UK’s National Grid gets first-of-its-kind STATCOM scheme


Last week, GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions group announced that it has energized the Dynamic Reactive Compensator (DRC) project for National Grid in the UK. The project is the largest utility-grade Static Synchronous Compensator (STATCOM) scheme in Europe, according to GE, delivering 975 Mvar power range.

It is deployed and coordinated over three separate substations (Bolney, Ninfield and Richborough) along the transmission network in southeast UK.

The entire project is now operational and commercially available and will support high-voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnectors within Europe. The hybrid STATCOM technology allows the three substations to support National Grid’s alternating current (AC) network and enhance regional voltage stability for the UK-Belgium HVDC interconnection, delivering 1 GW of bi-directional power between countries.

The scheme, which consists of three separate Hybrid STATCOM units, delivers dynamic reactive power range from -300 Mvar inductive (absorbing vars) to +675 Mvar capacitive (injecting vars) with availability of 95% per customer requirement.

National Grid has previously worked with GE on the first STATCOM in a commercial tender for their East Claydon substation. This project was the world’s first commercial Modular Multilevel Converter (MMC) STATCOM, the first time a STATCOM was combined with Thyristor Switched Capacitor (TSC) technology and the first relocatable STATCOM.

In 2016, GE was awarded a contract by National Grid to supply its latest utility-grade STATCOM solution at substations in southeast UK. The first DRC solution, commissioned at Bolney substation, uses an MMC STATCOM and TSC technology to provide reactive power compensation along with separate High Voltage Mechanically Switched Capacitor Dynamic Network (MSCDN). This new voltage compensation scheme will help National Grid to have provide electricity even when the network faults, said GE.

The latest STATCOM solution is a Voltage Source Converter (VSC) technology based on MMC architecture. This design provides stable output power generation, says the company. It allows for customer grids to handle faults and, combined with GE’s digital control system, it also offers customers a digitally enabled solution.

“Working with GE, National Grid has now implemented the largest voltage compensation scheme in Europe, an accomplishment that we are immensely proud of. This project represents another technology implementation in a long line of successes that we have had with GE,” said National Grid’s Electricity Transmission, Head of Customer Solutions Hedd Roberts.

“GE’s utility STATCOM solution provides the enhanced network stability needed to allow the National Grid transmission network to operate more reliably today and, in the future, as increased renewables and larger interconnections are added to their system,” said Fabrice Jullien, Global FACTS Business Leader for Grid Integration Solutions at Grid Solutions, a GE Renewable Energy business.

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