One of Canada’s largest manufacturers of innovative and sustainable packaging products was facing multiple transformer failures and production stops due to power quality issues at one of its many sites. The manufacturer needed to find a way to eliminate these recurring problems and troublesome interruptions. Multiple studies on power quality were performed by different contractors. Comsys Partner, ADM Engineering, was one of the companies performing power studies and providing analysis report.
The challenge facing ADM was to determine what was causing the periodic failures in the main transformers and to recommend a reliable remedy. Following site measurements and subsequent analysis of the data captured by ADM and Comsys, the root of the problem was identified. The culprit was the resonance caused by the interaction between the natural resonant frequency of the power system, tuned capacitor banks, and nonlinear loads. Based on these findings, ADM was able to recommend ADF as the only viable solution to the site’s persisting problems.
ADF P300 – Active Harmonic Filters engineered and assembled by ADM using PPM300 modules.
The ADF solution has been operating successfully since January 2020, eliminating resonance and harmonics as well as providing near unity power factor. Cost savings alone have amounted to around CAD 30,000 per month by eliminating harmonics and correcting the power factor. Increased uptime and productivity provide even more value.
- Mill power outage frequency significantly reduced
- Oil cooled transformer runs much cooler and requires less frequent oil changes
- Significantly reduced running temperature of several transformers
- Reduced nuisance trips and blown fuses of 600V switchgear
- Reduced saturation of feeding transformers, reduces voltage variations to nominal values
Current THD – before & after installing ADF
Power Factor – before & after installing ADF
Machine drives system supply voltages before active filters installation
Machine drives system supply voltages after active filters installation
Here is a great showcase of the effects of applying active harmonic filters on a cable car installation made by Power More in Vietnam. Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort are holders of three Guiness Records – Longest single rope cable car system, Longest distance between stations and Heaviest cable roll. For Ba Na Hills, power quality is a question of safety and service quality. With total harmonic distortion 5 times higher than the national regulated level, Ba Na Hills were facing several problems.
- Station to station communcation was interrupted
- Power factor penalties
- Damaged PFC capacitor units
- Inerference with PFC controller
- Reduced motor effeciency in generator mode to 50%
Applying ADF Power Tuning active filters from Comsys to battle both power factor correction and harmonic filtering resulted in:
- Eliminated risk of PFC failures
- Eliminated power factor penalties
- Increased motor efficiency to 100%
- Improved cable speed
When the 32 MW Kville wind power station was being built in Sweden, the local grid owner Fortum was looking for alternatives for inductive compensation. The long underground cable length cause a dynamic capacitive reactive power problem that normally is compensated using a large MV inductor. The inductor is very large and costly device at these sizes and Fortum wished to investigate other alternatives.
Comsys used its extensive knowledge from MV applications in applying its liquid cooled low voltage Active Filter with a step up transformer to create a 2,5 MVA STATCOM solution to solve the problem. If applied correctly, an active technology is very compact and flexible enabling high availability. Comsys liquid cooled modular design offers a high degree of redundancy and availability as the modules can be operated individually.
A further complication was the requirement to measure at the PCC on the 130 kV level so the Low Voltage ADF STATCOM worked through two step-up transformers. After extensive simulations by Comsys, the system was designed and supplied through the turn key integrator Siemens.
The active filters where installed in an existing building and the step-up transformer was installed outside, saving valuable indoor space and requiring no additional transformer cooling.
The solution dynamically compensates the capacitive reactive power and keeps it in line with the utility’s requirement. Due to the STATCOM following the load dynamically and observing both voltage and current, optimal grid conditions are ensured during all operating conditions.
The investment cost was reported to be lower than using the customized inductor solution proving the competitiveness of small active STATCOM versus passive options.
The ADF P700 STATCOM is a perfect solution in a dynamic environment such as wind farms. It is as cost effective and compact as a passive solution but with superior performance.
Danfoss used an Active Harmonic Filter to compensate the THD of their installed 960 kW of VFDs for thruster and refrigeration compressor on the fishing vessel Gitte Henning #8. The AHF ensured to keep the installation within class requirements. Read more at:
Power quality mitigation products are not only used to fulfil regulations such as IEEE-519 and G5/4. They have actual effects saving both power and increasing productivity. This presentation by ABB exemplifies some of their early case studies indicating savings of up to 10%. Note that these savings compare to having no harmonic mitigation.
The cases below clearly show the great business value of implementing a high power quality standard within your facility. The secondary effects of complying with IEEE 519 or similar standards enables the local grid to be dimensioned for less reactive power and harmonic current thus saving money through thinner cabling, smaller transformers etc. Power quality mitigation is not only a cost in the general investment calculation but a tool to save money.
Using the active filter in shunt applications has a lot of energy saving potential compared to using serial filters – either passive or active front end.
Here are some examples and what they mean to you as user. When seen as a system, the active filter in shunt mode offers a total system loss that is lower than that of the passive filter.
Passive Harmonic Filters
A passive filter has between 0.6-1.5% losses
Assuming a 6-pulse drive has 2% losses, the total system loss is the sum of the losses
Pdrive*PFilter = 2% + (1.5 <-> 0.6)% => 3.5% to 2.6% total system loss.
NOTE! This does not include an eventual voltage drop through the passive filter and its effect on the motor’s losses.
Serial Active Filter – Front End
An active front end drive essentially has twice the loss of a standard drive as the power has to pass through two IGBTs.
Pafe = 2% + 2% + 1% for the LCL-filter = 5% losses. Total system losses observed in documentation are 4.7-5%.
Shunt Active Filter
Unlike the serial solutions the shunt active filter only has to be sized according to the harmonic currents to be filtered out. Under normal conditions this means that in a IEEE-519 or G5/4 application the filter has to be sized 15-30% of the 6-pulse load. This means the total system loss is also much lower even though the efficiency of the Active Filter is:
Pdrive + Padf = 0.02 + 0.02* (0,15 – 0,3) = 2.3 – 2.6 % in total system losses.
Summary from a System Owner’s View
Shunt Active Harmonic filters offer between 0 and 1.17% points lower power consumption compared to Passive Harmonic Filters. This does not include any effect from voltage drop through the serial passive filter.
Shunt Active Harmonic Filters offer between 2.7 – 2.4 % lower power consumption compared to Active Front End drives.
Power Losses are a Significant Part of Your Life Cycle Cost Calculation
Minimising losses over time, especially in industrial process loads with more than 8000 hours of yearly operation, 1%-point saving in power consumption translates into significant value.
(Pdrive + Pcooling) (kW)* Yearly operation hours(h)*Net Losses(%) = Total cost saving potential
Energy Cost Estimate
Electrical power prices differ but the relation between cooling and electricity is roughly equivalent to
Pcooling = 0.3 * Pdrive
In the case of the AFE there are cases where the entire harmonic mitigation solution has been paid off in 2.5 years simply by choosing shunt Active Harmonic Filters instead of Active Front End thanks to lower power losses.
The Active Harmonic Filter is very competitive compared to both Passive filters and Active Front End. As the capital expenditure is very similar, a lower power consumption make the AHF a very good overall choice.
Furthermore the availability offered by a shunt installation where the drive can continue to operate even though the mitigation has failed offer a great upside through higher availability of the process.
Active Harmonic Filter Technology have many potential applications where its use can offer plenty of benefits. Active Filters have been proven to provide lowered disturbances, lower carbon dioxide emissions through improved energy efficiency, lower current consumption and increased production stability to name a few. Just as other technology has evolved, so have various production technologies. Today’s semiconductor loads require far more sophisticated solutions than was necessary in the past – a need met by modern Active Filtering technology.
Some of the most common applications for Active Harmonic Filters are:
Variable Speed Drives
The most common application for Active Filters is the compensation of harmonics generated by variable speed drives, often referred to as VFDs or Frequency Converters. Drive systems have the benefits of lower losses and increased production flexibility at the cost of higher harmonics emissions. Harmonics emissions make passive compensation unsuitable. Active harmonic filtering, especially with a modular approach, allows successive installation and mitigation of selected harmonics.
Electrical welding systems place uneven demands with extremely high peaks in current demand during short periods. The resulting highly fluctuating voltage levels cause flicker. Flicker emissions can cause disturbances with other electrical consumers such as neighboring industries or residential areas and can cause reliability issues with nearby equipment. Active Filters can mitigate Flicker.
Furnaces and casting processes are known to give rise to both flicker and harmonics. This is largely due to being some of the most energy intensive production processes today. Active Filtering technology is ideal to combat both of these issues to increase production stability and reduce effects on the grid.
Wind and Solar Power Systems
A major problem inherent in many renewable energy sources today is the inconstant load delivered to the grid. Both wind and solar energy is delivered as wind and sun is available, causing surges of energy that the existing grid is usually not built for. The remote location of these energy plants also means that grid connections are suboptimal.
Wind power systems cause flicker, harmonics or interharmonics as well as other problems. Solar power plants cause harmonics and interharmonics. In some cases, especially in weaker networks, resonances may be excited by the harmonic output of the solar inverters. Modern Active Filtering technology is very effective in combatting these problems; reducing the stress placed on the grid and making these renewable energy sources more effective and widely viable.
Light systems can cause harmonics that heat neutral conductors and disturb nearby equipment. This can mean production disturbances and unnecessary maintenance costs. Modern energy saving lamps may be more likely to cause disturbances depending on type. Active Filters are well suited to combat these problems.
UPS or Uniterruptible Power Suplies can save lives as well as data and financial loss. A UPS system connected to a network polluted with harmonics can malfunction and has a shortened life span. Connecting an Active Filter to secure uninterrupted power supply will ensure production uptime.
What is Harmonics
Simply put: Harmonics are unwanted frequency components and unbalance in terms of uneven power distribution between the phases in the electrical network.
More exactly: Harmonics are disturbances to the sinusoidal voltage waveform. They are multiples of the supply frequency, in other words if the supply frequency is 50 Hz the fifth harmonic would be 250 Hz. These variations from the pure sine form are caused by non-linear loads from electrical machinery and appliances. These non-linear loads can be caused by anything from battery chargers to variable speed drives or flourescent lighting. High levels of harmonics can cause power quality problems and voltage distortions.
Harmonics and the power quality problems they cause can have expensive and often detrimental effects on machinery and appliances. Flourescent lighting may need to be changed continuously, electric motors may have a higher frequency of break downs and a shortened life span. Some common direct impacts of poor power quality in the shape of harmonics are:
- Lower production speed
- Increased energy consumption
- Charges for reactive power consumption
- Damaged equipment
- Premature equipment aging
- Data loss
The fact is that harmonics have become a problem for many business sectors and the costs are consistently rising. The number of disturbances are increasing and modern production equipment is becoming more sensitive to these disturbances.
Harmonic Distortion Standards
Harmonics caused by large machine parks can also have an effect the grid. This is why there has been an increase in regulations and standards required by municipals. Some examples of standards governing harmonics emissions are IEEE 519, G5/4, EN 61000, EN 50160, D-A-CH-CZ, among others. Some standards are also specific to certain applications, such as DNV or ABS for offshore applications. The standards most commonly require a voltage harmonic distortion below 5-8%.
Harmonic Filter Restores Power Quality and Reduces Downtime Caused by Harmonics
Problems with power quality often become apparent through problems in production and surrounding equipment such as lighting.
This is what happened at one of the largest printers in Holland.
The printing company consists of two printing plants located in Amsterdam. The plant employs 170 people, producing six daily newspapers and several other free local papers and magazines. The plant prints up to 1 million papers every day with printing presses running almost nonstop.
Poor Power Quality – the Challenge
The printers had been struggling with power quality problems for many years. Flourescent lighting had to be changed continuously as the tubes kept failing. The electrical ballast had to be changed every six months instead of every 5 years. This kept one employee busy 2-3 days a week. In 2011 just the lighting problems and other broken components cost the printers about
300 000 €. In addition to these losses, the plant had power quality related problems during startup of the presses, which resulted in additional losses through production downtime.
Active Harmonic Filters – the Solution
The printing group decided on an investment in power quality and quite literally, a brighter future. Six harmonic filters with a total compensation current of 1800 A were installed to optimize the power grid and reduce harmonics.
Harmonic Filtering Gave Quick Results
Following installation and commisioning of the active harmonic filters all previous problems disappeared. The printing plant can nowuse their printing presses without disturbances from poor power quality. Due to the continuous stops in production and equipment failure, which had been a daily occurrance, the return on investment for the harmonic filtering system was very short.
Active Harmonic Filters Improve Dynamic Test-Bed
A major pioneer in the manufacturing industry caused problems on the power supply network with their dynamic test bed. Here, an installation of the right combination of active harmonic filters now compensates harmonics up to the 100th order with great results. Both harmonics and voltage notches are reduced to enable top performance of the equipment.
The test benches, owned by the development department of a major European production plant, are used to test components in the development phase. Varying test conditions can be programmed, which gives the test bench very dynamic properties.
Harmonics Compensation Challenge
The same transformer is connected to two parts of the test bench. With a very dynamic load whose load current amplitude can change from zero to maximum in approximately 100 ms, it was impossible to run both parts of the test bench simultaneously. The voltage notches of up to 25% in combination with very high harmonic disturbances prevented this. This caused serious delay in the testing facility as well as exceeding the limits in EN61000-2-4.
Active Harmonic Filters – the Solution
To solve the power quality issues, several active harmonic filters were installed to compensate the disturbances. Two 200/480V filters were installed together with one 100/480V filter that in combination compensate all frequencies up to the 100th harmonic order. The first two filters can be used to compensate lower harmonics while the third compensates for higher order harmonics and interharmonics. The three units were configured to share the
load with the 100/480V filter working on higher orders only. This resulted in extremely short response times and considerably lowered load disturbances.
Harmonics Compensation – the Result
Thanks to the active harmonic filter installation, voltage notches could be reduced to 10%. In addition, harmonics were lowered to the required level stipulated in EN61000-2-4. Now, both test benches can be run simultaneously without any of the problems caused by poor power quality.