As electricity consumption increases across the U.S., so does the importance of power quality and reliability.
The problem is that consumption of electricity continually varies, creating fluctuations in the power grid that could lead to power failure and even system-wide blackouts. Preventing such unacceptably high voltage fluctuations requires a system that compensates and keeps things in balance.
An acronym for Flexible AC Transmission Systems - FACTS refers to a family of power electronics-based devices used to enhance AC system controllability and stability, and increase power transfer capability.
IEEE defines FACTS as "alternating current transmission systems incorporating power-electronics-based and other static controllers to enhance controllability and power transfer capability."
Due to its ability to overcome limitations in the static and dynamic transmission capacity of electrical networks, FACTS increases the flexibility of power systems, making them more controllable.
Developed in the 1950s as a solution to the problem of transmitting power over long distances, FACTS came into its own in the 1990s in demonstrations led by the power industry's Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and grid equipment manufacturers. In 2010, IEEE voted it one of the top eleven technologies of the decade.
How FACTS Work
By maintaining acceptable voltage limits, FACTS regulates voltage by dynamically adjusting the amount of inductive or capacitive reactive power into the power grid.
"These flexible AC transmission systems, or FACTS, promise to save energy in a big way by making possible the smart grid, which utilities hope will reconfigure power flows in real time, maximizing throughput and minimizing losses," said energy journalist Peter Fairley. "They should also make it possible to smoothly incorporate wind, solar, and other intrinsically intermittent sources of energy into the grid."
FACTS devices possess the following technological attributes:
- Provide dynamic reactive power support and voltage control
- Reduce the need for construction of new transmission lines, capacitors, and reactors
- Mitigate environmental and regulatory concerns
- Improve aesthetics by reducing the need for construction of new facilities such as transmission lines
- Improve system stability
- Control real and reactive power flow
FACTS systems perform the following tasks:
- Control voltage under various load conditions
- Balance reactive power (voltage, transmission losses)
- Increase stability of power transmission over long distances
- Increase active power stability
According to a Siemens white paper, with FACTS, power companies are able to better utilize existing transmission networks, substantially increase the availability and reliability of their line networks, and improve both dynamic and transient network stability while ensuring a better quality of supply.
As such, FACTS are a valuable tool for enhancing grid capacity and performance, increasing the reliability and efficiency of power transmission, and mitigating power oscillations.
Beta Engineering EPC Services for FACTS
Beta has completed numerous Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS) projects across the United States including Static Var Compensators (SVC), series capacitor banks, and reactor yards. Most recently, we contracted to carry out EPC services for FACTS projects in Texas and New Mexico.