VSC-HVDC Protection and Control

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Abstract

Good knowledge of VSC-HVDC technology is presently held only by the manufacturers (who for competitive reasons do not want to share). Given the potentially large number of VSC-HVDC links into the UK, and the rapid planned rollout of the technology the utilities and government need to develop a better understanding of VSC-HVDC. A key weakness is that presently most public domain R&D on VSC-HVDC is based on simplified simulation models. This fails to capture key hardware complexities. The limitations real-time control places on system operation is a key element here. Nonlinearities in the hardware are a further problem. There is an urgent need for research to develop a low-power hardware model that particularly addressed the real-time control issues to develop better models of this component and allow the utility networks to develop a better understanding of the hardware. The PhD will construct a low-power reduced-scale hardware model of a modular multi- level VSC-HVDC converter. As far as possible the control dynamics will be preserved so that the controller for each sub-module will be partitioned from the master controller, to test multi-layer control concepts. Algorithms for such system control will be explored. The fidelity of power system models presently used for network modelling will be assessed in this context, and improvements suggested as appropriate. If time permits, interfacing the hardware model with Real-Time Digital Simulation (RTDS) will be examined of the type used in the UK utility MTTE project. The PhD will involve software programming (both FPGA and microcontroller), real-time control, sensing and measurement, electronics, power electronics, hardware-in-the-loop, as well as some power systems modelling and analysis.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509280/1 30/09/2015 30/03/2021
1687777 Studentship EP/N509280/1 20/09/2015 31/03/2019 Theodor Heath
 
Description The design, construction, programming and testing of a MMC hardware prototype (CHP) is discussed in detail, providing a contribution to public-domain knowledge on the technology and enabling other institutions to bridge the gap into hardware research. Real outputs from the converter hardware prototype have been compared against simulation results from a matching model to study the impact of real internal converter control on power system simulation fidelity.
A time delay associated with the internal control systems has been identified and quantified as a useful additional element to achieve more accurate models, and this has been analysed in detail.
All of the designs and developed software are available under CC BY 4.0 licensing.
Exploitation Route The time delay indicates a requirement for limits on the bandwidth of outer controllers and impacts the converter response rate to network transients. A simple method to incorporate this delay into a PSCAD/EMTDC simulation is also discussed in the thesis, assisting in the improvement of power system simulation models. this provides a very clear application of the research findings, which will help to improve future power system planning; reduce risk, improve availability and ultimately save consumers money.
Additionally the hardware output from this work, a reduced scale modular multilevel converter, is available for continued development, future research and as a validation tool for other simulation models.
Sectors Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Title Supplementary Online Repository for Modular Multilevel Converter Hardware and Simulation Comparison 
Description Part of the supplementary data of the thesis "Modular Multilevel Converter Hardware and Simulation Comparison". Uploaded files include printed circuit board schematics and layouts for a number of designs used by the converter hardware prototype and the system code to control the converter hardware prototype using the distributed control architecture described in the thesis. Design files in Altium schdoc. and pcbdoc. and control programs in Verilog and LabVIEW 2016. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Open-access to full design and programs for hardware developed during this research. Supporting other researchers in development of complex power electronic systems. 
URL https://data.mendeley.com/datasets/9sgpn5mdzs/1
 
Description National Grid iCASE PhD Studentship 
Organisation National Grid UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is an iCASE PhD Studentship investigating converter models for future power systems. The team at Manchester is building a prototype to evaluate such models in hardware.
Collaborator Contribution National Grid is providing sponsorship and technical advice to the project.
Impact See publications and NIA website
Start Year 2015
 
Title Control Software and PCB Designs for Prototype MMC 
Description CC BY 4.0 Part of the supplementary data of the thesis "Modular Multilevel Converter Hardware and Simulation Comparison", written by Theodor Heath and submitted for the degree of PhD at the University of Manchester in 2019. Files include printed circuit board schematics and layouts for a number of designs used by the converter hardware prototype and the system code to control the converter hardware prototype using the distributed control architecture described in the thesis. Design files in Altium schdoc. and pcbdoc. and control programs in Verilog and LabVIEW 2016 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Significantly simplified the development of other reduced scale modular multilevel converters for academia. Full PCB designs and control software developed over 4 years of research is available freely for interested parties. 
 
Title Reduced Scale MMC 
Description Reduced scale modular multilevel converter for VSC research and development within academia. Constructed around a distributed control architecture representative of industrial scale converters. 
Type Of Technology Physical Model/Kit 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Enables continued research into modular multilevel converters with a platform to test and verify hypotheses. 
 
Description CIGRE B4 TF.77 (Task Force) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Contributor to the CIGRE (International Council on Large Electric Systems) Working Group B4 Task Force 77 (B4 TF.77) on AC Fault response Options for VSC HVDC Converters. Collaborating with international industrial and academic partners to research and compile fault response options and auxiliary services for VSC HVDC converters.
Report in progress which aims to inform and suggest options for policy makers at national and international level and to inform industry and academia.
Meetings attended in UK and France.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
 
Description Co-Editor of VSC-HVDC Newsletter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Co-editor (since July '18) and previously Contributor (since July '16) of the monthly release VSC-HVDC Newsletter alongside Mike Barnes. This newsletter reports on worldwide news and publications on VSC-HVDC and is distributed to over 500 academic and industrial supporters. The purpose is to distribute knowledge and highlight key advancements in the technology. Feedback from supporters of the newsletter is overwhelmingly positive with many suggesting it is their main source of VSC-HVDC news throughout the year and reference to the newsletter made in academic and industrial publications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018,2019