GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business [NYSE:GE) has successfully energized the Dynamic Reactive Compensator (DRC) project for National Grid in the UK. This project represents the largest utility-grade Static Synchronous Compensator (STATCOM) scheme in Europe, delivering 975 Mvar power range. It is deployed and coordinated over three separate substations along the transmission network in southeast UK.

“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.

Largest STATCOM scheme in Europe

In late November 2019, the last of the three sites was energized. Today all three are now operational and commercially available, as well as supporting high-voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnectors with Europe. With Hybrid STATCOM technology in place, the Bolney, Ninfield and Richborough substations are now supporting National Grid’s alternating current (AC) network and enhancing regional voltage stability for the UK-Belgium HVDC interconnection, which will deliver more than 1 GW of bi-directional power between the two countries. With less than 90 millisecond response time, 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% as per customer requirement.

“We are proud that National Grid trusted GE to execute this landmark project and deliver this very complex voltage compensation scheme. 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. “The STATCOM systems at Bolney, Richborough and Ninfield effectively demonstrates the state-of-the-art FACTS technology that GE can deliver for our global customers,” added Jullien.

Historic Firsts

Historically, National Grid has counted on GE to deliver advanced technology solutions to solve complex problems. National Grid previously awarded GE the first ever STATCOM in a commercial tender for their East Claydon substation. This project set benchmark “firsts” in areas including: the world’s first commercial Modular Multilevel Converter(1) (MMC) STATCOM, the first time that a STATCOM was combined with Thyristor Switched Capacitor (TSC) technology, and the world’s first relocatable STATCOM.

In 2016, GE’s Grid Solutions was awarded a contract by National Grid to supply its latest utility-grade static synchronous compensator (STATCOM) solution along the transmission grid at the Bolney, Ninfield, and Richborough substations in southeast UK. The first Dynamic Reactive Compensator (DRC) solution, commissioned at Bolney substation which started commercial operation in May 2019, uses a MMC STATCOM and TSC technology to provide reactive power compensation along with a separate High Voltage Mechanically Switched Capacitor Dynamic Network (MSCDN). This is a first-of-its-kind voltage compensation scheme that will help National Grid provide a reliable electricity supply to its customers, even when network faults occur.

This latest generation STATCOM solution is a Voltage Source Converter (VSC) technology based on MMC architecture leveraged from GE’s robust power electronics experience. This design provides more stable output power generation than other competitive solutions, helping customer grids handle faults and fault recovery that is within the industry’s best performance. This more powerful design, combined with GE’s advanced digital control system and experience from more than 400 shunt connected FACTS solutions, offers customers a complete, world-class, digitally enabled solution.