Low Frequency AC Transmission Upgrades with Optimal Frequency Selection

David Sehloff, Line Roald

The advantages of operating parts of the electric grid at frequencies other than the standard 50 or 60 Hz are numerous, encompassing increased power transfer capacity and better utilization of existing infrastructure. While high voltage DC (HVDC) is by far the most well-established example, there has been an emerging interest low frequency AC (LFAC) transmission in applications ranging from offshore wind to railway systems and mining. In this paper, we investigate the use of LFAC as a transmission upgrade and propose models and analysis methods to determine the optimal choice of frequency. The paper first presents an optimal power flow model with frequency as a variable, assuming modular multilevel converters for frequency conversion. Using this model, we analyze LFAC as an embedded upgrade in a transmission system using existing lines. We quantify the system-wide advantages from improved power flow control and frequency reduction and find that an LFAC upgrade achieves similar and sometimes better results compared with HVDC upgrades. Finally, we analyze the factors which determine the optimal transmission frequency, and we demonstrate the benefits of changing the frequency in response to different system topologies and operating conditions.

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