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Frequency Changes in AC Systems Connected to DC

Grids: Impact of AC vs. DC Side Events

Inmaculada Martínez Sanz, Student Member, Balarko Chaudhuri, Senior Member, and Goran Strbac, Senior Member
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Imperial College London
London, United Kingdom

Abstract— Each converter station within a DC grid can be analyze, through a steady-state formulation, the interactions
equipped with a power frequency droop control loop in addition between AC and DC grids for events that require exchange of
to the power voltage droop control normally used for frequency support. Following an event (or disturbance), there
autonomous power sharing. Presence of the power frequency are two distinctly different patterns of dynamic variation of
droop control allows exchange of frequency support among the
the frequencies of the AC systems connected to the DC grid.
AC systems connected to the DC grid. Following an event (or
disturbance), there are two distinctly different patterns of For classical supply-demand mismatch events within AC
dynamic variation of the frequencies of the AC systems systems like loss of generation, increase in load etc. in one of
connected to the DC grid. In this paper, an analytical basis is the AC systems, the frequency in that particular AC system
provided to support the different trends. Simulation results and all the rest of the AC systems vary (increase or decrease)
using a 4-terminal DC grid model set up in DIgSILENT in the same direction. On the contrary, if disturbance is on the
PowerFactory are used to validate the analysis. The different DC side, which includes a change in power reference setting
patterns of dynamic variation of the frequencies for AC and DC of a converter or a complete converter outage, the frequency
side disturbances could have significant implications for of the affected system varies in the opposite direction
extraction of inertial/frequency support from offshore wind
compared to the remaining AC systems.
farms connected through MTDC grids.
The starting point of this work is the analysis reported in
Index Terms-- Multi-Terminal DC (MTDC), VSC-HVDC, [8] which introduced the frequency sensitivity for AC
frequency droop control, AC/DC interaction. systems connected to DC grids. However, the analysis in [8]
only focused on load/generation change as the frequency
I. INTRODUCTION event but did not consider the effect of DC-side events like
In order to effectively share the diverse renewable energy converter outage. In this paper we have included as well the
resources spread across geographic regions and tap into effect of DC-side disturbances in a combined framework.
offshore renewables (primarily but not limited to wind), the Close match between the expected results from our analytical
DC grid concept has drawn significant attention, particularly formulation and the observed simulation results has
in Europe with projects like the European supergrid [1] or the confirmed the difference patterns of dynamic variation of the
North-sea grid [2]. A DC grid could be more cost-effective frequencies for AC and DC side disturbances. This could
than several point-to-point connections as it increases the have significant implications for communication-less
security of supply, improving reliability and flexibility of schemes for extraction of inertial/frequency support from
operation. Voltage source converter (VSC) technology is offshore wind farms for multiple onshore AC systems
arguably the only option for DC grids as it allows power connected through MTDC grids.
reversal without requiring reversal of voltage polarity [3]. The main contributions of this paper are:
However, there are major challenges associated with use of
VSC for DC grids primarily from protection and DC fault- • Extension of the frequency sensitivity formulation for
current interruption considerations, which are deferring the both AC and DC side disturbances.
practical realization of DC grids [4], [5]. From system • Analysis of the effect of AC/DC disturbances on the
operators’ point of view, unknown interaction between the frequency variations through analytical expressions and
AC system and DC grid and appropriate control of DC grid to validation through simulations.
support the AC system operation are two major concerns.
Control of the converters in order to exchange primary The rest of the paper has the following structure: Section II
frequency reserves through the DC grid has been already describes the control of a VSC converter station and models
proposed [6], [7]. In this context, the focus of this paper is to its steady state behaviour under some reasonable

978-1-4799-6415-4/14/$31.00 ©2014 IEEE

assumptions. Section III presents the frequency variations in ∑ ∆P =0 (3)
the interconnected AC systems in terms of load/generation
changes and power reference changes. The formulation is Substituting (2) in (3) and making the assumption that DC
evaluated by comparing the expected (from formulation) voltage variations are equal in all the converter terminals, we
results againts DIgSILENT PowerFactory simulations of a 4- can derive an expression for voltage variations in the grid:
terminal DC grid in Section IV.
∆ 1 ∆
= − ∆ (4)
In a DC grid all converters except one can be controlled to
provide the scheduled power while leaving one of the
Note that voltage variations are proportional to frequency
converters to be operated as a slack, controlling the DC link
variations when ∆ does not change, meaning that for DC
voltage. However, the problem with this arrangement is that
the slack converter will take the entire burden of the loss in side disturbances (converter outage) voltage variations are not
the case of a converter outage. Including a power-voltage representative of frequency variations.
droop in the control loop of the converters will ensure
autonomous power sharing after such an event [7].
Additionally, a power-frequency droop control allows III. FREQUENCY VARIATIONS DUE TO AC- OR DC-SIDE
exchange of primary frequency support between the AC EVENTS
systems connected to the DC grid. The converter also The droop control model of the converter is linked here to
provides independent reactive power support to the grid, as a simple representation of the AC grid to evaluate the
depicted in Fig. 1. interaction between systems in terms of frequency variation in
the grids. For the sake of simplicity, we consider that each AC
Frequency controller
f system is connected to the MTDC grid by just one converter
kf /kp
station, as in Fig. 2.
fref VDC idmax Pdc
id_ref PG
P Pmd
kp KV(1+1/sTV) Kd(1+1/sTd)

Pref AC grid
idmin id
VDCref iqmax Pdcref
Q iq_ref Pmq PL
KQ(1+1/sTQ) Kq(1+1/sTq)

Qref iqmin iq Current controller Figure 2. AC grid connection to the MTDC grid.

Figure 1. Power-frequency droop control for the VSC converter. The power balance relation for each AC grid i connected
to the MTDC grid is given by:
The steady-state equation for the droop controller is the
following: ∆ +∆ =∆ (5)
where is the local load in the AC system and is the
= + − + − (1) generated power. The changes in generated power can be
where is the frequency droop constant and the power related to frequency variations through a droop constant for
droop constant for each converter i. Regarding the sign the aggregated AC grid ( ) [8], emulating the behaviour of
convention, is considered to be positive if the power is the governors in the system:
withdrawn from the DC grid into the AC grid. The power ∆ ∆
reference to the converter is denoted by . A converter =− (6)
outage is modelled by setting its power reference to zero.
Substituting (2), (4) and (6) in (5) we obtain:
Equation (1) is re-written in small-signal form and in a p.u.
base, where , and correspond to rated values: ∆
∆ =∆ − +
∆ ∆ ∆ 1 ∆
= − + (2) ∆
∑ −∑ ∆
If we assume no losses in the DC grid, we have that the sum + (7)
of the exchanged power between the N converters of the ∑
MTDC grid is zero:
Equation (7) can be re-written as:

∆ =− + 1− + +∆ 1− − ∆
∑ ∑ ∑ ∑

∆ ∆
∆ =− + + (1 − )∆ − ∆ (8)

Finally, when expressed in matrix form:

A ∆f/f = ∆P − B ∆P

− … / … / ∆
∆ / ∆ 1− … − … −

⋮ ⋱ ⋮ ⋮ ⋮ ⋮ ⋮ ⋱ ⋮
… … −

/ … − … / ∆ / = ∆ − − 1 − ∆ (9)
⋱ ⋮ ⋮ ⋮ ⋮ ⋱ ⋮
⋮ ⋮ ⋮ ⋮
… ∆ / ∆ − … − …1 −
/ … / − ∆

In this way frequency variations in the interconnected AC
systems can be expressed in terms of load/generation changes (1 − ) … − … −
and converter power reference changes. The variation ∆P
reflects AC side disturbances while ∆P variation relates to ⋮ ⋱ ⋮ ⋮
DC side disturbances: 1 …
~ − … (1 − ) − (14)
∆f/f = A ∆P − A B ∆P (10) ⋮ ⋮ ⋱ ⋮

To determine how an AC or DC side disturbance affects − … − (1 − )

the frequency variations in the different systems, we look at
the sign of the elements in the columns of the matrices A
and A B . We know that: Analyzing these expressions and under the previous
assumptions (no losses in the DC grid, equal voltage
0< <1 = / >0 >0 (11) variations and being the dominant term in the equations) we
Additionally, we can also safely assume that, for AC power can generally conclude that:
systems, the response from the generators’ governors is • An event in one of the AC systems (load/generation
dominant: change) causes the frequency of all the systems
participating in frequency control to vary similarly. Given
~ > = \ (12) a column of matrix A , all the elements have the same
This relation does not apply to particular AC systems like sign.
offshore wind farms or load centers, which are preferably • For a DC side event (converter outage), all system
controlled as constant power terminals and hence do not frequencies but the one of the outaged converter will vary
participate in the droop control. similarly. Given a column of matrix A B , all the
Given the previous considerations, by deriving the elements but one have the same sign.
expressions for different number of converters we can obtain a
generalized expression for the matrices of interest, as follows:
… … In order to validate the analysis presented earlier in
Section III, the test system shown in Fig. 3 was modeled in
⋮ ⋱ ⋮ ⋮
DIgSILENT PowerFactory. This network is based upon the
one described in [9] employing the same parameters for the
1 … DC lines and converter stations. It consists of four
~ … (13)
asynchronous AC systems interconnected through a DC grid.
⋮ ⋮ ⋱ One of the systems is an offshore wind farm. The DC grid was

modeled as a general asymmetric bipolar type with each
… … converter stations employing one 2-level VSC converter. The
DC link voltage is 350kV, and the surrounding AC systems The differences between the simulation results in
are connected at 230 kV. DIgSILENT and the expected values in terms of frequency
and power balance increments can be seen in Table I. The
results are a reasonable approximation of the post-fault
dynamic behaviour of the system. The mismatch in the power
balance of the simulation column can be attributed to losses
in the system which were neglected in the analytical
The system dynamic response obtained in the simulation
is shown in Fig. 4 and Fig. 5. As expected, the AC side
disturbance causes the frequency to vary in the same direction
in all the AC systems, as plotted in Fig. 4, while the
frequency in system #4 is unaffected as it is working as a
constant power source. Fig. 5 shows the power injected in
each AC system after the event. The power imported by
system #3 increases at the expense of system #1 injecting
more power in the DC grid and system #2 withdrawing less.

Figure 3. Test system.

Each AC area is represented by a single equivalent

generator which is equipped with governor control and a
constant impedance load. The wind farm is controlled to
provide constant power and hence it does not participate in the
droop control for autonomous power sharing and frequency
regulation. The following droop parameters were chosen for
the simulations: = 0.1, = 5 for converter stations #1-3; Figure 4. System frequencies after load increase event in system #3. Results
= 20 for systems #1-3. for system #1 (red), system #2 (green), system #3 (blue) and system #4
A. AC Side Event
A step increase in the local load of system #3 is analyzed -430.0 -130.0

first as an AC side event, with ∆ =153 MW. For the given -444.0 -144.0
-162.45 MW
-458.0 -158.0
parameter values, we have that the estimated DC voltage -450 MW
-472.0 -172.0
variation is:
-486.0 -186.0
∆ = −1.977 -182.46 MW
-500.0 -200.0
0.0 3.0 6.0 9.0 12.0[s]15.0 0.0 3.0 6.0 9.0 12.0[s]15.0
(-3.954 kV for a bipole configuration) while the simulated VSC4p: Total Active Power VSC1p: Total Active Power
voltage variations at the converter terminals are: 210.0 470.0
450.00 MW
∆ = −3.793 − 4.171 − 4.653 − 4.360 196.0 456.0
182.0 191.79 MW 442.0
The assumption of all voltage deviations being equal at 168.0 428.0
150 MW
the converter terminals is not true due to the line resistances 154.0 414.0 427.58 MW
causing losses, but it is still an average representation of what 140.0 400.0
0.00 3.00 6.00 9.00 12.0[s]15.0 0.0 3.0 6.0 9.0 12.0[s]15.0
occurs in the system. VSC3p: Total Active Power VSC2p: Total Active Power


Figure 5. Real power at the converter terminals after load increase event in
system #3.
Frequency ∆ / (pu) Power Balance ∆ (GW)
Simulation B. DC Side Event
In the second case study a step reduction to the power
System #1 -0.0003 -0.0003 -0.0199 -0.0201
reference of converter Station #2 is applied as a DC-side
System #2 -0.0003 -0.0003 -0.0215 -0.0224 event. In this case ∆P = -190 MW. The expected change in
System #3 -0.0028 -0.0030 0.0415 0.0417 voltage is:
System #4 0 0 0 0
∆ = 4.864
(9.73kV in the bipole configuration). The DC voltage increase. Less power is being extracted from the grid as a
variations obtained through simulation are: result of the change in the reference to the converter. Systems
#1 and #3 try to counterbalance this change by respectively
∆ = 9.724 10.667 10.137 10.290 injecting less and extracting more power from the DC grid, as
As before, the losses in the grid cause the different voltage seen in Fig. 7. As expected, there is no change in frequency or
variations at each terminal. The comparison of the results for power in system #4 which continues to act as a constant power
frequency and power exchange appears on Table II for this source.
disturbance. A good match between simulation and The simulation results presented in this Section illustrate
formulation values is obtained, especially for frequency two things:
1. With power frequency droop control the pattern of
frequency variation in AC systems connected to DC grids
is different for AC and DC side disturbances.
Frequency ∆ / (pu) Power Balance ∆ (GW)
2. The analytical formulation presented in Section III can
Simulation Simulation
(DIgSILENT) capture the steady-state change in frequency of individual
System #1 0.0008 0.0007 0.0491 0.0521
AC systems connected to a DC grid with reasonable
System #2 -0.0011 -0.0012 -0.0918 -0.0949
System #3 0.0011 0.0011 0.0428 0.0451
In this paper an analytical formulation is presented to
System #4 0 0 0 0 account for the different patterns of dynamic variations of the
frequencies of the AC systems connected to the DC grid in
response to AC-side and DC-side disturbances. The fact that
the frequencies of all the AC systems vary similarly for AC-
side disturbance while the frequency of the affected system
(where the event took place) varies in the opposite direction
compared to the rest of the AC systems for a DC-side
disturbance can be explained by the analysis presented in this
paper. The steady-state results expected from the formulation
closely match those from simulation in DIgSILENT
PowerFactory, which confirms the validity of the analytical
formulation. This could have significant implications for
communication-less schemes for extraction of
inertial/frequency support from offshore wind farms for
Figure 6. System frequencies after power reference step reduction of multiple onshore AC systems connected through MTDC grids.
converter station #2. Results for system #1 (red), system #2 (green), system
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