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Electricity is perhaps the most essential raw material used by commerce and industry today.

electricity produced in power plants is circulated through the electricity transmission and distribution
networks and it is supplied / delivered to consumers; the quality of electricity (known as " Power Quality
") is one of the important factors that determine the economic efficiency of both consumers and electrical
The deviations of power quality parameters from the accepted values may produce damages because of
decreasing of planned production, decreasing of the lifetime of consumer's machineries and equipment,
increasing of losses into the electricity transmission and distribution, and additional requests for system
generators, as well.
According to an European PQ Survey performed by the Leonardo Power Quality Initiative (LPQI)
team from 2005 to 2006 [0.1, 0.2, 0.3], the cost of wastage caused by poor PQ for EU-25 exceeds 150
billion per annum. Industry accounts for over 90 % of this wastage.
An EPRI-CEDIS PQ Survey , performed in 2000 [0.4], shows that the cost of wastage caused by poor
PQ for US is between $ 119-188 billion per annum.
The electricity is a product with a peculiar character because it is required as a continuous flow; it cannot
be conveniently stored in large quantities and cannot be subject to quality assurance checks before
being used . It is, in fact, the result of the J ust in Time philosophy in which the product is delivered by
an authorized supplier to a consumer at the place where and at just the moment when it is used by an
authorized supplier, but not able to check its quality before delivery [0.5].
For "Just in Time" to be successful it is necessary to know the general behaviour of the product and
its limits , to have a good control of the components specification and a confidence that the distributor /
supplier can deliver the product to time and with a suitable quality.
Power quality is influenced both by the activities of electricity producer , electricity transporter and
distributor , and by the consunmer activities.
Modern technological processes of consumers can be efficiently performed only in a power system able
to ensure the proper quality of electricity supplied, that can take over a number of disturbances injected
into the power supply network by the consumers' installations and capable of ensuring any changes in
demand for power and electricity.
After privatization a very large part of electrical networks have become private property, management
and maintenance being carried out by a larger number of Network Operators and Suppliers , but the
responsibility of these Operators and Suppliers to ensure the quality of electricity delivered to consumers
(into PCC) remains the same and it is not easy: electricity must comply with relevant standards.
The liberalisation of the electricity market and the separation between Electricity Suppliers and
Network Operators (Transmission and System Operator - TSO and Distribution Operators - DOs) in the
EU, where the Electricity Suppliers operate in a liberalised market and the Network Operators in a
regulated market, have drawn attention to their responsibilities regarding to the quality of electricity
supplied to Consumers .

Monitoring of power quality parameters is performed at the interface between electricity transmission
networks and electricity distribution networks (point A Figure 0.1 [0.6]) and at the interface between
electricity distribution networks and consumers (in point B Figure 0.1), where the TSO and DO (point A),
and the Distribution Operator and Supplier (point B), respectively, have contractual obligations to deliver
electricity with adequate quality parameters.
It is important to emphasize that, according to the current regulations, the Supplier who has the electricity
supply contract with the Consumer (Figure 0.1) is liable to the Consumer with the quality of the electricity
supplied compliance; the respective contract also includes provisions on the quality of electricity to be
supplied. However, the Supplier depends on the Transmission and System Operator and
Distribution Operator performances ; in this sense, the Supplier has a services contract with the
Distribution Operator.
The Consumer in turn has the obligation to limit the disturbances transmitted into the power
system so to not exceed the level assigned by the Distribution Operator.
Equally, at the interface between the transmission network ( The Transmission and System Operator -
TSO ) and the distribution network ( Distribution Operator - DO ) should be the same type of
In fact, the only one who determines the quality of electricity supplied to consumers remains,
mainly, the Distribution Operator.
From the Consumer's point of view is even more difficult. There are some regulated acceptable limits
for quality of power supply , which ensures normal operation of its installations, but the level of
acceptable quality, perceived by Supplier (and also by Regulator ) may be different from that needed or
desired by the Consumer .
So what should be understood by the quality of electricity delivered (supplied)? A perfect power
supply would be one that is always available, always within voltage and frequency tolerances, and
has a pure "noise" free sinusoidal wave shape . Just how much deviation from the perfect power
supply can be tolerated depends on the users application, the type of equipment installed and his view of
his requirements.
On the other hand, the agreements on connecting to the transmission or distribution electricity networks
indicates to consumers the maximum allowed values for disturbance quotas (harmonics, unbalances,
flicker) in order to protect the other consumers connected to that point, from eventually negative
influences. A consumer is thus put in a position to need to know the required performances of the
installations that it will be further purchased.
Currently, there are standards concerning the allowable limits of disturbances to be caused by
equipment (e.g. IEC standards). There are also standards for the quality of voltage supply (e.g. EN
50160 [0.7]). Unfortunately the two types of rules do not take account of each other.
Ideally there should be a guard/reserve band - a safety margin - between limits of disturbances admitted
to equipment and the limits of disturbances admitted to the supply of electricity.
Note that the indices build on the supply of electricity, whose characteristics vary continuously, can lead
only to certain values, with a certain probability of achieving, during a certain period of time (usually
0.95 during one week).
Issues concerning the quality of electricity put many questions to designers ; probably the most
important is "How good is good enough?" . At this question is impossible to answer. If it is relatively
easy to quantify the behaviour of a particular item of equipment to voltage dips, to determine the
incidence of a likely voltage dip, in a particular location into the power supply system is much more
difficult, the situation will change over time, as it will add new customers and some existing will be
replaced, respectively. It is extremely difficult to collect average data regarding the sensitivity of
equipment to harmonic voltage distortion and harmonic current distortion, respectively. The real problem
is the compatibility between the equipment and the supply.
Ensure appropriate quality of electricity needs from the viewpoint of the consumer:
a good initial design , which takes account of the quality of electricity in the PCC;
the provision of efficient equipment to improve the power quality ;
the cooperation with distributor ;
the frequent monitoring of quality parameters and,
strong>a proper maintenance
These problems are relatively new. Analysis, diagnosis and solutions for power quality have been
incorporated into the curricula of electrical engineering since the middle of '90 only. As a result, many
generations of engineers were not educated regarding to power quality problems , while daily they
faced with such problems.
Clear understanding of issues relating to power quality in all their complexity, the identification of correct
causes and phenomena and the presentation of appropriate solutions in power quality can help to avoid
damage / failure, and to increase the profit.
It is therefore necessary to perform an entirely approach and a good understanding of the principles and
practices to improve the power quality. This is the main objective of the LPQI and LPQIVES
There have been many different approaches to classify the qualitative aspects of electricity supply, further
complicated by the current practice of separating the functions of generation, supply, network operation,
Until recently, it was widely accepted that the Power Quality means only the Voltage Quality of the
power supply system.
In 2001, CEER (Council of European Energy Regulators) has classified aspects of power quality [0.8,
0.9] in three major components, namely:
Commercial quality - concerning the business relationships between supplies and users with
respect to how well the various services are delivered (The services concerned are not confined
to network operation).
Continuity of supply - concerning the extent to which customers find that their electricity supply
is interrupted for various reasons.
Voltage quality - concerning the technical characteristics of the supply with respect to the
voltage delivered to customers, i.e. its magnitude and frequency, together with the potentially
disturbing aspects.

voltage unbalance
the condition in a poly-phase system in which the r.m.s. values of the line-to-line voltages (fundamental
component), or the phase angles between consecutive line voltages, are not all equal.
The degree of the inequality is usually expressed as the ratios of the negative and zero sequence
components to the positive sequence component. In this standard, voltage unbalance is considered in
relation to three-phase systems and negative phase sequence only.
difference in electrical potential expressed in Volts. Voltage is equal to the work done per unit charge
against a static electric field to move the charge between two points.
Power Quality
ability of electrical system to deliver power of adequate characteristics and ability of loads to function
properly under adequate power supply. Usually power quality has 2 components:
Continuity of supply i.e. short and long interruptions
Voltage Quality i.e. set of parameters characterizing voltage

long interruption
condition in which power supply is stopped and voltage value is zero, caused in most of cases by the
supplier or in some cases in consequence of failure of on-site equipment, conductors and connections.
The duration of long interruption is defined usually as more than 3 minutes. Careful design using high
resilience solutions with high reliability can minimize these effects. Moreover, standards of performance
(quality) of the distributors provide the annual planned and unplanned voltage interruptions and their
duration, at which is committed and over which should take into account the payment of damages

Type of disturbance
Mode of
Phenomena causing electromagnetic
Low-frequency phenomena
harmonics, interharmonics;
power-frequency variations;
voltage fluctuations;
voltage dips and interruptions;
voltage unbalance;
signalling voltage (power line carrier);
induced low-frequency voltages;
d.c. in a.c. networks.
magnetic fields;
electric fields.
High-frequency phenomena
induced continuous waves voltage or
unidirectional transients;
oscillatory transients.
magnetic fields;
electric fields;
electromagnetic fields.
continuous waves;
Electrostatic discharge

Electrostatic charging of the electrically isolated
Nuclear electromagnetic pulse Nuclear explosion in the atmosphere

Depending on the place where occur the disturbances which determine the deviations of the
power quality indices, they are divided into two category :
The category of primary indices , which are determined in particular by activities of production,
transmission and distribution of electricity:
the frequency of voltage supply;
the voltage magnitude at feeder busbar;
temporary and transient overvoltages;
voltage dips;
planned interruptions (maintenance works, expansion works);
long and short interruptions.
The category of secondary indices, which are determined primarily by the operation of
disturbing consumers:
voltage fluctuations (flicker effect);
Each of these power quality problems has a different cause . As noted above, some power
quality problems have their source in the supply network of the distributor, and others in the
consumer network. An fault in any of the two type of networks can lead to a voltage interruption
and / or voltage dips which - depending on the network - can be experienced by all consumers
connected to same common point of coupling and even further. An fault in consumer
installations may lead to a transitory phenomenon that will affect all other consumers connected
to the same electricity network. Other problems, such as harmonics, generated in the consumer
installations can be propagated in the network and affecting other consumers.
Electricity distributors argue that "sensitive" users must bear itself the costs to ensure the power
quality rather than wait from distributors to provide a very safe supply for each consumer from
anywhere in the network. Ensuring of such power quality by the distributor would require
very large investments in the network for the benefit of a relatively small number of
consumers (in number, not in terms of consumption) and would be uneconomic. On the other
hand, networks can not provide , as would be developed, an uninterrupted supply .
Weather conditions - as strong winds and cold rains - often lead to the deterioration of overhead
electrical lines that in such circumstances are difficult to repair and require long periods of time
up to put back into operation. It is therefore the responsibility of the consumer to take
suitable measures to ensure that electricity delivered to its process has a quality well
enough , but being aware that the electricity could have a much higher quality than that
delivered to the plant/installation by the distributor.
There are a variety of engineering solutions , specific to each of the above mentioned
disturbances, able to eliminate or to reduce the effects of supply quality problems. This area is
under developing; the consumers should be informed of the range of solutions available,
benefits and costs.
Often, users are faced with the need to make decisions concerning the type and quantity of
additional equipment to achieve the required power quality. Unfortunately, some vital
information missing - the extent and and severity of power quality problems which could arise in
a certain location are largely uncertain, random. Because few statistics are published is very
difficult for consumers to determine the cost of incidents and therefore justify the cost of
preventive measures. Effects caused by interruptions from 0.1 s to 5 s can be as costly as
those caused by a voltage interruption of one hour.
The issue of short interruptions and voltage dips highlights the difference between the views
of the consumer against those of the distributor.
Electricity industry has tended to assess interruptions in relation to the cost for
electricity not delivered , while a consumer evaluates them in relation with the losses in
production due to respective interruption . Electricity is relatively cheap and the interruptions
are relatively short, while the losses in production can be very important (as in the case of
semiconductor industry), and the duration of unavailability with associated costs - required by
the installations preparation to start again the production - can be very large (as in the case of
paper making industry).
The two parties therefore have completely different views regarding to voltage dips,
economical effects and having different economic criteria for economic justification of
investments in equipment to limit them (short interruptions and voltage dips).
Long interruptions - power cuts - are usually considered as being caused by the supplier but
can also be caused by the failure of on-site equipment, conductors and connections. Careful
design using high resilience solutions with high reliability can minimize these effects. Moreover,
standards of performance (quality) of the distributors provide the annual planned and unplanned
voltage interruptions and their duration, at which is committed and over which should take into
account the payment of damages.
As a result, it is useful to identify points where interruptions may occur, their effect and to what
extent it is economically justified the solution to eliminate them.
While the majority of voltage dips and interruptions originate in the transmission and distribution
system and are the responsibility of the network operators, harmonic and interharmonics are
mainly into the consumer responsibility. It is harmonic currents that cause problems in
installations and when these currents flow back into the supply impedance at the point of
common coupling, a harmonic voltage is developed. This voltage distortion, or at least some
components of it, are distributed around the system and are combined with the background
harmonic voltage distortion present in any transmission or distribution system (due to the non-
linearity of transformers, for example). By limiting the harmonic current consumers are permitted
to draw, the level of voltage distortion on the supply is kept within acceptable limits.
Determining the source of harmonic distortion can be difficult and this often leads consumers to
the distributor blaming for the respective problem. The problems due to harmonics appear in an
installation due to local equipment (of consumer) and how they are used, either because the
influence of disturbances from other consumers.
Transient disturbances are high frequency events with durations much less than one cycle of
the supply voltage. Causes include switching or lightning strikes on the network and switching of
reactive loads on the consumers site or on other consumers connected on the same circuit.
Transients can have magnitudes of several thousand volts and so can cause serious damage to
both the installation and the equipment connected to it. Electricity distributors and
telecommunications companies go to some effort to ensure that their installations do not allow
the propagation of dangerous transients (which may cause material damage, which sometimes
may be accompanied by life losses) into the customers premises. The occurrence and effects
of overvoltages and transients are largely limited and the effectiveness of protection systems is
enhanced if an adequate conceptual earthing system is made and its reliability is high.

PQ cost categories
It is increasingly being accepted that the impacts of poor Power Quality on organisations operational
efficiency are significant and disruptive it is also being ever more clearly understood that financial
impacts, where relevant, are far greater than had previously been recognised.
It is well known that although there are several methods to do it, quantifying the losses created by poor
Power Quality costs is a complicated business and one that has to be carried out specifically for the site
in question survey results can give end users a good idea of the likely impacts of poor Power Quality on
their activities, but in the end they should carry out their own investigations to ensure that both the
diagnostics and any solutions that result from them are specifically tailored to their particular systems,
environment and electrical supply conditions.
The economic impacts of power quality are divided in three broad categories:

1. Direct economics impacts:
loss of production
unrecoverable down time and resources (e.g. raw material, labour, capital)
process restart costs
spoilage of (semi-)finished production
equipment damage
direct costs associated with human health and safety
financial penalties incurred through non-fulfilment of contract
environmental financial penalties
utility costs associated with the interruption
2. Indirect economic impacts:
the costs to an organization of revenue/ income being postponed
the financial cost of loss of market share
the cost of restoring brand equity.
3. Social economic impacts:
uncomfortable building temperatures as related to reduction in efficient working/ health and safety
personal injury or fear - also as related to reduction in efficiency and health and safety
evacuating neighbouring residential buildings as an indirect social impact in the event of failure of
industrial safety as it relates to the additional costs incurred by an organisation that has to carry
these measures out.