Power Qual­ity: A grow­ing con­cern

Power Watch India - - TECH & SERVICES - The au­thor is Prod­uct Man­ager Power Qual­ity, Meg­ger US. By An­drew Sagl

The mod­ern power dis­tri­bu­tion grid is chang­ing rapidly and these changes can be ex­pected to have an im­pact on power qual­ity, which is the con­cept of pow­er­ing sen­si­tive equip­ment in a man­ner that is suit­able to op­er­a­tion of that equip­ment. In the short term at least, the im­pact is likely to be neg­a­tive, with power qual­ity prob­lems be­com­ing more rather than less trou­ble­some.

The power grid is be­ing forced to change as the re­sult of not one but many si­mul­ta­ne­ous de­vel­op­ments. These in­clude the grow­ing need to con­nect green en­ergy sources, such as wind and so­lar power, and the steady re­duc­tion in the num­ber of tra­di­tional bulk gen­er­a­tion plants that rely on fos­sil fu­els as their en­ergy source. Loads on the grid are also chang­ing, with new tech­nolo­gies like elec­tric ve­hi­cles lead­ing to an even greater de­mand for power and a shift in the hours of peak de­mand. To help ad­dress these changes, smart-grid tech­nol­ogy, de­signed to make the grid more ef­fi­cient and more flex­i­ble, is be­ing in­tro­duced.

It might be tempt­ing to think that the spread of smart-grid tech­nol­ogy will al­le­vi­ate power qual­ity prob­lems, with a con­se­quent re­duc­tion in the need for power qual­ity in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Un­for­tu­nately, this isn’t the case. A pri­mary ob­jec­tive of the smart grid is to in­crease the re­li­a­bil­ity of power de­liv­ery – it is un­likely to have any sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the qual­ity of the power be­ing de­liv­ered. In fact, the new types of loads and sources con­tin­u­ally be­ing added to the grid will in­evitably cre­ate new power qual­ity chal­lenges.

Some of the most com­mon power sys­tem fluc­tu­a­tions im­pact­ing power qual­ity in­clude un­der­and over-volt­age, dips (sags) and swells, tran­sients, un­bal­ance, flicker, har­mon­ics and rapid volt­age changes. This is where elec­tri­cal testers come in since they look at the fore­go­ing types of power sys­tem fluc­tu­a­tions, ex­plain­ing why and how they oc­cur, ex­am­in­ing the ef­fects they have on the power dis­tri­bu­tion net­work and on loads, and dis­cussing how they can be mea­sured and eval­u­ated.

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