Modeling and Design of Modular MultilevelConverters for Grid Applications

Abstract: Grid-connected high-power converters are found in high-voltage direct current transmission (HVDC), static compensators (STATCOMs), and supplies for electric railways. Such power converters should have a high reliability, high efficiency, good harmonic performance, low cost, and a small footprint. Cascaded converters are promising solutions for high-voltage high-power converters since they allow the combination of excellent harmonic performance and low switching frequencies. A high reliability can also be achieved by including redundant submodules in the chain of cascaded converters.One of the emerging cascaded converter topologies is the modular multilevel converter (M2C). This thesis aims to bring clarity to the dimensioning aspects and limiting factors of M2Cs. The dc-capacitor in each submodule is a driving factor for the size and weight of the converter. It is found that the voltage variations across the submodule capacitors will distort the voltage waveforms and also induce alternating components in the current that is circulating between the phase-legs. It is, however, shown that it is possible to control the alternating voltage by feed-forward control. It is also shown that if the circulating current is controlled, the injection of a second-order harmonic component can extend the operating region of the converter. The reason for this is that when the converter is operating close to the boundary of overmodulation the phase and amplitude of the second-order harmonic is chosen such that the capacitors are charged prior to the time when a high voltage should be inserted by the submodules.The controller that is used must be able to balance the sbmodule capacitor voltages. Typically, an increased switching frequency will enhance the performance of the balancing control scheme. In this thesis it is shown that the capacitor voltages can be balanced with programmed modulation, even if fundamental switching frequency is used. This will, however, increase the voltage ripple across the aforementioned capacitors. In order to quantify the requirements on the dc-capacitors a general analysis is provided in this thesis which is based on the assumption that the capacitor voltages are well balanced. It is found that for active power transfer, with a 50 Hz sinusoidal voltage reference, the capacitors must be rated for a combined energy storage of 21 kJ/MW if the capacitor voltages are allowed to increase by 10% above their nominal values.