AIMS Energy, 2014, 2(4): 385-398. doi: 10.3934/energy.2014.4.385

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Adapting AC Lines to DC Grids for Large-Scale Renewable Power Transmission

Department of Electrical Engineering, University of the Basque Country - UPV/EHU, Alameda de Urquijo, s/n-Bilbao, 48013, Spain

All over the world, governments of different countries are nowadays promoting the use of clean energies in order to achieve sustainable energy systems. In this scenario, since the installed capacity is continuously increasing, renewable sources can play an important role. Notwithstanding that, some important problems may appear when connecting these sources to the grid, being the overload of distribution lines one of the most relevant. In fact, renewable generation is usually connected to the nearest AC grid, although this HV system may not have been designed considering distributed generation. In the particular case of large wind farms, the electrical grid has to transmit all the power generated by wind energy and, as a consequence, the AC system may get overloaded. It is therefore necessary to determine the impact of wind power transmission so that appropriate measures can be taken. Not only are these measures influenced by the amount of power transmitted, but also by the quality of the transmitted power, due to the output voltage fluctuation caused by the highly variable nature of wind. When designing a power grid, although AC systems are usually the most economical solution because of its highly proven technology, HVDC may arise in some cases (e.g. offshore wind farms) as an interesting alternative, offering some added values such as lower losses and better controllability. This way, HVDC technology can solve most of the aforementioned problems and has a good potential for future use. Additionally, the fast development of power electronics based on new and powerful semiconductor devices allow the spread of innovative technologies, such as VSC-HVDC, which can be applied to create DC grids. This paper focuses on the main aspects involved in adapting the existing overhead AC lines to DC grids, with the objective of improving the transmission of distributed renewable energy to the centers of consumption.
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