Grid Solutions Hybrid Statcom At National Grid Bolney Substation

National Grid Energizes UK Substation with GE's Grid Technology

Dec. 11, 2019
The first of three UK STATCOM substations is energized with GE’s latest grid technology.

GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business has made history with the energization of the Bolney substation —the first of three substations to be part of the largest STATCOM scheme in Europe, owned by UK utility National Grid.  The Bolney substation supports the large population and load centers south of London, as well as high-voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnectors with Europe.

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 dynamic reactive compensator (DRC) solution in commercial operation at the Bolney substation since May 2019 uses a Modular Multilevel Converter (MMC) STATCOM and thyristor switched capacitor (TSC) technology to provide reactive power compensation along with a 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.

Historically, National Grid has counted on GE to deliver advanced technology solutions to solve a complex problem.  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 MMC, the first time that a STATCOM was combined with TSC technology, and the world’s first relocatable STATCOM.

 “National Grid has a long and storied history with GE and has cooperated on a number of advanced technology projects to solve grid challenges,” said National Grid’s Electricity Transmission, Head of Customer Solutions Hedd Roberts. “With Bolney, we are now in a position where we can energize the largest voltage compensation scheme in Europe. This is a massive achievement, and one that I have been proud to be a part of.”

With STATCOM technology in place, the Bolney 400 kV substation is 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 technology delivers dynamic reactive power range from -100 Mvar inductive (absorbing vars) to +225 Mvar capacitive (injecting vars) with availability of 98% as per customer requirement.

“While European countries seek to improve grid interconnections, including the plan to tie them into the European Super Grid, they also must ensure that their own grid remains reliable and viable. The enhanced network stability delivered by GE’s utility STATCOM solution helps do just that, providing customers with the confidence they need to forge ahead when planning or integrating more renewable energy into their grids. At National Grid’s Bolney substation, this solution is already working to boost HVDC interconnection reliability and overall resilience to fault occurrences. Moreover it will help support the European Union’s strategy of achieving a competitive and integrated European energy marketplace,” said Fabrice Jullien, Global FACTS Business Leader for Grid Integration Solutions, GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business.

This latest generation STATCOM solution is a Voltage Source Converter (VSC) technology based on Modular Multilevel Converter (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 design, combined with GE’s Advanced Digital Control system and experience from more than 400 shunt connected FACTS solutions, offers customers a digitally enabled solution. 

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