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Modern HVDC PLUS application of VSC in Modular Multilevel Converter Topology

Kurt Friedrich Siemens AG, Energy Sector, Power Transmission Solutions Kurt.Friedrich@Siemens.com been based all on 2 or 3-level technology [1]. This concept enables to switch respectively clamp two or three different voltage levels to the AC terminal of the converter. Since the desired sine waveform at the AC terminal cannot be adjusted in terms of magnitude, special measures, such as PWM, are used to approximate the desired waveform. However, the difference between the implemented and the desired voltage waveform is an unwanted distortion which has to be filtered. When building converters for high voltage applications a large number of semiconductors need to be connected in series up to several hundred per converter leg, depending on the DC voltage. Simultaneous switching of all devices connected in series in one converter leg with accuracy in the microsecond range only can ensure the necessary uniform voltage distribution not only statically but also dynamically. This results in high and steep voltage steps at the AC converter terminals, which require extensive filter measures. With increasing dc operation voltages this effect becomes more and more significant, as well as the related countermeasures. Consequently it always has been a desire having a simple design of multi-level VSC for high voltage applications like HVDC and FACTS, which can eliminate the drawbacks of two-level topology and provides advantages with respect to the performance as well [2].

Abstract-This paper presents an actual view into the development of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) converter stations build in Modular Multilevel Converter (MMC) topology. Explanations are given how voltage sourced converters (VSC) of large active power transmission capacity and independent controlled reactive power exchange capability are designed for terminals of HVDC Links. This modern type of self-commutated converters has been developed under brand name HVDC PLUS by Siemens for use in electric power systems.



Innovative solutions with HVDC have the potential to cope with challenges of electric power supply for our modern societies. By means of Power Electronics features are provided necessary to avoid technical problems in the power systems, and to increase the transmission capacity and system stability very efficient. The power grid of the future must be secure, cost-effective and environmentally compatible. II. VSC TRANSMISSION BASICS

For many years of successful and broad application in traction and medium voltage drives systems, the VSC (Voltage-Sourced Converter) utilizing modern IGBTs has become important in power transmission and distribution such as HVDC and FACTS applications. (FACTS = Flexible AC Transmission Systems). In comparison with conventional Classic line commutated thyristor based converters (LCC), such self-commutated converters provide additional and advanced technical features, which are advantageous to meet todays technical challenges in power transmission industry [1]. Benefits of such VSC-based converter technology are: Both, active power flow and reactive power exchange, can be controlled independently. Dynamic response can be achieved with excellent results, which is important to comply with grid code requirements. Reliable operation in weak or even passive system. Compact and flexible station layout. FACTS devices based on a VSC concept has been the first applications in power transmission systems. While such VSC in FACTS application had different topologies, the first converters realized with VSC for HVDC applications had



1. Principles of concept A new modular multilevel converter (MMC) topology has been introduced by Siemens into HVDC applications during recent years [3-5]. Based on the concept of this topology, the converter arms act as a controllable voltage source with a high number of possible discrete voltage steps, which allow forming an approximate sine wave in terms of adjustable magnitude of the voltage to the AC terminal. This principle is shown in Figure 1. Each of these variable voltage sources are designed with a number of identical but individually controllable submodules. Each submodule is a two-terminal component which can be switched between a state with full module voltage and a state with zero module voltage in both current directions [5, 6]. Dependent on the current direction, the capacitor can be

Fig. 1. Converter in Modular Multilevel topology and control principle.

charged or discharged. Besides auxiliary components and electronics, each submodule consists of an IGBT half bridge and a capacitor unit. By serially connecting many modules an elegant multilevel topology can be constructed. It is possible to individually and selectively control each of the individual submodules in a converter arm. The total voltage of the two converter arms in one phase unit equals the DC voltage, and by adjusting the ratio of the converter arm voltages in one phase module, the desired sinusoidal voltage at the AC terminal can be achieved. See Figure 2. 2. System engineering approach with VSC - MMC The described MMC topology is a symmetric monopole, and in a point-to-point HVDC transmission scheme two (2) converter stations of same design are interconnected with two (2) High Voltage DC conductors, all forming the DC system

part. The advantage of the modular converter design allows selecting the DC system voltage suitable for the project related transmission conditions and targets. For the Worlds first HVDC transmission scheme with VSC MMC extruded submarine cables DC 200 kV have been developed and introduce a new voltage level of this cable technology. The AC system interfaces of the HVDC link are Power Transformers, which adjust the AC system voltages to the converter system voltages on the AC- and the DC-side of the converters. The appropriate voltage values are result of basic system design calculations. Each converter is designed and rated to meet the performance requirements of the HVDC transmission system, and is protected to withstand over-current and over-voltage stresses due to faults occurring in various parts of the station. Furthermore converters are fault-tolerant relating to the capability of the converter to operate satisfactorily in service between scheduled maintenance outage periods. An insertion resistor used during energizing of converters is by-passed in normal operation. In such a symmetrical configuration the DC circuit potential to ground is floating. If DC side voltages to ground are symmetrical, a DC off-set on the transformer secondary side is avoided, hence allowing the use of AC power transformers. Special grounding devices are installed between transformer secondary side and AC-side of converter arms to provide a reference to ground in one station. The converter in this station will then control the voltage grading to ground in the DC circuit. In case of an open DC circuit an optional connection can be made to ground also in the other converter station, to allow for independent reactive power exchange in both stations in this case.
No DC filters No AC filters No DC reactors No HF filters star point reactor insertion resistor converter reactors on DC side

conventional AC transformers


Fig. 3. Functional scheme of a HVDC PLUS transmission system in monopolar configuration

Fig. 2. AC and DC Voltages controlled by Converter Module Voltages

Another option could be tertiary windings in the power transformers for an auxiliary power supply directly supplied from the AC systems. This system engineering approach for HVDC PLUS converter stations is shown in functional scheme Figure 3.

3. System design for MMC converter arrangement The results of basic system data are used in next steps of engineering to design the arrangement of the converters. For correlation to the principles of the concept (see section III.1) we introduce following definitions for Siemens HVDC PLUS modular multilevel converters (VSC MMC): Converter arm: assembly of one (1) converter module plus one (1) converter reactor, with connection to Usec on the ACside and Ud/2 on the DC side (either + or -). Converter module: a row of Power Modules connected in series. Depending on total number of power modules several converter towers are connected in series to achieve the required number of power modules necessary for Ud/2. Converter tower: mechanical assembly of several Power Modules designed to withstand over-current and overvoltage stresses. Power Module: assembly, which comprises of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBT), power capacitor, diodes, resistors, gate interface board (Power Module Electronics), bypass switch and protection thyristor. Power Modules are pre-assembled into racks of suitable transportation size in a specialized HVDC Valves factory of Siemens in Nuremberg, Germany. The factory tested units are then installed on site to Converter Towers, and connected to Converter Modules inside of the Converter Hall.

The Power Module Electronics (PME) are connected to the PLUSCONTROL system via fiber-optics. Main Tasks of this Siemens VSC MMC control system are Current Control and Module Management. PLUSCONTROL is an integrated part of the HVDC PLUS Control & Protection system, with a higher level hierarchy in SIMATIC TDC and WIN TDC, as well for HMI. 4. Operation and Performance It is the perfect balance of Power Module voltages, which yields control of the distributed energy storage in the modular multilevel converters. This is proving the related benefits for following technological advantages of MMC [5]: Straightforward voltage balancing To ensure a tight voltage balance across all semiconductor device levels at high voltages is a major challenge in voltage sourced converters. In PWM two or three level converters this relates to the balancing of the hundreds of simultaneously switching devices within a valve, this requires highly demanding electronic control accuracies down to the tens of nano-second range. For MMC the equivalent task is to balance the voltages across the individual modules but at slower (millisecond) time scales. Imbalanced operation Each phase can operate independently without causing ripple voltage distortion across the other phases, because there is no common dc capacitors shared by all phases. Consequently the MMC can operate with a continuous voltage imbalance - for instance in the presence of very high negative phase sequence voltages across the AC network. For DC transmission, this gives a major advantage when operating into imbalanced network faults - especially long lasting events like single phase auto re-closure. The two unaffected phases can continue at full power transmission, limiting the net energy transfer deficit to about one third of the maximum value. This can particularly benefit weakened networks because it reduces frequency variations; avoiding the need for load shedding or generator tripping. Improved fault performance Generally the higher energy storage capacity provides improved performance during AC network faults because the DC voltage can remain substantially constant, thus allowing continuous, stable converter operation.

Fig. 4. Main Components of Siemens HVDC PLUS converter

The heat sinks of the Power Modules are connected to the Converter Cooling system. Beside the Transformer Cooling system it is the major auxiliary system.

Harmonic voltage distortion The multilevel topology of HVDC PLUS converters prevents generation of any major harmonic content. In contrast to HVDC classic no detailed investigation is required for commercial installations. Typical limits as specified by IEC 61000-3-6 are met without need for filters or other counter measures.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] CIGRE Working Group B4.37, VSC Transmission, May 2004. Marquardt R., Lesnicar A, New Concept for High Voltage Modular Multilevel Converter, IEEE PESC 2004 confrence, Aachen, Germany. Dorn J., Huang H., Retzmann D. Novel Voltage-Sourced Converters for HVDC and FACTS Applications, Cigr Symposium Osaka 2008, Japan. Dorn J., Huang H., Retzmann D. A new Multilevel Voltage-Sourced Converter Topology for HVDC Applications, Cigr Session, B4-304, 2008, Paris, France. Huang H., Multilevel Voltage-Sourced Converters for HVDC and FACTS Applications, Cigr SC B4 2009 Colloqium, B4-401, Bergen, Norway.