Factors Affecting the Reliability of VSC-HVDC for the Connection of Offshore Windfarms

  • Antony Beddard

Student thesis: Phd


The UK Government has identified that nearly 15% of the UK's electricity generation must come from offshore wind by 2020. The reliability of the offshore windfarms and their electrical transmission systems is critical for their feasibility. Offshore windfarms located more than 50-100km from shore, including most Round 3 offshore windfarms, are likely to employ Voltage Source Converter (VSC) High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission schemes. This thesis studies factors which affect the reliability of VSC-HVDC transmission schemes, in respect to availability, protection, and system modelling.The expected availability of VSC-HVDC systems is a key factor in determining if Round 3 offshore windfarms are technically and economically viable. Due to the lack of publications in this area, this thesis analyses the energy availability of a radial and a Multi-Terminal (MT) VSC-HVDC system, using component reliability indices derived from academic and industrial documentation, and examining the influence of each component on the system's energy availability. An economic assessment of different VSC-HVDC schemes is undertaken, highlighting the overall potential cost savings of HVDC grids.The connection of offshore windfarms to a MT HVDC system offers other potential benefits, in comparison to an equivalent radial system, including a reduction in the volume of assets and enhanced operational flexibility. However, without suitable HVDC circuit breakers, a large MT HVDC system would be unviable. In this thesis, a review of potential HVDC circuit breaker topologies and HVDC protection strategies is conducted. A HVDC circuit breaker topology, which addresses some of the limitations of the existing designs, was developed in this thesis, for which a UK patent application was filed. Accurate simulation models are required to give a high degree of confidence in the expected system behaviour. Modular Multi-level Converters (MMCs) are the preferred HVDC converter topology, however modelling MMCs in Electromagnetic Transient (EMT) simulation programs has presented a number of challenges. This has resulted in the development of new modelling techniques, for which the published validating literature is limited. In this thesis these techniques are compared in terms of accuracy and simulation speed and a set of modelling recommendations are presented. Cable models are the other main DC component which, upon analysis, is found to have a significant impact on the overall model's simulation results and simulation time. A set of modelling recommendations are also presented for the leading cable models.Using the modelling recommendations to select suitable MMC models, radial and MT EMT MMC-HVDC models for the connection of typical Round 3 windfarms are developed in this thesis. These models are used to analyse the steady-state and transient performance of the connections, including their compliance to the GB grid code for AC disturbances and reactive power requirements. Furthermore, the MT model is used to investigate the effect of MT control strategies on the internal MMC quantities.
Date of Award31 Dec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMike Barnes (Supervisor)


  • HVDC Circuit Breakers
  • Availability Analysis
  • EMT Modelling
  • MMC

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