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Posts: 2,270
Joined: Sep 2010
20-10-2010, 03:06 PM


Anjan Bose
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-2714

The electric power generation-transmission-distribution grid in developed countries constitutes a large system that exhibits a range of dynamic phenomena. Stability of this system needs to be maintained even when subjected to large low-probability disturbances so that the electricity can be supplied to consumers with high reliability. Various control methods and controllers have been developed over time that has been used for this purpose. New technologies, however, in the area of communications and power electronics, have raised the possibility of developing much faster and more wide-area stability control that can allow safe operation of the grid closer to its limits. This paper presents a conceptual picture of these new stability control possibilities. The power system networks in North America and Europe are the largest man-made interconnected systems in the world. The Eastern Interconnection in North America that stretches from the East Coast to almost the Rocky Mountains is the largest in terms of geographic area covered, total installed generation capacity and total miles of transmission lines. Moreover, all the rotating generators in one network rotate synchronously producing alternating current at the same frequency, that is, all the generators operate together in dynamic equilibrium. Any unbalance in the energy distribution of the system caused by disturbances tends to perturb the system. Large disturbances, usually caused by short circuits of high voltage equipment, can make the power system become unstable. Large power systems exhibit a large range of dynamical characteristics, very slow to very fast, and various controllers have been developed over time to control various phenomena. Many of the controls are on-off switches (circuit breakers) that can isolate short-circuited or malfunctioning equipment, or shed load or generation. Others are discrete controllers like tap- changers in transformers or switching of capacitor/reactor banks. Still others are continuous control like voltage controllers and power system stabilizers in rotating generators or the newer power electronic controls in FACTS devices (Flexible AC Transmission Systems refers to modern electronic devices like High Voltage DC Transmission or Static VAR Controllers that can control power flows or voltage). However, all the controls (especially the fast ones) are local controls, that is, the input and the control variables are in the same locale (substation). Most dynamic phenomena in the powersystem, on the other hand, are regional or sometimes system-wide. Thus designers of power system control have been constrained to handle system-wide stability problems with local controllers. The only system-wide control in the power system is the balancing of the slowly changing system electrical load by adjusting generation levels; this slow dynamical phenomenon allows a slow communication system to reach all the generators in the system in time for the adjustments to be effective. The only other way to implement non-local control has been to dedicate a communication channel between the input variable in one substation to the control variable in another, an expensive proposition that has limited its use. The tremendous breakthroughs in computer communications of the last decade, both in cost and bandwidth, have opened opportunities that are yet to be fully utilized in the control of power systems. The availability of many new control devices, e.g. FACTS devices, and of accurate time synchronizing signals through the GPS are also factors in this new equation. It is certainly possible now to design fast system-wide controls. However, much research and development is needed to bring such designs to fruition. In this paper, we first survey the state of the art in stability control of power systems. Then we outline the new technologies that can be brought to bear on this problem. Finally, we lay out a possible development path for system-wide controls in which simple extensions of existing controls can start helping power system operations right away to concepts that will require significant time and effort to control more complex phenomena. The goal, as always, is to provide more efficient operation, that is, be able to transmit more power over existing transmission lines with more flexibility.

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