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CIGRE 2006

A 100 MW VARIABLE FREQUENCY TRANSFORMER (VFT) ON THE HYDRO-QUÉBEC NETWORK A new technology for connecting asynchronous networks

J.-M. GAGNON*, D. GALIBOIS, D. MCNABB, D. NADEAU Hydro-Québec CANADA

And

E. LARSEN, D. MCLAREN, R. PIWKO, C. WEGNER, H. MONGEAU GE Energy USA

SUMMARY

The Langlois project is the world's first application of the "Variable Frequency Transformer" (VFT) technology, which was successfully commissioned on the Hydro-Québec system in the spring of 2004. The VFT technology, unlike classical phase-shifter technology, is capable of providing a bi-directional asynchronous link using a rotary transformer for continuously controllable phase shift, together with a drive system and control that adjust the angle and speed of the rotary transformer to regulate the power flow through the VFT.

This technology was selected for its controllability and operational flexibility, compact modular design, and use of conventional substation equipment. It is also based on established and widely used rotating machinery and drive systems.

Extensive simulator tests were conducted at the manufacturer site to demonstrate that the equipment met system requirements and the VFT was then field tested during the fall of 2003. The VFT was transferred to operation in April 2004 as a phase-shifter parallel to the local network. After eight months of satisfactory performance in this mode, the VFT was ready for asynchronous operation in December 2004. Full commercial operation was authorized in April 2005.

The VFT performance has been very good since commissioning of the installation, and in particular since the beginning of 2005. Even during the short experience of operation since commissioning, the VFT has proven to simplify operation and provide accurate transfer control with good reliability, and is therefore a valid option for future interconnections.

This paper provides a general overview of the project describes the VFT technology and presents commissioning and operational experience with the Langlois installation.

KEYWORDS

Phase-Shifter, Converter, Asynchronous interconnection, Variable Frequency Transformer (VFT), Rotating transformer, Wound rotor machine.

*gagnon.jean-marie@hydro.qc.ca

1.

INTRODUCTION

Hydro-Québec TransÉnergie is responsible for the bulk transmission system in Québec, Canada. It operates a network that is asynchronous with the rest of the North American system. Because of the nature of its system and the economic and reliability benefits of interconnections, Hydro-Québec has installed several AC interconnection lines to surrounding systems capitalizing on the proximity of generation units that could be isolated on these systems. Energy surplus in the 70’s and the 80’s and the need for increased operational flexibility led to additional interconnection development and installation of back-to-back HVDC and DC line. Looking for new technologies that could help increase interconnection capacity and flexibility at the best overall cost, Hydro-Québec TransÉnergie decided to enter into partnership with a manufacturer to pioneer the application of the VFT technology at the Langlois 315/120 kV substation, located about 60 km southwest of Montreal (see Figure 1) [1]. This location was chosen because it is well suited to improve Hydro-Québec export transfer capacity to Ontario and New York using the existing CRT interconnection line while allowing new import capability. The facility has an initial capacity of 100 MW and two conventional AC bus sections at 120 and 230 kV (initially operated at 120 kV). Eventually, the capacity could be doubled.

at 120 kV). Eventually, the capacity could be doubled. Figure 1. Location of the Langlois VFT
at 120 kV). Eventually, the capacity could be doubled. Figure 1. Location of the Langlois VFT

Figure 1. Location of the Langlois VFT project

This technology was selected for its controllability and operational flexibility, compact modular design, and use of conventional substation equipment. It is also based on established and widely used rotating machinery and drive systems. This paper presents an overview of the technology, covers the VFT project, the planning and commissioning aspects, provides a description of the control and protection and discusses the operating experience and the maintenance requirements.

2. OVERVIEW OF THE TECHNOLOGY

The variable frequency transformer (VFT) is essentially a continuously-variable, phase-shifting transformer that can operate at an adjustable phase angle. The impedance of the rotary transformer and AC grid determine the magnitude of phase shift required for a given power transfer. The VFT adjusts power flow in an AC system following the same physical laws as a conventional phase-shifting transformer. However, the VFT provides two key additional features, i.e. vernier control rather than step-wise, and the ability to regulate over a full 360 deg range. These features enable the VFT to compete in applications previously limited to back-to-back HVDC equipment. The core technology of the VFT is a rotary transformer with three-phase windings on both rotor and stator (see Figure 2). The collector system conducts current between the three-phase rotor winding and its stationary buswork. One power grid is connected to the rotor side of the VFT and another power grid is connected to the stator side of the VFT.

Power transfer through the rotary transformer is proportional to the magnitude and direction of the torque applied to the rotor. If torque is applied in one direction, then power flows from the stator winding to the rotor winding. If torque is applied in the opposite direction, then power flows from the rotor winding to the stator winding. Regardless of power flow, the rotor inherently orients itself to follow the phase angle difference imposed by the two asynchronous systems, and will rotate continuously if the grids are at different frequencies.

Collector Drive Motor Rotary Transformer
Collector
Drive
Motor
Rotary
Transformer

Cut-away Drawing of VFT

Collector Drive Motor Rotary Transformer
Collector
Drive
Motor
Rotary
Transformer

Photograph of Langlois 100 MW VFT

Figure 2. Core components of the VFT

Reactive power flow through the VFT follows conventional AC circuit rules. It is determined by the series impedance of the rotary transformer and the difference in magnitude of voltages on the two sides. Unlike power electronic alternatives, the VFT behaves much like a generator. There are no harmonics and it cannot cause undesirable interactions with neighboring generators or other equipment on the grid. The VFT can also support an isolated load area, operate at any power level and without any technical limitation at 0 MW.

3. THE LANGLOIS PROJECT, PLANNING AND COMMISSIONING

A partnership agreement was reached with the manufacturer in summer 2001 for the installation of a

100 MW VFT at the Langlois 315/120 kV substation. Site construction started in 2002. Extensive simulator tests were conducted at the manufacturer site to demonstrate that the equipment met system requirements [2] and the VFT was then field tested during the fall of 2003, [3]. The VFT was transferred to operation in April 2004 in a loop power mode or as a phase-shifter parallel to the local network. After eight months of satisfactory performance in this mode, the VFT was ready for asynchronous operation in December 2004. Full commercial operation was authorized in April 2005.

A simplified one-line diagram of the Langlois VFT is shown in Figure 3. The VFT is comprised of

one 100 MW, 17 kV rotary transformer, one 3750HP DC motor and variable speed drive system, three 25 MVAR switched shunt capacitor banks and two 120/17 kV conventional generator step-up transformers. The Langlois VFT station has been designed to be expandable. The first 100 MW stage is in service. The building is designed for future expansion to accommodate another 100 MW rotary transformer and its auxiliary equipment. The yard has space for transformers, capacitor banks, and switchgear associated with the second VFT unit.

Conventional Conventional Rotary 80/107/133 MVA 80/107/133 MVA Transformer Transformer Transformer DM Motor and
Conventional
Conventional
Rotary
80/107/133 MVA
80/107/133 MVA
Transformer
Transformer
Transformer
DM
Motor and
Drive System
(3,750 HP)
Conventional
Switched
Capacitor Banks
(3 x 25 MVAr)

Figure 3. One-line diagram of Langlois VFT

At the planning stage, extensive system studies were performed to establish overall requirements for the implementation of the Langlois VFT asynchronous tie. In preparation for the commissioning, the VFT project was modeled on a real time simulator. The VFT power control and drive motor controls were validated and a large number of contingencies were simulated to verify the transient and dynamic behavior of the VFT [2]. During commissioning, field tests were performed for both loop (parallel phase-shifter operation) and asynchronous operation to verify that the control system and the VFT dynamic behavior met owner's requirements. An extensive test program including staged power step responses, machine synchronization and tripping were successfully carried out [3]. Such a test is presented in Figure 4 which illustrates the Langlois VFT power transfer between the asynchronous Quebec and New York power grids (Note that the time scale covers 70 minutes). The top trace shows VFT power in MW as the operator ramped power from zero to +100 MW to –100 MW and back to zero. Also note that power transfer is smooth through the whole test even near zero MW (a specific characteristic of the VFT) despite frequency variances in the two grids – including the trip of a large unit in the Quebec grid during the measuring period.

VFT Power Frequency on New York Side of VFT Frequency on Quebec Side of VFT
VFT Power
Frequency on New York Side of VFT
Frequency on Quebec Side of VFT
Nearby
Generator
12.5
Trip
VFT Speed
MWHzHzrpm

Time (minutes)

Figure 4. VFT power ramps during asynchronous operation between the New York and Québec networks

Needs for corrective measures identified during the test program which could have an impact on operation were quickly resolved. Others issues were reviewed and were resolved to owner satisfaction.

4.

VFT OPERATION, CONTROL, AND PROTECTION FEATURES

VFT operation is similar to that of a back-to-back HVDC station. VFT has automated sequences for energization, starting, and stopping. When starting, the VFT automatically nulls the phase angle across the synchronizing breaker, closes the breaker, and engages the power regulator at zero MW. The operator then enters a desired power order (MW) and ramp rate (MW/minute). The VFT uses a closed-loop power regulator to maintain power transfer at a level equal to the operator order. The power order may be modified by other automatic control functions, including governor, isochronous governor, power-swing damping, voltage dependent power limit (limits power for very low voltage, similar to HVDC functions), overload limits, and power runback. Like any transformer, the VFT has leakage reactance that consumes reactive power as a function of current passing through it. Shunt capacitor banks are switched on and off to compensate for the reactive power consumption of the VFT and to help the grid. The VFT’s reactive power controller has power schedule, voltage, and manual modes. The control system for the VFT is comprised of digital processors arranged in a modular configuration. A VFT unit is controlled by the unit VFT control (UVC), which performs sequencing (start/stop etc.) power regulator, governor, reactive power control, power runback, a variety of monitoring functions, and a few specialized protection functions. The UVC also includes a local operator panel, which is a backup to the higher-level operator interface. The UVC sends torque and sequencing commands to the standard dc motor drive system. The main VFT control (MVC) supports the operator interfaces and coordinates multi-unit VFTs. It is primarily a data concentrator and communications interface. It contains high-level functions for the entire VFT station, SCADA interface to enable unmanned operation, and data concentration from the digital relays, UVC, and other intelligent electronic devices (IED’s). The human-machine interface (HMI) screens include one-lines with several levels of detail, unit control, station control, temperature, ventilation, communications, active alarm, historical alarm (sequence of events), and trending. The control system is expandable to several VFT units within a substation, sharing the same MVC and HMI. Additional control system details can be found in the referenced papers.

A VFT unit is protected by redundant protection systems, each comprised of about ten standard

protective relays, plus some special protections in the UVC and drive system. The standard protective functions are typical of AC substations and generating plants, including ground fault, negative sequence, differential, over-current, over-voltage, breaker failure, capacitor protections, and

synchronization-check. Line protection relays are also provided per application needs. Special UVC and drive protections include over-speed, torsional, torque error, power error, drive mismatch, extended loss of ac, machine over temperature and cooling system failure, loss of bearing oil, station battery under-voltage, and detection of failures of critical control or drive system components.

5. OPERATING EXPERIENCE SINCE COMMISSIONING

5.1 Operating Experience over the 2004-2005 Period

VFT operation began in April 2004. The VFT was operated as a phase-shifter on the network. This initial operating period allowed for full demonstration of the dynamic behaviour of the VFT while eliminating potential impacts on neighbouring systems. Asynchronous operation began in December

2004.

The VFT normal network configuration is shown in Figure 5 and includes the power flow operating

range. The VFT provides a parallel path to the Beauharnois/Les Cèdres hydro power plants that could

be synchronized also to the New York system. Because the VFT installation can be operated at any

power level from +100 to –100 MW and can be ramped smoothly through zero, the power scheduling becomes much more flexible. Figure 6 shows the special configuration used for the commissioning, training and the testing period. The loop or phase-shifter configuration eliminates the need of coordination with the neighbour systems.

Figure 5 . VFT normal network configuration Asynchronous operation Figure 6. VFT special network configuration
Figure 5 . VFT normal network configuration
Asynchronous operation
Figure 6. VFT special network configuration
Phase-Shifter operation
The real time power flow over the 2004 to 2005 period is shown in Figure 7. Hourly measures
indicate that the VFT was operated in a large range of power transfer including maximum transfer for
a long period of time. This figure also illustrates the VFT flexibility where power levels are varied by
the operators to adjust the power schedule, eliminating previous need of switching in or out generators.
Note that the majority of 0 MW values appearing
are not related to equipment limitations.
on the
graphic are results of
dispatch decisions and
Operation of VFT from April 1 st , 2004 to September 30 th , 2005
100
75
50
25
0
-25
-50
-75
-100
Apr-04
Jul-04
Oct-04
Jan-05
Apr-05
Jul-05
Phase shifter operation
Asynchronus operation
Figure 7. VFT Hourly Real Time Power Transfer
5.2 VFT Reliability Performance
Because the Langlois project is a world first,
the reliability of this new equipment was a very
important consideration in the contractual agreement with the manufacturer. A special formula was
established to evaluate the VFT performance factor (PF). The PF measures the reliability of the VFT
by calculating the delivered energy relative to the scheduled energy. Undelivered energy during an
outage is based on pre-contingency scheduled power. The PF is calculated using measurements
obtained every 5 minutes and averaged on a monthly basis.
This formula departs from the Cigre Reliability Performance protocol in that Cigre assumes that the
pre-contingency schedule is the rated capacity. Considering that the VFT was operated at or near its
rated capacity when outages occurred, the VFT PF and the Cigre Reliability Performance would have
yielded the same results for the percentage of Energy Availability.
Several outages of short duration in most cases were experienced during the first year of operation.
Each outage was reviewed by Hydro-Québec and manufacturer personnel to analyze the causes and
propose remedial actions. The PF averaged 94,8 % for this first year of operation (2004), which
corresponds to the breaking-in period where youth problems were corrected. So far the PF has
averaged 99,8 % in 2005, which demonstrates the positive impact of the corrective measures.
Hourly mesures of VFT powerflow
Positive value indicates powerflow
from Langlois to Les Cèdres

5.3

VFT Equipment Experience

Powerflow (MW)

Powerflow (MW)

Frequency

The majority of equipment issues uncovered in the initial months of operation were stimulated by grid events that caused operation beyond what was possible to test during commissioning. Some of these were related to protective systems on the motor drive. Others were related to special protection functions implemented in the VFT to account for extreme conditions. These problems were addressed and mitigated as they arose. End-winding vibrations and displacement were important design considerations, and were monitored carefully during the loop and asynchronous modes. After a period of measurement, end-winding bracing modifications were implemented to bring vibration levels within design goals. As evidenced by the reliability performance factor, these initial operating problems were addressed as they arose. Subsequent operation has been without significant incident.

5.4 Grid Disturbance Experience

The VFT was operated in the special loop configuration for some time after commissioning. During this period it was subjected to two interesting system events.

6 cycles SG Fault on 120 kV Network Near VFT 150 Powerflow Field Powerflow Simulation
6 cycles SG Fault on 120 kV Network Near VFT
150
Powerflow Field
Powerflow Simulation
Power Command Field
125
Power Command Simulation
100
75
G_
50
25
0
0
0,2
0,4
0,6
0,8
1
1,2
1,4
1,6
1,8
2

Time (s)

Figure 8. Power transfer through the VFT during a single line to ground fault

Islanding the load of Dorion with the VFT 100 61,5 Powerflow Frequency of the 95
Islanding the load of Dorion with the VFT
100
61,5
Powerflow
Frequency of the
95
island
90
61
85
80
60,5
75
70
60
13:30
13:40
13:50
14:00

Time

Figure 9. Local load at Dorion fed radially through the Langlois VFT installation

A single line to ground fault occurred at the Dorion substation located a few kilometres from Langlois. Figure 8 shows variations in Power command and real power through the VFT during this system event. The power swing rapidly damped out in about half a second. This event was later simulated and the results were compared with field measurements [4]. The results show a very good agreement between field measurements and the simulation model of the VFT. The VFT has an inherent capability to supply an islanded load. Such an event did occur which islanded the Dorion substation on the VFT for about 15 minutes. Figure 9 shows real time power and frequency on the island. The VFT inherently continues to supply the radial load while maintaining the island frequency according to the governor characteristic programmed in the controls and the power error. An isochronous governor control mode can be selected to bring the island frequency back to 60 Hz. The island was resynchronized later by the operator to the main grid and the VFT returned to the control scheduled power transfer.

6. MAINTENANCE REQUIREMENTS

The Langlois VFT is the first application of the VFT technology. Regular maintenance operations are similar to other rotating machinery; however, the level of maintenance required is considerably lower because the VFT’s rotational speed is nearly zero. There are continuous monitoring points for operating temperatures and vibrations supported by regular walk-around visual and noise observations. There is an annual inspection plan for each component and it is expected that intervals between required inspections would become longer as experience increases. Annual maintenance activities are similar to those for other rotating equipment and include regular winding testing, checking integrity of bolted connections and a thorough visual inspection of parts not accessible in normal operation.

7. CONCLUSION

The VFT technology, unlike classical phase-shifter technology, is capable of providing a bi-directional asynchronous link using a rotary transformer (wound rotor machine) and taking advantage of hydro alternator, drive motor and other conventional technologies. The VFT technology is therefore comparable to back-to-back HVDC in functionality. Dynamic system specifications and actual controls were verified during pre-commissioning simulator studies, and thorough commissioning tests validated implementation in the field. During the initial operating period, a few grid disturbances caused operation in regimes that were not possible to test during commissioning. In most of these, the VFT performed as expected. Some of these events exposed issues with special protections that were quickly remedied. As with many new machines of this size, end-winding vibrations required some operating experience before bracing requirements were fully identified and implemented. The VFT performance has been very good since commissioning and in particular since the beginning of 2005. Even during the short experience of operation, the VFT has proven to provide an accurate transfer control and to simplify operation. It is reliable, and therefore a valid option for future interconnections.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The development of the Langlois VFT project would not have been possible without the vision and leadership of Jacques Régis and Serge Robin from Hydro-Québec. It was a major team effort, including many individuals and business units working in excellent cooperation between GE and Hydro-Québec. Besides the authors of referenced papers in Bibliography below, the following is a partial list of individuals who made important contributions:

From Hydro-Québec: Gaston Bazinet, Yvan Béliveau, Dominique Boisvert, Lise Bouchard, Omer Bourgeault, Luc Brophy, André Coutu, Antoine Deschênes, Lynda Doyon, Claude Forget, Jacques Gascon, Jacques Gaudreau, Guy Genest, Bob Kotb, Réal Mailhot, Pierre Paquette, Mario Pilot, Denis Poirier, Gaëtan Sirois, Kiet Tu, Kinyoung Tea, Gilles Vienneau.

From GE Energy: Dan Andrews, Daniel Baker, Frank Biringer, Sylvain Bulota, Bernard Cable, Bill Collard, Rob Draper, Goran Drobnjak, Murray Eitzmann, Chris Hunter, Pierre Landry, Dan Leonard, Wayne Martin, Stevens Rioux, Mark Runkle, Dave Smith, Bob Staulters, Darko Todorovic, Marc Trudeau, Sanjoy Upadhyay, Konrad Weeber, George Zielinski.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1]

E. Larsen, R. Piwko, D. McLaren, D. McNabb, M. Granger, M. Dusseault, L.-P. Rollin, J.

[2]

Primeau, “Variable-Frequency Transformer – A New Alternative for Asynchronous Power Transfer”, presented at Canada Power, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, September 28-30, 2004. P. Doyon, D. McLaren, M. White, Y. Li, P. Truman, E. Larsen, C. Wegner, E. Pratico, R.

[3]

Piwko, “Development of a 100 MW Variable Frequency Transformer”, presented at Canada Power, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, September 28-30, 2004. J.-M. Gagnon, D. Galibois, M. Granger, D. McNabb, D. Nadeau, J. Primeau, S. Fiset, E. Larsen,

[4]

G. Drobniak, I. McIntyre, E. Pratico, C. Wegner, “First VFT Application and Commissioning” presented at Canada Power, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, September 28-30, 2004. D. Mc Nabb, D. Nadeau, A. Nantel, E. Pratico, E. Larsen, G. Sybille, Van Que Do, D. Paré; “Transient and Dynamic Modeling of the New Langlois VFT Asynchronous Tie and Validation with Commissioning Tests”, presented at the 6th International Conference on Power System Transients (IPST’05), Montreal, Québec, Canada, June 20-23, 2005.