Distributed series reactance: a new approach to realize grid power flow control
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The objective of the proposed research is to develop a cost-effective power flow controller to improve the utilization and reliability of the existing transmission, sub-transmission, and distribution networks. Over the last two decades, electricity consumption and generation have continually grown at an annual rate of around 2.5%. At the same time, investments in the Transmission and Distribution (T&D) infrastructure have steadily declined. Further, it has become increasingly difficult and expensive to build new power lines. As a result, the aging power-grid has become congested and is under stress, resulting in compromised reliability and higher energy costs. In such an environment it becomes important that existing assets are used effectively to achieve highest efficiency. System reliability is sacrosanct and cannot be compromised. Utility system planners are moving from radial towards networked systems to achieve higher reliability, especially under contingency conditions. While enhancing reliability, this has degraded the controllability of the network, as current flow along individual lines can no longer be controlled. The transfer capacity of the system gets limited by the first line that reaches the thermal capacity, even when majority of the lines are operating at a fraction of their capacity. The utilization of the system gets further degraded as the lines are operated with spare capacity to sustain overloads under contingencies. Market efficiency is also sub-optimal, with congestion on key corridors restricting the low-cost generators to connect to the end users, resulting in higher electricity prices for the consumers. The proposed technology offers the capability to realize a controllable meshed-network, with the ability to utilize static and dynamic capacity of the grid to provide system-wide benefits, including- increased line and system-capacity utilization, increased reliability, improved operation under contingencies, and rapid implementation. It would allow a broadening of the energy market, permitting owners to direct how energy flows on their wires, and making it easier to connect to new sources of generation.
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