Due to its scalability, reliability, high power quality and flexibility, the modular multilevel converter is the standard solution for high-power high-voltage applications in which an AC–DC–AC connection is required such as high-voltage direct-current transmission systems. However, this converter presents some undesired features from both structural and operational perspectives. For example, it presents a high number of components, which results in high costs, size, weight and conduction losses. Moreover, the modular multilevel converter presents problems dealing with DC-side faults, with unbalanced grid conditions, and many internal control loops are required for its proper operation. In variable-frequency operation, the modular multilevel converter presents some serious limitations. The most critical are the high-voltage ripples, in the submodule capacitors, at low frequencies. Thus, many different AC–AC converter solutions, with modular multilevel structure, have been proposed as alternatives for high-power machine-drive applications such as offshore wind turbines, pumped-hydro-storage systems and industrial motor drives. These converters present their own drawbacks mostly related to control complexity, operational limitations, size and weight. This paper introduces an entirely new medium-voltage AC–AC modular multilevel converter solution with many operational and structural advantages in comparison to the modular multilevel converter and other alternative topologies. The proposed converter presents high performance at low frequencies, regarding the amplitude of the voltage ripples in the submodule capacitors, which could make it very suitable for machine-drive applications. In this paper, an analytical description of the voltage ripples in the submodule capacitors is proposed, which proves the high performance of the converter under low-frequency operation. Moreover, the proposed converter presents high performance under unbalanced grid conditions. This important feature is demonstrated through simulation results. The converter solution introduced in this paper has a simple structure, with decoupled phases, which leads to the absence of undesired circulating currents and to a straightforward control, with very few internal control loops for its proper operation, and with simple modulation. Since the converter phases are decoupled, no arm inductors are required, which contributes to the weight and size reduction of the topology. In this paper, a detailed comparison analysis with the modular multilevel converter is presented based on number of components, conduction and switching losses. This analysis concludes that the proposed converter solution presents a reduction in costs and an expressive reduction in size and weight, in comparison to the modular multilevel converter. Thus, it should be a promising solution for high-power machine-drive applications that require compactness and lightness such as offshore wind turbines. In this paper, simulation results are presented explaining the behavior of the proposed converter, proving that it is capable of synthesizing a high-power-quality load voltage, with variable frequency, while exchanging power with the grid. Thus, this topology could be used to control the machine speed in a machine-drive application. Finally, experimental results are provided to validate the topology.
- Modular Multilevel Converter (MMC)
- Wind tubines
- Pumped hydro storage