Power Quality and Cost Savings
It would not be wrong to say that humanity has never consumed so much electricity, and to make the paradox bigger, there is still a lack of energy. The sharp increase in consumption in the last couple of decades has created a lot of problems in electrical networks around the world. The optimization of costs and reducing transmission and distribution losses are urgently needed. Here we come to the main topic of this article, how to handle all these problems using capacitor banks.
Requests for reactive power compensation, voltage stability, and harmonic filter mitigation have increased as a result of the integration of renewable energies many other technologies into the electrical system. Capacitor banks are abundantly utilized in substations for improving overall power quality.
Due to the neck-to-neck competition, every industry aims to reduce production expenses and better control and optimize electrical energy by employing power quality improvement.
Nowadays, in the light of the coming global crisis, this is important more than ever. Let’s talk about capacitor banks.
- The Purpose of Capacitor Bank
- Capacitor Bank Connections
- Failure of Capacitor Banks
- Protection of Capacitor Banks
- Maintenance of Capacitor Banks
- Cautions to be Taken Care With Capacitor Banks
- Case Study
Let’s start with some basics. In a few words, capacitor banks provide stable voltage level, reactive power support, and increasing power transfer capability in the power system. They are also used to compensate for the losses in transmission systems. Capacitor banks reduce the phase difference between the voltage and current.
A capacitor bank is used for reactive power compensation and power factor correction in the power substations. Capacitor banks are mainly used to enhance the electrical supply quality and enhance the power systems efficiency.
The capacitor bank is connected in two ways – star and delta, but most of the time, delta connection is used. Both of these two connections have their benefits and drawbacks. The main application is power factor correction because, in a 3-phase system, a 3-phase capacitor bank is used for the power factor correction which may be connected in star or delta.
Figure 1 – Delta-Connected Capacitor Bank
The star-connected capacitor bank is used for medium to high voltage applications. In star connection, the voltage across each capacitor is root 3 times lesser than the phase voltage, so the voltage stress across the capacitors is low even in high voltage applications.
There are two types of star connections in the capacitor bank:
- Grounded star connection
- Ungrounded star connection
Grounded star connection: The neutral point is grounded. In this type of connection, the unbiased point of the bank is stably earthed, which means the neutral should not be insulated toward the BIL level of the complete system.
An error on the 1-phase of the bank will not affect the rise of voltage within the remaining legs of the bank. So, a fault on one phase of the capacitor will not affect other phases.
Figure 2 – Grounded star connection of capacitor bank
Ungrounded Star Connection: The neutral point is isolated from the earth or ground. In this kind of connection, the capacitor bank’s neutral point is not connected toward earthing. So, this type of connection does not allow the supply of GND currents & zero series harmonic currents
Figure 3 – Ungrounded star connection of capacitor bank
Nowadays, modern capacitors use a “self-healing, safety disconnect” technology, in which the integrity of the capacitor dielectric is maintained very effectively. Under minor fault conditions, gases are released within the capacitor element to effectively weld and close any hole caused by the dielectric fault.
Typical failures of power factor correction capacitors can be attributed to several reasons as detailed below:
Harmonics are currents or voltages that are a multiple of the fundamental power frequency, harmonics are generated by some non-linear loads like variable speed drives, capacitors are particularly sensitive to harmonic currents since their impedance decreases proportionally to the order of the harmonics present.
This can result in a capacitor overload, shortening steadily its operating life.
Suggested Video – Using Harmonic Analysis Software
Resonance is a situation where the capacitors and supply transformer creates a low impedance path for the circulating harmonic currents, when this happens, the electrical system could tune to the most dominant specific harmonic frequency thus increasing current flow through the electrical system.
There is no safe rule to avoid such resonant currents, but resonances above 1000 Hz will probably not cause problems except interference with telephone circuits.