18-685   Power Electronics for Electric Utility Systems

Location: Africa

Units: 12

Semester Offered: Spring

Course description

With the advent of power electronics, control and communication systems, and internet technologies, grid-connected and stand-alone electricity supply systems can be made smart and flexible by the application of power electronics. This is particularly relevant for the increasing penetration of embedded generation due to the proliferation of renewable energy systems based on solar, wind, mini and micro hydro, and wave in addition to diesel and gas generators. This course is designed to produce engineers equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to design, commission, and operate such systems. Content includes High voltage switches: both thyristor and IGBT based; reactive power compensation: thyristor controlled reactor (TCR), Thyristor Switched Capacitor (TSC), Static Var Compensator (SVC), STATCOM, Series and Shunt Compensation; High Voltage DC Transmission (HVDC): HVDC Converters both thyristor based and voltage source converter based, multiterminal HVDC, DC Grids; Grid Integration of renewable energy sources: wind onshore and offshore, solar, energy storage, application to weak systems, black start; Stand-alone grid systems: PV and Hydro based, energy storage, rural electrification and city applications, business models.

Learning objectives

The ECE department is accredited by ABET to ensure the quality of your education. ABET defines 7 Educational Objectives that are fulfilled by the sum total of all the courses you take. The following list describes which objectives are fulfilled by this course and in what manner they are fulfilled. The objectives are numbered from “1” through “7” in the standard ABET parlance. Those objectives not fulfilled by this course are crossed out from the following list:
  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  4. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  5. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  6. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies


By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain how static and dynamic characteristics of power semiconductor devices influence the design of power converters for electricity supply systems
  • Appreciate the electrical and thermal design of “High Voltage Valves”
  • Analyze the operation of High voltage converters such as HVDC, STATCOM, MMC, and SVC
  • Investigate the mitigation of Power flow and voltage stability problems by compensation using Power Electronic Converters
  • Investigate a grid system including power electronic converters by simulation and Communicate the findings in written form and orally with multimedia

Content details

  • Operation of power semiconductor devices in the high voltage environment
  • High voltage valves
  • Power converters for utility applications
  • Multilevel converters
  • Transmission and load compensation by power electronic circuits; TCR, TSC, SVC, STATCOM
  • HVDC and MVDC
  • Energy storage
  • Harmonics and filter


There are no prerequisites for this course, but it is assumed that the student has an understanding of electrical & electronic principles, power systems, and power electronics at the bachelor level or equivalent experience and knowledge. Completion of a previous course in power electronics is recommended.


Sarath Tennakoon