Countries around the world are turning to more renewable energy sources and looking to reduce their reliance on fossil thermal power. As a result, global transmission networks are becoming less reliable, creating many challenges for grid operators—including a deficiency in reactive compensation support, system inertia and short-circuit strength.
Amidst this transforming energy landscape, synchronous condenser technology is proving to be a key component of the solution for increasing grid stability.
Installed at strategic intervals along a transmission system, synchronous condenser systems are either new electrical rotating equipment or existing turbogenerators reconfigured to perform as reliable grid stabilizers. They produce or absorb reactive power to keep the current flowing consistently to the grid–helping to ensure reliable power is available for those who need it, when they need it.
Our new synchronous condensers are based on a strong standardized and modularized configuration, tailored to meet the specific requirements of each application. Our engineering teams have experience in a broad array of design disciplines and can help ensure that each synchronous condenser system configuration fully meets the specific requirements of the application. Provided either as an engineering procurement construction package or as a stand-alone component package solution-including the system studies, configuration and engineering, installation, commissioning and lifecycle services-each synchronous condenser project is assigned to an experienced project team.
GE’s air-cooled high inertia synchronous condenser systems can be rated to 2,000+ MW with added flywheels. Due to the nature of the rotating equipment, the enhanced inertia is system inherent, providing an instantaneous power feed in the event of a grid frequency drop. The synchronous condenser system can boost system inertia and provide voltage support with a unique overload capability and provides significant short-circuit strength to the grid network.
YES. We have been leading the way with synchronous condenser technology for over a century, and as part of our renewable steam power portfolio, we have reinvented this technology to support grid owners with the challenges that accompany the use of more renewable energy. Globally, we have supplied more than 200 synchronous condensers in our efforts to support our customers with critical technology and services for a transforming grid and cleaner energy future. This is the Power of Yes.
For the first time in Europe, we converted a large 625 MVA liquid-cooled generator operating in a coal-fired power plant to a synchronous condenser. The engineered solution reused many existing components at the plant and we executed the project in only seven months. Now, our customer is able to deliver >500 MVAr of reactive power to offset the thermal assets retiring.
|GE Synchronous Condenser typical overview|
|Inertia*||250 ... 2,500 MW with added flywheel|
|Reactive power*||100 ... +300 MVAr|
|Short-circuit power strength||500 ... 2,000 MVA+ at the point of connection|
|Excitation||Static or brushless|
|Starting||Static drive / Pony motor|
Inertia equivalent or higher than that of a 400 MW power plant, with transient and steady-state voltage support
Large short-term overload up to twice the nominal load rating for up to 10 seconds
Even under extreme low-voltage contingencies, mechanical inertia combined with state-of-the-art excitation provides smooth, reliable support
Up to 1,200 MVA at point of connection
Reduced voltage harmonic distortion for a robust system to help operate grids with high shares of renewables
A complete synchronous condenser system can be installed within 16 months
Configured for robotic inspections and remote monitoring to enable faster inspections and predictive maintenance
Up to 40 years of operating life-similar to a power plant generator
· Provides short-circuit strength
· Dynamic reactive power support (voltage regulation)
· Reduces local harmonic distortion (filter)
· Improves or increases short-circuit ratio (SCR)
· Dynamic voltage support
· Provides inertia to improve frequency regulation
· Repurpose use of fossil plant assets planned to retire
· Lowers total cost of ownership
· Modern controls and excitation–improved response time
· Supports dynamic voltage regulation and inertia as new systems
The reliability of Italy’s electricity grid is being challenged by the growth of installed renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, along with a parallel reduction in thermal power. Terna S.p.A., the owner and operator of 98% of the Italian high-voltage power transmission grid, was in need of reactive power and a boost in system inertia from its Brindisi substation in southern Italy to help ensure the availability of dependable electricity for residents and businesses in the region
As part of our renewable steam power offerings, GE has a broad synchronous condenser portfolio and over the past 100 years has supplied more than 200 synchronous condensers to utilities around the globe, providing critical support to a transforming grid. In total, GE’s eight synchronous condenser units with Terna will supply up to 1,820 MVAr of reactive power for Italy’s power grid with a value of 10,500 MW of inertia, helping to stabilize the grid for the more than 20 million people who live in the Sardinia region, Sicily and southern Italy.