A Tariff for Reactive Power

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Two kinds of power are required to operate an electric power system: real power, measured in watts, and reactive power, measured in volt-amperes reactive or VARs. Reactive power supply is one of a class of power system reliability services collectively known as ancillary services, and is essential for the reliable operation of the bulk power system. Reactive power flows when current leads or lags behind voltage. Typically, the current in a distribution system lags behind voltage because of inductive loads such as motors. Reactive power flow wastes energy and capacity and causes voltage droop. To correct lagging power flow, leading ... continued below

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Kueck, John D; Kirby, Brendan J; Li, Fangxing; Tufon, Christopher & Isemonger, Alan July 1, 2008.

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Description

Two kinds of power are required to operate an electric power system: real power, measured in watts, and reactive power, measured in volt-amperes reactive or VARs. Reactive power supply is one of a class of power system reliability services collectively known as ancillary services, and is essential for the reliable operation of the bulk power system. Reactive power flows when current leads or lags behind voltage. Typically, the current in a distribution system lags behind voltage because of inductive loads such as motors. Reactive power flow wastes energy and capacity and causes voltage droop. To correct lagging power flow, leading reactive power (current leading voltage) is supplied to bring the current into phase with voltage. When the current is in phase with voltage, there is a reduction in system losses, an increase in system capacity, and a rise in voltage. Reactive power can be supplied from either static or dynamic VAR sources. Static sources are typically transmission and distribution equipment, such as capacitors at substations, and their cost has historically been included in the revenue requirement of the transmission operator (TO), and recovered through cost-of-service rates. By contrast, dynamic sources are typically generators capable of producing variable levels of reactive power by automatically controlling the generator to regulate voltage. Transmission system devices such as synchronous condensers can also provide dynamic reactive power. A class of solid state devices (called flexible AC transmission system devices or FACTs) can provide dynamic reactive power. One specific device has the unfortunate name of static VAR compensator (SVC), where 'static' refers to the solid state nature of the device (it does not include rotating equipment) and not to the production of static reactive power. Dynamic sources at the distribution level, while more costly would be very useful in helping to regulate local voltage. Local voltage regulation would reduce system losses, increase circuit capacity, increase reliability, and improve efficiency. Reactive power is theoretically available from any inverter-based equipment such as photovoltaic (PV) systems, fuel cells, microturbines, and adjustable-speed drives. However, the installation is usually only economical if reactive power supply is considered during the design and construction phase. In this report, we find that if the inverters of PV systems or the generators of combined heat and power (CHP) systems were designed with capability to supply dynamic reactive power, they could do this quite economically. In fact, on an annualized basis, these inverters and generators may be able to supply dynamic reactive power for about $5 or $6 per kVAR. The savings from the local supply of dynamic reactive power would be in reduced losses, increased capacity, and decreased transmission congestion. The net savings are estimated to be about $7 per kVAR on an annualized basis for a hypothetical circuit. Thus the distribution company could economically purchase a dynamic reactive power service from customers for perhaps $6/kVAR. This practice would provide for better voltage regulation in the distribution system and would provide an alternate revenue source to help amortize the cost of PV and CHP installations. As distribution and transmission systems are operated under rising levels of stress, the value of local dynamic reactive supply is expected to grow. Also, large power inverters, in the range of 500 kW to 1 MW, are expected to decrease in cost as they become mass produced. This report provides one data point which shows that the local supply of dynamic reactive power is marginally profitable at present for a hypothetical circuit. We expect that the trends of growing power flow on the existing system and mass production of inverters for distributed energy devices will make the dynamic supply of reactive power from customers an integral component of economical and reliable system operation in the future.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2008/083
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/934945 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 934945
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc899859

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Creation Date

  • July 1, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Oct. 28, 2016, 2:39 p.m.

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Kueck, John D; Kirby, Brendan J; Li, Fangxing; Tufon, Christopher & Isemonger, Alan. A Tariff for Reactive Power, report, July 1, 2008; [Tennessee]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc899859/: accessed July 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.