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Interconnection of Two Micro Hydro Units Forming a

Mini-grid System Using Soft Connection

B.Adhikary, Member, IEEE, B.Ghimire, P. Karki
Depart ment of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
Kathmandu Un iversity
Kathmandu, Nepal

Abstract— This paper presents the soft connection between two Soft connection based on SCR/ TRIA C, Inverters are found
micro-hydro units forming a Mini-grid system. It describes the on the existing literatures [9]. These soft connection schemes
operation and the design of the induction generator controller are extensively used for higher rating of induction generator.
(IGC), used for the power balancing at varying consumers load Such synchronization/soft connection is expensive in the sector
as required for standalone micro-hydro generators and the of rural electrification and cannot be easily implemented.
synchronizer unit, used for the Mini-grid interconnection. Three
phase induction motors are used as single phase generators by Direct connection or ‘hard connection’ of induction
using C-2C capacitor configuration for supplying single phase generators to the grid is possible but it results in high inrush
resistive load. This paper proposes a simple soft connection current and switching transients which are undesirable in case
scheme based on classical Zero Crossing Detector. Operation and of Mini-grid/weak grid [13].
experimental tests of IGC based Mini-grid system with soft
connection is also presented. Through the results it has been This paper proposes a simple soft connection scheme for
shown that the proposed model is feasible for rural electrification interconnection of two micro hydro units forming weak/Mini-
schemes. grid system. This paper also deals with design, operation and
experimental test of IGC based Mini-grid system with soft
Keywords- Induction generator, Induction generator controller connection.
(IGC), Synchronizer unit, Ballast load, Standalone system, Mini-
grid. A. Soft Grid Connection
When two or more standalone micro-hydro plants are
I. INT RODUCTION interconnected, proper synchronization is required for
This decade has seen an unprecedented drive towards generators. While connecting hydro schemes or any power
renewable energy sources for rural and sustainable electricity production schemes with hard connection, it involves rapid
systems. The number of micro and mini hydro power system flow of large transient current. Thus, care has to be taken to
for rural electrification has been growing rapidly and has control this transient current flow which may put electrical
shown a trend for further growth. More and more research stress on generator as well as grid during interconnection.
works and investigation are being carried out to make the Mini- These transient can cause damage of protection system as well
grid system more stable, cheap and easy to use. Extensive as connected loads. To avoid such consequences, it is worthy
studies have been done on self excited induction generators and efficient to employ soft grid connection.
operating in standalone mode [1]-[2]-[3]-[4]. On ly few are The method used to synchronize two induction generators
available on parallel operation of induction generators [5]-[6] to form a Min i-grid is based on ZCD method and is also known
and limited literatures are available on synchronization of as ‘soft connection’. For the synchronism, the generators
parallel operated induction generators [5]-[7]-[8]-[9]. Different voltage, frequency and phase must be same. After
authors have specified various aspects of Mini-grid connection synchronization, the parallel operation of induction generators
[10]. is more stable. Soft Grid Connection involves a controlled
Past research indicate that soft starters are widely used sequence to connect two or more system together.
during starting of induction motors in industrial drives to
reduce mechanical stress on mechanical system and electrical B. Induction Generator in Micro Hydro Plants
stress on supply system [7]. In Mini-grid connection, induction Standalone systems often employ single-phase generation
generator requires soft connection scheme to minimize these and distribution schemes due to low cost, easy maintenance,
stresses on the system during grid connection. Basically grid robustness and simp licity in protection [4]. In addition to that
synchronization schemes for interconnection of renewable for small power system they are easier to regulate than three
system are (i) Zero crossing detector based connection scheme, phase generators. However three phase induction generators are
(ii) Phase lock loop (PLL) based connection scheme and (iii) readily availab le in the market and used for high power
Inverter interface for interconnection. The PLL scheme is more generation.
convenient for three phase system and inverter interface is
more economical for DC sources. [9] An induction generator consumes reactive power to magnetize
the air gap and supply active power to load. The reactive power

978-1-4244-4547-9/09/$26.00 ©2009 IEEE TENCON 2009

can be either taken fro m grid or can be fed through excitation kept constant. In this case, the decrease in the load resistance
capacitors. The choice left for standalone micro hydro plants is will result in a drop in the stator frequency to provide higher
excitation through the capacitors. Such generators are called as torque to match the increment in the power demand.
self excited induction generator (SEIG). The most widely used
configuration for SEIG is C-2C configuration. The schematic Magnetizing current needed for induction motor used as
generator can be supplied from grid or fro m the exc itation
diagram of a C-2C SEIG system is shown in Figure 1.
capacitors connected across the phases of the induction motor.
The capacitor of required rating is connected on the leading
phase and another capacitor of double rating is connected in the
lagging phase otherwise the performance of generator reduces
drastically. This connection is used to convert a three phase
induction motor to a Self Excited single phase induction
generator feeding a single phase load.


The proposed system, under design consists of two generators
producing different power outputs. For design purpose, two
MG sets are used to produce required power output. These two
Figure 1. C-2C connection of SEIG generators were connected to a point of common coupling to
form a Min i-grid. The amount of power required is sent to the
When the induction machine is driven at the speed higher than Mini-grid and remaining power is dumped in the ballast load.
the synchronous speed, the residual magnetic flu x in the rotor This mechanism was controlled by two independent IGCs. The
will induce a small e.m.f. in the stator winding. The appropriate synchronization was required for the generators to be
capacitor bank causes this induced voltage to continue to connected to the Mini-grid, and the synchronization was done
increase until a steady state is attained due to magnetic by the synchronizer unit. This is performed in by self-excited
saturation of the machine. induction generators which are coupled to DC motors working
as prime mover for induction generators. The consumer loads
are considered by using resistive filament bulbs. The power
output of both generators is fed to the same main load
connected through Mini-grid. In the experiment the SEIG 1 is
taken as reference and SEIG 2 is synchronized to it. Fig 3
shows the schematic diagram of the proposed Mini-grid

Figure 2. No-load magnetization characteristic and capacitive impedance


Figure 2 shows both the magnetizing curve of an unloaded

SEIG and the terminal voltage–magnetizing current
characteristic of SEIG using a capacitor bank plotted on the Figure 3. The Schematic diagram for mini grid Connection
same set of axes. The intersection of the two curves is the
operating point at which the capacitor bank exactly supplies the
reactive power demanded by the generator. As shown in the
above figure, the no-load terminal voltage and operating
frequency of the generator may be determined from this point
[2]-[3]-[4]. When a SEIG is loaded, both the magnitude and
frequency of the induced e.m.f. are affected by: the prime
mover speed, the capacitance of the capacitor bank and the load
impedance. In this paper all losses in the generator are ignored,
the connected load is purely resistive and the rotor speed is
A. IGC fro m generator and the grid voltage. At the instant of perfect
phase match the incoming generator is connected to grid.
The generated voltage by the SEIG is stepped down by
transformer (TxF 220/12V) and converted to square wave by
ZCD. Similarly, the grid voltage is step down by transformer
(TxF 220/12V) and converted to square wave by ZCD. The
phase of grid voltage and generated voltage is compared by
phase matcher. After the phases are matched the relay is in
‘ON’ state, such that the generated voltage is fed to gird line.
The phase matcher is designed by using simple XNOR logic.
High signals generated are fed to the delay circuit which
produces delay of 3 seconds. This time delay is determined by
the resistance capacitance (RC) circuit. Thus mo mentary
fluctuation of the phase and frequency doesn’t affect the grid
transients. As a result once the micro hydro is synchronized
this delay provides the sufficient time required by the relay to
Figure 4. Block Diagram of IGC
connect micro hydro to the grid without electrical stresses. The
The Induction Generator Controller is basically designed to synchronization of the generators causes high stability and the
regulate the power flo w in the main load and ballast load. transient effects are minimized. Proper synchronization of the
During the time of s mall load, IGC d iverts the power generators limits the inrush current.
developed by generator to ballast load but at the time of full
load, the ballast load is cut off and total power is supplied to III. EXPERIM ENTS AND RESULTS
the consumer load or main load. The follo wing are the experiments for the mini grid and the
Figure 4 shows the control mechanism of the IGC. Init ially results obtained from the experiments.
the generated voltage is tapped fro m the line and this voltage is
stepped down by transformer and applied to zero crossing A. Experiment of SEIG
detectors. Zero crossing detectors are used for positive half and This experiment is carried out for two sets of motors and
negative half detection of the input sine wave and produce generators. The experimental setup connections is shown in the
square waves. These square waves are converted to ramp signal figure 6.
by Ramp Converter. Rectifier (center tapped diode rectifier)
rectifies the supply ac voltage to dc voltage. This dc voltage is
subtracted by a reference voltage to get the error signal
(voltage) using differential amplifier. The subtracted voltage is
given to PI Controller. The ramp signal and the error signal
fro m PI Controller are co mpared by the comparator to give out
the pulse signal to the gate of TRIAC for firing. The width of
the pulse determines the firing angle of the TRIAC. Thus
power to the ballast load is controlled by IGC.

B. Synchronizer Unit

Figure 6. The Experimental Setup

The experiment is done for measurement of the load

current, load voltage, phase current and phase to phase
voltages. A separately excited dc motor rated at 190V field
voltages, 3000rp m, 1.1KW, is used as a prime mover for 3
phase squirrel cage induction motor of rating 50Hz, 0.7KW,
400V, 2A and 4 no. of poles. The induction motor is operated
as induction generator with star connection. Various authors
have described the method of finding the value of excitation
capacitance for SEIG [2]-[5]-[6]-[7]-[8]. The value of capacitor
for self excitation in this generator is found to be 8.21µF
between phase ‘a’ and phase ‘b’ and 18.25µF is connected in
Figure 5. Block Diagram of Synchronizer Unit between phase ‘b ‘and phase ‘c’. These two capacitors formed
C-2C connection for self excited induction generator.
The synchronizer unit is basically designed to connect
generators so as to feed generated power into the grid. The The dc motor working as prime mover is run at 1620rp m.
synchronizer unit compares the waveform of generated voltage Then the corresponding phase voltages, phase currents, and
load current were noted at different load conditions with excitation in this generator is found to be 11.12µF between
constant speed of 1620rp m. The recorded voltages and currents phase ‘a’ and phase ‘b’ and 18.32µF is connected in between
are shown in figure 7 and figure 8. phase ‘b’ and phase ‘c’. The graph is plotted between three
phase terminal voltages and the load current; and between the
phase currents and the load current are as shown in figure 9 and
figure 10 respectively.

Figure 7. Load current Vs Phase Voltages of Generator 1

Figure 9. Load current Vs Phase Voltage of Generator


Figure 8. Load current Vs Phase currents of Generator 1

In the figure 7, the graph is plotted between 3-phase

terminal voltages Vab , Vbc, and Vca; and load current IL using
the terminal capacitors in C-2C configuration with star
connection of stator winding of induction generator. When the
load is less or light, the terminal voltages Vab , Vbc, and Vca are
not equal. The voltage Vca is less than other voltages because of Figure 10. Load current Vs Phase currents of Generator 2
parallel connection of 2C in that phase. When the load
increases, the terminal voltages Vab , Vbc, and Vca converge to
B. Experiment of Mini Grid
the operating voltage i.e. 220V. Similarly, in fig. 8 graph shows
plot between 3-phase terminal currents Ia, Ib , and Ic; and the The two motor generator sets are first operated as
load current IL . At fewer loads, the terminal currents are not standalone generators refer as in figure 1. The first generator is
equal and the current Ic is less than others due the 2C in that connected to the main load. The power to the ballast load and
phase. When the load increases the terminal currents converge main load is controlled by IGC. This SEIG with higher rating is
to the operating current i.e. 1.5A of load current. chosen as reference. The synchronizing unit is added to the
second SEIG. Init ially the frequency of generator is below grid
The min imu m speed for generation (voltage build up) frequency or the phase match between both voltages is not
voltage for the induction machine is 1015rpm. At this speed obtained. In this case the switching relay remained open and
generated voltage as well as frequency is very low. When the the power generated is all diverted to the ballast load. When the
load of 440W is used (60% of 750W), the generator terminal generator frequency matched the frequency of grid then the trip
voltage is obtained to be 220V and load current to be 1.4A and signal is generated by synchronization unit which closed the
frequency is found out to be 49.9Hz and the speed is 1593rp m. synchronization relay. Then the generated power is added to
The similar experiment is performed for another set of the grid. Once the stand alone generator is connected or
SEIG. A separately excited dc motor rated at 190V field synchronized with grid, the operating frequency and voltage is
voltages, 1500rp m, 2.75KW, is used as a prime mover for 3 in step and the power sharing followed the droop characteristic.
phase squirrel cage induction motor of rating 50Hz, 1.1KW,
400V, 2.5A and 4 no. of poles. The value of capacitor for self
After weak grid connection if the voltage of IGC is greater [13] Muhammad H. Rashid, “Power Electronics Circuits, Devices and
than the grid voltage, then IGC co mpletely cutoffs ballast load Applications”, Prentice-Hall, India, 2005
and send total generated power to grid. If the voltage of IGC is
less than the voltage of the grid, then IGC sees the voltage A UT HORS
higher than its reference as a result it gives power to ballast Brijesh Adhikary was born in Kathmandu, Nepal on April
load. This reduces the amount of power to be fed to grid. Both 15, 1966. He received the B.Sc. degree fro m Tribhuvan
cases confirm that the power is fed to the grid as per the load University Nepal in 1988, B.E degree fro m Karnataka
demand. The experiment shows that the voltage of SEIG 1 and University India in 1994, M.E degree fro m BITS Pilani India in
SEIG 2 are 232V at 50Hz and 218V at 50Hz respectively 1997and currently doing PhD fro m NTNU Trondheim Norway.
before synchronism. After the synchronization the system
His research interest includes renewable energy, distributed
voltage stabilized at 222V at 50Hz.
generation and power generators.

This paper has presented Interconnection of Two M icro Bijaya Gh imire was born in Kathmandu in 1985. He
Hydro Units Forming a Min i-grid System Using Soft received his B.E Degree in Electrical and Electronics
Connection. The self-excitation process of a SEIG is described Engineering fro m the Kathmandu University in 2008. Since
by using the C-2C capacitors configuration. The design and the 2008 Mr. Gh imire has been with Department of Electrical and
performance of the IGC for SEIG has been presented and Electronic Engineering Kathmandu University. His current
verified with experimental results in the standalone operation. research interest is High Voltage Engineering, Interconnection
In addition to that the design of the synchronizer unit for two of Renewable energy sources, Power electronics and Drives.
SEIGs along with two IGCs for the interconnection of the
generators to form the mini grid has been presented. The
performance and the results from the experiments of the IGC Paras Karki received his Bachelor of Engineering in
and the synchronizer unit for the Mini-grid connection are Electrical and Electronics Engineering fro m the Kathmandu
satisfactory. University in 2008. Since 2008 he has been working in RIDS-
Nepal (NGO) as Research Assistant. He is working in the
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