Application of Capacitors in Distribution Systems
1
Introduction
Capacitors provide tremendous benefits to distribution system performance. Most noticeably, capacitors reduce losses, free up capacity, and reduce voltage drop:
– Losses; Capacity: By providing the reactive power to motors and other loads with low power factor, capacitors decrease the line current. Reduced current frees up capacity; the same circuit can serve more load. Reduced current also significantly lowers the I ^{2} R line.
– Voltage drop: Capacitors provide a voltage boost, which cancels part of the drop caused by system loads. Switched capacitors can regulate voltage on a circuit.
2
Introduction
If applied properly and controlled, capacitors can significantly improve the performance of distribution circuits.
But if not properly applied or controlled, the reactive power from capacitor banks can create losses and high voltages. The greatest danger of overvoltages occurs under light load.
3
Capacitor Construction
Capacitor elements have sheets of polypropylene film, less than one mil thick, sandwiched between aluminum foil sheets.
Capacitor dielectrics must withstand on the order of 78 kV/mm. No other medium voltage equipment has such high voltage stress.
4
Capacitor Construction
Capacitor units are supplied with an internal discharge resistor.
The purpose of the discharge resistor is to provide a path for current to flow in the event that the capacitor is disconnected from the source.
5
Capacitor Connection
Capacitors are either fixed or switched banks.
The fixed capacitors exist all time but the switched capacitors are switched on based on the system need.
A typical switched capacitor bank is shown in the figure below:
6
Capacitor use in the Distribution Network
The application of capacitors in the distribution systems can be summarized as follows:
– 60% of capacitors are applied to feeders.
– 30% of capacitors are applied to substation buses.
– 10% of capacitors are applied to transmission systems.
– Application of capacitors to secondary systems is very rare.
7
Capacitor use in the Distribution Network
8
Capacitor Ratings
Capacitors should not be applied when any of the following
limits are exceeded:
• 135% of nameplate kvar.
• 110% of rated RMS voltage.
• 135% of nominal RMS current based on rated kvar and rated voltage.
• Capacitors are designed to withstand overvoltages for
short periods of time.
9
Capacitor Losses
• Capacitor losses are typically on the order of 0.07 to 0.15 W/kvar at nominal frequency.
• Losses include resistive losses in the foil,
dielectric losses, and losses in the internal discharge resistor.
• Capacitors must have an internal resistor that
discharges a capacitor to 50 V or less within 5 min when the capacitor is charged to the peak of its rated voltage . This resistor is the major component of losses within a capacitor.
10
Capacitor Connection
a) Deltaconnection
For delta connection, the single phase capacitor is a two bushing capacitor unit.
The required voltage rating of the capacitor unit must be equal to or greater than the nominal line voltage of the system.
11
a) Deltaconnection
Example1
Determine the appropriate voltage and kVAR ratings for the capacitor units used to make a 2400 kVAR delta connected capacitor bank to be installed on 13.8 kV feeder.
12
a) Deltaconnection
Example1solution
kVAR
/
phase
2400
3
800 kVAR / phase
• The most practical combination would be 2X400 kVAR units per phase or 1X800 kVAR unit per phase.
• The voltage rating of each capacitor is equal to the nominal linetoline voltage of the system; i.e. 13.8 kV.
13
Capacitor Connection
b) Yconnection
For Y connection, the single phase capacitor is a single bushing capacitor unit.
Th
lidl
nd d Y
ti
n i
r medium voltage distribution feeders.
e so
y g ou
e
co
nn
ec
o
s
t
i
ll
yp ca y use
d in
14
Capacitor Connection
b) Yconnection
The voltage rating of the capacitor unit must be equal or more than the nominal lineground voltage of the feeder.
Additional units may be added in parallel to increase the rating of the bank.
Group fusing is typically provided by fused cutouts. However, individual fusing is provided for larger capacitor banks.
15
b) Yconnection
Example2
A 4800 kVAR, 12.47 kV, solidly grounded Yconnected capacitor bank is made of eight 200 kVAR, 7200 V capacitor units per phase. A blown fuse detection scheme is to be used to determine the presence of a blown fuse. Assume that one fuse of phase A is blown, calculate the current flowing from the neutral of the bank to the ground.
16
Z
B
Z
C
b) Yconnection
Example2solution
j
7200
2
8 200,000
j
32.4
Z
A
j
7200
2
7 200,000
j
37.0
The source voltage references are selected as:
I
C
V
AN
I
A
72000,
7200
^{0}
37
90
V
BN
194.6
7200 120,
V
CN
7200120
90
A
I
B
7200 

^{1}^{2}^{0} 

32.4 

90 
222.2
30
A
7200 120 _{}
32.4
90
222.2
_{}
210 A
I
N
I
A
I
B
I
C
27.6
90A
17
a) Power Factor Correction
One of the main advantages of the application of capacitors is the power factor correction.
This reactive power requirement has three adverse effects on distribution system:
– The reactive power increases the generators kVA and consequently all system components sizes and rating have to be increased.
– The reactive current increases the system voltage drop.
– The reactive current increases the system losses.
18
Power Factor Correction Equations
The present power factor (pf) is given by:
2
2
1/2
pf (present) = P/(P + Q _{1} )
When a shunt capacitor is connected to the load , the new pf is then given by:
pf (new) = P/[P ^{2} + (Q _{1}  Q _{C} ) ^{2} ] ^{1}^{/}^{2}
19
Power factor corrections values Correction factor = Qcap/Pload
20
Example3
If a 700 kVA load has a 65% power factor connected to 4160VGrdY/2400V system, it is required to
improve the power factor to 92%. Using the following Table, determine the following:
a) The correction factor required.
b) The capacitor size required
c) If the capacitor size calculated in (b) is not the
standard size, use the list standard of capacitors sizes
in the previous Table to calculate the new possible improved power factor.
21
Power factor corrections values Correction factor = Qcap/Pload
22
Solution:
From the previous Table, the correction factor required is 0.74. The real power of the 700 kVA load at 0.65 power factor
= 700 x 0.65 = 455 kW
The capacitor size necessary to improve the power factor from 65% to 92% can de found as Capacitor size = P x (correction factor)
= 455 (0.74)
= 336.7 kVAR
23
From the capacitor rating Table the next higher standard capacitor size is 400 kVAR, therefore the resulting new correction factor can be found to be
= 400/455 = 0.879
24
Power factor corrections values Correction factor = Qcap/Pload
25
• From power correction Table by linear interpolation, the resulting corrected power factor, with an original power factor of 0.65 and a correction of 0.879 can be found as:
New corrected power factor
0.96
(.97
.96) *
(0.879 
0.878) 
(0.918 
0.878) 
0.96025
0.96
26
b) Voltage Support
As mentioned earlier, capacitors are used to improve the voltage profile for the feeders.
The best location for voltage support depends on where the voltage support is needed.
Unlike a regulator, a capacitor changes the voltage profile upstream of the bank.
27
b) Voltage Support
28
Approximate Calculation for Voltage Rise
“K” Factor:
The K _{r}_{i}_{s}_{e} is similar to the Kdrop factor except that the load now is a shunt capacitor. When a leading current flows through an inductive reactance there will be a voltage rise instead of voltage drop.
K
V
rise
ZI
cap
Percent voltage rise
rise
kvar . mile
29
Example4
Calculate the K factor for a feeder with an impedance of Z=0.25+j0.6 and a length of 3 miles. Assuming a load of 7000 kVA and power factor of 0.9 lagging and a nominal line to line voltage = 11 kV determine the rating of a three phase capacitor bank to limit the voltage drop to 1.5%.
rise
30
Example4 Solution
I
cap
V
rise
K
rise
90
0.0525
90
(.25
j
0.6)
0.000537%
0.0525
90
0.034 V
/
rise kVAR mile
.
I
load
(
cos
Z I
.
1
)
(0.9)
367
238.6 V
25.8
31
Example4 Solution
%
V
drop
3.76%
However, it is required to limit the voltage drop to 1.5%, so:
V rise
kVAR
3.76 1.5 2.26%
V rise
K
rise
mile
2.26
0.000537
3
_{}
1403 kVAR
32
c) Reducing Line Losses
• One of the main benefits of applying capacitors
is that they can reduce distribution line losses.
• Losses come from current through the resistance of conductors.
• Some of that current transmits real power, but some flows to supply reactive power.
• It is desirable to determine the size and
location of capacitors to maximize reduction in
line losses.
33
c) Reducing Line Losses
• The magnitude of the line current can be expressed as follows:
• Where:
I
L
I
2
p
I
2
q
1/ 2
Ip = magnitude of inphase component of line current
 Iq = magnitude of quadrature component of line current
34
c) Reducing Line Losses
• The current absorbed by a capacitor bank will subtract from the quadrature component of the line current resulting in the following:
I
L
• Where:
I
2
p
I
q
I
c
1/ 2
2
Ic = magnitude of the capacitor current
35
c) Reducing Line Losses
Example5
If the load (700 kVA) in example 3 was connected to the source via a feeder with the following impedance: Z = 0.5+j1.3, find the line losses before and after power factor correction. Also, find the optimum location of the capacitor for maximum line loss reduction.
36
c) Reducing Line Losses
Example5solution:
P 700(.65) 455 kW
Losses
3
2
I R
I
L 1
I
L 2

455 
97 A 

3


4.16 

.65 


455 
38.2 A 

3


4.16 

.96 
Losses 14.16 kW
Losses 2.19 kW
Where is the best place for this capacitor?
37
c) Reducing Line Losses
Practical considerations:
• Determining the size and location of a capacitor for a uniformly distributed load is more complicated, why?
• The timevarying nature of the loads will also be a significant factor in determining capacitor requirements, why?
38
c) Reducing Line Losses
Example6
For the reactive load shown below for a 4.16 feeder, determine the fixed and switched capacitor to be added to correct the power factor?
39
c) Reducing Line Losses
• Solution (b) is better as it delivers better compensation for the reactive current. • However, solution (b) requires the switching of two capacitors instead of one for solution (a) which is not desirable in power system.
40
c) Reducing Line Losses
Optimum capacitor size and location:
^{P} Loss
L
3
.
I
2
1
.
K
2
K
R
1.
If the load has only lumped load, so K = 1 and:
P
Loss
L I
.
2 R
1
.
If the load has only distributed load, so K = 0 and:
P
Loss
L
3
^{.}
I
2
1
R
^{.}
R is the resistance per unit length
42
c) Reducing Line Losses
Optimum capacitor size and location:
^{P} Loss
x '
2
L
(
I I
1
C
(1
K
)
x
'(
I
2
C
2
I I
1
C
)
L
3
I
2
1
(
K
2
K
1)
. R
• For a given load profile, line length,
c) Reducing Line Losses
I
Optimum capacitor size and location:
Solving equation no.1 will result in:
x '
( I 
2 
2 I I 



C 
1 
C ) L 

I I 1 
C 
(1 
K 
) 
2 
It is convenient to express the capacitor current I _{C} as a function of the reactive current I _{1}
C
I
1
^{L}
x '
2
2
1 K
(3)
Substituting equations (3) in (2) will results in:
3
0 1
2
2
3
45
c) Reducing Line Losses
Optimum capacitor size and location:
So the size of the capacitor is 2/3 of the total reactive current entering the feeder. If this value is substituted in equation 3, then:
x '
2
3
1
L
1 K
So it can be seen from this equation that
the 2/3 capacitor size is only true for K
value is up to 1/3. If K is more than 1/3
then x’ will be more than L which is not logic. If K exceeds 1/3, the optimum location t
i
’=L
d
h
i
i
ill b
s x
an
e capac tor s ze w
e:
^{K}
1
2
46
c) Reducing Line Losses
Capacitor size and placement:
If K = 0 (only uniformly distributed load), then x’ = 2/3L
47
c) Reducing Line Losses
Capacitor size and placement:
• A generalization of the 2/3 rule for applying n capacitors to a circuit is to size each one to 2/(2n+1) of the circuit var requirements.
• Apply them equally spaced, starting at a distance of 2/(2n+1) of the total line length from the substation and adding the rest of the units at intervals of 2/(2n+1) of the total line length.
48
c) Reducing Line Losses
Capacitor size and placement:
• The total vars supplied by the capacitors is 2n/(2n+1) of the circuit’s var requirements.
• So to apply three capacitors, size each to 2/7 of the
total vars needed, and locate them at per unit distances of 2/7, 4/7, and 6/7 of the line length from the substation.
49
Example 7:
A section of a 12.47 kV distribution line has a length of 3 miles. The reactive power loading was measured as 2000 kVAR at the distribution substation line exit. The reactive power loading at the end of the line section was estimated as 600 kVAR. Determine the optimum capacitor rating and location to minimize line loss of this section.
50
Example 7solution:
The ratio of reactive power at the end of the line section to the reactive power at the beginning of the line is:
K
600
2000
0.3
Since K is less than 1/3, the optimum capacitor rating is two thirds time the reactive loading at the beginning of the line *
section, i.e. kVAR
_{C}_{A}_{P} = (2/3) 2000=1333.3 kVAR
The optimum capacitor location is given by:
'
x
2 (3)
3
1
1
0 3
.
2.86 miles
51
d) Released Capacity
• In addition to reducing losses and improving voltage, capacitors release capacity.
• Improving the power factor increases the amount of real power load the circuit can supply.
52
d) Released Capacity
53
Example 8:
In the following Figure a primary line with uniformly distributed load. The voltage at the distribution substation lowvoltage bus is held at 1.03 pu V with bus voltage regulation. When there is no capacitor bank installed on the feeder, the per unit voltage at the end of the line at annual peak load is 0.97. Use the nominal operating voltage of 13.8 KV of the threephase as the base voltage. Assume that the off peak load of the system is about 25% of the on peak load. Also, assume that the line reactance is 0.80 Ω /(phase.mi) but the line resistance is neglected and determine the following:
a When the shunt capacitor bank is not used, find the Vx, voltages at the times of peak load and offpeak load.
b Apply an unswitched capacitor bank and locate it at the point of X = 4 mi on the line, and size the capacitor bank to yield a voltage of 1.05 per unit at point X=0 at the time of zero load. Find the size of the capacitor in three phase kilovars.
54
Example 8, solution
The current flowing through any segment along a feeder with uniformly distributed load can be calculated from the following equation (no installed capacitors exist):
I
x
I
S
1
x
^{} l
The voltage drop across this segment can be calculated from the following equation:
dVD
x
I
z dx
x
55
Example 8, solution
The total voltage drop from the source point to point x along the feeder is given by:
VD
x
x
0
dVD
x
x
0
I
x
z
dx
VD
x
VD
x
x
0
I
S
I
S
1
x z dx
l
z
x
x
2 l
2
I
S
z
x
1
x
2 l
56
Example 8, solution
The total voltage drop from the source point to the feeder endpoint is given by:
VD
VD
x
VD
l
l
I
S
z
%
VD
x
%
VD
^{l}
l
l
2
2
l
x 1
x
2 l
l
2
I
x
l
S
z
2
l
2
x
l
57
Example 8, solution
The total voltage drop from the source point to the feeder endpoint (no installed capacitors exist) at the peak load is given by:
VD
l
,
pu
1.03
0.97
0.06
pu
6 %
VD
x
VD
l
VD
V
x
x
x
l
2
0.888
x
l
x
0.06
2
3
2
3
pu
2
0.0533
8
9
0.888
V
o
VD
x
1.03 0.0533 0.9767
pu
V
x
0.9767
x
13.8 13.47846
kV
58
Example 8, solution
The total voltage drop from the source point to the feeder endpoint (no installed capacitors exist) at the no loading condition is given by:
% VD
l
,
off
D
off
1
% VD
l
k
, pea
D
pea k
4
Therefore, at offpeak conditions:
% VD
l
,
off
^{V}^{D} x off
,
VD
l , off
VD
x
,
off
1
4
x
0.06
0.015
pu
1.5 %
x
l
2
0.888
x
l
x
0.015
2
3
^{}
2
2
pu
3
0.0133
8
9
0.888
V
x
V
x
V
o
VD
x
1.0167
x
1.03 0.0133 1.0167
13.8 14.03
kV
pu
59
Example 8, solution
The voltage at point X with no capacitor is 1.03 pu (because there is no load and the voltage at the bus will equal the voltage at X), after installing the capacitor bank the voltage at point X becomes 1.05 pu. Therefore, the per unit voltage rise at point X is 0.02 pu or 2 %.
V
rise
[
z
*
I
cap
] 0.0336
V
^{I} cap
90
0.042
90
60
Capacitor banks switching control
Several options for controls are available for capacitor banks. They can be classified to:
a) Simple control: these techniques does not require any electrical measurements.
– 
Time 
clock: The simplest scheme: the controller 

switches capacitors on and off based on the time of day. This control is the cheapest but also the most susceptible to energizing the capacitor at the wrong time. 

– 
Temperature: Another simple control; the 
controller switches the capacitor bank on or off
d
di
epen
ng on temperature.
61
Capacitor banks
b) More complicated control: these techniques require different electrical measurements like:
– Voltage:
• The capacitor switches on and off, based on voltage magnitude.
• Voltage control is most appropriate when the primary role of a capacitor is voltage support and regulation.
• Voltagecontrolled capacitor banks have bandwidths which should be at least 3 or 4 V (on a 120V scale).
62
Capacitor banks
–
Vars:
• The capacitor uses var measurements to determine switching.
• This is the most accurate method of ensuring that the capacitor is on at the appropriate times for maximum reduction of losses.
• Like the voltage control technique, there is a bandwidth for switching of each capacitor bank to prevent excessive switching operations in most cases.
63
Control Methods used for Switched Capacitors
Type of Control 
Pole Mounted Banks on Feeders Percent 
Distribution Substation Banks Percent 
Voltage 
16.6 
30.8 
Current 
4.9 
2.4 
Time 
59.8 
16.3 
VoltageCurrent 
7.2 
12.6 
VoltageTime 
5.1 
6.3 
Manual ^{*} 
6.2 
28.4 
Others 
0.2 
3.2 
Total 
100.0 
100.0 
* Manual includes any switching directly or indirectly caused by the dispatcher
64
Capacitor Switching Consideration
In many cases it is desirable to install several steps of switched capacitor units. This is particularly true if the load reactive power requirements fluctuates during the day. When a deenergized capacitor is energized, the capacitor behaves as a short circuit. The inductance of the source/line will limit the current.
65
Capacitor Switching Consideration
The calculation of currents during capacitor switching is extremely important in capacitor applications.
Both contactors and circuit breakers used in capacitor switching are limited in the amount of momentary current the contacts can safely withstand.
This current will be also at high frequency compared to system frequency which will produce high frequency voltage spikes in the system.
66
Switching Single Capacitor Bank
Exact calculations of capacitor switching currents are extremely difficult manually, so the following assumptions will be made:
a) The system will be analyzed on a single phase basis.
b) The source will be modeled as a DC voltage source.
c) The DC voltage will have a magnitude equal to the peak line to neutral system voltage.
d) Resistances will be ignored.
67
Switching Single Capacitor Bank
The equivalent circuit is shown below
V
o
^{}
The capacitance per phase of the capacitor bank is:
C
MVAR
rated
2 .
.
f
rated
.(
kV
LL
rated
_
)
2
The capacitor switching current is:
I
(
s
)
V / s
o
sL
s
(1 /
sC
)
68
Example 9:
A 1200kVAR, 4.16kV capacitor bank is installed on a plant bus. The plant bus is supplied from a 5000kVA, 69kV4.16/2.4 kV transformer having an impedance of 7%. Neglecting the impedance of the source and resistance determine the maximum instantaneous value and the frequency of the inrush current. Also, determine the inductance of the inductors that must be added to reduce the inrush current.
70
Example 9solution:
The transformer inductive reactance is:
X
0.07.
4.16
kV
2
5 MVA
0.242
The transformer inductance is:
_{L}
0.242
2.60
The capacitance per phase is equal to:
C
1.2 MVAR
2 .60.(4.16
kV )
2
1.84
10
4
F
The peak source voltage is:
^{V}
o
I max
3396
1 84
.
10
4
6.43
10
4
1/ 2

6 43 . 

10 
3396 
^{V} 
4
_{H}
71
Example 9solution:
The frequency of the transient inrush current is
o
1
1.84
10
4
.6.43
10
4
1/ 2
2909
rad
463
Hz
The total amount of inductance to limit the maximum current to 1000 A is:
L
s
V ^{2}
o
I
2
max
. C
2.12
10 ^{}
3 H
The inductance to be added will be equal to:
2.12
10
3
6.43
10
4
1.5 mH
72
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