Siemens Energy announced this week that U.S. power and energy infrastructure owner, LS Power, will be getting four of its static synchronous compensator (STATCOM) systems at substations in California.
A STATCOM is a quick-reacting system capable of providing or absorbing reactive power to regulate the voltage at the point of connection to a power grid. This voltage regulation helps ensure the reliability of the power grid as renewable energy sources are brought online, enabling further decarbonization of California’s energy mix. Dynamic reactive power support for substations also allows for fast responding voltage support in case of system events and transmission outages, said Siemens.
According to Siemens, the retirement of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant set for in 2025, means that the grid will be more sensitive to voltage instability, especially as PG&E integrates more renewable generation onto the grid. Two of the STATCOM systems are to be installed at LS Power’s Orchard substation connecting to the existing PG&E Gates 500 kilovolt (kV) substation in Fresno County to provide 848 megavolt-ampere (MVAr) of dynamic reactive power support. Under the light-load conditions, this support is anticipated to mitigate high voltages during extreme contingencies on the Bulk Power System, said Siemens.
The other two STATCOMs will be installed at LS Power’s new Fern Road substation connecting the Round Mountain to Table Mountain 500 kV transmission lines. The purpose of these systems will be for voltage control and voltage support in case of system events and transmission outages.
“LS Power has a forward-looking strategy to help ensure grid stability as more and more renewable power sources are part of the generation mix. When it comes to decarbonizing our energy systems, this will be one of the most important flexible AC transmission projects in the U.S., both in terms of the power and voltage rating, as well as the challenging location from a seismic perspective,” said Matt Neal, vice president of Transmission Solutions for Siemens Energy.
PG&E will replace the Diablo Canyon plant exclusively with energy sources that don’t emit CO2. The company has also promised to source 55% of its total electricity from the sun, wind, and other renewable energy sources by 2031.