines up to 70 km. These lines are suitable for direct connection to sub-stations and no modification in the protection techniques is required.

Gas insulated transmission lines are gas tight and are sealed for lifetime and because of which they have superior operation throughout their comparatively higher lifetime. GIL have a very low magnetic flux density, 15 to 20 times less than conventional power transmission lines and hence are more suitable for power transfer through populated areas, EMC sensitive areas, and along with telecommunication systems. These lines are un-affected by high ambient temperature and severe atmospheric pollution.

Fig.2 shows the comparative analysis of magnetic flux density of GIL with other transmission systems.

Fig.2: Comparative analysis of magnetic flux density (in microTesla) of GIL with other transmission systems.

The GIL installation process consists of assembly of pre-fabricated modules at the installation site. The key elements are light in weight and can be easily transferred to the site location. During the installation gas tightness is to be ensured at all cost and which very much depends on the welding process.

Application of Gas Insulated Transmission Line

Gas insulated transmission line can be used in the voltage range of 245 to 550 kV with the current capacity up to 4.5 kA. Gas Insulated Transmission Lines in underground tunnels can be very viable option in future, as the land above the tunnel can be fully restored for agricultural use. Gas insulated transmission line can be installed vertically also, and hence can be used with underground power plants.  The tunnels used for GIL can also be used for ventilation purpose in the case of underground power plants which reduces the overall cost of the system. 

GILs have all the qualities to become the backbone of future transmission systems. They can also be deployed to transfer bulk power in the GW range from large off-shore wind farms through undersea tunnels with greater reliability. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

How useful is a Combiner Box in a solar PV system?

We are fast adopting renewable energy (RE) sources to fulfil our energy requirements and solar energy is going to be the dominant RE source in future, particularly in India. Two different systems of solar energy are employed now-a-days viz. solar thermal plants, and solar PV plants. Solar PV system is gaining a swift popularity among the mass, particularly the roof top solar PV system.

Two diverse types of roof top solar PV systems are in use. They are the standalone i.e. grid independent PV system and the second one is the grid-tied roof top solar PV system. The standalone solar PV system is relatively small in capacity; varying from a few hundred watts to a couple of kilowatts. On the other hand grid-connected or the grid-tied roof top solar PV system is comparatively larger in size; starting from a couple of kilowatts to few hundred kilowatts.
To get the required power output, the different PV panels are connected in series and/ or parallel. How a panel is connected depends on the rating of the charge controller, battery and the inverter. Factors such as voltage drop and power loss are also taken into consideration while going for a particular connection.

Let’s understand this aspect considering an example:

Suppose that we have to install a 400 W solar PV system. Four panels of 100 W each with a voltage (at maximum power) of 17.2 V and maximum current of 5.8 A are considered for installation. Now as per the load calculation and needed back up time an inverter of 850 VA and battery of 150 Ah are to be employed. Usually an inverter of 850 VA is available in the 12 V rating and so is the battery. Thus we have to use a charge controller of 12 V rating and matching the required current capacity. 
All the four panels should be connected in parallel so that the DC output after the charge controller is of 12 volts (input to the charge controller is a bit higher than 12 V). In this way, by parallel connection of panels, we can match the voltage rating of all the equipments i.e. inverter, the battery and the charge controller. Now if the inverter available in the market is of 24 V, then we have to use two batteries of 12 V each in series so that their voltage adds up. Now you have to connect your PV panels in series parallel combination. I hope the connection is clear to you.

What is a Combiner Box? 

Combiner boxes are an integral part of solar PV installation. They serve as the junction point where the several parallel connections from the PV panels come and join. Panels are connected in series and / or parallel as per the requirement as mentioned above.
The combiner box contains the necessary over-current fuses and circuit breaker, the bus-bars and the terminals for the required connections. Many solar PV installers fabricate their own combiner boxes to cut down the cost and to promote their products; otherwise there are so many combiner box manufacturers with many variants. Custom build or tailor made combiner boxes are also available on demand. Smart combiner box with data monitoring capability are also available which allows easy installation of data monitoring system.

 Solar PV systems above 5 kW usually have more wires and their connection becomes a difficult job without the use of a combiner box. Some grid-tied inverters come with the fuse protection and arrangements for parallel input connections and hence separate combiner box is not required.

Fig 1: A combiner box with Fuses & Circuit Breakers

Location of a Combiner Box

The combiner box should be as close as possible to the PV panels so that the length of wire required is reduced and the trouble shooting becomes easy as one can easily locate/ identify different wires. Since most of the combiner boxes are installed near the PV array i.e. they are installed outdoor and hence must be adequately weatherproof.

Voltage rating of a Combiner Box

Each combiner box is rated for a specific DC voltage. Most of the combiner boxes compatible with standalone PV system can handle 150 V DC at the maximum, whereas the grid-tied combiner box is rated up to 600 V DC.

Number of Terminals in a Combiner Box

Combiner boxes usually have a fixed number of input and output terminals. Grid interactive system requires fewer input and output terminals, as they usually work at higher DC voltage, while the battery backed PV system has more number of parallel wires. Large battery backed system may have multiple charge controllers and each controller may have its own combiner box. For an off-grid system it is a smart decision to have enough terminals in the combiner boxes for future extensions. To make the future additions an easy job, the combiner box and its output wires should be adequately sized.

Protection in a Combiner Box

As stated earlier both fuses and DC circuit breakers are used as protective devices in a combiner box, depending upon the DC system voltage. The fuse used in a combiner box cannot be opened up under load and hence cannot be employed as DC disconnectors. 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Power Conditioning Unit: A key element of Solar PV System

Power Conditioning Unit (PCU) is a very vital piece of equipment in any solar PV system and is also called solar power conditioning unit. The main components of any solar PV system are PV panels, charge controller, battery bank, inverters, cables, switches and the protection.

"Power Conditioning Unit (PCU) is a combined unit consisting of a solar charge controller, an inverter and a grid charger integrated in a single unit." 

Role of Power Conditioning Unit (PCU)

Power Conditioning Unit (PCU) is usually a DSP based PWM technology using IGBT and MOSFET. It facilitates the charging of battery bank through either solar PV panels or the grid/DG system. All the solar PCU has the ability to continuously monitor the state of battery, solar power output and the load. They not only monitors the state of affairs but even displays vital parameters such as PV voltage and current, load percentage, overload percentage, charging current etc.  

The solar energy is intermittent in nature and therefore a balance has to be made between the solar generation and the demand. When excess energy is generated the extra kWh is to be either fed into the grid, which is possible only in case of grid tied system, or to be stored into the battery bank. Due to over usage of power, if the battery voltage goes below a pre-defined level, the PCU will automatically transfer the load to the utility grid and simultaneously charges the batteries through the grid supply. 

Once the batteries attain a given voltage, the PCU cuts off the grid power to the system and returns back the load on to the solar system. The rest of the battery charging is now done by the solar PV system. In this way the PCU gives priority to the solar power over the grid, and uses the grid power only when the solar power and the battery power of required level is not available.

Fig.1: Back view of an off-grid Solar PCU

Significant advantages of PCU

The significant advantages of PCU are pure sine wave output with low Total Harmonic Distortion (a measure of power quality), higher efficiency, data logging monitoring etc. The commercially available PCU have efficiency more than 85% and nearly 5% Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) for linear loads. These units come with the deep discharge protection and thus ensure the health of batteries. PCUs have nearly 300% overload facility for a few milliseconds which helps during the starting of heavy loads. Thus these units have the inbuilt overload and short-circuit protection and therefore no need to worry about overloads and short circuits. Remote monitoring of the unit can be done with the help of RS232, Ethernet, GSM and GPRS.

Ratings of commercially available single phase PCU

The usual ratings of commercially available single phase off-grid PCU in India are 600 VA/24 V, 1kVA/24 V, 2kVA or 3kVA/48 V, 3/4/ 5/6 kVA/96 V, 7.5 kVA/120 V 

Monday, 7 December 2015

C-rating and Efficiency of a Battery

Batteries are the key elements used in Standalone Roof top solar PV systems and hence one should know a bit about these storage devices. Of the various types of batteries, based on the electrolyte material, the most commonly used battery type is the Lead-Acid type particularly in solar PV applications.

How batteries are rated?

Batteries are rated according to their:
1.   Voltage,
2.   Storage capacity, and
3.   Ability to deliver the stored energy over a given time period.

What is C-rating?

Energy storage capacity is given in Ampere-Hour (Ah) at some nominal voltage and at some specified discharge rate. The storage capacity is never fixed and depends mainly on how fast the energy is extracted from the battery. The manufacturers usually specify the ‘Ah’ capacity at a discharge rate that would drain the battery completely over a specified period of time at a specified temperature. The ability to deliver the stored energy over a given time period is called the ‘C’ rating. Batteries are available in market with different ‘C’ ratings such as C 5, C 10, C 20, and C 100. The batteries usually used for solar application in India are the C 10 type.

Fig.1: C-10 rating battery used in Solar PV application.

Let’s go through an example….

For example, a fully charged 12 V battery that is specified to have a 10 hour, 100 Ah capacity could deliver 10 A for 10 hours, after which the battery will get fully discharged. This ‘Ah’ specification is known as ‘C 10’ rate, where ‘C’ refers to the Ah capacity and the 10 is hours it would take to completely deplete.

Dependency of Storage Capacity.

As mentioned above the ‘Ah’ capacity or storage capacity of a battery is very much dependent on the discharge rate and the temperature. More rapid draining of a battery i.e. higher discharge rate results in lower ‘Ah’ capacity and vice-versa. In simple words, the above 100 Ah, C 10 battery would not last for 1 hour if you drain at a 100 A discharge rate and on the other hand it would last more than 100 hours if the rate is 1 A.

The battery capacity decreases significantly in cold conditions. There is an apparent improvement in battery capacity with the increase in mercury; but this does not mean that batteries are safe in hot climates. Rather the battery life is shortened by approximately 50% for every 10oC rise above the optimum operating temperature of the battery normally 27oC.   

Since the rated capacity of the battery is specified at a temperature and discharge rate (specified by the manufacturer), one has to adjust the battery capacity according to the prevailing temperature at the site and the discharge period. 

Does battery connection affect the ‘Ah’ capacity?

The ‘Ah’ capacity of the battery also depends on the connection of the battery. For example, two batteries connected in series will have the same current and hence the ‘Ah’ capacity remains the same. If the same batteries are connected in parallel, their current adds up and so is the ‘Ah’ capacity. But the energy stored in a battery bank, whether the batteries are connected in series or parallel, remains the same. Batteries when connected in series have higher voltage and lower current and hence the voltage drop and power loss are lesser. When batteries are connected in parallel, the weakest battery will bring down the voltage of the entire arrangement. Similarly, in series connected batteries, failure of one battery will completely shut down the system.

Why the manufacturer specifies both ‘Ah’ efficiency and ‘Wh’ efficiency?

Since the voltage varies throughout the discharge period, one cannot calculate the energy delivered by the battery during its discharge by simply multiplying 12 V x 10 A x 10 h = 1200 Wh. Therefore, battery storage capacity is mentioned in ‘Ah’ rather than ‘Wh’.

Manufacturer specifies the efficiency of their battery in terms of ‘Wh’ efficiency and ‘Ah’ efficiency. For example, the ‘Ah’ efficiency and ‘Wh’ efficiency of Luminous make Flooded Lead-Acid tall tubular batteries are greater than 90% and 80% respectively as claimed by the manufacturer.

So let’s have a look into these two efficiencies.

The amount of electrical energy stored in a battery is measured in ‘Wh’  

Energy efficiency in Wh 
= energy discharged in Wh / energy required in Wh to completely recharge

‘Ah’ efficiency 
= 'Ah' discharged / 'Ah' required for complete recharge

The energy or ‘Wh’ efficiency of a battery is always less than the ‘Ah’ efficiency because battery discharges at a lower voltage than they charge at.

A battery should never be discharged more than 80%, even under worst conditions. The more you extract from a battery every day, the more it will wear out. The wear out rate depends on the type of the battery and its cycle life. The life cycle, as mentioned in the Luminous battery catalogue, with 80% Depth of Discharge (DoD) is 1500 cycles, 50% DoD is 3000 cycles, and 20% DoD is 5000 cycles.   With this one can understand what the C rating, ‘Ah’ capacity and ‘Wh’ capacity is and how to interpret the nameplate rating of a battery. 

Monday, 30 November 2015

Single phase Electrodynamometer type Wattmeter

The instrument used to measure active power ‘P’ drawn by a load or circuit is called ‘watt-meter’. Three types of watt-meter are in use. They are:
1.       Dynamo-meter type,
2.       Induction type, and
3.       Electrostatic type.
The most commonly used watt-meter and available in labs are the dynamo-meter type. Although digital watt-meter are also in use and are mainly found in industries.

Lets’ have a look into the Electro-dynamo-meter type Watt-meter…

An electro-dynamo-meter type watt-meter has two coils; a fixed coil and a moving coil. The fixed coil is also called the current coil (CC) since it carries the load current or a fraction of it. The current coil, which is connected in series, is made up of thick wires of few turns and is divided into two identical parts (as shown in the figure). The current coil is divided into two to have a uniform magnetic field. The terminals of these fixed or current coils are marked ‘M’ and ‘L’.

The second coil is movable and is called the pressure coil (P.C.). It is located inside the current coil and is made up of large number of turns of very fine wire. A very high resistance is also sometimes added in series with the pressure coil (also called voltage coil) which makes the resistance of pressure coil in kilo-Ohm range; usually 5, 10 or 20 kilo-Ohm. The pressure coil is connected in parallel to the load and carries a definite very low value of current .The terminals of pressure coil are marked ‘COM’ and ‘V’.

Fig 1 and 2: Two different views of Dynamo-meter-type watt-meter.

Working of Electro-dynamo-meter type Watt-meter:

The pressure coil or the moving coil, which is suspended on a spindle, moves in between the two halves of the fixed coil. The movement is due to the interaction of the magnetic fields of the two coils; fixed and the moving. The controlling torque is provided by two fine springs which also serves as leads to pass the current into the pressure coil. A pointer is attached to the moving coil which directly indicates the value of active power recorded by the watt-meter. 

The deflection of the watt-meter is given by:
T = K . V . I. cos(phi)
 where ‘K’ is a constant,
V and I are the r.m.s. value of supply voltage and load current, and
phi’ is the phase difference between V and I.  

Multiplying Factor of Electro-dynamo-meter type Watt-meter:

Watt-meters usually have selection facility i.e. one can select the range of voltage as well as current of the watt-meter. Suppose we have a 2.5/5 A watt-meter and by properly connecting the links on the watt-meter we can select either 2.5 A or 5 A capacity range.
Similarly, we can select the voltage range also. Suppose we have a watt-meter with voltage range 75 V, 150 V, and 300 V. One can select any one voltage according to the voltage applied to the circuit. Let’s make you more clear. 

The voltage applied in the short circuit test of a single phase small transformer is very low, usually 10 – 20 V, so in this case we have to select the 75 V range. On the other hand, in the open circuit test of the same transformer normal rated voltage of 230 V is applied, hence we have to select the 300 V range.

Depending on the selection of voltage and current, we have to consider the ‘multiplying factor’ for further calculation. In simple, a ‘multiplying factor’ is a factor which is to be multiplied into the watt-meter reading to obtain the correct value of active power in the circuit.    

An example for ‘multiplying factor’ is given below:
Current selected
Voltage selected
75 V
150 V
300 V
2.5 A
5 A

The figures in ‘bold’ are the multiplying factors. For  example, when we select (connect to) 150 V and 2.5 A, the ‘multiplying factor’ is 2 and for a selection of (connection to) 150 V and 2.5 A, the ‘multiplying factor’ is 4. Multiplying factor for the same values of current and voltage may vary according to the construction of the watt-meter.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Calculation for Locational Marginal Price

In today’s world all the power utilities are unbundled and de-regulated to a certain extent. The price of electricity is the most important factor to nearly all the market participants. The most basic electricity pricing mechanism is the Market Clearing Price (MCP).
In a power market, after receiving the bids, the System Operator (SO) aggregates the supply bids into a supply curve ‘S’ and aggregates the demand bids into a demand curve ‘D’. The intersection of S and D is the  Market Clearing Price (MCP)

Generally when there is no transmission congestion, MCP is the same for the entire power system, but when there is congestion, the concept of Zonal Market Clearing Price (ZMCP) or Locational Marginal Price (LMP) is used. In other words when there is no congestion, the LMP is the same as the MCP but in the congested state, the marginal cost of each bus is the LMP.

Let’s have a look into the LMP concept using a small example. A small 4 bus system is shown in the figure below.

Fig.  A four bus system.
The system has 4 buses with 2 generators each of capacity 125 MW at bus 1 and 3. A load of 100 MW is connected at bus 4. Suppose that there is no congestion and no losses, then for supplying 100 MW of load at bus 4, the power flows in line –

1-2 is 25 MW,
2-3 is 25 MW,
3-4 is 25 MW, and
1-4 is 75 MW if the lines are identical.

As per the definition, LMP at any node or bus is the cost of supplying add 1 MW at that node. Suppose we have to calculate the LMP at node 4. When there is no congestion and no losses, the power flow in the lines are –

25.25 MW at line 1-2,
25.25 MW at line 2-3,
25.25 MW at line 3-4, and
75.75 MW at line 1-4.
Thus, the additional load of 1 MW at node 4 is supplied by generator 1 at it’s offer price of 300 INR. This generator is the marginal generator and the LMP at node 4 is 300 INR.

LMP when there is Congestion in Lines:
Now suppose that the maximum flow through line 1-4 is limited to 75.2 MW. In this case, to meet the additional 1 MW load at node 4, the generators have to re-scheduled as the old scheduling will overload line 1-4. As per the new scheduling, which can be obtained by running Optimum Power Flow (OPF), the output of generator 1 is to be reduced by 0.1 MW and generator 3 has to supply 1.1 MW. The new line flows are-

24.7 MW in line 1-2,
24.7 MW in line 2-3,
25.8 MW in line 3-4, and
75.2 MW in line 1-4.
Thus, the LMP at node 4 can be calculated as
(1.1 x 350) – (0.1 x 300) = 355 INR

Similarly, the LMP at other buses can be calculated. Now I think that the calculation of LMP is clear to you.  

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Let’s know the basics of Arduino Board used for Small Project Applications

Arduino Boards are used commonly in many of the small scale demonstration projects. It has a microprocessor which can be programmed with the help of any of the PCs using the freely available Arduino software. Arduino products i.e. hardware, software etc are based on the concept of open source. The hardware and software developments are freely shared to bring in more new ideas and to further enhance the Arduino concept.

One can implement LED displays and counters, alarm clocks, automatic intensity control of street lights, battery charger, distance sensors and many more demo projects based on Arduino boards. The following paragraphs give the basic idea about Arduino Boards which everyone wishing to get started with Arduino boards will find it interesting.

Arduino Hardware:

The Arduino starter kit essentially consists of an Arduino processing board. It may also have a USB cable to program the Arduino board (from a PC). The board may also be programmed using In System programming (ISP) technique. Other components needed are a breadboard to assemble and check the circuit, jumper wires and elements such as transistors, ICs, resistors, capacitors, LDRs, sensors etc. depending on the application.

Arduino board consists of USB connector to allow programming the processor from any of the PC. It has a USB-to-Serial convertor to establish compatibility between the PC to which it is connected and the ATmega328 processor. The processor is a 28 pin, 8 bit microcontroller arrangement. The processor has a memory system, port system, time system, Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) system, interrupt system and the serial communication system. 

The processor has three main memory sections and they are; 
  1. Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EEPROM), 
  2. Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) and 
  3. Byte Addressable EEPROM.  
The board also has LED indicators to indicate the serial transmission and reception. Analog reference signals, PWM signals, digital Input / Output signals are given to the board through header strips at the top end of the Arduino board. The Output of the board is given to the ADC system and the power supply terminals through another header strips at the bottom end of the board.
Additional features and external hardware may be added to selected Arduino platforms by using Arduino shields or “daughter cards”.
The Arduino board requires power supply. This power may be provided from the USB port or an external DC supply of voltage range 7-12 Volts. The board has an external power supply inlet at the bottom left corner through which external supply is given to the board.

Arduino Software:

The Arduino software is also called "Arduino Development Environment" and is freely available at the Arduino homepage. The detailed instructions regarding the downloading of software, and loading the USB drivers and sample programs are also given in the homepage.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Issues with large scale Renewable Energy integration and the way out

Renewable Energy (RE) particularly Wind and Solar have huge potential and going to be the dominant energy sources in near future. Their large scale integration into the grid is going to cause certain serious issues which need to be addressed. 

Intermittent and Variable in nature:

As we know wind and solar are intermittent and variable in nature, their output depends on the availability of wind and sunlight. Variation in the output may cause significant change in power flow over the transmission and distribution lines, affecting the reliability and security of the power system. 

Most of these RE power plants are located far away from the major load centres and existing transmission lines. Usually these RE plants are connected to the grid at a voltage of 33 kV, 66 kV, 132 kV or 220 kV depending on the capacity of the plant and its location.

Sluggish development of Transmission Infrastructure:

Normally the gestation period of these RE plants are 6 to 12 months, whereas the development of a transmission infrastructure takes some 4 to 5 years depending on the conditions like Right of Way (RoW) requirement, clearances from various government organizations, financial condition of the executing agencies etc.

Limited Reactive Power support:

Currently many of the wind turbines have induction generators which either have no or limited reactive power support, thus causing issues like voltage regulation. Same is the case with line commutated solar PV systems.

Thus, the large scale integration of RE into the grid along with insufficient transmission facility is going to cause serious issues like congestion, voltage regulation, nodal price, supply reliability and security of the system. 

Mitigation methods: 

Some mitigation methods for the above said issues are:
1.   Variation and intermittency in power supply can be better handled by a strong interconnected transmission system.
2. Reactive power support in the form of Static VAr Compensator (SVC) or STATCOM can be provided at the RE power plants or some strategic locations to take care for the reactive compensation and voltage regulation.
3.   Private participation in the transmission sector will help to enhance the execution capability.
4.  Strong weather and hence output forecasting technique along with a strong real time interaction with the System Operator (SO) with help in mitigating certain grid code issues.
5. Some form of storage capacity whether it’s the pumped storage hydro plant or large scale battery storage, will also help to counter a variety of issues discussed earlier.
6.  New energy market structures incorporating special ancillary services such as reactive support services, spinning reserves, flexible generation etc is also going to strengthen the grid operation in the advent of large scale RE penetration.   
7. A separate Renewable Energy Management Centre (REMC), with advanced communication and control techniques, should be planned for the enhanced security and reliability.

So in near future we are going to witness a new and much eco-friendly power system, particularly in the developing countries like India.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Transposition of conductors in Power Transmission Lines

Parameters of Transmission Line:

A transmission line has four parameters, namely resistance, inductance, capacitance and conductance. The resistance ‘R’ of a line is because of conductor resistance, series inductance ‘L’ is due to the magnetic field surrounding the conductors, shunt capacitance ‘C’ is due to the electric field between conductors, and shunt conductance, ‘G’ is because of the leakage current between phases and ground.

What is Transposition of Conductors?

The interchange of conductor positions of a transmission line at regular intervals along the route is known as Transposition of Conductors.

Why transposition is needed?

In the power transmission line when the line conductors are asymmetrically spaced i.e. not equally spaced, the inductance of each phase is different causing voltage drops of different magnitudes in the three phases even if the system is operating under balanced condition (load currents are balanced in the three phases). Also the magnetic field external to the conductors is not zero thereby inducing voltages in adjacent communication lines and causing what is known as “telecommunication interference”. This can be overcome by the interchange of conductor positions at regular intervals along the route and this practice is known as “transposition of conductors”.

How transposition is done?

In a transposed transmission line each of the three conductors occupies all the three positions relative to other conductors (position 1, position 2, and position 3) for one-third of the total length of the transmission line. Transposition also balances out the line capacitance so that electro-statically induced voltages are also balanced. Figure shows the transposition of conductors over a complete cycle.

A complete cycle of transposition of line conductors.

Complications of Conductor Transposition:

Frequent transposition usually leads to complication of support structures (as can be seen by the picture below), increase the cost because of increased number of insulator strings and total weight of supports. 
Transposition on 400 kV, double circuit transmission line, near Bhopal, M.P.  

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

MATLAB coding for Y Bus partition

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2017

Voltage Stability:

A power system is said to be voltage stable if it is able to maintain steady voltages at all its buses after a disturbance. In other words, one can say that voltage stability is the ability to maintain steady voltages at all the buses in the power system after being exposed to a disturbance. The disturbances may be:

  1. Line or Generator outages,
  2. Increase in loading,
  3. Generators, synchronous condensers and other reactive power sources inching close to their reactive power limits.
A power system is voltage stable if the magnitude of  voltage at a bus increases as the reactive power injection (at the same bus) is increased. At a given operating condition, this is true for every bus in the system.

When the reactive power demand of the load is not fulfilled, voltage collapse occurs. Voltage stability of a power system is on the verge of collapse when a disturbance increases the reactive power demand beyond the available capacity of the system components. Voltage collapse is a usual phenomenon in a heavily loaded power system or a system having shortage of reactive power. The voltage drop in the line impedance during power flow is the main cause of voltage instability. This reduces the power transfer ability of the transmission system and also reduces voltage support ability.

A system is "voltage unstable" if the magnitude of voltage at one or more bus decreases when the reactive power injection at the very bus or buses is increased.

Thus, for a power system, if the V-Q sensitivity is positive for every bus, the system is voltage stable, otherwise for a negative V-Q sensitivity, the system is voltage unstable.

Voltage Stability Index:

Voltage stability analysis of a power system involves determination of an index called the “voltage stability index” which is used as a measure of inclination of Power system towards voltage collapse. These indices are helpful in determining the weak bus so that adequate reactive power allocation can be done.

Methods of determining the Voltage Stability Index:

There are few methods of determining the voltage stability index and “L-index method” is one such method. 

In L-index method, one has to partition the Y bus matrix as YGG, YGL, YLG, and YLL, where ‘G’ stands for generator and ‘L’ stands for Load. Matrix YLG, and YLL are required to calculate the matrix FLG needed for calculation of L-index. Detailed theory can be seen in many research papers.

MATLAB coding for Y bus partition:

The MATLAB coding for Y bus partition is as given below:

 clear; clc;
% File gives the partition of Y bus.
num=6;   % specify the bus system if you to work with many examples.
%  a function file “volt_ang” gives the admittance, magnitude and angle of bus voltage.
%  This file is a part of the NR load flow code  and not given here.
[Y, Vm, Va]= volt_ang(num)
linedt= line_data(num);                     % calling the line data for the system
busdt= bus_data(num);                     % calling the bus data for the system
nb= max(busdt(:,1)) ;                        % gives the total number of buses in the system
type =busdt(:,2) ;                    % identify the type of bus i.e. ref., generator, and load      
pv = find(type==2 l type==1);           % identify the PV bus           
npv = length(pv);                               % gives the number of PV buses
pq = find(type==3);                          % identify the PQ bus 
npq = length(pq);                               % gives the number of PQ buses

for m=1:npq,

for n= 1:npq,
YLL (m,n) = Y (pq(m), pq(n));

for m=1:npq,

for n = 1:npv,
YLG(m,n)= Y(pq(m), pv(n));

FLG = (YLL)^-1*YLG

Monday, 3 August 2015

Special arrangements for transportation of Large Power Transformer

Large Power Transformers (LPT) are large in dimension, and heavy in weight. They can cost millions of dollars and weigh between 100 to 400 tons. For example a 765 kV, 750 MVA, three phase transformer with size 56 ft (W) x 40 ft (L) x 45 ft (H) can weigh 410 tons  They pose unique requirements to ensure safe and efficient transportation. Hence the weight and dimension of large power transformers need careful planning and the critical transportation aspect should be kept in mind.  

Power transformers can be transported by rail, road, air and sea route. Depending on the size of the transformer unit and on the route and transport conditions, a transformer may be transported completely or partially assembled. LPTs have to be transported with bushings, conservator, cooling arrangements and all other minor accessories removed. If the transformer tank has been drained for transportation, it is necessary that the oil should be replaced by dry air or nitrogen maintained at a slightly positive pressure above the atmosphere. This ensures the dryness of the winding during the entire transportation.

Large power transformers cannot be transported on normal rail cars. The heaviest load a rail-road normally carries is 100 tons whereas the LPT can be 4 times of that weight. A specialized rail-road car called Schnabel car, is used to transport extremely heavy loads. Some LPT are designed and made as an integral part of the Schnabel car. The transformer is designed so that it can be attached to rail car frames with the help of a pinning system. These cars may have 20 or more axles depending on the weight of the transformer to be transported.     

When LPTs are to be transported via road, special permits are also required from various government agencies. Before issuing these special permits, careful inspection of the entire route through which the transformer has to pass, is carried out. Inspection of bridges and their load bearing capacity are of prime importance while issuing such permissions. Hasty permits may lead to serious accidents as one happened in Madhya Pradesh in year 2011, in which a huge trailer carrying a 380 ton power plant equipment on Sagar-Bhopal road was washed away when the bridge through which the consignment was passing collapsed due to the heavy weight killing at least 3 persons and damaging the power plant equipment. 


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Use of Vegetable oil as dielectric medium in Power Transformers

Electric transformers while in operation produce heat due to iron and copper losses (although stray losses are also there). The heat thus produced must be carried away swiftly to avoid excessive temperature rise in various parts of the transformer such as winding and insulation. The cooling medium used must prevent excessive rise in temperature in any portion of the transformer and should avoid formation of “hot spots” within the transformer.

Mineral oil is normally used as an insulating and cooling medium in power transformers. The oil covers the core and coil assembly completely and fills small voids in the insulation to enhance the transformer performance. 

Advantages of Vegetable Oil:

Over the years mineral or silicone oil has been used as insulating and cooling medium in the transformers. Vegetable oil such as rapeseed, sunflower oils etc. are bio-degradable and have a much higher flashover point, are environment friendly and less inflammable. Vegetable oil has higher flash and fire point when compared to mineral oil. Similarly the dielectric strength is also higher. 

Properties of  Vegetable Oil-based Envirotemp Insulating fluid:

The flash point and dielectric strength of “Envirotemp FR3” vegetable oil-based insulating fluid is 330oC and 56 kV at 25 oC whereas for mineral oil the values are 147 oC and 45 kV respectively.  Transformers using vegetable oil will require lesser fire safety systems. Since transformers with vegetable oil are better in terms of fire hazard protection, hence can be used in environment sensitive and densely populated areas.

First EHV class Power Transformer with Vegetable oil:

Siemens has successfully produced and commissioned, in 2014, the world’s first EHV class power transformer that uses vegetable oil as the dielectric medium. The transformer, which is a 380/110 kV power transformer, uses nearly 100 tons of vegetable oil and is commissioned in Bruchsal-Kandelweg substation in Germany. 

Although using vegetable oil in power transformers is not new. Siemens have produced and commissioned more than 30 transformers that use vegetable oil as a dielectric medium up to 69 kV class transformers with individual capacity of 30 MVA.   

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Energy conservation in Residential and Commercial buildings

"Residential and Commercial buildings account for a significant portion of the total energy consumption in India." 

These buildings use electricity and other energy sources such as natural gas etc. Electricity is used for lighting and operating other useful appliances. The potential for energy conservation in buildings remains large despite of the improvements in energy efficiency and house keeping. For any building, the envelope that is walls, roofs, floors, windows and doors has a significant impact on the energy consumption.

Recommended Energy Conservation Measures:
The commonly recommended energy conservation measures are:
  • The energy use of a building is dominated by weather, especially in extreme weather conditions. Heat gain and loss from direct conduction of heat or from air passage are significant. Addition of thermal insulation can be cost effective. CO2 based ventilation controller can be implemented in various commercial buildings including cinemas, classrooms, retail stores and establishments to reduce the energy requirement. Recently several materials such as selective glasses or chromogenic glazing have been used to improve energy efficiency of buildings.
  •  Simple and inexpensive measures to improve the efficiency of a lighting system include the use of energy efficient lamps and ballasts, reflective devices, de-lamping and maximum use of day light. Sensors and controllers can be used to reduce electrical lighting consumption. Energy efficient equipments of standard make should be used to comply with the efficiency standards and to save money.
  • The energy use due to Heating Ventilation and Air-conditioning (HVAC) may be significant particularly in the light of increasing living standards.  30 to 40% of the total energy consumption in any commercial building is because of HVAC. Measures to improve energy performance include appropriate setting of thermostat, retrofitting of central heating and cooling plants, installation of heat recovery system etc.
  • An automated energy management and control system (EMCS) can control the building energy use by continuously monitoring the energy consumption of various equipments and making necessary adjustments.   
  • Regular energy audits should be conducted to identify opportunities of energy saving. The short term and cost effective measures should be implemented immediately.