Reactive Power Management To Power Quality Engineering Essay

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The present paper gives a brief introduction to power quality and ways for Energy Conservation. Electric power quality may be defined as a measure of how well electric power service can be utilized by customers. The term Power Quality means di­fferent things to different people. There is no agreed definition for power quality, it may be defined as the problems manifested in voltage, frequency and the effect of harmonics, poor power factor that results in mis operation/failure of customer equipment. The widespread use of high-power semiconductor switches at the utilization, distribution and transmission levels have made non-sinusoidal load currents more common. Certain type of power quality degradation result in losses and thus losses in transmission and distribution system have come under greater scrutiny in recent years.

This paper outlines the issues relating Reactive Power management to Power Quality and hence Capacitor Demand Meter has been discussed as a Power quality enhancer. The role of capacitor in power Quality Issues proves to be beneficial particularly when energy conservation is outlined. This paper also gives a view on various factors that affect power quality.


Electric power quality may be defined as a measure of how well electric power service can be utilized by customers. When wave shapes are irregular, voltage is poorly regulated, harmonics and flicker are present, or there are momentary events that distort the usually sinusoidal wave, and the power utilization is degraded. This is referred as degradation of power quality. The widespread use of high-power semiconductor switches at the utilization, distribution and transmission levels have made non-sinusoidal load currents more common. Certain type of power quality degradation results in losses and thus losses in transmission and distribution system have come under greater scrutiny in recent years. This paper outlines the issues rela­ting to Power Quality and their impact on Energy Conservation.

Power Quality

The term Power Quality means di­fferent things to different people. Power quality is the quality of the electric power supplied to electrical equipment. Poor power quality can result in maloperation of the equipment the electric utility may define power quality as reliability and state that the system is 99.95% reliable.

Ideally the power would be supplied as a sine wave with the amplitude and frequency given by national standards (in the case of mains) or system specifications (in the case of a power feed not directly attached to the mains) with an impedance of zero ohms at all frequencies.

No real life power feed will ever meet this ideal. It can deviate from it in the following ways (among others):

Variations in the peak or rms voltage (both these figures are important to different types of equipment) When the rms voltage exceeds the nominal voltage by a certain margin, a surge is produced. A dip is the opposite situation: the rms voltage is below the nominal voltage by a certain margin.

A sag occurs when the low voltage persists over a longer time period

Variations in the frequency.

Variations in the wave shape - usually described as harmonics

Quick and repetitive variations in the rms voltage. This produces flicker in lighting equipment.

Nonzero low frequency impedance (if the appliance draws more power the voltage drops)

Nonzero high frequency impedance (if the appliance demands a large amount of current or stops demanding it suddenly there will be a dip or spike in the voltage due to the inductances in the power supply line)

rapid spikes and dips and longer term variations in voltage (usually caused by the interaction of other equipment with line impedance)


Most of the more important international standards define power quality as the physical characteristics of the electrical supply provided under normal operating conditions that do not disrupt or disturb the customer's processes. Therefore, a power quality problem exists if any voltage, current or frequency deviation results in a failure or in a bad operation of customer's equipment. However, it is important to notice that the quality of power supply implies basically voltage quality and supply reliability. A voltage quality problem relates to any failure of equipment due to deviations of the line voltage from its nominal characteristics, and the supply reliability is characterized by its adequacy (ability to supply the load), security (ability to withstand sudden disturbances such as system faults) and availability (focusing especially on long interruptions).

Power quality problems are common in most of commercial, industrial and utility networks. Natural phenomena, such as lightning are the most frequent cause of power quality problems. Switching phenomena resulting in oscillatory transients in the electrical supply, for example when capacitors are switched, also contribute substantially to power quality disturbances. Also, the connection of high power non-linear loads contributes to the generation of current and voltage harmonic components. Between the different voltage disturbances that can be produced, the most significant and critical power quality problems are voltage sags due to the high economical losses that can be generated. Short-term voltage drops (sags) can trip electrical drives or more sensitive equipment, leading to costly interruptions of production. For all these reasons, from the consumer point of view, power quality issues will become an increasingly important factor to consider in order to satisfy good productivity. On the other hand, for the electrical supply industry, the quality of power delivered will be one of the distinguishing factors for ensuring customer loyalty in this very competitive and deregulated market. To address the needs of energy consumers trying to improve productivity through the reduction of power quality related process stoppages and energy suppliers trying to maximize operating profits while keeping customers satisfied with supply quality, innovative technology provides the key to cost-effective power quality enhancements solutions. However, with the various power quality solutions available, the obvious question for a consumer or utility facing a particular power quality problem is which equipment provides the better solution.

Power quality varies significantly from one area to another. Some countries have very stable power grids while others are extremely short on capacity.

Power disturbances are caused by the generation, distribution and use of power, and lightning.

A power disturbance can be defined as unwanted excess energy that is presented to the load.

Causes of Power Disturbances

Power disturbance originate both outside and inside customer facilities.

Load switching causes surges because of collapsing fields (-e = l * di/dt)

Over loaded power distribution systems can cause significant voltage variations between peak and off-peak hours.

Significant momentary load changes, such as heavy inrush currents can cause severe voltage variations

Black-outs can cause severe voltage surges both on loss and return of power.

Circuit-breaker tripping and fuse blowing can cause severe surge voltages

Large ups and variable-speed drives can cause various surge voltages inside buildings

Results of Power Disturbances

Sags and under voltages can cause component overheating or destruction

Surges and over voltages can cause component overheating, destruction or can trigger other electronic components such as SCR's.

Component overheating reduces the life and deteriorates the real reliability as opposed to the estimated reliability based on steady-state conditions of the product.

False triggering of other components can create nuisance alarm tripping or, worse, can cause overheating or destruction of other electronic components.

The manufacturer of the equipment defines power quality as characteristics of power supply that is required to make his equipment work properly but the customer is the one ultimately affected. While there is no agreed definition for power quality, it may be defined as the problems manifested in voltage, frequency and the effect of harmonics, poor power factor that results in mis operation/failure of customer equipment. According to this approach Power Quality may be co-related with four topics.

 Voltage

 Frequency

 Harmonic distortion

 Power Factor


In the context this issue must be viewed from two different directions. The first direction is variation in supply voltage due to the factors arising from transmission and distribution of power. The second direction is variation in voltage within a network due to the characteristics of the loads connected therein. It is well known fact in many other developing Countries that the quality of voltage supplied by the utilities varies widely depending on the type of distribution network and the geographical locations of such networks. The problem of vol­tage variation in this regard becomes more acute in rural distribution network.

To complicate this problem further the voltage variation is also a fun­ction of the season of the year, for ex: rural feeders experience the lowest voltages when the drawl of power is the highest, which is invariably in a particular time the year depen­ding on the agricultural output/crop of that area.

Similarly on particular feeders, which supply highly fluctuating loads of an industrial nature, it is common to find voltage variations beyond permi­ssible limits. The impact of such voltage varia­tions is to cause higher energy con­sumption due to a combination of factors. Some of the important factors are

 For a given MW of power rating, the current drawn goes up inversely in proportion to the voltage. Conse­quently, a drop in voltage would result in increased current flowing on the network. This increased current then causes increase in I2R losses of the network. For ex: a 20% drop in volt­age would increase the losses in the network by 56%. Further, this increased current will contribute to increasing the voltage drop and thereby intensifying the problem.

 Drop in efficiency of induction mo­tors: It is well known that a substantial part of electrical energy consumption occurs in induction motors. The cha­racteristics of these motors are such that a drop in voltage will mean a higher energy consumption to do the same job. Hence, extra energy is consumed when there is a voltage drop on the network.

 A variety of studies has shown that the variations in voltage are a frequent occurrence in power distribution net­works. The voltage drop seen in such studies could be as much as 40%of the rated value, thereby increasing corresponding I2R losses by 277 %. This results in increased energy wastage and higher power demand from the system, i.e., the power generation equipment has to supply higher MW for the same load.

Voltage imbalance have the following adverse effects:

Overheating of motors lead to insulation breakdown.

Imbalanced currents.

Negative voltage sequence

Motor bearings failure.

Speed variation in motors.

Reduced production quality.

Reduced motor efficiency.

Wasted energy which leads to higher electric bills-KWD, KWH.

Wasted investment and operation capital.

Use of oversized machinery.

More difficult to provide adequate overload protection.

Increased noise and vibration.

Increased maintenance of equipment and machinery

Three phase motors are even less tolerant of phase-to-phase voltage unbalance. A 5% unbalance will cause a 50% temperature rise in three phase motors and is defined by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) as the absolute maximum unbalance under which motors should be allowed to operate for short period of time as delineated in the NEMA specification MG1-14.34 subsequently, 5% voltage unbalance will result in 35% losses, where 4% voltage unbalance results in 25% losses, and 3% results in 15% losses, and wasted energy.

The variation of temperature rise with voltage unbalance is shown below


Brownout by definition is low voltage for an extended period of time (greater than half a cycle) in which the magnitude of the voltage is reduced.

 Brownouts cause the following adverse effects:

Temporary low line voltage.


Loss of microprocessor memory.

Loss of control.

Overheating of motors - insulation breakdown.

Protective device tripping.

Speed variation

Reduced motor torque, which can lead to stalling


While this is also an important factor, it is more stable than the vol­tage due to the fundamental nature of electricity generation, transmission and distribution. Frequency variations can occur, due to the load levels on the electricity supply system, for ex: a highly overloaded power system will experience a drop in frequency. Further, mismatch of frequency in different sections of a grid can cause power quality and power supply problems particularly, when it is important to have an integra­ted and interconnected grid. The issues relating to these topics are more relevant in the area of power system stability and load dispatch and are hence, not touched upon in this paper. Impact of this topic on Energy Conservation is less impor­tant in comparison with the other three topics stated above.

Harmonic Distortion

The problem of Harmonic di­stortion primarily occurs in modern electrical networks due to feed­back of Harmonic currents from nonlinear loads. Harmonic Voltage distortion is created due to intera­ction of such Harmonic currents with source impedances. Consequently, this can be treated as a form of electrical pollution on the network.

This has resulted in a situation where it is not uncommon for a new consumer on the electricity grid to find that the incoming supply voltage consists of a basket of frequencies including the fundamental frequency. This is due to the pollution of the grid by other consumers. The presence of Harmonic distortion has a significant impact in increasing energy consumption. Some of the important reasons for this are listed below:

All electromagnetic equipment such as transformers, motors etc, have two key constituents of losses namely, iron loss and copper loss. The iron loss is also a function of the power of the frequency. Consequently, presence of higher frequency components such as 5th harmonic, 7th Harmonic etc, will re­sult in an increase in iron losses. Hence energy consumption will go up and this is a particular importance in the distribution transformers whose All Day Efficiency could be significantly reduced because of this aspect. It is also harmful for the transformers and motors since it causes faster ageing of the insulation due to higher temperature rise in the electromagnetic core.

The phenomena of skin effect are well known. The flow of Harmonic currents therefore, increases the I2R losses depending on the occurrence of the skin effect. This phenomenon is well understood and causes over hea­ting of equipment and current carrying parts thereby, increasing the amount of energy consumption for the same network load.

    Harmonics cause the following adverse effects:

Overheating of transformers (K- Factor), and rotating equipment.

Increase Hysterisys losses

Neutral overloading / unacceptable neutral-to-ground voltages.

Distorted voltage and current waveforms.

Failed capacitors banks.

Breakers and fuses tripping.

Unreliable operation of electronic equipment, and generators.

Erroneous register of electric meters.

Wasted energy / higher electric bills -KWD & KWH.

Wasted capacity - Inefficient distribution of power.

Increased maintenance of equipment and machinery

Power Factor

Power factor is the phase shift between voltage & current. While the theoretical definition of Power factor is the ratio of active power to apparent power, it is well known that in electricity distribution systems this is measured as a ratio of active energy to apparent energy over a specified time period.

The ideal power factor is unity. However, this cannot be achieved in reality due to the nature of the loads used. For ex: inductive loads, nonlinear loads etc, A lower power factor means more current drawn for the same load. This causes increase in the apparent power demand i.e., kVA demand as well as increases I2Rlosses.

Consequently, more system capacity is needed to supply the same load. In other words a lower power factor results in higher energy consumption. Further, lowering of power fa­ctor also causes a drop in voltage which then brings us back to the ill effects of voltage variation as described earlier.

A lagging power factor is generally caused as a result of inductive loads, and particularly, motors that are not fully loaded.

Low Power Factor causes the following adverse effects

Increased line losses I2R

Wasted generation capacity (KVA)

Wasted distribution /transformer/ capacity (KVA)

Wasted system capacity (KVA)

Reduced system efficiency (KW)

Increased maximum demand (KVA), and related charges.

Possible power factor charges

In line with the above problems, we can expect energy wasted and reduced power quality through:


        •Increased maintenance of equipment and machinery.

        •Wasted energy / higher electric bills - KWD and KWH.

        •Wasted investment and operation capital.


The oldest solution for a low power factor in industry, in terms of counter balancing the lagging power factor, are capacitors. But, there are problems associated with capacitors which industry is staying away from because of the potential side-effects to today's sensitive equipment (ex.electronics, computers, etc.).


Improving power factor is a great idea because it increases the efficiency of the distribution, reduces losses, and power factor charges are eliminated (if charged)

In addition to these problems intermittent supply failure and phase loss also adversely affects the power quality.

Intermittent Supply Failure:

Generally, intermittent supply failures are caused by the utility company switching loads, lines, and source supplies.

The fastest this switching can occur is three to five cycles.

During this period, there is a complete drop-out.

This may or may not be a concern for all industries but intermittent supply failure takes its toll on the operation and efficiency of equipment and machinery.

   Supply failure causes the following adverse effects:

Voltage control relay tripping.

Phase imbalance relay tripping.

Plant and equipment shutdown - downtime!

Loss off critical microprocessor memory.

Possible jogging, pinching and stalling of motors.

Loss of control and resetting of equipment.

Loss production

Phase Loss

In case of phase loss, a lost phase from the remaining two phases causes interruption of power supply to industries and thus causing loss of valuable production time.

      Phase loss causes the following adverse effects:

Imbalanced operation of three phase motors, resulting in insulation breakdown and destruction.

Increased downtime

Loss of production.

Major maintenance and replacement capital requirement


There are two approaches to the mitigation of power quality problems. The first approach is called load conditioning, which ensures that the equipment is less sensitive to power disturbances, allowing the operation even under significant voltage distortion. The other solution is to install line conditioning systems that suppress or counteracts the power system disturbances. A flexible and versatile solution to voltage quality problems is offered by active power filters. Currently they are based on PWM converters and connect to low and medium voltage distribution system in shunt or in series. Series active power filters must operate in conjunction with shunt passive filters in order to compensate load current harmonics. Series active power filters operates as a controllable voltage source. In addition to it we can also use capacitor demand meter for better power quality.


It is well known that series active power filters compensate current system distortion caused by non-linear loads by imposing a high impedance path to the current harmonics which forces the high frequency currents to flow through the LC passive filter connected in parallel to the load. The high impedance imposed by the series active power filter is created by generating a voltage of the same frequency that the current harmonic component that needs to be eliminated. Voltage unbalance is corrected by compensating the fundamental frequency negative and zero sequence voltage components of the system.

Proposed series active filter topology


This circuit provides the gating signals of the three-phase PWM voltage-source inverter required to compensate voltage unbalance and current harmonic components. The current and voltage reference signals are added and then the amplitude of the resultant reference waveform is adjusted in order to increase the voltage utilization factor of the PWM inverter for steady state operating conditions. The gating signals of the inverter are generated by comparing the resultant reference signal with a fixed frequency triangular waveform (5 kHz). The triangular waveform forces the inverter switching frequency to be constant.

The higher voltage utilization of the inverter is obtained if the amplitude of the resultant reference signal is adjusted for the steady state operating condition of the series active power filter. In this case, the reference current and reference voltage waveforms are smaller. If the amplitude is adjusted for transient operating conditions, the required reference signals will have a larger value, which will create a higher dc voltage in the inverter thus defining a lower voltage utilization factor for steady state operating conditions.

Capacitor Demand Meter

A brief discussion regarding the Capacitor Demand Meter is presented in this part of paper. Reactive Power Management is one of the aspects of Power Quality issues as this directly relates to the customer receiving end voltage .When a capacitor is added to the electrical network , the magnitude of the resultant network current shall change and this current needs to be minimum at the load end terminals.

The basic objective of the development of the Capacitor Demand Meter is to develop an instrument, which when connected at the load end terminals shall directly indicate the KVAR rating of capacitors to be connected at that point, to keep the supply current drawn at minimum value. Capacitors, current transformers and micro controller are the basic elements of Capacitor Demand Meter.

The Role of Power Capacitors in Saving Energy :

As outlined above the problems of voltage drops are primarily due to excessive flow of Reactive Power in the network. The use of Capacitor banks to carry out shunt compensation as well as Series compensation would go a long way in improving the voltage profile and making it more consistent.

Similarly, if all consumers of ele­ctricity can improve their power factor closer to unity, the release of system ca­pacity and reduction in losses would be very significant. Power Capacitors are the most well proven and cost effective devices to achieve this objective.

As regards Harmonic distortion it is possible to reduce the same by the use of passive and active harmonic filters. Power capacitors of various types form an essential constituent of such harmonic filtering devices.

Thus a capacitor plays a vital role in the Reactive Power Management and thus in the Power Quality problems.


The Power Quality issues such as voltage variations, Harmonic distortions and power factor combine together to reduce the overall operating efficiency of electrical networks and also result in increased power supply demand and unnecessary wastage of energy.

Power quality can be improved by providing capacitor demand meter, capacitor banks at the load side. In this paper the use and advantages of applying Series active power filters to compensation power distribution systems has been presented. The principles of operation of series active power filter have been presented