Instability Mitigation Measures in Modern Converter-Based Power Systems

Converter setpoint adjustment

The power generation unit frequency response changes depending on an operating point, e.g. active power setpoint, voltage setpoint. That is important for stability analysis within lower frequency range where the influence of phase-locked loop and controllers with lower dynamics, e.g. voltage control, is visible. Combination of specific setpoints and grid impedances, especially in case of low short-circuit ratio, can trigger unwanted instability. One can perform mapping of different operational points and schedule only the one not leading to any oscillatory behaviour. This mitigation measure can be applied within the design phase and during power plant operation. However, it is rather considered as corrective mitigation measure when any hardware changes are not available.

Converter control adjustment

Controller parameter tuning, digital delay compensation and pulse-width modulation filter resonance damping (or shifting) methods can be applied to improve the inherent stable operating region, all of which are digital modification that can be rapidly applied mostly without modification of hardware. Controller can be adapted (e.g. loop gain reduction, impedance shaping) to local grid conditions during all phases of the asset lifecycle, i.e. design, commissioning, operation, thus can be considered as preventive as well as corrective instability mitigation measure. However, much more flexibility in controller parameters adjustment as well as control structure modification is possible during the design phase. Adaptive control where the parameters are changed on the fly is also an attractive option, however complex to implement.

Internal and external operational scenario adjustment

Control interactions can often be avoided by changing the electrical topology. A change of the power plant internal electrical infrastructure will affect the short-circuit power and / or shift the resonance points in the system. Avoiding specific contingency operation cases can maintain the short-circuit ratio at a satisfactory high level. Moreover, if the outcome of the analysis demonstrates that a hazardous resonance point can be avoided in a specific power plant electrical infrastructure configuration, then this grid topology can be considered as an intermediate or final mitigation measure. The operational measures can only be chosen according to the individual situation and will always be very specific. Adjustment of operational scenarios within the power plant is rather considered as corrective mitigation measure, however, can be applied also during the design phase as a preventive measure.

All electrical components and subsystems are interconnected within the entire power system and contribute to a certain degree to assure stable operation. Thus, operational scenarios may not be changed only within the power plant internal electrical infrastructure but also within the power system to which it is connected. That also includes neighbouring power plants. In many cases the transmission system operator has much more flexibility to define operational philosophy focused on maximizing fault infeed and avoiding unwanted resonances, thus consequently improve the entire system robustness. Adjustment of operational scenarios within the grid is rather considered as corrective mitigation measure to address grid expansion or connection of new power plants. One of possible mitigation measures applied within the power system is inter-tripping to avoid contingency scenarios leading to converter instability.

Additional passive filter

Contrary to described earlier operational measures and control adjustment, a high-voltage passive filter can be added to alter the resonance frequency of the power grid at the point of interest. There is a large variety of passive filters being able to improve damping within harmonic frequency range. Installation of a passive filter is considered as preventive mitigation measure. It is much easier to add the passive filter during the design phase. Moreover, passive filters provide extra damping which together with stability enhancement can also reduce transient overvoltage and harmonics within specified frequency range.

Additional active power electronic equipment

The control interaction is a phenomenon caused by the active participation of power generation unit converters, which can occur with e.g. purely damped plant, weak grid, resonant network. This is because the converter control loops play an important role in defining the overall impedance of power plant. The impedance of each power plant can be reshaped by the addition of supplementary shunt-connected converters, such as a static synchronous compensators to provide extra resistive damping at the hazardous resonance frequency via a damping controller. As this type of mitigation requires additional equipment it is considered as preventive mitigation measure. However, static synchronous compensator are more often installed with renewable-based power plants and additional damping can be provided on already existing assets, thus in that case active damper one can consider also as corrective instability mitigation technique. Moreover, active damper control scheme can be adjusted on already operating assets to address potential power grid topology changes.

Power system voltage stiffness increase

In conventional power systems characterized by extensive use of synchronous machines the short-circuit ratio is typically calculated to measure the strength of the grid to which converter-based power plant is connected. Any attempt to improve short-circuit ratio by increasing the fault level at the power plant point of common coupling can improve the stability. It can be achieved by (i) avoiding severe contingency operation, (ii) improving transmission system capabilities by adding e.g. extra lines, (iii) installing synchronous condensers characterized by short-circuit current contribution. Increasing the fault level can improve the system robustness within the low-frequency range as it reflects the system impedance at the fundamental frequency. This mitigation measure is preventive because can be much easier initiated during the planning and design phases. Due to the complexity in power system modifications to improve short-circuit ratio, it is difficult to think about it as a corrective measure, unless one could easy avoid severe contingency operation leading to low short-circuit ratio. For modern power systems characterized by extensive use of power electronic equipment the voltage stiffness increase can be achieved by dedicated control loops if grid-following converters or use of grid-forming converters to improve the stability.

Harmonics Wind Farms

Active Filtering Functionality in Wind Turbines Connected to Wind Power Plant Offhore Network

Active Filtering (AF) functionality can be understood very broadly. A number of technical solutions could be introduced in grid-tied converters functionality depending on the expected outcome.

1           Local resonance damping

The Wind Turbine (WT) is connected to an offshore array cable system within Wind Power Plant (WPP) electrical infrastructure. The aim of AF is to mitigate or damp internal resonances within the WT Low-Voltage (LV) circuit. It could be mainly resonances caused by shunt-connected Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) filters in connection to series inductance. That would allow other converters (e.g. WTs) in the same power system not to be affected by undamped resonances. In this case the WT is acting as virtual damping circuit.

2           Local harmonic current compensation

It can be seen that WTs inject harmonics into the system to which are connected. The amount of injected current is of course dependent on the system impedance. In that case even small voltage distortion imposed by the Voltage Source Converter (VSC) can cause unacceptable excessive distortion level caused by a resonance circuit within the offshore electrical infrastructure. Furthermore due to already existing harmonic voltage distortion in the system where the WT is connected harmonic current can also flow into the WT internal circuit from the network. The task of AF would be to control the current flow between the WT converter and the external network and e.g. reduce it to minimum.

3           Local voltage distortion mitigation

As mentioned above even small voltage distortion introduced by WT’s grid-tied converter can lead to excessive harmonic current flow in the resonant network to which the WT is connected. The goal of AF would be to improve and minimise as much as possible the voltage distortion level at the converter terminals caused by the power electronics non-linarites as well as limited harmonic rejection capability of the controller. The equivalent voltage source of the VSC would tend to be as less distorted as possible.

4           Unity amplification factor

In many cases when a new plant (e.g. STATCOM) is connected to already existing power systems it is strongly desired that the new plant will not change the harmonic profile after the connection of the existing before system. This can be obtained fulfilling two objectives (i) no harmonic contribution/injection, (ii) no changes in the system impedance at the Point of Connection (POC). The second objective is related to unity amplification factor at POC which can be achieved by AF so the newly connected impedance in not visible to the existing network. Such requirement can be put also to WTs.

5           Resonance damping at the remote bus

Having a number of WTs in WPPs allows also looking on AF in more global way. WTs could be programmed to mitigate prominent resonances in the WPP offshore network, e.g. Offshore Grid Entry Point (OGEP) in the UK or Point of Common Coupling (PCC) in Germany. This would optimize the overall system damping leading to robustness increase of grid-tied converters as well as lower harmonic voltage distortion level. The WTs would operate in groups or clusters and could be understood from electrical infrastructure perspective as an equivalent damped filter.

6           Harmonic compensation at the remote bus

Nowadays it is more and more challenging to meet demanding grid-code requirements, especially in resonant offshore networks with low damping. Therefore the AF functionality in WTs leading to keep the harmonic voltage distortion level at e.g. PCC as specified in the grid-code is critical to assure continuous WPP active power production. WTs could act in groups or individually to achieve that objective, e.g. the 7th harmonic equal or lower than 0.5% at OGEP in the UK or harmonic current injection from all WTs cannot cause higher voltage distortion incremental higher than 0.1% in Germany.

7           Converter controller passivity

In modern WPPs the industry is facing more and more diversification in utilized power electronic devices and their controls. One of examples would be HVDC-connected WPP with multi-vendor WT configuration or HVAC-connected system employed simultaneously with WTs and STATCOMs. That creates even more challenges considering grid-tied converter interaction issues such as stability. Furthermore more complex control structures imposed by AF functionality application requires more focus at the early stage of the WPP system design. Therefore one of potential requirements to the suppliers would be to assure converter passivity within specified frequency range where e.g. where AF is applied. This would secure the robustness of the overall system operation.

Harmonics Wind Farms

Active Filtering Functionality in Wind Turbines - Motivation

The offshore AC electrical infrastructure in Wind Power Plants (WPPs) connected via either HVAC transmission cable (e.g. Hornsea Wind Farm) or HVDC link (e.g. Gode Wind Farm) is a sensitive network because of its low damping caused by the design focused on low transmission losses. The combination of transformers and cables with low equivalent resistance within the electrical infrastructure makes very good resonance circuits due to the low damping. There are many possible resonance frequencies in the offshore grid with a large amount of cables and transformers connected. Such complex configuration as well as low active power dissipation (due to low resistance to reduce active power losses) creates challenges by means of harmonic performance, grid code compliance, power transmission, stability of grid-tied converters etc.

The presence of undamped resonances means that whenever an oscillation is excited (e.g. by non-linear components such as transformers, power electronics etc.) it takes long time for it to be damped out. The problem becomes even more severe when the system is unloaded, e.g. during energization or when some Wind Turbines (WTs) are out of service and the cable network is unloaded. When the system is loaded (active power is transmitted), the overall damping is higher and the harmonics are reduced faster than with an unloaded scenario.

Besides in case of widespread array cable system in the offshore electrical infrastructure resonance frequencies can shift due to changes in the system topology, e.g. number of WTs is varying, transformer or transmission cable disconnection, interlink operation etc. This furthermore creates challenges to introduce robust harmonic resonance mitigation measure. Typically one can recognize two ways of mitigating unwanted harmonics in modern power systems (i) passive filtering, (ii) Active Filtering (AF) by grid-tied converters. Variation of resonance frequencies caused by topology change requires large passive filters (e.g. damped high-pass filters such as C-type) which are not feasible, in many cases, to be installed offshore. Therefore, for optimization of offshore electrical infrastructure in WPPs AF (or a combination of active and passive filters) seems to be solution that is more appropriate.

The density of power in modern WTs is increasing meaning that they contribute more to the system’s quality of power. It could be either by higher harmonic pollution or by improved technical solutions leading to almost undistorted networks. In case of resonance networks, it is critical that the harmonic injection by WTs is very small and controlled. Therefore, utilization AF in WTs is a natural step forward to improve the overall distortion level of offshore networks in WPPs.

Harmonics Wind Farms

Active filtering vs. passive filtering

Let us think about various sources of harmonic problems in large wind power plants (WPPs) and different ways of optimized harmonic mitigation methods. We discussed previously about harmonic problems such as sources of harmonic emission and amplification as well as harmonic stability which are commonly seen in large WPPs. Fortunately a significant variety of modern preventive and remedial harmonic mitigation methods in terms of passive and active filtering are possible.

Passive filtering

Three-phase harmonic filters utilized in the WPPs nowadays are shunt elements. They are intended to decrease the voltage distortions at the point of interest. From the grid code requirements point of view, a WPP voltage distortion is evaluated at the point of common coupling (PCC).
Nonlinear elements such as the power electronic converters, transformers, etc. generate harmonic currents or harmonic voltages inside the WPP as well as in the external network. The resultant harmonic current flows throughout system impedance. Passive harmonic filters reduce distortion by providing low impedance to the harmonic currents.
Typical shunt harmonic filters are presented in Fig. 1. Such filtering depending on the harmonic emission source can be installed either in the wind turbine circuit or somewhere at the WPP level (e.g. onshore substation, offshore substation, etc.).


  • Known state-of-the-art technology,
  • Relatively cheap solution,
  • High reliability due to simplicity in the build,
  • Effective if designed correctly.


  • Significant size especially for lower frequencies (for large WPPs the tuned frequencies are getting lower),
  • Additional losses,
  • Can cause some over-voltages during switching operations (e.g. energization),
  • Tuned only for specific frequencies (i.e. limited bandwidth),
  • Affected by uncertainties during the WPP design phase,
  • Cannot be easily re-tuned in the case of changing grid conditions during the operation of the WPP,
  • Uncertainties in terms of sizing due to lack of information from wind turbine manufacturers and TSOs during the design phase,
  • Size limitations during design due to e.g. limited space at offshore substation,
  • Long lead-time because of custom-made reactors.

Active filtering

All active filtering solutions employ power electronic converters for the absorption (e.g. harmonic compensation) or suppression (e.g. active damping) of harmonics. Nowadays large WPPs are already equipped with a number of grid connected converters either as a part of the wind turbines or as some sort of FACTS devices. In that case, the implementation of active filtering technique would only mean the retuning of the converter controller in order to meet with controlled harmonic levels.
The converter might be controlled adaptively or otherwise to suppress the selected critical harmonic components. From this perspective there is no need to interfere with the WPP design but it entails to providing additional control features. Such issues could be specified on a contractual level and required to be provided as an add-on together with the product.
Connecting all possible active filtering methods together with state-of-the-art passive filtering methods an optimized hybrid solution can be obtained.


  • Already existing technologies such as STATCOMS can be utilized for the active filtering at the PCC,
  • Active tuning might be permissible even during the operation,
  • Almost unlimited control potential (e.g. selective harmonic compensation, wide band high-pass active filtering, etc.),
  • Network impedance changes during operation could be addressed,
  • Control method can be tuned for each of WPPs independently taking into consideration grid code issues as well as WPP structure,
  • Negligible losses for series connected active filters such as wind turbines,
  • Reduces risk due to uncertainties related with lack of information from manufacturers (e.g. models) and TSOs (e.g. harmonic background, models, etc.).


  • Recent technology; not commonly applied in WPPs,
  • May suffer from harmonic stability problems,
  • Improved bandwidth and increased switching frequency is needed,
  • Component sizing issues and limited DC-link voltage utilization.

[1] Ł. H. Kocewiak, "Harmonics in Large Offshore Wind Farms," PhD Thesis, Aalborg University, Aalborg, 2012.
[2] Ł. H. Kocewiak, S. K. Chaudhary, B. Hesselbæk, "Harmonic Mitigation Methods in Large Offshore Wind Power Plants," in Proc. of The 12th International Workshop on Large-Scale Integration of Wind Power into Power Systems as well as Transmission Networks for Offshore Wind Farms, Energynautics GmbH, London, UK, 22-24 October 2013, 443-448.