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Emmanouil Lyrakis

``

Reliability Comparison of Multilevel


Converters for Wind Turbine
Systems

I
Reliability Comparison of Multilevel
Converters for Wind Turbine
Systems

By

Emmanouil Lyrakis

in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Science
in Sustainable Energy Technology

at the Delft University of Technology,


to be defended publicly on Friday, August 26, 2016 at 13:00 AM.
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) and
Applied Sciences (AS)
IV
DELFT UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY
DEPARTMENT OF
ELECTRICAL SUSTAINABLE ENERGY,
ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING, MATHEMATICS
AND COMPUTER SCIENCES

The following academic staff certifies that it has read and recommends to the Faculty
Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) and Applied
Sciences (AS) for acceptance a thesis entitled

RELIABILITY COMPARISON OF MULTILEVEL CONVERTERS FOR WIND


TURBINE SYSTEMS

by
EMMANOUIL LYRAKIS

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of


Master of Science Sustainable Energy Technology

Dated: August 26, 2016

Supervisor: dr.ir. H. Polinder

Thesis committee: Prof.dr. J.A. Ferreira, TU Delft

Dr. Ir. H. Polinder, TU Delft

Dr. Ir. W.J.C.Verhagen, TU Delft

V
VI
An electronic version of this thesis is available at http://repository.tudelft.nl/.

VII
VIII
Abstract
The extension of the reliability and hence the lifetime of the power converters used in wind
turbine systems gains growing interest given the potential to drive the costs further down.
This study conducts a detailed comparison among several suggested multilevel converter
topologies so as to investigate which converters achieve a more even distribution of the load
among their electronic components and consequently achieve an extended lifetime
expectancy. Additionally it analyzes a lot of factors that play a deteriorating or favorable role
in the fatigue of a multilevel power converter. The relevant research is being conducted
through simulations conducted with the help of Matlab and Simulink.

The course of this thesis consists of several processing steps: (a) the mechanical modelling of
the wind turbine (b) the electrical modelling of the generator and the converter (c) the
detailed analysis of the switching methods (d) the power loss analysis of the individual
components of each topology according to operation (e) the thermal modelling of these
components and (f) the lifetime estimation. The concept of the model relies on the analytical
approximation of the dynamic response of all the aforementioned parts to random generated
wind profiles. By utilizing the above tools a gradual transition is achieved from the initial wind
speed input to the electrical parameters of the generator and the converters, to the power
losses of the power semiconductors of each topology, to the temperature profile of the
devices and finally to the estimated consumed lifetime. At the end, provided the fatigue
estimations but also with the help of the data collected from the intermediate steps an
integrated comparison is performed regarding the reliability of the examined converter types.

Emmanouil Lyrakis

Delft, August 2016

IX
X
Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Table of Contents ............................................................................................................ XI

List of Figures................................................................................................................ XIV

List of Tables ................................................................................................................. XVI

List of Symbols .............................................................................................................. XIX

Acknowledgements........................................................................................................ XX

1 Introduction ............................................................................................................. 1

1.1 Wind Turbine System Configurations ........................................................................ 2

1.2 The role of Power Electronics in modern Wind Turbines Systems ........................... 3

1.3 Reliability of power-electronics in wind turbine systems ......................................... 4

1.4 Failure mechanisms of power electronic components ............................................. 5

1.5 Scope of this project .................................................................................................. 6

1.6 Contribution .............................................................................................................. 6

1.7 Layout of the Thesis................................................................................................... 7

2 Multilevel Power Electronic Converters ..................................................................... 9

2.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 9

2.2 Focus area of the thesis ............................................................................................. 9

2.3 2-Level Voltage Source Converter (VSC) Back-to-Back Topology ............................ 10

2.4 3-level Neutral-Point-Clamped (NPC) Back-to-Back Topology ................................ 11

2.5 3-level Active Neutral-Point-Clamped (ANPC) Back-to-Back Topology ................... 12

2.6 3-level H-bridge (3L-HB) Converter or Full-Bridge Converter ................................. 13

2.7 3-level T-type converter (3L-T2C)............................................................................. 14

2.8 Preliminary Comparison of the Examined Converter Configurations ..................... 15

3 Converter Performance characteristics .................................................................... 17

3.1 Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) of three-phased voltage source converters........ 17

3.2 Division and discretization of time in power converter function ............................ 18

3.3 Switching strategy for the 2-level VSC .................................................................... 19

3.4 Switching strategy for the 3-level NPC converter ................................................... 22

3.5 Switching strategies of the 3-level Active-NPC converter ....................................... 25

3.5.1 PWM-1 switching strategy .............................................................................. 25

XI
Table of Contents

3.5.2 PWM-2 switching strategy .............................................................................. 29

3.5.3 Natural Doubling of the Apparent Switching, PWM-DF .................................. 32

3.5.4 Adjustable Load Distribution (ALD) ANPC PWM Strategy ............................... 35

3.6 PWM switching strategy for the 3-level H-bridge converter .................................. 40

3.7 PWM switching strategy for the 3-level T-type converter ...................................... 43

3.8 Review of switching strategies for examined converters ....................................... 45

4 Methodology and Modelling Considerations ........................................................... 47

4.1 System Description .................................................................................................. 47

4.2 Mechanical Modelling of the Wind Turbine ............................................................ 48

4.3 Wind Turbine System Configuration ....................................................................... 49

4.4 Converters and control ............................................................................................ 50

4.4.1 Generator-Side Controller ............................................................................... 51

4.4.2 Grid-Side Control ............................................................................................. 52

4.5 Reliability and thermal stress .................................................................................. 53

4.6 Power losses ............................................................................................................ 53

4.6.1 Conduction Losses ........................................................................................... 54

4.6.2 Switching losses ............................................................................................... 56

4.7 Thermal modelling................................................................................................... 58

4.8 Switch Ratings and Selected Components .............................................................. 61

4.9 Lifetime model......................................................................................................... 61

4.9.1 Temperature profile analysis........................................................................... 63

5 Simulation Results .................................................................................................. 65

5.1 Simulation Conditions ............................................................................................. 65

5.2 Loss Distribution of the Power Electronic Components .......................................... 66

5.2.1 Grid-side Converter Power Losses................................................................... 66

5.2.2 Generator-side Converter Power Losses ......................................................... 68

5.2.3 Assessment of Power Losses ........................................................................... 71

5.2.4 Determining factors for power loss distribution ............................................. 72

5.3 Thermal Performance.............................................................................................. 73

5.3.1 Thermal response assessment and comparison ............................................. 75

XII
Table of Contents

5.4 Damage and Lifetime Estimations ........................................................................... 78

6 Conclusions and recommendations for future research ........................................... 83

6.1 Conclusions .............................................................................................................. 83

6.2 Recommendations for future work ......................................................................... 84

6.2.1 Further research on ALD-Switching strategy................................................... 84

6.2.2 Investigation of sensitivity of reliability........................................................... 85

6.2.3 Investigation of other cases ............................................................................ 85

Bibliography .................................................................................................................. 87

Appendix A: Power loss simulation results ...................................................................... 93

Appendix B: Junction temperature of the power electronic components ......................... 96

Generator-Side Converters.................................................................................................. 96

Grid-Side Converters ........................................................................................................... 99

Appendix C: Consumed lifetime.................................................................................... 102

XIII
List of Figures

List of Figures
Figure 1-1 Global cumulative installed wind energy capacity from 2000 to 2015 [1] .............. 1

Figure 1-2 Variable speed wind turbine with partial-scale power converter [2] ...................... 2

Figure 1-3 Variable speed wind turbine with full-scale power converter [2] ........................... 3

Figure 1-4 Distribution of failure rate and downtime for different parts in a wind turbine
system [5] .................................................................................................................................. 4

Figure 1-5 Common causes of failures in electronics. [6] ......................................................... 5

Figure 2-1 Two-level back-to-back voltage source converter for wind turbines [15] ............. 10

Figure 2-2 3-level NPC back-to-back converter for wind turbine [15] .................................... 11

Figure 2-3 Three-level Active Neutral Point Clamped back-to-back configuration ................ 12

Figure 2-4 Three-level H-bridge back-to-back configuration [15] ........................................... 13

Figure 2-5 Three-level T-type converter back-to-back configuration ..................................... 14

Figure 3-1 Three-phase PWM waveforms for a 2-level VSC [22] ............................................ 17

Figure 3-2 Qualitative time division of voltage and current waveforms of a converter ......... 19

Figure 3-3 Phase leg of a 2-level voltage source converter..................................................... 20

Figure 3-4 Phase leg of a 3-level NPC converter ..................................................................... 22

Figure 3-5 Sinusoidal PWM of 3-level NPC half-bridge converter, (a) Sr >0 , (b) Sr <0 ........... 23

Figure 3-6 Phase leg of a 3-level ANPC converter ................................................................... 26

Figure 3-7 Sinusoidal PWM-1 for 3L-ANPC converter, (a) Sr >0 , (b) Sr <0 ............................. 27

Figure 3-8 Sinusoidal PWM-2 for 3L-ANPC converter, (a) Sr >0 , (b) Sr <0............................. 29

Figure 3-9 PWM-DF strategy for 3L-ANPC converter, (a) Sr>0, (b) Sr<0 ................................. 32

Figure 3-10 PWM, switches states and output voltage of ALD strategy, (a) Sr > 0 stress-in mode,
(b) Sr < 0 stress-in mode, (c) Sr > 0 stress-out mode, (d) Sr < 0 stress-out mode. .................. 36

Figure 3-11 Single phase of a 3-level H-bridge converter ....................................................... 40

Figure 3-12 PWM strategy for 3L-HB converter, (a) Sr>0, (b) Sr<0 ......................................... 41

Figure 3-13 Single phase leg of a 3-level T-type converter ..................................................... 43

Figure 3-14 PWM strategy for 3L-T-type converter, (a) Sr>0, (b) Sr<0 ................................... 43

Figure 4-1 Overview of the constructed thermal behaviour model ....................................... 47

Figure 4-2 Mechanical model of the Wind Turbine ................................................................ 48

Figure 4-3 Generator-side controller ...................................................................................... 52

Figure 4-4 Grid-side controller ................................................................................................ 52

XIV
List of Figures

Figure 4-5 IGBT module broken down to its different component layers and substrates from
chip to heat sink ...................................................................................................................... 53

Figure 4-6 Representation of calculation of power net losses of a power electronics


component .............................................................................................................................. 54

Figure 4-7 Modelling of the calculation of the on-state voltages for the IGBT and the diode 55

Figure 4-8 Modelling of the calculation of the conduction losses for IGBT (left) and diode (right)
................................................................................................................................................. 56

Figure 4-9 Calculation of switching energy losses ................................................................... 57

Figure 4-10 Calculation of switching power losses for IGBT and antiparallel diode ............... 58

Figure 4-11 Cauer thermal model ........................................................................................... 59

Figure 4-12 Foster thermal model........................................................................................... 59

Figure 4-13 Thermal model of an IGBT module [15] ............................................................... 59

Figure 4-14 Adopted thermal model ....................................................................................... 60

Figure 4-15 Number of cycles to failure Nf as a function of temperature cycling ΔΤj and mean
junction temperature Tm ......................................................................................................... 62

Figure 5-1 Wind speed profile with an average wind speed of 8m/s ..................................... 65

Figure 5-2 Loss distribution of grid side converter topologies for wind speeds of 6, 8, 10 and
12m/s. Dcon and Dsw are the conduction and switching loss in diodes respectively, Tcon and
Tsw are the conduction and switching loss in the IGBT respectively...................................... 67

Figure 5-3 Loss distribution of generator side converter topologies for wind speeds of 6, 8, 10
and 12m/s................................................................................................................................ 70

Figure 5-4 The difference in the amount of power losses on the components between a
switching frequency of 8kHz (left) and a switching freequency of 2kHz (right) ..................... 73

Figure 5-5 Maximum mean temperatures of the converter topologies versus average wind
speed for generator-side converters....................................................................................... 76

Figure 5-6 Maximum amplitude of temperature cycle of each converter topology versus
average wind speed for generator-side converters ................................................................ 76

Figure 5-7 Maximum mean temperatures of the converter topologies versus average wind
speed for grid-side converters ................................................................................................ 77

Figure 5-8 Maximum amplitude of temperature cycle of each converter topology versus
average wind speed for generator-side converters ................................................................ 78

Figure 5-9 Consumed lifetime of the components of the tested back-to-back configurations
with color coding ..................................................................................................................... 80

XV
List of Tables

List of Tables
Table 2-1 Comparison of the examined back-to-back configurations for wind turbines ....... 15

Table 3-1 Switches states of a 2-level Voltage Source Converter ........................................... 20

Table 3-2 Duty ratios of switches of the 2-level VSC ............................................................... 21

Table 3-3 Conducting components during function of 2-level VSC......................................... 21

Table 3-4 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 2-level VSC conducts
................................................................................................................................................. 21

Table 3-5 Switching losses of components of 2-level VSC ...................................................... 22

Table 3-6 Switches States of 3-level NPC converter................................................................ 23

Table 3-7 Duty ratios of switches of the 3-level NPC converter.............................................. 23

Table 3-8 Conducting components during function of the 3-level NPC converter ................. 24

Table 3-9 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level NPC converter
conducts .................................................................................................................................. 24

Table 3-10 Switching losses of components of the 3-level NPC converter ............................. 25

Table 3-11 Switches States of PWM-1 strategy of 3-level ANPC converter ............................ 26

Table 3-12 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM-1 strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter .. 27

Table 3-13 Conducting components during function of the 3-level ANPC converter forPWM-1
switching strategy ................................................................................................................... 28

Table 3-14 Conduction dividend of each state of strategy PWM-1 ........................................ 28

Table 3-15 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level ANPC
converter conducts during PWM-1 switching strategy ........................................................... 28

Table 3-16 Switching losses of components of the 3-level ANPC converter during PWM-1
switching strategy ................................................................................................................... 29

Table 3-17 Switches States of PWM-2 strategy of 3-level ANPC converter ............................ 30

Table 3-18 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM-2 strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter .. 30

Table 3-19 Conducting components during function of the 3-level ANPC converter for PWM-2
switching strategy ................................................................................................................... 30

Table 3-20 Conduction dividend of each state of strategy PWM-2 ........................................ 31

Table 3-21 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level ANPC
converter conducts during PWM-2 switching strategy .......................................................... 31

Table 3-22 Switching losses of components of the 3-level ANPC converter during PWM-2
switching strategy ................................................................................................................... 31

Table 3-23 Switches States of PWM-DF strategy of 3-level ANPC converter.......................... 33

XVI
List of Tables

Table 3-24 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM-DF strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter 33

Table 3-25 Conducting components during function of the 3-level ANPC converter for PWM-
DF switching strategy .............................................................................................................. 34

Table 3-26 Conduction dividend of each state of strategy PWM-DF ...................................... 34

Table 3-27 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level ANPC
converter conducts during PWM-DF switching strategy........................................................ 35

Table 3-28 Switching losses of components of the 3-level ANPC converter during PWM-DF
switching strategy ................................................................................................................... 35

Table 3-29 Switches States of PWM-ALD strategy of 3-level ANPC converter ....................... 37

Table 3-30 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM-DF strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter 37

Table 3-31 Conducting components during function of the 3-level ANPC converter for PWM-
ALD switching strategy ............................................................................................................ 38

Table 3-32 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level ANPC
converter conducts during PWM-ALD switching strategy ...................................................... 39

Table 3-33 Switching losses of components of the 3-level ANPC converter during PWM-ALD
switching strategy ................................................................................................................... 39

Table 3-34 Switches States of PWM strategy of 3-level H-bridge converter .......................... 40

Table 3-35 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM strategy of the 3-level HB converter .......... 41

Table 3-36 Conducting components during function of the 3-level HB converter for PWM
switching strategy ................................................................................................................... 42

Table 3-37 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level H-Bridge
converter conducts during PWM switching strategy ............................................................. 42

Table 3-38 Switching losses of components of the 3-level HB converter during PWM switching
strategy .................................................................................................................................... 42

Table 3-39 Switches States of PWM strategy of 3-level T-type converter .............................. 44

Table 3-40 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM strategy of the 3-level T-type converter .... 44

Table 3-41 Conducting components during function of the 3-level HB converter for PWM
switching strategy ................................................................................................................... 44

Table 3-42 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level T-type
converter conducts during PWM switching strategy .............................................................. 45

Table 3-43 Switching losses of components of the 3-level T-type converter during PWM
switching strategy ................................................................................................................... 45

Table 4-1 Mechanical parameters of the Wind Turbine ......................................................... 49

Table 4-2 Relevant data of 2MW PMSG generator ................................................................. 50

Table 4-3 Parameters of the back-to-back converters ............................................................ 51

XVII
List of Tables

Table 4-4 Thermal parameters as equivalent of electric circuit parameters [41]................... 58

Table 5-1 Maximum consumed lifetime per converter topology for generator-side converters
................................................................................................................................................. 81

Table 5-2 Maximum consumed lifetime per converter topology for grid-side converters .... 81

XVIII
List of Symbols

List of Symbols
𝑉𝑑𝑐 DC-link voltage
𝐼𝑝ℎ Phase current
𝑉𝑜𝑢𝑡 Converter output voltage
𝑑1 … 𝑑6 Duty ratios
𝐸𝑠𝑤 Switching energy losses
𝑓𝑠 Switching frequency
𝐼𝑜𝑢𝑡 Converter output current
𝑓𝑣 Voltage frequency
𝑇𝑙𝑜𝑎𝑑 Load mechanical torque
𝜌 Air density
𝑣𝑤𝑖𝑛𝑑 Wind speed
𝑐𝑝 Power coefficient of the wind turbine
𝐴 Frontal area of the wind turbine
𝜔𝑚 Mechanical rotational speed
𝜆 Tip speed ratio
𝑅 Radius of the rotor
𝑑𝑞 Generator stator voltage
𝑢̅𝑠
𝑅𝑠 Stator resistance
𝑑𝑞 Stator current
𝑖̅𝑠
𝑞
𝜆𝑑𝑠 , 𝜆𝑠 Flux linkage
𝑝 Pole pairs of the generator
𝐿𝑠 Stator inductance
𝐿𝑚 Magnetizing inductance
𝑑 , 𝑑𝑞
𝑑 Duty ratios at the dq-reference frame
𝑅𝑓 Filter resistance
𝐿𝑓 Filter inductance
𝐶𝑑𝑐 DC-link capacitance
𝑃𝑐𝑜𝑛 Conduction power losses
𝑢𝐶𝐸 On-state collector-emitter voltage
𝑢𝐹 On-state diode voltage
𝑟𝐶 Collector-emitter on-state resistance
𝑟𝐷 Diode on-state resistance
𝑢𝐶𝐸0 On-state zero-current collector-emitter voltage
𝑢𝐹0 On-state zero-current diode voltage
𝐴𝐶𝐸 , 𝐴𝐷 Curve fitted constants
𝑇𝐻 High reference temperature
𝑇𝐿 Low reference temperature
𝑇𝑗𝑇 IGBT junction temperature
𝑇𝑗𝐷 Diode junction temperature
𝐸𝑜𝑛𝑥 , 𝐸𝑜𝑓𝑓𝑥 Turn-on and turn-off energy losses
𝑃𝑠𝑤𝑇 , 𝑃𝑠𝑤𝐷 Switching power losses
𝑖𝑐𝑒 Collector-emitter current
𝑅𝑡ℎ Thermal Resistance
𝐶𝑡ℎ Thermal capacitance
𝑇𝑚 Mean junction temperature
𝛥𝑇𝑗 Amplitude of junction temperature cycle
𝑁𝑓 Number of cycles to failure
𝐿𝐶 Consumed lifetime

XIX
Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements
I would like to sincerely express my gratitude to my supervisor Dr.Ir. Henk Polinder. The close
cooperation at every stage, the elaborate discussion on approaches but most importantly his
triggering comments were vital for the finalization of this thesis. In addition, I am thankful to
PhD. candidate Udai Shipurkar for his willingness to support my efforts to get across the
concept of this study and his tireless assistance throughout the whole course of this endeavor.
I want to also express my heartfelt gratitude to my family that supported my attempts during
my studies in DUT both economically but also psychologically. Finally special thanks go to my
dearest friends, colleagues and supporters Alvertos Maselis, Makis Gravanis and Christos
Tsiourakis for the strength that I have drawn from their selfless companionship.

XX
Introduction

1 Introduction

The modern world is intrinsically linked with the continuous supply of electrical energy.
Humanity has extensively based its function and routine to the standard of the uninterrupted
electrical power consumption that is being distributed through the electrical network. The
pillars of this power production, the modern power plants, even though they have served the
society well for many decades and have been a reliable solution, are to be gradually replaced
by more sustainable solutions. The fossil fuels price instability combined with the never ending
search for alternatives that will replace the depleting fossil fuel resources have pushed the
development of sustainable energy technologies forward. The necessity for reduction of the
CO2 emissions that has been one of the greatest challenges of this century is also a crucial
reason for the mankind to be directed to cleaner sources of energy.

Wind power, however unpredictable, has been proved to be a decisive factor for the energy
transition. This energy transition is the reason that is driving forward wind energy developers
and manufacturers to increase the installed capacity of wind power worldwide. The
cumulative wind power capacity has skyrocketed in the last few years. In Figure 1-1 it can be
seen that wind power reached at the end of 2015 a total installed capacity of 432 GW, almost
being doubled during the last 4 years [1].

Figure 1-1 Global cumulative installed wind energy capacity from 2000 to 2015 [1]

Through extensive research and development wind turbine manufacturers do not just manage
to constantly increase the total installed capacity, but also try constantly to improve power
production per wind turbine so that any relative costs will be reduced. These include the
manufacturing and installation costs of a wind turbine as well as maintenance costs that are
essential to keep the wind farms fully operational until the end of their lifetime.

1
Introduction

1.1 Wind Turbine System Configurations


The technology used for the Wind Turbine Systems has evolved rapidly during the last years.
The development in power electronics has facilitated greatly the interconnection of the wind
turbines to the grid and can provide it with energy at the right frequency and voltage. The
different existent configurations are categorized by different concepts of generators,
converters and speed control. Among the wind turbine systems that have been established
during these years, the fixed speed wind turbine and the partial variable speed wind turbine
configuration are worth mentioning as important intermediate steps for the configurations
that are used nowadays. However these two are not any longer a part of the nowadays
industry. The two concepts that are broadly used and installed nowadays are:

 the Variable Speed Wind Turbine with Partial-Scale Power Converter


 the Variable Speed Wind Turbine with Full-Scale Power Converter

Variable Speed Wind Turbine with Partial -Scale Power Converter

The variable speed wind turbine with partial-scale power converter has served well the
industry during the last years and is nowadays the most established application of wind
turbines. This wind turbine concept is usually combined with a gearbox and its components
can be standardized and mass produced and used by the manufacturers. The generator used
is a Doubly Fed Induction Generator (DFIG), the stator windings of which are connected
directly to the grid, while its rotor windings are connected to the grid through a power
converter (Figure 1-2). This way, the power electronics converter that controls the generator
is not of full scale and depending on the generator its rating can vary from 1/4 to 1/3 of the
generator rating [2].

Figure 1-2 Variable speed wind turbine with partial-scale power converter [2]

Thus, the converter can provide partial power output regulation, improvement of the power
quality and limited grid support. The size of the converter understandably reduces significantly
the total cost of the wind turbine, restricts the power electronics losses and decreases the
total weight of the hub. These elements favor the use of this configurations against other ones
using a full scale power converter. On the other hand, the necessity for slip rings for the DFIG
and the poor power controllability in grid fault cases show that this configuration may be
gradually replaced by concepts that ensure a more reliable performance in the future [2].

2
Introduction

Variable Speed Wind Turbine with Full -Scale Power Converter

A configuration that is increasingly getting the spotlight for the new models of wind turbines
is one using a full-scale power converter between the grid and the generator. The generator
can be either an asynchronous or a synchronous, however the mostly used configuration is
the Permanent Magnet Synchronous Generator. Frequently, the gearbox is omitted - direct
drive - or restricted to one stage in order to avoid the mechanical losses that it entails. This
feature together with the better control of speed and power, the improved grid support ability
and the elimination of the slip rings and brushes advocate the predominance of the PMSG
concept for the new bigger wind turbine models [2].

Figure 1-3 Variable speed wind turbine with full-scale power converter [2]

The reservations behind this concept are the availability of the permanent magnets as well as
the lack of standardized components and the rather large weight of the big generators that
are needed for the construction of these turbines.

1.2 The role of Power Electronics in modern Wind Turbines Systems


During the last decades power electronics have revolutionized the industrial and domestic
scene and these advancements have accordingly benefited the connection of the wind turbine
systems to the grid, their efficiency and performance. Research on semiconductor
components have brought power electronics for wind turbines from the simple soft-starter to
the modern IGBT switch converter concepts. With the ratings of the switches being constantly
increased, industry has been able to develop full-scale power converters that offer full
controllability of the output power characteristics.

The need for wind turbine integration into the electrical grid has been greatly benefited by
power-electronic converters. Their utilization has enabled the development of variable speed
wind turbines and the maximization of power harnessing of the wind. [3]

Modern wind turbines in their majority use, regardless of the generator type, a back-to-back
concept of converters that are intermediately connected with a DC voltage link. This is done
so that the generator frequency can be decoupled from the frequency of the power grid. The
intermediate DC link consists of a series of capacitors that ensure a stable dc-link voltage. The
generator-side as well as the grid-side converter make use of IGBT switches that are switching
with a frequency of several kHz.

3
Introduction

1.3 Reliability of power-electronics in wind turbine systems


Reliability performance is a great concern for the wind turbine systems. Failures of any kind
do not just cause major instability issues to the grid, but they also affect greatly the income of
the wind farm owners not only as a result of the loss of produced energy but also because
maintenance expenses become an additional burden to these companies. Especially for
offshore wind farms that are an emerging trend and their sizes tend to grow with fast rates,
maintenance times are longer, costs are significant and maintenance is not possible during
the whole year.

Field data suggest that the increase of the size of the wind turbines favor failures [4]. Looking
at Figure 1-4 as provided by [5], it can be observed that power electronics and control are two
weak links of the wind turbine system with the highest values for annual failure rates [5].

Figure 1-4 Distribution of failure rate and downtime for different parts in a wind turbine system [5]

Other reliability field studies agree on indicating power converters as a frequent source of
failure. In an evaluation of more than 31000 downtime events of pitch controlled, variable-
speed wind turbines, converters were reported to have caused 13% of the failures and were
responsible for the 18% of the downtime of these monitored turbines [6, 7]. Another case of
reliability study that looks into data of more than 6000 wind turbines in Denmark and
Germany concludes that from an annual rate of 0.2 failures per turbine, 1/5 to 1/7 of the
failure cases derive from power converter failures [6, 8].

Research on reliability is lately moving from the statistical approach to a physics based
approach that includes not only the statistics of failure but also the cause behind each failure.
Reason for that is that the statistical approaches have over the years proven to be too generic
and unsatisfactory [9]. When it comes to the reduction of the Cost of Energy (CoE), reliability
of turbines is a critical parameter. The drivetrain constitutes indisputably a decisive factor to
the frequency of failures occurrence [8] and power electronics prove to be a weak link in terms
of reliability.

It is thus understandable that converter and power electronics reliability is a considerable


design and cost driver for the wind turbine operators, especially of offshore wind turbine
parks. However, a crucial prerequisite for the addressing of this issue is to understand the
mechanisms and causes underlying the converter failures.

4
Introduction

1.4 Failure mechanisms of power electronic components


An inclusive summary of the possible failure mechanisms is provided by [10] as researched
by [11]. The failure mechanisms that have been identified are divided into chip-related and
package-related and are reported briefly below. A general overview of common failure causes
in power electronics is given in Figure 1-5.

Chip-related failure mechanisms

a) Electrical overstress
b) Latch-up and triggering of parasitic structures
c) Charge effects, ionic contamination or hot carrier injection
d) Electro-migration, contact- and stress-induced migration
e) Thermal activation
f) False triggering due to cosmic radiation

Package-related failure mechanisms

a) bond-wire lift-off
b) solder fatigue
c) degradation of thermal grease
d) fretting corrosion at pressure contacts
e) tin whiskers

Cleanliness
Electrical
-Migration
-Electr. overstress
-Insulation defects
-EMC
-Corrosion

Humidity Test and qualification


- Condensation causing migration -Test conditions do not
and insulation defects especially in replicate real field conditions
presence of salt
-Tests do not cover
combination of stress factors

Failure
Temperature Components
-Thermomechanical stress due to -Early failures due to insufficient
CTE difference (bond-wire/solder- full operation burn-in
joint fatigue) -Insufficient derating
- Component aging/drift -Tin whisker formation on lead-
free solder

Figure 1-5 Common causes of failures in electronics. [6]

The two first package-related failure mechanisms, bond-wire lift-off and solder fatigue are
recognized as the two main failure mechanisms in power electronic modules. They both
originate from the temperature swings of the components as a result of the thermal loading
that is caused by the switching activity. The difference in thermal-expansion coefficients of
the materials used in these semiconductors cause cracks and delamination of the chips.

5
Introduction

1.5 Scope of this project


Summarizing, power electronics and power converters are proved to be a common cause of
failure in modern wind turbines. Therefore, their reliability becomes a vital issue, and should
draw more attention since they play an important part in utility interfaces with renewable
energy sources [12]. Wind power is in any case considered to be one of the most demanding
application areas for power electronics. The varying torque of the generator, as a result of the
fluctuations of wind speed, causes variations in the electrical loading and subsequently
deteriorates the thermal cycling of the converters. The unpredictability of wind speed adds
up to the oddity of this load.

For that reason, power electronic manufacturers have tried during the last years to develop
power converter topologies with an extended reliability. That could as well mean the
designing of more complex topologies with more power electronic components that offer a
more evenly distributed loading of the power converter or even topologies that can sustain
faults and preserve their functioning ability. Since power electronics nowadays are the most
common drivers for generators and particularly wind turbines, it is believed that converters
with an increased reliability and therefore an extended lifetime will have as a result an
increase to the energy yield of these wind farms and a cost reduction for their operators.

In accordance with this assumption, this thesis investigates certain proposed multilevel
converter topologies. Its objective is to compare different multilevel converter topologies
according to their reliability based on simulation results. This assessment is developed based
on the power losses of each converter, their distribution throughout their components and
the impact that they have on the thermal behaviour of the power electronic components of
each converter. The study of the power loss and the thermal behaviour of the components
offers useful conclusions about their lifetime and the prospect of improving them.

1.6 Contribution
The selection of one group of converters (multilevel) with a common reference (same number
of levels) has as a result a comprehensive report of the available converter alternatives for
usage in wind turbine systems. This also offer a standard reference point for the conduction
of a valid comparison between them. What is expected from this project is to bring out the
advantages and drawbacks of the tested configurations during normal wind turbine operating
conditions. For that reason different modulation strategies and function routines are tried out
so that a complete image over the operation capabilities of each topology can be drawn.

The special contribution of this attempt lies therefore in the variety of the 3-level converter
topologies that have been included in this comparative study. These alternative configurations
are judged upon realistic wind turbine conditions. The added value of this thesis lies to the
fact that it examines the reliability of the power electronic components of the converters with
a physics based approach utilizing data and results of experimental measurements. Therefore
it is expected that unbiased by statistics conclusions are reached regarding the reliability and
lifetime of these converters.

6
Introduction

1.7 Layout of the Thesis


Initially, in Chapter 2 a short introduction on the studied topologies is given. Their main
characteristics along with their structural features are analyzed. The operation principals and
their specificities are clarified so that a solid base is set for further analysis. At the end of the
chapter a comparison of their key characteristics is provided.

After the initial description of the topologies that are tested, a detailed and thorough analysis
of the modulation and switching strategies of each converter is presented in Chapter 3. The
reason for that is to fully understand the logic behind the switching tactics of the different
topologies and to reach certain conclusions for the conduction and switching of each
component. This leads to valuable conclusions about the losses of each power electronic
component of the different topologies which is later used for the construction of the power
loss and thermal behaviour models.

Chapter 4 offers an insight into the methodology that is followed so that the necessary results
and conclusions can be extracted. The process is divided into individual steps of the method
followed and is analytically explained. Therefore the course from start to result is segmented
to smaller steps and analyzed. Special attention is given to the power loss and thermal
behaviour models. At the top of that, clarifications are provided regarding the manner some
of these techniques are translated and implemented in the constructed model.

Chapter 5 includes a brief description of the results of all the simulations conducted and
extracts some initial conclusions while Chapter 6 attempts to translate these results. Useful
conclusions are made based on the simulation results and it is investigated if and by how far
the objectives of this project have been met. At the end recommendations for future research
prospects are quoted.

7
Introduction

8
Multilevel Power Electronic Converters

2 Multilevel Power Electronic Converters


2.1 Introduction
The concept of the multilevel voltage source converters is a matter that has drawn the
attention of the power industry during the last years. Their application in the high power
industry has offered a remarkable improvement to power management and transmission. The
philosophy that lies behind their operation is based on the composition of the sinusoidal form
of output using multiple levels of DC voltage [13]. In this chapter the structural characteristics
of the examined converter topologies are briefly presented.

Multilevel converter topologies were developed as a natural evolution and improvement of


the classic 2-level voltage source converter (VSC). The range of multilevel converters starts
already from 3 levels and in theory can be extended to any (2n+1)-level topology. By going up
a level in a multilevel converter, the switch utilization (𝑃𝑜 /𝑃𝑇 ) increases, as the maximum
voltage that each switch has to sustain is decreased and consequently its rating can therefore
be decreased. Additionally, the output power quality is improved as the levels of voltage
increase and the need for filtering the output decreases. Consequently the total harmonic
distortion (THD) tends to get lower [3]. However the cost of the converter is increased because
of the additional power electronic components. Moreover, the PWM methods used by
converters of higher become more complicated and therefore add to the price. But beyond
the cost reservations, the critical question lies at whether the increase of levels in a power
converter makes the converter more reliable or less reliable. The decrease of power loading
and thus thermal loading per component can be said to be a favorable factor to the reliability
and lifetime of a converter. On the other hand the increase of the number of power electronic
components within a converter topology makes the circuit more susceptible to failure in
statistical terms.

2.2 Focus area of the thesis


For the purpose of this thesis the range of power-electronic converters that is investigated
includes different topologies and switching regimes of 3-level converters as well as the
classical 2-level converter.

The basic 2-level VSC topology is used as a reference model. Primarily because it still
represents the mainly used configuration in other power applications and expectedly every
candidate improvement has to be compared the most simple and basic building block of the
industry. Secondarily if the 2-level VSC can be regarded as the simplest multilevel converter
that comes before 3-level converter configurations then a comparison can be carried out
between the 2-level and the 3-level topologies. The outcome of this comparison can give a
generic yet useful conclusion regarding whether an increase in the levels of the converter
extends or decreases the reliability of a converter.

Furthermore, the different topologies of 3-level converters and the different switching
strategies that are looked into offer a comprehensive comparison of the 3-level converters.
Therefore, using a common basis among the converters which is the production 3 levels of
voltage as an output, the converters can be designed to have the same voltage and current
output and a valid comparison can then be conducted. The selection of 3-level converters
resides in the fact that 3-level converters seem to be the optimal tradeoff solution between

9
Multilevel Power Electronic Converters

quality performance and increased manufacturing cost in high-power systems like the one of
the wind turbine [3].

The choice of these particular 3-level topologies is based on the fundamental question of this
thesis which is whether one of those 3-level topologies can achieve a longer lifetime and at
what cost. The topologies that are investigated are:

 3-level neutral-point-clamped (3L-NPC) converter


 3-level active neutral-point-clamped (3L-ANPC) converter
 3-level H-bridge converter (3L-HB)
 3-level T-type converter (3L-T2C)

In the following subchapters a brief presentation of all the topologies under investigation is
given.

2.3 2-Level Voltage Source Converter (VSC) Back-to-Back Topology


The 2-level voltage source converter or the half bridge converter is, as already stated, the
mostly used 3-phase power converter topology for power applications. Its advantage lies
within the relevant expertise on its standardized technology which offers ease of
manufacturing [14]. The 3-phase 2-level VSC is an AC-DC-AC converter with 2 unidirectional
IGBTs per phase [3]. The need for interconnection between the generator and the grid
commands that the converter is used both as an inverter and a rectifier in a back-to-back (BTB)
configuration with an intermediate DC-link. On the grid side the inverter is connected with a
transformer before the whole system is connected to the grid [14]. On both sides of the
configuration, a first order filter is connected. Each couple of IGBTs with their antiparallel
diodes represent a phase leg of the converter. The configuration can be seen in Figure 2-1 .

Figure 2-1 Two-level back-to-back voltage source converter for wind turbines [15]

The generator side converter allows power flow in both ways and connects the generator with
the dc-link. On the other side the grid side converter controls both active and the reactive
power flow to the grid and is the one that modulates the DC-link voltage.

The simplicity of its structure and the economy of material when it comes to its components
are the factors that evince this converter’s robustness and reliability [14]. The control of the
DC-link voltage level offers total manageability of the grid current [16]. On the other side, with
the power of the wind turbine systems increasing, the respective voltage and current levels

10
Multilevel Power Electronic Converters

are growing as well. This leads to the increase of conduction and switching losses and
subsequently to lower lifetime expectancy.

2.4 3-level Neutral-Point-Clamped (NPC) Back-to-Back Topology


As has been already mentioned, 3-level topologies are developed as a reasonable next step of
the 2-level voltage source converters as the latter are lacking the ability of handling the
increasing power of the wind turbine generators. The need for more switching devices to
share the load and for more voltage levels to improve the quality of power has made the
multilevel converters serious competitors in the wind turbine industry [14].

Figure 2-2 3-level NPC back-to-back converter for wind turbine [15]

Multilevel converters frequently use capacitors as DC voltage sources in series, to produce the
different output voltage levels. From the three different methods of interconnection between
those levels, diode clamped converters Diode Clamped Converters (DCC) is the one studied
within the limits of this thesis. The simplest DCC topology, the 3-level Neutral Point Clamped
Converter takes its name from the middle (neutral) point that create the capacitors of the DC-
link [17]. Its use is the most established among the multilevel converters. In many cases it even
allows the connection of the turbine to the grid without the presence of a step-up transformer
[18].

The 3-level NPC requires double the number of IGBTs of a 2-level converter and apart from
the antiparallel freewheeling diodes there are also the two additional diodes that clamp the
neutral point as can be seen in Figure 2-2. The purpose of existence of two diodes for the
provision of the neutral or zero state, is that the phase current establishes which diode is
utilized, as each one can cover only one direction of the current.

Even though the overall number of the power electronic components is higher, their voltage
rating is half compared to that of the 2-level converter topology. Indeed at all times during
proper function there are either two components that share the total voltage loading of the
dc-link or one switch that has to withstand half of the dc-link voltage. The fact that the
converter produces three levels of voltage and lower dv/dt stresses reduces the sizes of the
used filters [2]. The most important of its drawbacks is the uneven loss distribution among its
power components. The fact that only two diodes are used for the clamping of the neutral
point makes these diodes a potential weak point in the converter. Furthermore, the
fluctuation of the neutral point voltage is another disadvantage which has however seen
remarkable improvement after long research on this topic [14], [15].

11
Multilevel Power Electronic Converters

2.5 3-level Active Neutral-Point-Clamped (ANPC) Back-to-Back Topology


The topology of the 3-level active neutral-point-clamped converter is derived from the 3-level
NPC one. The fundamental difference between them is that the 3-level ANPC topology has
two additional IGBT switches placed antiparallel to the two diodes that clamp the neutral
point [19]. The clamping of the neutral point is now made by active switches, hence the name
active neutral-point-clamped. The back-to-back configuration of the converter model that can
be utilized for wind turbine systems can be seen in Figure 2-3.

Figure 2-3 Three-level Active Neutral Point Clamped back-to-back configuration

Its components, like in the 3-level NPC topology, have as minimum requirement a voltage
rating of Vdc 2 . However, the two active switches that replace the diodes give the topology
the capability of more than one ways of neutral point clamping. As a result the distribution of
the conduction losses can become more even compared to the 3 level NPC. With the use of
the right switching strategies the switching losses can also be restricted utilizing the variety of
the different commutations that are now available [18]. This additional feature of the ANPC
topology also gives the capability of many different switching strategies, theoretically as many
as the different valid commutation combinations.

The reason that seems to obstruct the extensive use and the establishment of the 3-level
ANPC topology in the market is the added costs compared to the already established
technologies. In the three phase back-to-back system the converter uses 24 IGBT modules
more than the 2-level VSC which imposes a remarkable increase of cost. Apart from that, the
additional gate drivers add remarkably to the complexity of the controller and affect adversely
the cost of the system. It should also be mentioned that by making use of a 3-level ANPC the
efficiency cannot improve compared to that of a 3-level NPC. The fact that in a 3-level system
at each moment one diode and active switch conducts, creates a standard minimum amount
of conduction and switching losses that is inevitable. What the 3-level ANPC offers as benefit
is thus not the reduction of losses but a more even distribution of them across the
components of each phase leg [20].

This feature plays an important role in a reliability study such as this. A basic principle of
reliability is that any system is as reliable as its weakest part or subsystem. A reduction in the
losses of a converter may improve the overall efficiency of the converter. However, as long as

12
Multilevel Power Electronic Converters

these losses load the components unequally, the converter’s reliability is being identified as
the reliability of its most heavily loaded component. Unequal loading causes differences in the
thermal behaviour of the semiconductor devices hence a difference in their consumed
lifetime. That is the main reason that topologies that promise an even distribution among their
components are being investigated in this project.

2.6 3-level H-bridge (3L-HB) Converter or Full-Bridge Converter


The 3-level H-bridge consists of two single-leg converters or it can be said that it is the
combination of two half-bridge converters. As seen in Figure 2-4, it is also used in back-to-
back configuration in a wind turbine system. Its unique feature is that it needs only half of the
DC-link voltage to produce the same voltage output as any other 3-level converter [2].
However the switches it employs need to have a voltage rating equal to the total of the DC-
link voltage.

Figure 2-4 Three-level H-bridge back-to-back configuration [15]

An advantage that the H-bridge topology offers is the equal distribution of losses among its
power electronic components [21]. Furthermore compared to the 3-level NPC converter the
diodes that clamp the neutral point are omitted as there is no longer need for a middle point
at the DC-link. That also eliminates the need of multiple DC-link capacitors that are necessary
to fix the middle point [22].

On the other hand, in a 3-phased 3-level H-bridge converter the absence of a neutral or
reference point dictates the use of open winding on both sides of the configuration. And even
though this feature isolates each phase from the others and automatically adds to the fault
tolerant ability of the topology, it certainly has some disadvantages. These include the cost
requirements that are created by the additional cable used as well as the extra inductance
and capacitance as a result of the added cable length [15]. The open-windings transformer
also decreases the level of efficiency of the overall system and adds-up to the weight and
volume of the configuration [23]. In addition to these, the need to block the zero sequence
current adds to the complexity of the configuration as particular components and control
methods need to be employed [15].

However the fact that the H-bridge converters end to an open winding, makes them suitable
candidates for modular generator windings which is a concept that gains more and more
attention lately. Concisely the stator windings are designed as modular parts of the generator
each of which can be separately connected to a converter. This could not only increase the

13
Multilevel Power Electronic Converters

reliability of the system by sharing the generator load to more converter blocks but also
provide the system with fault tolerance. This is based on the fact that any failure to either a
part of the generator or one of the converters would not prohibit the overall function of the
turbine, but could be isolated by the rest of the system. The turbine could thus continue its
operation uninterrupted with a reduced production capability.

2.7 3-level T-type converter (3L-T2C)


The 3-level T-type converter is a topology that combines the structural and operational
characteristics of the 2-level VSC and the 3-level NPC converter. Structurally, the 3-level T-
type converter can be considered a development of the 2-level VSC with an extension of one
bidirectional switch to clamp the neutral point of the DC-link as can be seen in Figure 2-5 [24].

Figure 2-5 Three-level T-type converter back-to-back configuration

In terms of material usage the T-type converter is one of the most economic topologies as
each phase leg includes 4 IGBT switches, only two more compared to the 2-level VSC. One
should add to that that the rating of these additional IGBT modules have half the rating of the
outer ones. On the other hand compared to the 3-level NPC converter, T-type employs two
less diodes per phase leg [25]. Already from that perspective it appears that the 3-level T-type
converter combines the advantages of the 2-level VSC with the ones of a 3-level converter
[24].

In a comparison with the 3-level NPC topology, the 3L-T2C shows remarkable efficiency for low
switching frequencies as well, as a result of its low conduction losses [24]. Additionally, it
employs less power electronic components compared to any other 3-level converter and its
switching and function principle is rather straight-forward and simple. At the same time,
compared to a 2-level converter the 3L-T2C has a 3-level voltage output reducing filtering
requirements. Moreover, its switching losses also show a considerable improvement
compared to the 2-level voltage source converter [25].

A unique feature of the T-type VSC is that it can employ switches of two different voltage
ratings. During its operation, its outer switches are called to block the full dc-link voltage,
similarly to a 2-level VSC and have to be designed and selected accordingly. The two middle
switches, on the other hand, share the voltage loading and thus can be designed to have half
the voltage rating of the two outer switches. The reduced blocking voltage capability of the

14
Multilevel Power Electronic Converters

middle switches are the reason for the lower switching losses the restriction of the conduction
losses to an acceptable level, even though the current passes through two switches in series
[26].

2.8 Preliminary Comparison of the Examined Converter Configurations


In order to offer a rather integrated image of the configurations under examination of
converters for wind turbine systems an initial comparison is put together. This comparison is
summarized in Table 2-1.
Table 2-1 Comparison of the examined back-to-back configurations for wind turbines

Topology 2L-VSC 3L-NPC 3L-ANPC 3L-HB 3L-T2C


Types of
1 1 1 1 2
Switches
IGBTs number 12 24 36 24 24
Diodes number 12 36 36 24 24
DC-link voltage Vdc Vdc Vdc Vdc 2 Vdc
Switch voltage Vdc (12),
Vdc Vdc 2 Vdc 2 Vdc 2
rating Vdc 2 (12)
Switch current I ph I ph I ph I ph I ph
rating
12 Vdc I ph  12 Vdc I ph  18 Vdc I ph  12 Vdc I ph  18 Vdc I ph 
Switch Net
Rating
12 Vdc I ph  18 Vdc I ph  18 Vdc I ph  12 Vdc I ph  18 Vdc I ph 
Diode Net
Rating
Fault tolerance No No No Yes No
Output
Standard Standard Standard Open-winding Standard
Connection
PWM-1,PWM-2,
PWM Methods Bipolar-PWM PD-PWM PWM-DF, Unipolar-PWM PD-PWM
PWM-ALD
Half DC-link
Good
Most used voltage needed,
Mature Improved loss efficiency,
Advantages technology, No need for
Technology distribution Less power
Economical intermediate DC
components
points
Need for neutral Complex Needs more
Extensive Zero-sequence
DC-point, controller, switches for
Disadvantages losses on two current blocking,
Unequal loss Expensive, middle
components Longer Cables
distribution Same efficiency voltages

From this initial comparison several things stand out from first sight. It should be clarified at
this point that this comparison is aimed for configurations that offer the same power output
towards the grid. From the examined configurations only 3L-T2C employs more than one type
of switches in terms of power rating with half of the switches being rated for half the DC-link
voltage and the rest of the switches for the total of 𝑉𝑑𝑐 . The 3-level ANPC converter utilizes
the most power electronic components compared to all other 3-level converters with 6

15
Multilevel Power Electronic Converters

switches per phase leg. Moreover, even though the NPC configuration has the same number
of diodes due to the two clamping diodes per phase leg, there are two less IGBT switches per
phase leg compared to the ANPC converter topology.

Additionally, from the examined converters only the H-bridge can produce the same output
with half voltage across the DC-link. This is constitutes a significant advantage taking into
consideration that the power rating of the capacitors that have to be employed for the dc-link
reduces to half, decreasing thus cost. Regarding the total power rating of the components, it
is at its highest in the ANPC and T-type converters. In the first because of the number of its
components and in the second because of its need to use half of the switches with a higher
voltage rating. Finally, as far as the output connection is concerned, the H-bridge topology is
the only one that does not interconnect with the standard connection but utilizes an open
winding connection which equips the topology with fault-tolerance capability.

In general, it is observed that when it comes to the converter net power rating of the
semiconductor devices there are no significant differences among the described converter
topologies. That indicates that there are no major cost differences at least regarding the
power electronics, from converter to converter. As a result an almost common reference basis
is created upon the different examined topologies can be evaluated according to their
reliability.

16
Converter Performance characteristics

3 Converter Performance characteristics


In the previous chapter, basic knowledge and comprehension is developed around the basic
characteristics and structural features of different converter topologies. Nevertheless, in
order for a detailed representation of the converter losses to be realized the switching
strategies of these converters have to be analyzed. In this chapter, a thorough investigation
on the particularities of each switching technique offers an insight to the power losses
distribution among the power electronic components.

3.1 Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) of three-phased voltage source


converters
The most common control strategy for a 2-level VS converter but also for most of the
multilevel converters is the pulse width modulation technique (PWM). In PWM a control signal
is constantly is compared to a switching-frequency triangular waveform resulting in the
generation of the switching signals. In a three-phase inverter the same triangular waveform is
compared with three sinusoidal control voltages with a phase difference of 120o between
them. The line-to-line voltage is the outcome of the subtraction of one phase voltage from
the other [22].

Figure 3-1 Three-phase PWM waveforms for a 2-level VSC [22]

In Figure 3-1 the relevant waveforms are being presented for the case of a 2-level voltage
source converter. The produced output voltage waveforms are drawn given the fact that the
ground reference of the voltages is connected to the bottom part of the dc link of the
converter. As a consequence the output voltage contains a dc-component. If the reference is
connected to the middle point of the DC-link (provided that two capacitors could distribute

17
Converter Performance characteristics

the DC voltage equally) then the voltage output is of sinusoidal form with a mean value of
zero. This clarification is necessary for the comparison of the 2-level VSC with the multilevel
converter topologies that follow. The phase voltage of the converter is essentially configured
by the duty ratio of the IGBT switches of each phase. Therefore the duty ratio is regulated so
that it can produce the desired output which in the case of the generator side converter is
adjusted to the generator output. At the grid-side converter the produced voltage must be
regulated with the required input voltage requirements of the transformer.

3.2 Division and discretization of time in power converter function


For the conduction and switching losses to be calculated, the function routine of the converter
must be divided to discrete time intervals. According to these time intervals, the fraction of
each period during each component conducts is determined. This is a very important
prerequisite so that according to the conduction and the switching routine of the components
of each converter, a representative power loss model can be built. To reach to the desired
result and conclusion over the conduction time interval of each switch, three different criteria
of time division and discretization are used in this paper:

Discretization to positive and negative cycle

The first way of time discretization and division of the power output is dependent on the
voltage waveform. According to this criterion a period is divided to two halves. The time
interval during which the voltage output is larger than zero (or above the average voltage
value) is referred to as positive cycle and the time interval during which the voltage is lower
than zero (or below the average voltage value) is from now on called negative cycle.

Discretization according to states

Each one of those the two voltage cycles is characterized by a different series of occurrences
or “states”. A state represents a unique combination of statuses of the converter switches
that can occur during a voltage period. Each different valid combination of turned-on and off
IGBT switches composes a state. Those states usually occur in a specific alternation sequence
that produces the output voltage. In many cases, certain states occur only during a particular
half of a voltage cycle, but it also happens that a state can occur in both positive and negative
cycle.

Discretization to positive and negative current

The third criterion is the current direction. Current in power converters is not always in phase
with the voltage. Especially in wind turbines where the power factor is rarely equal to 1 and
reactive power plays an important role, there is almost always a phase difference between
the waveforms of voltage and current as can be seen in Figure 3-2. Apart from that, power
converters are bidirectional power devices. In multilevel converters the IGBT switches ensure
the continuous conduction by providing the capability of bidirectional power flow with the
help of the antiparallel diodes. This means that when an IGBT switch is turned on, either the
switch or the respective antiparallel diode is conducting in accordance with the current
direction.

Considering the above mentioned criteria, a typical period is divided to:

 a positive and a negative cycle, according to the voltage output

18
Converter Performance characteristics

 different states which represent different switching combination of the switches


 positive and negative current time intervals,

as can be seen in Figure 3-2.

Figure 3-2 Qualitative time division of voltage and current waveforms of a converter

3.3 Switching strategy for the 2-level VSC


The 2-level VSC, as its name dictates, can produce only two voltage levels (𝑉𝑑𝑐 and 0) and the
total current passes through one component at each moment. The duty cycles of the 2
switches are complementary which means that the sum of their duty cycles is always equal to
1. Additionally the topology of the converter is symmetrical which means that their duty cycles
are characterized by the same pattern with a phase difference of half a period or 180o. In
terms of power losses and thermal loading the components of the upper half of the converter
is expected to be equally loaded with the ones of the lower half. During the positive cycle, the
duty ratio of the upper switch is higher than the corresponding of the lower switch and during
the negative cycle the inverse occurs. The converter, therefore, produces the sinusoidal half
of the output with voltage values above the mean value 𝑉𝑑𝑐 /2. It is then self-explanatory
that in order for the lower half of the output to be produced the exact same switching pattern
is followed by the lower switch of the topology.

For the calculation of the conduction and switching losses the procedure that is mentioned in
paragraph 3.2 must first take place. When the conduction time intervals of each switch are
found, then its switching and conduction losses can be expressed as a function of its
conduction time. In Table 3-1 the two switch states of the 2-level VSC are listed with reference
to the switches as presented in Figure 3-3 together with the corresponding output phase
voltage. For this calculation, the dc-component of the output voltage is omitted for the sake
of simplicity of reference.

19
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-1 Switches states of a 2-level Voltage Source Converter

State Vout S1 S2
P Vdc 2 1 0
N Vdc 2 0 1

Figure 3-3 Phase leg of a 2-level voltage source converter

For the converter then it can be deduced that:

 During the positive cycle the duty ratio of the switches as a function of voltage output
is given by equations (3-1)-(3-3).

Vdc V
Vout  d1   d 2  dc (3-1)
2 2
Vout
1
Vdc 2 (3-2)
d1 
2
d 2  1  d1 (3-3)

 During the negative cycle the duty ratio of the switches as a function of voltage output
is given by equations (3-4) and (3-5).

Vout
 1
Vdc 2 (3-4)
d2 
2
d1  1  d 2 (3-5)

where d1 and d 2 are the duty ratios of switches S1 and S2. Table 3-2 summarizes the duty ratios
of the switches of the converter.

20
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-2 Duty ratios of switches of the 2-level VSC

Positive Cycle Negative Cycle


Vout Vout
1  1
Vdc 2 Vdc 2
d1  d2 
2 2
d 2  1  d1 d1  1  d 2

If all the different possible combinations of the three available criteria are listed as done in
Table 3-3, then the voltage period of conduction can be broken down to all the different
eventualities. Analyzing these with the help of the circuit of Figure 3-3 a list of all the
conducting components at each time interval can be made.
Table 3-3 Conducting components during function of 2-level VSC

Conducting
State Current
Components
P I out  0 S1
P I out  0 D1
N I out  0 S2
N I out  0 D2

In Table 3-3 the cycle is omitted as the same states (P and N) occur both in positive and
negative cycle. In other words, the voltage period consists of a continuous alternation
between P and N state. What changes from positive to negative voltage cycle is the duty ratios
of the switches that define the duration of states P and N. However this is not the case for the
rest of the multilevel converters. It should be stated, at this point, that when the current
direction is from the dc-link towards the output of the converter, the output current is taken
as positive.

Following the above data, the fraction of the switching period during which each component
conducts (hence is subjected to conduction losses) can be determined. This can be realized
with the help of the duty ratios of the switches and the current direction of the converter. The
duty ratios of the switches serve both as quantitative variables and parts of Boolean
conditions. The current direction is as well used as a means of segregation between the time
intervals that the switches are on and the IGBTs conducting and the period fractions that the
switches are on but their antiparallel diodes conduct. Therefore the part of each period that
each component conducts is summarized in Table 3-4.
Table 3-4 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 2-level VSC conducts

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0   d1  Ts D1  I out  0   d1  Ts
S2  I out  0   d 2  Ts D2  I out  0   d 2  Ts
Regarding the switching frequency of the components of the 2-level VSC, the calculation is
quite straight-forward, as both switches switch on and off during a switching period. However
switching losses occur only at the component which is conducting. Therefore, the current

21
Converter Performance characteristics

direction decides whether the switching losses occur at the diode or the switch. It has to be
mentioned that transition from IGBT conduction to antiparallel diode conduction can be
considered as soft switching, as the current becomes zero during this transition. If Esw is the
energy loss that is dissipated during a switch-on and off of a component, then the switching
losses are given in Table 3-5.
Table 3-5 Switching losses of components of 2-level VSC

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0   f s  Esw D1  I out  0   f s  Esw
S2  I out  0   f s  Esw D2  I out  0   f s  Esw
In Table 3-5 𝑓𝑠 is the switching frequency, while (𝐼𝑜𝑢𝑡 > 0) and (𝐼𝑜𝑢𝑡 < 0) are Boolean
expressions that are equal to 1 if they apply and equal to 0 if not.

3.4 Switching strategy for the 3-level NPC converter


As already stated, the 3-level NPC converter apart from the “P” and “N” states introduces a
“zero” or “0” state as well. In this topology this state is unique and can be acquired from only
one combination of switches turned on and off. All the available commutation states are listed
in Table 3-6. The PWM switching pattern and sequence of states are depicted in Figure 3-5. Sr
is the sinusoidal output voltage reference modulation signal generated from the current-loop
controller that is compared to the triangular wave.

Figure 3-4 Phase leg of a 3-level NPC converter

The zero state both in the positive and negative cycle is being acquired by switching on
switches S2 and S3. The inductive load current direction is the factor that determines which
path is followed in its conduction [19]. For each current direction there is one unique path for
the current to follow and that is due to the existence of the diodes that prohibit conduction
towards reverse bias. Positive state is given from turning on switches S1 and S2 and the
negative state from S3 and S4 respectively. From Figure 3-5 it is concluded that during the
positive cycle an alternation between the positive “P” and zero “0” state. During the negative
cycle the same alternation occurs between the negative and zero state. S2 stays ON during the
positive cycle as it conducts during both occurring states. The same happens with its

22
Converter Performance characteristics

symmetrical switch S3 during the negative cycle. That means that any switching losses burden
only the outer switches S1 and S4 during the positive and negative cycle correspondingly. With
increasing frequency this unequal distribution of losses deteriorates [18].
Table 3-6 Switches States of 3-level NPC converter

State Vout S1 S2 S3 S4
P Vdc 2 1 1 0 0
0 0 0 1 1 0
N Vdc 2 0 0 1 1

Figure 3-5 Sinusoidal PWM of 3-level NPC half-bridge converter, (a) Sr >0 , (b) Sr <0

Taking into consideration Figure 3-5 and Table 3-6 then for the 3-level NPC converter the duty
ratios of the switches for both positive and negative cycle of the converter are listed in Table
3-7.
Table 3-7 Duty ratios of switches of the 3-level NPC converter

Positive Cycle Negative Cycle


Vout
d1  d1  0
Vdc 2
d2  1 d2  1  d4
d3  1  d1 d3  1
Vout
d4  0 d4  
Vdc 2

In Table 3-7 𝑑1 , 𝑑2 , 𝑑3 , 𝑑4 are the duty ratios of switches S1 – S4. Again all the different possible
combinations of the three discretization criteria are listed in Table 3-8. Analyzing these with

23
Converter Performance characteristics

the help of the circuit of Figure 3-4 a list of all the conducting components at each time interval
is made.
Table 3-8 Conducting components during function of the 3-level NPC converter

Cycle State Current Conducting Components

Positive P I out  0 S1 S2
Positive P I out  0 D1 D2
0 I out  0 S2 D5
0 I out  0 S3 D6
Negative N I out  0 D3 D4
Negative N I out  0 S3 S4

It can be seen that during positive cycle 𝑑4 = 0 and during negative cycle 𝑑1 = 0. It would be,
therefore, valid if in order to refer to the cycles, these equations are used as Boolean
expressions. Additionally the conducting dividend of the period has to be determined also for
the two additional diodes D5 and D6. These conduct only during zero state and according to
the current direction. Thus, their “duty ratio” can be defined as the time intervals in which
zero state occurs and the current is towards their forward bias direction.

Following the above data, the fraction of the switching period during which each component
conducts (hence is subjected to conduction losses) can again be determined. Therefore the
part of each period that each component conducts is being summarized in Table 3-9.

Table 3-9 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level NPC converter conducts

Switches:
S1  d 4  0    I out  0   d1  Ts
S2  d 4  0    I out  0    d1  0    I out  0   d 2   Ts

S3  d1  0    I out  0    d 4  0    I out  0   d 3   Ts

S4  d1  0    I out  0   d 4  Ts
Diodes:
D1  d 4  0    I out  0   d1  Ts
D2  d 4  0    I out  0   d1  Ts
D3  d1  0    I out  0   d 4  Ts
D4  d1  0    I out  0   d 4  Ts
D5  d 4  0    I out  0   d 3   d1  0    I out  0   d 2   Ts

D6  d 4  0    I out  0   d 3   d1  0    I out  0   d 2   Ts

24
Converter Performance characteristics

Regarding the switching losses those occur from the sequence of the states and thus the
conducting components. The switching losses for a 3-level NPC converter are given in Table
3-10.
Table 3-10 Switching losses of components of the 3-level NPC converter

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw D1  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw
S2  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw D2 f v  Esw
S3  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw D3 f v  Esw
S4  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw D4  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw
D5  I out  0   f s  Esw
D6  I out  0   f s  Esw
In Table 3-10 expressions like 𝑑4 = 0 are Boolean expressions that are equal to 1 if they apply
and equal to 0 if not. 𝑓𝑣 is the voltage frequency.

3.5 Switching strategies of the 3-level Active-NPC converter


The multiple combinations that the ANPC converter can employ to achieve zero state give also
multiple possibilities for switching strategies. As has already been mentioned, the total
conduction and switching losses of the ANPC topology cannot at any case be much less than
the conduction losses of the NPC topology. Therefore the strategies that are chosen to be
studied have as an ultimate purpose the even distribution of the conduction losses among the
power electronic components of the converter. Some of them attempt a slight decrease of
switching losses on certain components. However, the amount of total losses among the
different 3-level topologies and among the different strategies appears to be almost the same.

The different switching strategies that are studied are the most common among the most
used ones. In the paragraphs that follow four of them are analyzed.

3.5.1 PWM-1 switching strategy


In strategy PWM-1 as it is referred in [19] the switches of the topology can be divided in two
groups according to their switching frequency. The outer switches S1 and S4 (Figure 3-6) along
with the switches that clamp S5 and S6 the neutral point switch on and off at a higher frequency
whereas the inner switches switch at a lower frequency. This occurs because the inner
switches (and their respective diodes) stay on or off during the extent of each cycle and
therefore the switching frequency of those switches is the voltage frequency.

25
Converter Performance characteristics

Figure 3-6 Phase leg of a 3-level ANPC converter

In Figure 3-7 the PWM-1 strategy is displayed where Sr is the reference voltage that is
compared to the triangular carrier waves. P and N switching states continue to produce 𝑉𝑑𝑐 /2
and −𝑉𝑑𝑐 /2 voltage levels respectively since the reference voltage is taken from the neutral
point. For these two states the components that conduct are the same with the NPC
converter. This can be validated from Table 3-11.

Table 3-11 Switches States of PWM-1 strategy of 3-level ANPC converter

State Vout S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6
P Vdc 2 1 1 0 0 0 0
+
0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
0- 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
N Vdc 2 0 0 1 1 0 0

However from Figure 3-7 and Table 3-11 it is obvious that there are two different zero states,
0+ and 0-, that are employed at different half cycles of a voltage period and are achieved by a
different combination of switches. For 0+ S2 and S5 have to be turned on while for 0- S3 and S6
must be turned on. At this point the additional feature of the ANPC converter is already visible
as IGBT modules 5 and 6 that have replaced the diodes of NPC converter can conduct the load
current in both directions.

26
Converter Performance characteristics

Figure 3-7 Sinusoidal PWM-1 for 3L-ANPC converter, (a) Sr >0 , (b) Sr <0

Taking into account the above then for the PWM-1 strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter the
duty ratios of the switches for both positive and negative cycle of the converter are listed in
Table 3-12.
Table 3-12 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM-1 strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter

Positive Cycle Negative Cycle


Vout
d1  d1  0
Vdc 2
d2  1 d2  0
d3  0 d3  1
Vout
d4  0 d4  
Vdc 2
d5  1  d1 d5  0
d6  0 d6  1  d 4

In Table 3-12, 𝑑1 , 𝑑2 , … , 𝑑6 are the duty ratios of switches S1 – S6. All the different possible
combinations of the three discretization criteria are listed in Table 3-13. Analyzing these with
the help of the circuit of Figure 3-6 a list of all the conducting components at each time interval
is made.

27
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-13 Conducting components during function of the 3-level ANPC converter forPWM-1 switching strategy

Cycle State Current Conducting Components

Positive P I out  0 S1 S2
Positive P I out  0 D1 D2
Positive 0+ I out  0 S2 D5
Positive 0+ I out  0 S5 D2
Negative 0- I out  0 S6 D3
Negative 0- I out  0 S3 D6
Negative N I out  0 D3 D4
Negative N I out  0 S3 S4

It can be seen that during positive cycle 𝑑4 = 0 and during negative cycle 𝑑1 = 0. It would be,
therefore, valid if in order to refer to the cycles, these equations are used as Boolean
expressions. With the same philosophy, in order to be able to refer to the conduction dividend
of each state during a cycle Table 3-14 is also constructed.
Table 3-14 Conduction dividend of each state of strategy PWM-1

State Conduction dividend


N d4
0-  d1  0   d 6
0+  d 4  0   d5
P d1

Following the above data, the fraction of the switching period during which each component
conducts (hence is subjected to conduction losses) can be determined. Therefore the part of
each period that each component conducts during PWM-1 is being summarized in Table 3-15.
Table 3-15 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level ANPC converter conducts during
PWM-1 switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0   d1  Ts D1  I out  0   d1  Ts
S2  I out  0   d 2  Ts D2  I out  0   d 2  Ts
S3  I out  0   d3  Ts D3  I out  0   d3  Ts
S4  I out  0   d 4  Ts D4  I out  0   d 4  Ts
S5  I out  0   d5  Ts D5  I out  0   d5  Ts
S6  I out  0   d6  Ts D6  I out  0   d6  Ts
Regarding the switching losses those occur from the sequence of the states and thus the
conducting components. The switching losses for the PWM-1 switching strategy of the 3-level
ANPC converter are given in Table 3-16.

28
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-16 Switching losses of components of the 3-level ANPC converter during PWM-1 switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw D1  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw
S2 f v  Esw D2 f v  Esw
S3 f v  Esw D3 f v  Esw
S4  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw D4  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw
S5  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw D5  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw
S6  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw D6  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw
In Table 3-16 f v is the voltage frequency of the output of the converter.

3.5.2 PWM-2 switching strategy


In strategy PWM-2 which is also referred in [19], the switches of the topology can again be
divided in two groups according to their switching frequency. This time only the inner switches
S2 and S3 (Figure 3-6) switch a higher frequency whereas the rest of the switches switch at the
voltage frequency.

Figure 3-8 Sinusoidal PWM-2 for 3L-ANPC converter, (a) Sr >0 , (b) Sr <0

What is characteristic of this switching strategy is that at each state there is a switch that is
turned on but is not conducting therefore not actively contributing to the modulation of the
output. This is done so that the switching losses of certain switches can be avoided during
certain commutations. Therefore, at each moment in time three switches are on, the two
conducting and one spare that is about to switch on during the next commutation. With the
help of Table 3-17 and Figure 3-8 it can be seen that at the alternation between states P and
0+ of the positive cycle, S5 stays on during P state, so that when commutation P0+ occurs

29
Converter Performance characteristics

that utilizes switch S5 no switching losses affect this switch. At each commutation there is
therefore a switch that is not subjected to switching losses.
Table 3-17 Switches States of PWM-2 strategy of 3-level ANPC converter

State Vout S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6
P Vdc 2 1 1 0 0 0 1
0+ 0 1 0 1 0 0 1
0- 0 0 1 0 1 1 0
N Vdc 2 0 0 1 1 1 0

According to that strategy all states are being achieved by different combinations of switches
on and off. Conclusively that is the very reason that four out of the six switches of the topology
have a switching frequency equal to the voltage frequency. Taking into consideration the
above then for the PWM-2 strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter the duty ratios of the
switches for both positive and negative cycle of the converter are listed in Table 3-18.
Table 3-18 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM-2 strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter

Positive Cycle Negative Cycle


d1  1 d1  0
Vout
d2  d2  1  d3
Vdc 2
 V 
d3  1  d2 d3    out 
 Vdc 2 
d4  0 d4  1
d5  0 d5  1
d6  1 d6  0
In Table 3-18, 𝑑1 , 𝑑2 , … , 𝑑6 are the duty ratios of switches S1 – S6. All possible combinations of
the three discretization criteria are listed in Table 3-19 .
Table 3-19 Conducting components during function of the 3-level ANPC converter for PWM-2 switching strategy

Cycle State Current Conducting Components


Positive P I out  0 S1 S2 S6
Positive P I out  0 D1 D2 S6
Positive 0+ I out  0 S6 D3 S1
Positive 0 +
I out  0 S3 D6 S1
Negative 0- I out  0 S2 D5 S4
Negative 0- I out  0 S5 D2 S4
Negative N I out  0 D3 D4 S5
Negative N I out  0 S3 S4 S5

30
Converter Performance characteristics

Analyzing these with the help of the circuit of Figure 3-6 a list of all the conducting components
at each time interval is made. With grey color the components that are turned on but are not
conducting are marked.

It can be seen that during positive cycle 𝑑4 = 0 and during negative cycle 𝑑1 = 0. It would be,
therefore, valid if in order to refer to the cycles, these equations are used as Boolean
expressions. With the same principle, in order to be able to refer to the conduction dividend
of each state during a cycle Table 3-20 is constructed.
Table 3-20 Conduction dividend of each state of strategy PWM-2

State Conduction dividend


N  d1  0   d3
0-  d1  0   d 2
0+  d 4  0   d3
P  d4  0  d2
Following the above data, the fraction of the switching period during which each component
conducts (hence is subjected to conduction losses) can be determined. Therefore the part of
each period that each component conducts during PWM-2 is being summarized in Table 3-21.
Table 3-21 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level ANPC converter conducts during
PWM-2 switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0    d 4  0   d 2  Ts D1  I out  0    d 4  0   d 2  Ts
S2  I out  0   d 2  Ts D2  I out  0   d 2  Ts
S3  I out  0   d3  Ts D3  I out  0   d3  Ts
S4  I out  0    d1  0   d3  Ts D4  I out  0    d1  0   d3  Ts
S5  I out  0    d1  0   d 2  Ts D5  I out  0    d1  0   d 2  Ts
S6  I out  0    d 4  0   d3  Ts D6  I out  0    d 4  0   d3  Ts
Regarding the switching losses those occur from the sequence of the states and thus the
conducting components. As it has already been discussed, all other components apart from S2
and S3 have a switching frequency equal to the voltage frequency of the converter. The
switching losses for the PWM-2 switching strategy of a 3-level ANPC converter are given in
Table 3-22.
Table 3-22 Switching losses of components of the 3-level ANPC converter during PWM-2 switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1 f v  Esw D1 f v  Esw
S2  I out  0   f s  Esw D2  I out  0   f s  Esw
S3  I out  0   f s  Esw D3  I out  0   f s  Esw
S4 f v  Esw D4 f v  Esw
S5 f v  Esw D5 f v  Esw
S6 f v  Esw D6 f v  Esw

31
Converter Performance characteristics

3.5.3 Natural Doubling of the Apparent Switching, PWM-DF


The third proposed switching strategy for ANPC as proposed by [19] and [27] and mentioned
by [18] proposes a different PWM technique compared to the already analyzed PWM-1 and
PWM-2 but at the same time it is a combination of them. In this PWM strategy the output
phase voltage has an apparent switching frequency that is double the switching frequency,
even though all switches do not switch more than once per switching period. This feature
enables this switching strategy to produce the same output as any other ANPC PWM strategy
with only half of the switching frequency that would normally be used. For this particular
reason this switching strategy is referred to as PWM-DF (double frequency) as the
commutation sequences cause a natural doubling of the apparent switching frequency [18],
[19].

As seen in Figure 3-9 the reference voltage signal Sr is now compared with two different
carrier waves which have a phase difference of Ts 2 . This feature increases the number of
possible states as the switches can switch according to the comparison between the reference
voltage and either one of the two carrier waves. Indeed in this switching strategy there are
four different zero states 01-, 02-, 01+ and 02+ as can be seen in Table 3-23. 01-, 02- are only
obtained during the negative cycle and 01+ and 02+ during the positive cycle.

Figure 3-9 PWM-DF strategy for 3L-ANPC converter, (a) Sr>0, (b) Sr<0

This switching strategy as well has some additional switches on during some of the states to
avoid switching losses during commutations. Thus, at P state S1 and S2 switches are on to
conduct the load current and S6 is also on so that the switching losses of the commutation
P02+ are avoided. In 02+ the same happens with switch S1. However in state 02+ only the two
necessary switches for the conduction are on, since it is not needed to switch on spare
switches in order to avoid losses. The on and off states of the switches are listed in Table 3-23.

32
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-23 Switches States of PWM-DF strategy of 3-level ANPC converter

State Vout S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6
P Vdc 2 1 1 0 0 0 1
01+ 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
02+ 0 1 0 1 0 0 1
01- 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
02- 0 0 1 0 1 1 0
N Vdc 2 0 0 1 1 1 0

The improvement of static conversion for reference voltage values close to the zero is an
additional advantage of the PWM-DF strategy. The operation of the converter does not get
affected by the dead times for 𝑆𝑟 ≅ 0, because the commutations involve different couples
of switches [19]. According to Figure 3-9 it can be deduced that during the positive cycle the
duty ratio of the switches as a function of voltage output is given by equations (3-6)-(3-8).

Vdc
Vout   d1  d3   (3-6)
2
d3  d5  1  d1 (3-7)
Vout
1
Vdc 2 (3-8)
d1 
2
The same applies for 𝑑4 during the negative cycle. The rest of the duty ratios of the switches
for both positive and negative cycle of the converter are given by Table 3-24.
Table 3-24 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM-DF strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter

Positive Cycle Negative Cycle


V
1  out
Vdc 2 d1  0
d1 
2
d2  d1 d2  1  d4
d3  1  d1 d3  d 4
 V 
1    out 
d4  0 d4   Vdc 2 
2
d5  1  d1 d5  d 4
d6  d1 d6  1  d 4
In Table 3-24, 𝑑1 , 𝑑2 , … , 𝑑6 are the duty ratios of switches S1 – S6. All the different possible
combinations of the three discretization criteria are listed in Table 3-25 . Analyzing these with
the help of the circuit of Figure 3-6 a list of all the conducting components at each time interval
is made. With grey color the components that are turned on but are not conducting are
marked.

33
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-25 Conducting components during function of the 3-level ANPC converter for PWM-DF switching strategy

Cycle State Current Conducting Components


Positive P I out  0 S1 S2 S6
Positive P I out  0 D1 D2 S6
Positive 01+ I out  0 S2 D5 -
Positive 01+ I out  0 S5 D2 -
Positive 02+ I out  0 S6 D3 S1
Positive 02+ I out  0 S3 D6 S1
Negative 01- I out  0 S6 D3 -
Negative 01- I out  0 S3 D6 -
Negative 02- I out  0 S2 D5 S4
Negative 02- I out  0 S5 D2 S4
Negative N I out  0 D3 D4 S5
Negative N I out  0 S3 S4 S5

It can be seen that during positive cycle 𝑑4 = 0 and during negative cycle 𝑑1 = 0. It would be,
therefore, valid if in order to refer to the cycles, these equations are used as Boolean
expressions. With the same principle, in order to be able to refer to the conduction dividend
of each state during a cycle Table 3-26 is constructed.
Table 3-26 Conduction dividend of each state of strategy PWM-DF

State Conduction dividend


N  d1  0    d 4  d 2 
01-  d1  0   d 6
02-  d1  0   d 2
01+  d 4  0   d5
02+  d 4  0   d3
P  d 4  0    d1  d3 
Following the above data, the fraction of the switching period during which each component
conducts (hence is subjected to conduction losses) can be determined. Therefore the part of
each switching period that each component conducts during PWM-DF is being summarized in
Table 3-27.

34
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-27 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level ANPC converter conducts during
PWM-DF switching strategy

Switches:
S1  d 4  0    d1  d3    I out  0   Ts
S2  d 4  0   d5   d 4  0    d1  d 3    d1  0   d 2    I out  0   Ts

S3  d 4  0   d3   d1  0    d 4  d 2    d1  0   d 6    I out  0   Ts

S4  d1  0    d 4  d 2    I out  0   Ts
S5  d 4  0   d 5   d1  0   d 2    I out  0   Ts

S6  d 4  0   d 3   d1  0   d 6    I out  0   Ts
Diodes:
D1  d 4  0    d1  d3    I out  0   Ts
D2  d 4  0   d5   d 4  0    d1  d 3    d1  0   d 2    I out  0   Ts

D3  d 4  0   d3   d1  0    d 4  d 2    d1  0   d 6    I out  0   Ts

D4  d1  0    d 4  d 2    I out  0   Ts
D5  d 4  0   d 5   d1  0   d 2    I out  0   Ts

D6  d 4  0   d 3   d1  0   d 6    I out  0   Ts

Regarding the switching losses those occur from the sequence of the states and thus the
conducting components. The switching losses for the PWM-DF switching strategy of a 3-level
ANPC converter are given in Table 3-22.
Table 3-28 Switching losses of components of the 3-level ANPC converter during PWM-DF switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1  d 4  0    I out  0   f s  Esw D1  d 4  0    I out  0   f s  Esw
S2  I out  0   f s  Esw D2  I out  0   f s  Esw
S3  I out  0   f s  Esw D3  I out  0   f s  Esw
S4  d1  0    I out  0   f s  Esw D4  d1  0    I out  0   f s  Esw
S5  I out  0   f s  Esw D5  I out  0   f s  Esw
S6  I out  0   f s  Esw D6  I out  0   f s  Esw

3.5.4 Adjustable Load Distribution (ALD) ANPC PWM Strategy


All the aforementioned switching strategies attempt to distribute the losses evenly but even
so the switching losses of the converter are concentrated either on the outer or the inner
switches. In [18] a new PWM strategy is proposed that promises to even out any differences
in the losses distribution between the switches.

In the ALD ANPC strategy an additional signal is produced on top of the usual reference voltage
signal Sr. PWM modulation voltage signal Sr’ (Figure 3-10) is the result of the addition of a
signal Sradd synchronous to the original reference voltage signal Sr. This creates a signal Sr’ that
is synchronized with Sr but its amplitude is slightly increased. Therefore if a switch uses as a
modulation signal Sr’ instead of Sr, it is easily understood that its switching behaviour changes.
During the positive cycle the switch switches-on earlier, switches-off later and its duty ratio

35
Converter Performance characteristics

hence increases. During the negative cycle the exact opposite occurs, with the switch
switching-on later and switching-off earlier than it would have following the original Sr
reference voltage signal.

Figure 3-10 PWM, switches states and output voltage of ALD strategy, (a) Sr > 0 stress-in mode, (b) Sr < 0 stress-in
mode, (c) Sr > 0 stress-out mode, (d) Sr < 0 stress-out mode.

Ultimate goal of this switching technique is not to change the conduction time of the switch
but to restrict the amount of total switching losses in the converter. In a normal case in which
two switches would switch on simultaneously to produce a state, they would normally be both
subjected to an amount of switching losses as they would be both run through by the load
current. But if one of the switches would switch on slightly earlier than the other, then it would
skip any switching losses. The same happens with switching off when the same switch turns-
off later than the other. Bringing this from a single commutation to PWM level, it is obvious
that by determining which switches follow Sr and which Sr’, the controller can select on which
switch the switching losses are concentrated. It can thus stress more the inner switches or the
outer ones according to which switches are heavier loaded. Within this philosophy, there are
two different modes in the ALD ANPC strategy, stress-in and stress-out mode as displayed in
Figure 3-10. The use of Sr’ does not change the modulation index, as both switches have to be
on during a state for the current to pass through. Therefore the conduction is being
determined by the switch that uses Sr [18].

For example, if a converter uses stress-in mode, then during the positive cycle, S1 follows Sr’
modulation signal and S2 follows Sr. As a result during the commutation from 0+ state to P S1
turns-on first and S2 follows after a while. Then S1 is not loaded with any switching losses and
S2 is more stressed. This, however, does not have any impact on the output phase voltage or
current as the conduction time of S2 defines the moment when P state starts.

36
Converter Performance characteristics

The amplitude of Sradd depends on the modulation index of the converter and at any case it
must obey equation (3-9).

ASr _ add  1  M   ASr (3-9)

Each grid cycle is featured by stress-in/stress-out percentage which defines the


proportionality of stress-in and stress-out during the extent of a voltage period. Consequently
it decides the percentage of switching losses that stress the inner and the outer switches.

The ALD PWM strategy has 6 different zero states as can be seen in Table 3-29. Positive and
negative cycles have different zero states and 0+ and 0- occur in both stress-in and stress-out.
The additional zero states (0+In, 0+Out, 0-In, 0-Out) occur at the time intervals that are defined by
the time difference between
Table 3-29 Switches States of PWM-ALD strategy of 3-level ANPC converter

State Vout S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6
P Vdc 2 1 1 0 0 0 1
+In
0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1
0+Out 0 0 1 1 0 0 1
0+ 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
0- 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
0-In 0 0 1 1 0 1 0
0-Out 0 0 1 0 1 1 0
N Vdc 2 0 0 1 1 1 0

According to Figure 3-10 the duty ratio of the switches as a function of voltage output for both
positive and negative cycle of the converter are given by Table 3-30.
Table 3-30 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM-DF strategy of the 3-level ANPC converter

Positive Cycle Negative Cycle


V
d1  aout  out d1  0
Vdc 2
Vout  V 
d 2  ain  d 2  1    out 
Vdc 2  Vdc 2 
Vout  V 
d3  1  d3  ain    out 
Vdc 2  Vdc 2 
 V 
d4  0 d 4  aout    out 
 Vdc 2 
d5  0 d5  1
d6  1 d6  0
In Table 3-30 𝑎𝑖𝑛 is the ratio of the duty cycle of the inner switches over the duty cycle of the
inner switches only during stress-in. Similarly 𝑎𝑜𝑢𝑡 is the ratio of the duty cycle of the outer

37
Converter Performance characteristics

switches over the duty cycle of the outer switches only during stress-out. Both are described
by equations (3-10) and (3-11).

 ASr _ add
1  , Stress-out
ain   ASr (3-10)
1
 , Stress-in
 ASr _ add
1  , Stress-in
aout  ASr (3-11)
1
 , Stress-out

In the above equations the not necessarily valid assumption is taken that the increase of the
duty ratio of the switch following Sr’ is equal to the ratio of 𝐴𝑆𝑟′ /𝐴𝑆𝑟 . All the different possible
combinations of the three discretization criteria for PWM-ALD are listed in Table 3-25 .
Analyzing these with the help of the circuit of Figure 3-6 a list of all the conducting components
at each time interval is made. With grey color the components that are turned on but are not
conducting are marked.
Table 3-31 Conducting components during function of the 3-level ANPC converter for PWM-ALD switching
strategy

Cycle State Current Conducting Components


Positive P I out  0 S1 S2 S6
Positive P I out  0 D1 D2 S6
Positive 0+In I out  0 S6 D3 S1
Positive 0+In I out  0 S3 D6 S1
Positive 0 +Out
I out  0 S6 D3 S2
Positive 0+Out I out  0 S3 D6 S2
Positive 0+ I out  0 S6 D3 -
Positive 0 +
I out  0 S3 D6 -
Negative 0- I out  0 S2 D5 -
Negative 0- I out  0 S5 D2 -
Negative 0-In I out  0 S2 D5 S4
Negative 0 -In
I out  0 S5 D2 S4
Negative 0-Out I out  0 S2 D5 S3
Negative 0-Out I out  0 S5 D2 S3
Negative N I out  0 D3 D4 S5
Negative N I out  0 S3 S4 S5

Following the above data, the fraction of the switching period during which each component
conducts (hence is subjected to conduction losses) can be determined. Therefore the part of
each switching period that each component conducts during PWM-ALD is being summarized
in Table 3-27.

38
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-32 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level ANPC converter conducts during
PWM-ALD switching strategy

Switches:
S1  d 4  0   min  d1 , d 2    I out  0   Ts
S2  d4  0   min  d1 , d2    d1  0   1  min  d3 , d4    I out  0   Ts

S3  d 1 
 0   min  d3 , d 4    d 4  0   1  min  d1 , d 2     I out  0   Ts

S4  d1  0   min  d3 , d 4    I out  0   Ts
S5  d1  0   1  min  d3 , d 4     I out  0   Ts
S6  d 4  0   1  min  d1 , d 2     I out  0   Ts
Diodes:
D1  d 4  0   min  d1 , d 2    I out  0   Ts
D2  d4  0   min  d1 , d2    d1  0   1  min  d3 , d 4    I out  0   Ts
D3  d 1 
 0   min  d3 , d 4    d 4  0   1  min  d1 , d 2     I out  0   Ts

D4  d1  0   min  d3 , d 4    I out  0   Ts
D5  d1  0   1  min  d3 , d 4     I out  0   Ts
D6  d 4  0   1  min  d1 , d 2     I out  0   Ts
Regarding the switching losses those occur from the sequence of the states and thus the
conducting components. The switching losses for the PWM-ALD switching strategy of a 3-level
ANPC converter are given in Table 3-22.
Table 3-33 Switching losses of components of the 3-level ANPC converter during PWM-ALD switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1  d 4  0    aout  1   I out  0   f s  Esw D1  d 4  0    aout  1   I out  0   f s  Esw
 d 4  0    ain  1   I out  0   f s  Esw  d 4  0    ain  1   I out  0   f s  Esw
S2 D2
  d1  0    I out  0   f s  Esw   d1  0    I out  0   f s  Esw
 d1  0    aout  1   I out  0   f s  Esw  d1  0    aout  1   I out  0   f s  Esw
S3 D3
  d 4  0    I out  0   f s  Esw   d 4  0    I out  0   f s  Esw
S4  d1  0    aout  1   I out  0   f s  Esw D4  d1  0    aout  1   I out  0   f s  Esw
S5 f v  Esw D5 f v  Esw
S6 f v  Esw D6 f v  Esw

39
Converter Performance characteristics

3.6 PWM switching strategy for the 3-level H-bridge converter


The operation of a 3-level H-bridge converter resembles that of the 2-level VSC. Essentially if
each one of the two legs of the H-bridge are seen individually then the voltage output of each
one is the same with the output of a 2-level VSC. Instead of a reference or neutral point H-
bridge ends in an open winding. The output voltage of each phase is given, instead, by the
outcome of the subtraction of the potentials at the middle point of the switches. Due to that
fact, the DC-link voltage that is needed for the 3-level HB to produce the same output is half
of the one needed for the rest of topologies that have already been mentioned.

Figure 3-11 Single phase of a 3-level H-bridge converter

As can be seen in Table 3-34, there are two different ways for the zero state to be achieved.
In state 0+ both of the upper two switches S1 and S3 have to be turned on (Figure 3-11). At this
case both output legs are connected to the upper part of the DC-link and therefore have a
potential equal to 𝑉𝑑𝑐 /2, hence their subtraction results to zero. In 0- the lower switches S2
and S4 have to be turned on. At this case both output legs are connected to the bottom part
of the DC-link and therefore have a potential equal to 0, hence their subtraction gives zero
again. P state is achieved when the total potential difference of the DC-link is being transferred
to the output. Similarly when switches S2 and S3 are on, the output legs are inversely
connected to the total voltage of the DC-link and thus the output is −𝑉𝑑𝑐 /2.
Table 3-34 Switches States of PWM strategy of 3-level H-bridge converter

State Vout S1 S2 S3 S4
P Vdc 2 1 0 0 1
0+ 0 1 0 1 0
0- 0 0 1 0 1
N Vdc 2 0 1 1 0

For the calculation of the duty ratio of each switch of the H-bridge topology, Figure 3-12 is
used. It can be seen that the reference voltage signal is being compared to two triangular
waveforms with a phase difference of half a period between them. One signal controls the
conduction of switches S1 and S2 and the other of S3 and S4. As a natural consequence the duty
ratio of each switch is complementary to the duty ratio of the other switch on the same leg.
At the same time each switch the duty ratio of each switch is during a switching period equal
40
Converter Performance characteristics

to the duty ratio of the switch which is placed diagonal to it, even though their conduction
times are not identical. For example S1 has the same duty cycle with S4 but the two switches
obey to two different control signals and thus have not identical switching pattern. As a result,
during every switching period all 4 states occur. The duty ratio of all the switches of the 3-
level H-bridge topology are given in Table 3-35.
Table 3-35 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM strategy of the 3-level HB converter

Positive Cycle Negative Cycle


V
1  out
Vdc 2 d1  1  d3
d1 
2
d 2  1  d1 d 2  d3
 V 
1    out 
d3  1  d1  Vdc 2 
d3 
2
d4  d1 d4  1  d3

Figure 3-12 PWM strategy for 3L-HB converter, (a) Sr>0, (b) Sr<0

In Table 3-35, 𝑑1 , 𝑑2 , 𝑑3 , 𝑑4 are the duty ratios of switches S1 – S4. All the different possible
combinations of the three discretization criteria are listed in Table 3-36 . Analyzing these with
the help of the circuit of Figure 3-11 a list of all the conducting components at each time
interval is made.

41
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-36 Conducting components during function of the 3-level HB converter for PWM switching strategy

Cycle State Current Conducting Components


Positive P I out  0 S1 S4
Positive P I out  0 D1 D4
0 +
I out  0 S1 D3
0+ I out  0 D1 S3
0- I out  0 D2 S4
0 -
I out  0 S2 D4
Negative N I out  0 D2 D3
Negative N I out  0 S2 S3

Following the above data, the fraction of the switching period during which each component
conducts (hence is subjected to conduction losses) can be determined. Therefore the part of
each switching period that each component of the 3-level H-bridge converter conducts during
PWM is being summarized in Table 3-37.
Table 3-37 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level H-Bridge converter conducts
during PWM switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0   d1  Ts D1  I out  0   d1  Ts
S2  I out  0   d 2  Ts D2  I out  0   d 2  Ts
S3  I out  0   d3  Ts D3  I out  0   d3  Ts
S4  I out  0   d 4  Ts D4  I out  0   d 4  Ts
Regarding the switching losses those occur from the sequence of the states and thus the
conducting components. The switching losses for the PWM switching strategy of a 3-level H-
bridge converter are given in Table 3-38.
Table 3-38 Switching losses of components of the 3-level HB converter during PWM switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0   f s  Esw D1  I out  0   f s  Esw
S2  I out  0   f s  Esw D2  I out  0   f s  Esw
S3  I out  0   f s  Esw D3  I out  0   f s  Esw
S4  I out  0   f s  Esw D4  I out  0   f s  Esw

42
Converter Performance characteristics

3.7 PWM switching strategy for the 3-level T-type converter


The T-type converter is the simplest of the 3-level topologies in terms of PWM philosophy.
Zero state can only be provided by one certain combination of switches and these are the two
switches that clamp the neutral point in series (Figure 3-13).

Figure 3-13 Single phase leg of a 3-level T-type converter

There is a unique path to the neutral point and that is mainly the reason that two switches are
sharing that load. The zero state is the only one that uses two switches to conduct the phase
current through. P and N states identify with the switching behaviour of S1 and S4 respectively.
Even though the inner switches S2 and S3 play no role in current conduction during those
states, S2 is turned on during P state and S3 during N state. Due to this, the middle switches
take switching losses during only one of the two cycles hence for half of each voltage period.
The PWM strategy for the 3-level T-type is being presented in Figure 3-14 while the switches
states are included in Table 3-39.

Figure 3-14 PWM strategy for 3L-T-type converter, (a) Sr>0, (b) Sr<0

43
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-39 Switches States of PWM strategy of 3-level T-type converter

State Vout S1 S2 S3 S4
P Vdc 2 1 1 0 0
0 0 0 1 1 0
N Vdc 2 0 0 1 1

Following the above, the duty ratios of each switch can be easily calculated. The modulation
of the duty cycles of switches S1 and S4 are responsible for the formation the output voltage
for the positive and negative cycle respectively. On the other hand the inner switches conduct
during the zero state but their duty ratio is 1 in one half cycle of a voltage period to avoid
switching losses. The duty ratios of all switches of the PWM strategy of the 3L-T2C for both
positive and negative cycle are given in Table 3-40.
Table 3-40 Duty ratios of switches for the PWM strategy of the 3-level T-type converter

Positive Cycle Negative Cycle


V
d1  out d1  0
Vdc 2
d2  1 d2  1  d4
d3  1  d1 d3  1
Vout
d4  0 d4  
Vdc 2

In Table 3-40, 𝑑1 , 𝑑2 , 𝑑3 , 𝑑4 are the duty ratios of switches S1 – S4. All the different possible
combinations of the three discretization criteria are listed in Table 3-41. Analyzing these with
the help of the circuit of Figure 3-13 a list of all the conducting components at each time
interval is made. With grey color the components that are turned on but are not conducting
are marked.
Table 3-41 Conducting components during function of the 3-level HB converter for PWM switching strategy

Cycle State Current Conducting Components


Positive P I out  0 S1 S2
Positive P I out  0 D1 S2
0 I out  0 S2 D3
0 I out  0 D2 S3
Negative N I out  0 D4 S3
Negative N I out  0 S4 S3

Following the above data, the fraction of the switching period during which each component
conducts (hence is subjected to conduction losses) can be determined. Therefore the part of
each switching period that each component of the 3-level T-type converter conducts during
PWM is being summarized in Table 3-42. The duty ratios of switches S2 and S3 do not coincide
with the fraction of the switching period they conduct as they remain turned on, as
mentioned, for state P or N even though they do not participate to the current conduction.

44
Converter Performance characteristics

Table 3-42 Part of the switching period at which each component of the 3-level T-type converter conducts during
PWM switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0   d1  Ts D1  I out  0   d1  Ts
S2  I out  0   d 4  0   d 3   d1  0   d 2   Ts D2  I out  0   d 4  0   d 3   d1  0   d 2   Ts

S3  I out  0   d 4  0   d 3   d1  0   d 2   Ts D3  I out  0   d 4  0   d 3   d1  0   d 2   Ts

S4  I out  0   d 4  Ts D4  I out  0   d 4  Ts
Regarding the switching losses those occur from the sequence of the states and thus the
conducting components. S2 and S3 have no switching losses during positive and negative cycle
respectively. The switching losses for the PWM switching strategy of a 3-level T-type converter
are given in Table 3-43.
Table 3-43 Switching losses of components of the 3-level T-type converter during PWM switching strategy

Switches: Diodes:
S1  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw D1  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw
S2  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw D2  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw
S3  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw D3  I out  0    d 4  0   f s  Esw
S4  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw D4  I out  0    d1  0   f s  Esw

3.8 Review of switching strategies for examined converters


In this chapter, a total of 8 switching strategies have been described for the 5 different
converters that are put into test in this project. The limited number of possible switching
combinations (states) of certain topologies allows them to have no more than one switching
strategies. It is observed that as the number of available components per phase leg increases,
more sequences of switching states are possible. A characteristic example is that the 3L-ANPC
topology which employs the most components compared to the other examined converters,
can be controlled by more than one ways. Each switching strategy has certain features that
stand out and for which the converters are at the end of the project judged.

The 2L-VSC follows the typical PWM switching technique which consists of a continuous
alternation of the upper and the lower switch conducting. The voltage output is being
determined by the duty ratio of these switches. However the total load of each phase
converter falls upon these two modules. That may be a determining factor for the converter’s
reliability.

The 3L-NPC which is the most frequently used converter topology for wind turbine
applications appears to be an improvement concerning the loading of the outer switches.
However the load and losses distribution among the components still imposes a big issue for
this topology with the clamping diodes taking the whole load during zero state.

For the 3L-ANPC four different switching strategies have been analyzed. PWM-1 uses two
different switching frequencies for the switches, reducing any switching losses on the inner
switches. The active-switch clamping of the topology constitutes an improvement compared
to the clamping diodes of the NPC topology. PWM-2 has the particularity of keeping a switch

45
Converter Performance characteristics

at ON-state at each commutation cutting thus down the switching losses during these
commutations. As a result, 4 out of 6 switches switch at voltage frequency and only two at
switching frequency. PWM-DF gives a voltage output signal of apparent frequency which is
double of the switching frequency, reducing thus the required switching frequency to half.
This strategy combines the advantages of PWM-1 and PWM-2 having a total of four different
ways to achieve zero state. Lastly, the ALD strategy introduces a new technique of switching
loss distribution which can be regulated according to the application and which components
are heavier loaded in normal operation.

The 3L-HB PWM switching strategy resembles that of the 2L-NPC topology being extended to
four switches. The fact that the DC-link voltage of the converter is lower appears to limit the
losses of the components and allows the use of switches with half the voltage rating.

Finally the PWM switching technique that is used for the 3L-T2C shares the load of the
components that clamp the neutral point. However the outer switches that have to be of
voltage rating at least equal to the dc-link may be the weak point of this topology.

46
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

4 Methodology and Modelling Considerations


To conduct a reliability comparison of all the converter topologies, configurations and
switching strategies that are analyzed in Chapter 2 and 3 with a physics-of-failure based
approach a detailed model of a wind turbine system is constructed. This chapter analyzes the
most important aspects of the model constructed and includes the methodology and design
considerations that are used during the construction of this model. This model is created so
that it can receive as an input a wind speed profile and through a series of processes produce
the power loss profile and the thermal stress behaviour of the power electronics components
of the converters. For the construction of the models Simulink® is used as designing and
simulation tool.

At this point, it should be referred that the models that have been developed in this project
have been built upon the principles that are suggested by a series of papers regarding relevant
research by the Department of Energy Technology of Aalborg University [28, 14, 15, 29, 30, 2,
31].

4.1 System Description


In Figure 4-1, the overview of the procedure followed is depicted in a few basic steps. The
purpose of the procedure is to interpret the input of a wind turbine which is the wind speed
into terms that are related to the lifetime of the power converters.

Figure 4-1 Overview of the constructed thermal behaviour model

From the initial input, a mechanical model extracts the produced load torque on the shaft of
the generator. The torque is then used as an input signal for the generator model. The
electrical part of the wind turbine system presents an interaction and an interdependence
among its components. The generator system provides all the necessary electrical parameters
to the controller which in turn controls the voltage output level and therefore the switching
behaviour of the converter. The converter behaviour, at the end, regulates the proportions of
the generator providing feedback. The electrical output parameters of the power converters
are utilized by the power semiconductor loss model in order to calculate the power losses of
the power electronic components of the topology. Those parameters are converted to
temperature indicators for the semiconductor devices with the help of developed thermal

47
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

models based on the structure of the components. The values of the temperature profile
generated are then used as the input parameters of the lifetime model so that at the end the
consumed lifetime of the converter is received. Through this process the initial input signal is
being translated to the electrical parameters of the turbine, the power losses of the converter,
the thermal profile and finally the lifetime estimation.

4.2 Mechanical Modelling of the Wind Turbine


The first step of the model that receives the values of wind speed, is the mechanical part of
the turbine. This section of the procedure is assigned with the task to convert the input of the
wind turbine, which is the wind speed 𝑣𝑤𝑖𝑛𝑑 to the necessary variables that have to be
imported to the generator with the help of the constructional parameters of the turbine.
These variables are the produced rotational mechanical speed 𝜔𝑚 as well as the load torque.
At the same time, the mechanical model receives feedback from the generator regarding the
value of the electrical torque. In Figure 4-2 the function of the mechanical model is presented
in a simple manner.

Figure 4-2 Mechanical model of the Wind Turbine

The rotor model receives the wind speed and the rotational mechanical speed as feedback.
Firstly, the pitch angle is estimated as a function of the rotational speed taking into account
all the relevant limits of the turbine. By pitching the turbine blades the power output and the
rotational speed of the turbine are regulated. A turbine starts developing a pitch angle once
the wind speed of the turbine becomes higher than the rated wind speed. Following, with the
values for the wind speed 𝑣𝑤𝑖𝑛𝑑 , the rotational speed 𝜔𝑚 , and the pitch angle 𝜃𝑝𝑖𝑡𝑐ℎ , the
power coefficient of the turbine is approximated. This is achieved with the use of certain
constant values that feature the design of the rotor of the wind turbine. With the power
coefficient estimated the load torque 𝑇𝑙𝑜𝑎𝑑 can be then calculated according to equation
(4-1).

1   v3  c  A
 2
wind p
load (4-1)
m

where 𝑐𝑝 is the power coefficient, 𝑃 the aerodynamic power produced, 𝜌 the of the air density
and 𝐴 the frontal area of the wind turbine. But from the definition of the tip speed ratio 𝜔𝑚
can be expressed as a function of 𝜆 (Equation (4-2)).

  vwind
m  (4-2)
R
where 𝑅 is the length of the radius of the rotor. Therefore, the load torque can be given by
(4-3).

48
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

1   v2  c  A  R
 2
wind p
load (4-3)

At the end, the rotational speed can be calculated as a function of the electrical torque of the
generator and the load torque of the shaft. The choice of a direct drive configuration means
that no gearbox is interposed between the rotor of the turbine and the shaft of the electrical
generator. The relevant parameters are summarized in Table 4-1 Mechanical parameters of
the Wind Turbine.
Table 4-1 Mechanical parameters of the Wind Turbine

Parameters
Rated power Pgen [MW] 2
Blade radius 𝑅 [m] 41.3
Cut-in wind speed vcut in [m/s] 4
Rated wind speed vrated [m/s] 12
Cut-off wind speed vcut off [m/s] 25
Optimal tip speed ratio opt 8.1
Maximum power coefficient c pmax 0.383
Rated turbine speed nrated [rpm] 19
Minimum turbine speed nmin [rpm] 6

4.3 Wind Turbine System Configuration


The type of generator that is chosen for this project is a permanent magnet synchronous
generator in a direct drive configuration. That means that there is no gearbox between the
hub and the shaft of the generator. Consequently there is a 1:1 transfer of the rotational speed
to the generator which needs to be big enough to compensate for the slow speed that the
absence of a gearbox entails. The PMDD generators have also a large number of pole pairs for
the same reason. As referred in paragraph 1.1, such a configuration requires the total amount
of power to flow through the converter. This results in a higher amount of losses in the
converter compared to the DFIG power system configuration and requires converters of
higher power rating. However, this configuration proves to be the most appropriate for a
comparative study that takes into consideration the losses of the power converters. Any
differences that might exist between the tested topologies become more obvious, and better
thermal behaviour is easier indicated. Furthermore, permanent magnet generators turbine
configurations appear to have more reliability issues compared to doubly-fed induction
generators. Turbines with a PMG show a much higher failure rate than DFIG turbines regarding
both major and minor failures [32]. It is, therefore, understandable that any comparative
study on power electronics turbines would have a considerably larger impact and significance
for PMG turbine configurations.

The nominal power of the generator is selected at 2MW and the details of the generator can
be seen in Table 4-2.

49
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

Table 4-2 Relevant data of 2MW PMSG generator

Type of Generator PMSG


Rated wind speed vrated [m/s] 12
Number of pole pairs p 102
Rated shaft speed ns [rpm] 19
Rated fundamental frequency f e [Hz] 32.3
Stator leakage inductance Lls [mH]
0.276
Magnetizing inductance Lm [mH]

The dynamic model of the PMSG, as it is designed, can be described by formulas (4-4)-(4-7) ,
provided that all the calculations occur in the dq reference frame.

0 1 dq d sdq
usdq  Rs is dq  pm   s  dt (4-4)
1 0 
sd  Ls isd   r (4-5)
sq  Ls isq (4-6)
T  p r isq (4-7)
𝑑𝑞 𝑑𝑞
where 𝑢̅𝑠 is the stator voltage, 𝑅𝑠 the stator resistance, 𝑖̅𝑠 the current, 𝜆 is the flux linkage
and Ls the inductance.

4.4 Converters and control


In a PMSG configuration, the converters have full-scale rating because the total amount of
power passes through them. In back-to-back topologies that are analyzed within the borders
of this project there are two different types of converters, the generator-side and the grid-
side converters. Additionally, within this project multiple parallel converters have been
designed to share the load of each side so that the use of switches with particularly high
current rating can be avoided.

The generator-side converter can be summarized by equations (4-8) and (4-9).

U sdq  d dq  Vdc (4-8)


d I d I
d d q q
I dc  s s
(4-9)
Converters
where 𝑈𝑠 and 𝐼𝑠 the voltage and the current of the stator of the generator, while 𝑑𝑑 and 𝑑𝑞
the duty ratios of the phases at the dq-reference frame. The control of the generator-side
converter ensures maximum power production by controlling the stator current through the
rotational speed. Controlling the stator current, provides indirectly control over the
electromagnetic torque. This is achieved by a series of PI-controllers.

The grid-side converter model is featured by equations (4-10)-(4-12) where the dq-reference
frame is used.

50
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

di d
Lf   R f  i d    L f  i q  Vconv
d
 Vgrid
d
(4-10)
dt
di d
Lf   R f  i q    L f  i d  Vconv
q
 Vgrid
q
(4-11)
dt
 idc  k  i d  d d  i q  d q 
dVdc
Cdc  (4-12)
dt
where d and q indicators are used to indicate the vector in the dq-reference frame, 𝑅𝑓 and 𝐿𝑓
are the characteristic values of the filter on the grid side. Factor k is equal to 1 for Clarke
transformation.
Table 4-3 Parameters of the back-to-back converters

Parallel Converters 5
DC-Link Voltage 1150
Rated Active Power [kW] 400
Switching frequency [kHz] 8
Grid-Side Converters
Rated Output Voltage[Vrms] 704
Rated current [Arms] 328.2
Filter Inductance [mH] 0.15
Generator-Side Converters
Rated Input Voltage [Vrms] 554
Rated current [Arms] 417

In this endeavor of a comprehensive comparison of as many as possible multilevel converter


topologies, it can be understood that an attempt for detailed design and modelling of all these
converters and controllers is not possible. The control of the power converters is based upon
the standard control techniques that are described in paragraphs 4.4.1 and 4.4.2. For that
reason the same converter controller is used for all the tested converter topologies not in
terms of signals but in terms of the voltage and current output. That is fairly reasonable from
the point of that the loading and lifetime comparison can be conducted between converters
that produce the same output. This way any load and temperature differences that could
possibly be caused by the uniqueness of responses of the different converter controllers are
ruled out. Consequently this whole comparative study is limited and focused mainly on which
topology primarily and which switching strategy has a better effect on the power electronic
components of the converter and therefore better results. Details of the modelled converters
is given in Table 4-3.

4.4.1 Generator-Side Controller


The generator-side converter controller (Figure 4-3) regulates the current through the stator
of the generator controlling the rotational speed of the rotor speed according to the
Maximum Power Point Tracking. The converter is controlled in a dq reference frame rotating
with synchronous speed. The magnetic flux of the rotor is regarded in line with the d-axis,
𝑞
while the 𝑖𝑠 controls the generated torque of the generator. The reference currents are
produced according to the optimal power characteristics of the turbine. This is accomplished
by utilizing the rotor rotational speed in order to determine the reference torque value
according to the optimal power and torque curves. The reference current signal can then be

51
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

generated utilizing the reference torque value. The reference of the d-axis current is set to
zero so that any power losses are minimized [33].

Subsequently, this signal is inserted in a current control loop where the difference between
the reference and the measured current values is inserted in a PI controller to produce the
corresponding reference voltage signals. Compensation terms are added to improve the
dynamic response.

Figure 4-3 Generator-side controller

4.4.2 Grid-Side Control


The grid-side converter is in a dq reference frame that is rotating with the grid voltage. Current
𝑖𝑔𝑑 maintains the dc-link voltage level controlling the amount of real power that is being fed to
𝑞
the grid. Reactive power is respectively regulated by 𝑖𝑔 . Therefore, the grid side control
consists of an outer control and an inner current control loop [31]. The outer control
compares the dc-link voltage with the reference value, generating an error which when led
through a PI controller can produce the reference grid d-axis current. The inner control loops
similarly compare the reference values of the grid currents with the measured ones. The
errors of these comparisons pass through PI controllers and generate the reference voltage
values. Finally, those reference values are inserted in the PWM modulation block so that the
duty ratios of all the relevant switches can be calculated.

Figure 4-4 Grid-side controller

52
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

4.5 Reliability and thermal stress


Different research papers agree that the thermal stresses that are imposed on the power
electronic components is the most probable cause of their failure [2], [34], [35], [36] . When
it comes to IGBTs the most common failures origin from the thermal-cycling-induced stresses
[36].

Figure 4-5 IGBT module broken down to its different component layers and substrates from chip to heat sink

Since the IGBT module is the main semiconductor component of interest in power converter
topologies, a breakdown to its structural layers could contribute to the better understanding
of its failure causes. In Figure 4-5 such a breakdown is being shown. When these different
layers are subjected to thermal cycling, they tend to expand and compress with different
rates. Therefore when the losses that are dissipated from the power electronic components
mounted on the module are high enough may trigger cracks and disconnections due to the
mismatching expansion coefficients [2]. The most probable failures that are also referred in
paragraph 1.4 are bond wire lift-off and solder joints cracking. With this correlation between
thermal loading and lifetime, it is made clear that through correct mapping of the losses in an
IGBT module, a model can be designed to mathematically estimate lifetime expectancy [37].

However there are other factors in design that affect the reliability of a converter system.
These factors may have to do with the rating of the components, the packaging technology
used and the cooling system design. Taking that into account, the lifetime of a power
converter is a term related to the thermal response of its semiconductor devices but also
directly connected to its cost.

4.6 Power losses


As can be seen in Figure 4-1, the loss model receives from the converter model the
fundamental electrical parameters. Apart from this, it utilizes parameters provided by the
data-sheets of the modules. Finally it also takes into account the junction temperature of each
device during its function, which is received as feedback from the thermal model. As a result
it calculates and gives as output the net power losses of each semiconductor device. The
power losses in power semiconductor devices can be generally divided in two big categories,
conduction and switching losses. A possible third group that is usually neglected are leakage

53
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

losses. Thus the net losses of each component can be calculated as the sum of the conduction
and switching losses of this component (Figure 4-6). The models that are described for the
calculation of the losses are extracted from [28, 38, 39, 40].

Figure 4-6 Representation of calculation of power net losses of a power electronics component

4.6.1 Conduction Losses


The instantaneous value of conduction losses of an IGBT or a diode can be given by formula
(4-13).

Pcon  uon  t   i  t  (4-13)

where 𝑃𝑐𝑜𝑛 is the instantaneous value of conduction losses of a particular device, 𝑢𝑜𝑛 is the
on-state voltage drop and 𝑖(𝑡) represents the load current. When this component has a
switching routine and is not always conducting, as happens in a power converter
configuration, then the duty ratio of each component contributes to that formula. Therefore
in the case of an IGBT or a diode the conduction losses can be given respectively by formulas
(4-14) and (4-15).

PconT  uCE  t   i  t   dT (4-14)


PconD  u F  t   i  t   d D (4-15)

On-state voltages 𝑢𝐶𝐸 and 𝑢𝐹 and are usually provided by the vendor in the data-sheet of the
device. To be specific, these values are a function of the load current that goes through the
device during on state. The data-sheets of the IGBT modules give therefore a diagram that
describes the relationship between the output characteristics of each device and present the
load current as a function of the on-state voltage for various junction temperatures. The
method that is proposed by [38] suggests that the on state voltage should be interpreted
based on that diagram as a linear equation, resembling thus the on state-voltage with a
voltage source connected in series with an on-state resistance. The formula of the on state
voltage for the IGBT would then be the one described in equation (4-4) and the corresponding
one for its antiparallel the one in equation (4-5).

uCE  iC   VCE 0  rC  iC (4-16)


u F  iD   VF 0  rD  iD (4-17)

where 𝑢𝐶𝐸0 is the on-state zero-current collector-emitter voltage and 𝑢𝐹0 the corresponding
zero-current diode voltage while 𝑟𝐶 and 𝑟𝐷 are the collector-emitter on-state resistance and
diode on-state resistance respectively. However, in [28] and [39] a more accurate method is
proposed for the fitting of the on-state voltages calculation to the provided diagrams. Instead
of a linear relation between the on-state voltage and the load current, a power factor one is
being introduced. Therefore the relationships are now described in (4-18) and (4-19).

uCE  iC   VCE 0  rCE  iC ACE (4-18)

54
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

u F  iD   VF 0  rD  iD AD (4-19)

where 𝐴𝐶𝐸 and 𝐴𝐷 are the curve fitted constants for the IGBT and the diode respectively.
Since the data-sheets of the devices cannot provide the necessary values of on-state voltages
for every junction temperature, the vendor usually provides graphs for the upper limit
temperature and the lowest possible temperature. To include the contribution of the junction
temperature to the calculation of the conduction losses, two equations (like (4-18) and (4-19))
are being calculated for each device. One extracted from the graph for a high temperature 𝑇𝐻
and one for a low temperature 𝑇𝐿 . Following, with the help of linear extrapolation the
instantaneous value of on-state voltage is calculated as seen in equations (4-20) and (4-21).

T jT  TL
uCE  uCEL   uCEH  uCEL  (4-20)
TH  TL
T jD  TL
uF  uFL   uFH  uFL  (4-21)
TH  TL

Consequently the instantaneous power losses of the IGBT and its antiparallel diode can be
given for a particular junction temperature by equations (4-22) and (4-23).

 
PconT  t   VCE 0  rCE  iC ACE  iC  t   dT (4-22)
PconD  t   VF 0  rD  iD AD
  i t   d
D D (4-23)

In Figure 4-7, the calculation of the on-state voltages is depicted in the form of a model. In
Figure 4-8, the final calculation of each component’s conduction losses is presented in the
same way. Among the different examined topologies there are other factors that decide the
conduction losses of each component. Referring to Chapter 3, it can be seen that the duty
ratio may not always determine whether a component is conducting the load current or not.
In fact it is shown that a lot of times it differs from the conduction fraction of the component.
Additionally, the current direction almost always determines which of the two semiconductor
devices of an IGBT module this current goes through. That is the reason that in the
subchapters of Chapter 3 the fraction of the switching period for which each component is
conducting is calculated.

Figure 4-7 Modelling of the calculation of the on-state voltages for the IGBT and the diode

55
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

Figure 4-8 Modelling of the calculation of the conduction losses for IGBT (left) and diode (right)

4.6.2 Switching losses


Regarding the power switching losses of the semiconductor devices, these are given according
to [38] by formulas (4-24) and (4-25).

PswT   EonT  EoffT  f s (4-24)


PswD   EonD  EoffD  f s (4-25)

where 𝑓𝑠 is the switching frequency of the device and 𝐸𝑜𝑛𝑥 and 𝐸𝑜𝑓𝑓𝑥 are the turn-on and
turn-off losses of the components respectively. Also indicator T is used for the switch while D
for the diode.

For an IGBT 𝐸𝑜𝑛 and 𝐸𝑜𝑓𝑓 can be calculated with two different ways. The one is to calculate
the area of the triangles that are shaped during switch-on and switch-off by the voltage and
current graphs of the switch. The other way is to use the data-sheet values that have been
experimentally measured by the vendor. To provide a standardized way for the calculation of
the switching losses, a relationship has again been developed between the circuit electrical
parameters, the data-sheet given parameters and the switching losses which are also the final
output.

Data-sheets of IGBT modules provide graphs that describe switch-on and switch-off losses as
a function of the passing current. As in conduction losses, the curve that describes the
relationship between them is being interpreted to a mathematical function of the load
current. Even though simpler methods of curve fittings are being proposed in for this
interpretation, it is found that the more accurate is the use of a second degree polynomial
equation [39]. Therefore these formulas describing the graphs given are of the form of
equations (4-26) and (4-27).

EonT  aT 2 on  iCE
2
 aT 1on  iCE  aT 0 on (4-26)
EoffT  aT 2 off  i
2
CE  aT 1off  iCE  aT 0 off (4-27)

where 𝑎𝑇2𝑜𝑛 , 𝑎𝑇1𝑜𝑛 , 𝑎𝑇0𝑜𝑛 and 𝑎𝑇2𝑜𝑓𝑓 , 𝑎𝑇1𝑜𝑓𝑓 , 𝑎𝑇0𝑜𝑓𝑓 are fitting constants. To end up to a
single equation that describes the total losses of a switching period, these two equations are
added together and give a sole second grade polynomial formula like (4-28).

Eon offT  aT 2  iCE


2
 aT 1  iCE  aT 0 (4-28)

However these measurements are recorded under particular test conditions regarding the
voltage level and the junction temperature of the device. It is therefore necessary to process
these measurements in the appropriate way to calculate the losses for the real conditions of

56
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

the components. Firstly, similarly with the on-state voltage of the conduction losses, the
switching losses have to be calculated for a particular junction temperature of the IGBT. For
that reason, two equations of the form of (4-28) are again extracted from the given graphs of
the data-sheet, one for a high temperature 𝑇𝐻 and one for a low temperature 𝑇𝐿 . With the
help of linear extrapolation the value of losses for the junction temperature of the IGBT can
be calculated (formula (4-29)).

T jT  TL
Eon offT  Eon offT L 
TH  TL
E on  offT H  Eon offT L  (4-29)

Secondly, the switching losses have to be calculated for the correct voltage level of the
application. That is being managed with a direct proportionality factor that is calculated by
dividing the collector-emitter voltage level with the dc reference voltage as can be seen in
equation (4-30).

Vdc
Eon / off @Vdc  Eon / off @Vdcref (4-30)
Vdcref

Regarding the diode switching losses, these according to [38] can be restricted to the reverse
recovery energy losses. These are provided by the vendor as well at the same form as the
switching energy losses of the IGBT. It is therefore understood that they have to pass through
the same processing so that the final switching losses of the diode can be calculated for the
correct conditions.

Summarizing, the procedure that is followed for the calculation of losses of the IGBT and its
antiparallel diode is put together in Figure 4-9 and Figure 4-10 in the form of a model that
receives input from the device datasheet and the circuit and gives as output the device’s
switching losses at each moment. Again in certain switching strategies, the switching losses
do not occur in accordance with the switching frequency as different methods are employed
to reduce the switching losses on the components as much as possible. That means that
additional logical conditions can be an input to the calculation of power losses of a component
of a specific converter. Some of these have already been mentioned in Chapter 3.

Figure 4-9 Calculation of switching energy losses

57
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

Figure 4-10 Calculation of switching power losses for IGBT and antiparallel diode

4.7 Thermal modelling


There are three different ways of heat propagation in a system, conduction, convection and
radiation. In power electronic components, heat conduction is the only that is taken into
consideration. The heat flow is for simplicity reasons taken as one dimensional, starting from
the junction towards the case, thermal grease, the heat sink and the ambient successively. In
an attempt to correlate the thermal behaviour of a component to electrical analog circuit
terms, the model developed is presented as the thermal equivalent of a transmission line.
Considering especially that in thermal distribution there is no equivalent for parameters such
as inductance or transverse conductance, then the temperature equation follows equation
(4-31) [41].

 2T T
 Cth Rth (4-31)
x 2
t
Therefore the thermal behaviour of any material, or of a power electronic component for that
matter can be described by a thermal resistance Rth and capacitance Cth [42]. The power
dissipation occurring close to the chip surface is the thermal equivalent of a current source.
The complete list of the parallelisms that have been considered for the construction of the
thermal model can be found in Table 4-4. The thermal capacitance, which imprints the
dynamic character of the thermal behaviour of a component, is directly proportional to the
relevant volume and the specific heat of the material [42].
Table 4-4 Thermal parameters as equivalent of electric circuit parameters [41]

Electrical Thermal
Voltage (V) Temperature (oC)
Current (A) Power dissipation (W)
Resistance (Ω) Thermal Resistance (K/W)
Capacitance (F) Thermal Capacitance (Ws/K)

In reality, since the thermal behaviour of a component is more complex than a single level of
thermal resistance and capacity, the total thermal impedance can be modeled as multiple
thermal RC elements connected in series. From that point two different methods are usually
followed regarding the thermal modelling, the Cauer or the Foster model [43].

The Cauer model represents a real physical setup of the semiconductor thermal capacities
with intermediary thermal resistances (Figure 4-11). The RC elements are assigned to different
layers of the semiconductor module which entails that each element of the thermal circuit

58
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

has a physical meaning. Therefore the calculation of the intermediate temperatures between
the layers is also feasible. On the other hand, the Foster model, uses individual RC elements
which have no correspondence to their physical structure (Figure 4-12). Therefore there is no
particular physical explanation for its parameters and values, but is a mathematical
interpretation of the observed thermal behaviour of the module [43].

Figure 4-11 Cauer thermal model

Figure 4-12 Foster thermal model

Generally, the thermal network of an IGBT module can be summarized by Figure 4-13, where
𝑇𝐴 is the ambient temperature, 𝑇𝑗𝑥 the junction temperature of each device and 𝑇ℎ𝑠 the
heatsink temperature. In a power semiconductor the case and the junction temperatures are
established during different time intervals. The junction temperature is being determined
when the power loss flows within the power devices, while the case temperature is
established when the losses flow through the thermal network outside the devices.

Figure 4-13 Thermal model of an IGBT module [15]

The standardized way for the vendors to give information regarding the thermal properties of
the semiconductor devices is to provide the parameters for a fourth degree Foster RC network
in the data-sheets of the devices. However, in the Foster model no considerable filtering is
observed between the junction and the case temperature. It is only when the power losses
pass through the thermal grease thermal resistance that they create a considerable difference
between the case and heatsink temperature profiles. According to these observations made

59
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

by [41] and [29] the use of the Foster model should be restricted to the description of the
thermal behaviour of the thermal network inside the IGBT module only. On the other hand a
transformation to the equivalent Cauer model may offer considerable filtering via the use of
the parallel thermal capacitances, but this approach is still not accurate. Due to over-filtering
a Cauer thermal network reduces the speed of the dynamic properties of the device.

As proposed by [29] an intermediate approach that is a combination of these two models


should be adopted in order for the disadvantages of each method to be diminished. This
approach includes two different thermal paths for the thermal flow, as can be seen in Figure
4-14. The first path a fourth grade Foster model is used to describe the junction temperature
of the junction utilizing the datasheet parameters given by the manufacturer. However the
case reference temperature that is used for this calculation is being estimated by the second
thermal path so that the disadvantage of the Foster model that has been mentioned is
eliminated. The second thermal path that is used mainly for the calculation of the temperature
of the case and the heatsink temperature. The 1st grade Cauer equivalent model does not play
a significant role in the calculation of junction temperature, but is used for its loss filtering
properties that can provide a valid value for the case temperature.

Figure 4-14 Adopted thermal model

Summarizing, the thermal model that is used for this project includes two different thermal
paths, the first of which can imprint the dynamic thermal behaviour of the junction
temperature and the second can provide the necessary reference temperatures and be used
for the calculation of the rest of the temperatures. The thermal properties of the thermal
grease can be simplified to a single thermal resistance due to the small thickness. Usually the
value of the thermal resistance is given by the manufacturer of the IGBT module.

Regarding the heatsink, it can be modelled as a single level of a Foster thermal network, that
is as a thermal capacitance in parallel with a thermal resistance. Since the heat sink can by
construction host multiple power components, within the framework of this project one heat
sink is used to host the components of every phase of each converter. Therefore each heat
sink accepts the losses of all the components of one of the three phases of the grid- or the
generator-side converter.

60
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

4.8 Switch Ratings and Selected Components


The components that are put to test, must have the appropriate ratings so that they can take
the amplitudes of the voltage and the current. As far as the voltage is concerned, in three-
level topologies it is common that two components share the voltage load of the dc-link. The
voltage and the current ratings of the IGBT modules that have to be used for the different
converter topologies can be calculated according to Table 2-1 and with the help of the
converter ratings of Table 4-3. Therefore the commercial IGBT modules that are used during
the simulations are “FF600R07ME4_B11” and “FF600R12ME4A_B11” IGBT modules of
Infineon Technologies. These two switches have a current rating of 600A which obeys to the
current rating requirements. FF600R07ME4_B11 has a voltage rating of 1200V that is above
the total dc-link voltage and its parameters are used for the switches that have to withstand
the total amount of the dc-link voltage. FF600R12ME4A_B11 has a voltage rating of 600V
which is higher than half the DC-link voltage and is utilized for the cases where a switch with
a voltage rating of 𝑉𝑑𝑐 /2 at least has to be used [44, 45]. In practice, there is the tendency of
overrating the voltage and current ratings of the switches of converters so that better thermal
response and increased reliability is ensured. However, within the framework of this thesis,
voltage and current ratings are chosen quite close to the nominal values of the converters so
that any differences in the thermal behaviour of the tested converters are highlighted. The
selected heatsink is P16 of Semikron [46].

4.9 Lifetime model


The damage or equivalently the consumed lifetime of a power electronic component is usually
estimated by lifetime models as a function of the mean temperature and the amplitudes of
the temperature cycles. Typically, the structural characteristics of the component are not
included in its lifetime modelling. Consequently, the input parameters that are needed are
contained in the temperature profile of the device during a certain test period.

Since power electronic components are subjected to different temperature cycles during
operation, the calculation of consumed lifetime with a single value of 𝛥𝑇𝑗 would not provide
reliable results. Instead, the complete range of temperature cycles has to be analyzed and
subcategorized into groups or bins according to their amplitude and mean value so that they
can be of utilizable. Eventually, the summation of the individual life consumptions of these
fractions of the temperature cycles results to a value of total life consumption of the
component [47].

The damage and the lifetime of the power modules of the converter topologies within the
framework of this thesis is calculated according to the model developed during the LESIT
project [48]. During this research, IGBT modules of different manufacturers have been put
into test under different thermal conditions. According to the test results of the project, the
number of cycles until failure can be calculated from the temperature cycle amplitudes ΔTj
and the mean temperature Tm of the components. Even though no physical parameters are
taken into consideration, the model correlates the ΔTj to the plastic deformation and the Tm
to the properties of the materials [48].

61
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

Figure 4-15 Number of cycles to failure Nf as a function of temperature cycling ΔΤj and mean junction
temperature Tm

The trend-lines that are deduced from the plotting of the results in the double logarithmic
scale (Figure 4-15) indicate a power law relation between the power cycling lifetime and 𝛥𝑇.
As a result, the number of cycles to failure could be expressed by the Coffin-Mansion law
(4-32) [49].

N f  a  T  n (4-32)

But the fact that these straight lines are almost parallel for different mean temperatures
introduces an additional factor to the model and reflects a thermally activated mechanism
which can be better described by the Arrhenius approach. The final formula extracted is
summarized in (4-33).

 Q 
N f  A  T j a  exp   (4-33)
 R  Tm 
𝐽
where 𝑅 is the gas constant (8.314 ∙ 𝐾), 𝐴 = 302500 𝐾 −𝑎 , 𝛼 = −5 and 𝑄 = 7.8 ∙
𝑚𝑜𝑙
104 𝐽𝑚𝑜𝑙 −1 when 𝑇𝑚 is expressed in Kelvin [48].

A special feature of this empirical model is that it considers bond-wire lift-off as the main
failure mechanism of the power devices. Its usefulness lies in the fact that even though it is
quite straightforward and simple, it can provide a good reference basis for a valid comparison
between differently loaded components.

In the used lifetime model the sequence at which the power and temperature cycles occur do
not have any effect and therefore it is assumed that the accumulation of life
consumption/damage is linear. The individual consumed lifetimes are at the end summed up
(4-34) and give the total life consumption according to Palmgren-Miner’s rule [50].
k
ni
LC   (4-34)
i 1 Ni
where 𝑁𝑖 is the lifetime for the i-th load and 𝑛𝑖 is the number of cycles the component has
been exposed to the i-th load profile, while 𝑘 is the total number of load profiles. Failure
occurs when the life consumption LC reaches one.

62
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

4.9.1 Temperature profile analysis


The temperature profile of each component as an output of the thermal model described in
paragraph 4.7 is a rather irregular signal. The particularity of the application of the wind
turbines deteriorates the randomness of the temperature fluctuations. The variations of the
wind speed, when these occur below the nominal wind speed, are reflected in the power
production of the turbine and consequently in the power losses and eventually the
temperature cycling of the components. The varying rotational speed of the generator adds
up to the arbitrariness of the temperature cycles as their duration will also vary according to
the generator voltage frequency. Therefore, a method is required so that these almost
stochastic signals can be analyzed and the needed data for the lifetime model can be acquired
[47].

This is achieved with the rainflow counting algorithm. This method is a well-established tool
for fatigue analysis and reduces the spectrum of varying stress into a set of simple stress
reversals. A very critical asset of the rainflow counting method is that it allows the use of the
Miner’s rule for the assessment of the fatigue life. The basic idea behind rainflow counting is
that the signal is turned around by 90o and water flows from the top so that the oscillations
of the signal act like “pagoda roofs”. As a consequence the larger oscillations of the signals are
separated from the smaller ones. A more in depth analysis of the rainflow counting method
and algorithm can be found in [51] and [52] as the details behind the method are not in the
scope of this work.

63
Methodology and Modelling Considerations

64
Simulation Results

5 Simulation Results
In this chapter, the findings of the conducted simulations are presented in an efficient and
compact manner so that useful conclusions can be made regarding the power losses, the
thermal behaviour and the reliability of the tested topologies. The investigated converters and
switching strategies are evaluated according to the power losses, the thermal stress and the
resulting damage of each power electronic component of their setup. Based on these results
a comparison is made among the topologies, so that the most appropriate topology for the
studied case can be proposed.

5.1 Simulation Conditions


The series of simulations are conducted for the wind turbine that is mentioned in paragraph
4.2 and the generator configuration that is mentioned in 4.3. The two different switch types
that are referred in paragraph 4.8 are being utilized according to the requirements of each
topology that are mentioned in Table 2-1.

In order to create a more integrated image of the response of the converters to different
conditions, four different wind profiles are used. The wind speed input of the model is each
time generated based on a mean value and a controlled deviation. This has as a result the
generation of a random wind profile so that the influence of the wind fluctuations can be
investigated. According to the above, four different wind profiles are tested with average wind
speeds of 6, 8, 10 and 12 m/s. All the different converters and switching strategies are tested
upon the same wind profiles. The duration of the simulation time intervals is equal to 10
minutes or 600 seconds. In Figure 5-1, the wind profile with an average wind speed of 8 m/s
is plotted and illustrated as an example. Regarding the topology specific parameters, the used
switching frequency in the ANPC converter that uses the DF switching strategy is equal to 4
kHz, therefore half of the switching frequency that is used in the other topologies. Regarding
the power factor of the grid-side converter, even though it can vary according to the grid-
code, a constant 0.9 inductive power factor is used.

Figure 5-1 Wind speed profile with an average wind speed of 8m/s

65
Simulation Results

5.2 Loss Distribution of the Power Electronic Components


The power loss model that is utilized for the calculation of the power dissipation of the
electronic components of the tested converters is described in paragraph 4.6. For the
estimation of the average power losses of each electronic component an additional series of
simulations has been executed with a constant wind speed for a time interval of 10 seconds.
The selection of the simulation time has been made taking into consideration that the junction
temperature of the component is an important parameter of the losses calculation of each
component. For that reason, a duration of 10 seconds is selected so that the junction
temperatures of the component can reach an equilibrium mean value and the influence of the
junction temperatures can be recorded in the measurement.

5.2.1 Grid-side Converter Power Losses


In Figure 5-2 the loss distribution among the modules and the components of the grid-side
converters is illustrated for the tested topologies during four different wind speeds. The
relevant data are available in Appendix A. It is generally observed that the majority of the
losses in the grid-side are spotted in the IGBT’s either as conduction or as switching losses.
This comes as a natural consequence of the selection of a power factor very close to 1. The
small phase difference between the voltage and the current waveforms entail that IGBT’s
mostly conduct during each period and the diodes have a smaller conduction dividend. For
each of the converter topologies the components that are investigated are representative and
symmetrical of the ones missing.

Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw


900 600
800
500
700
600 400
PLOSS (W)

PLOSS (W)

500
300
400
300 200
200 100
100
0
0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
6 m/s 8 m/s 10 m/s 12 m/s
T1/D1 T2/D2 T3/D3
(a) 2L-VSC (b) 3L-T2C
Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
450 450
400 400
350 350
300 300
PLOSS (W)

PLOSS (W)

250 250
200 200
150 150
100 100
50 50
0 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
T1/D1 Module T2/D2 Module T1/D1 Module T2/D2 Module Dnpc
(c) 3L-HB (d) 3L-NPC

66
Simulation Results

Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw


450 450
400 400
350 350
300 300
PLOSS (W)

PLOSS (W)
250 250
200 200
150 150
100 100
50 50
0 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
T1/D1 Module T2/D2 Module T5/D5 Module T1/D1 T2/D2 T5/D5
Module Module Module
(e) 3L-ANPC PWM-1 (f) 3L-ANPC PWM-2
Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
450 450
400 400
350 350
300 300
PLOSS (W)

PLOSS (W)
250 250
200 200
150 150
100 100
50 50
0 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
T1/D1 T2/D2 T5/D5 T1/D1 T2/D2 T5/D5
Module Module Module Module Module Module
(g) 3L-ANPC DF (h) 3L-ANPC ALD

Figure 5-2 Loss distribution of grid side converter topologies for wind speeds of 6, 8, 10 and 12m/s. Dcon and
Dsw are the conduction and switching loss in diodes respectively, Tcon and Tsw are the conduction and switching
loss in the IGBT respectively

2-level Voltage-Source Converter

The 2L-VS Converter (Figure 5-2(a)) is clearly the topology that is most heavily loaded among
the tested converters. This is attributed to the continuous switching of both switches in both
positive and negative voltage cycle. The exposure of the module to the full extent of the dc-
voltage deteriorates the power dissipation increasing the switching losses. The IGBT’s are the
components that appear to suffer the largest part of the losses.

3-level Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter

For the 3L-NPC converter (Figure 5-2 (d)), it is noted that the outer switches (S1 and S4) are the
ones that bear the most losses. The largest part of them are again spotted at the IGBT’s. The
inner IGBT’s suffer expectedly the most conduction losses as they conduct during both P and
0 states. However the switching losses of the outer switches are significantly higher than those
of the inner modules. The neutral-point-clamping diodes take a very small part of the losses
and therefore the problem of inequality of the loss distribution is highlighted.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: PWM-1 Switching Strategy

The PWM-1 strategy of the ANPC generator-side converter exhibits no substantial


improvement in the loss distribution among the components compared to the 3L-NPC
topology (Figure 5-2 (e)). This is due to the fact that the improvements that this strategy
introduces concern the NPC active switches and the inner switches. Because of this, the
switching losses of the inner switches are reduced, as they occur with voltage frequency and

67
Simulation Results

not with switching frequency. Additionally a part of losses that in the NPC are suffered by the
diode are transferred to the IGBT part of the module in the ANPC converter.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: PWM-2 Switching Strategy

The PWM-2 strategy of the ANPC converter (Figure 5-2 (f)) reduces the losses inflicted on the
outer switch by reducing their switching frequency to voltage frequency. At the same low
frequency are switched-on and off the two Active-NPC switches. However, the considerable
increase in switching losses of the inner IGBT’s makes them the weak link of the topology,
even though their conduction losses show an improvement compared to the PWM-1 strategy.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: DF Switching Strategy

In the DF strategy of the ANPC converter the halving of the switching frequency (4 kHz) creates
an image of a more even distribution of losses among the components of the converter (Figure
5-2 (g)). All switches are subjected to a shared amount of switching losses. The conduction
losses of the inner switches are as expected slightly larger than those of the outer switches.
Nevertheless, they are still reduced compared to PWM-1 and PWM-2. As a result of the
switching technique the switching losses of the ANPC switches increase but without any
substantial cost as their losses remain lower than those of the other two types of switches.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: ALD Switching Strategy

In the ALD strategy a 30-70 percentage of Stress-in-Stress-out has been chosen for the Grid-
side converter (Figure 5-2 (h)). This selection has been made after repeated tests so that the
total losses of the most heavily loaded components (in this case the inner and outer IGBT’s)
are as balanced as possible. Therefore the biggest part of the distributable switching losses
loads the outer switches. As a result the switches are observed to have the best distribution
of losses among the tested topologies. The neutral-point-clamping modules switch with
voltage frequency and thus are lightly stressed compared to the other types of switches.

3-level H-Bridge Converter

For the 3L-HB Converter two modules are showcased in Figure 5-2 (c). These represent the
switches of one of the two legs of the converter with the remaining switches considered
symmetrical to the first. Even though the losses are almost optimally distributed among the
switches, the amount of losses is higher than in the other converters. This happens due to the
larger conduction times but also due to the continuous switching of the switches during both
voltage cycles.

3-level T-type Converter

Regarding the 3L-T2C converter (Figure 5-2 (b)) the components with the heaviest loading are
the outer switches which are also of larger voltage rating. This can be attributed to the fact
that the outer switches of the converter are exposed to the full extent of the dc-voltage. The
higher voltage rating of the outer module has an additional effect as its conduction and
switching parameters are different than the parameters of the middle switches.

5.2.2 Generator-side Converter Power Losses


In Figure 5-3 the loss distribution among the modules and the components of the generator-
side topologies is illustrated. The relevant data are available in Appendix A. Contrary to the

68
Simulation Results

grid-side converters, in most cases the majority of the losses are spotted in the diodes of the
modules. The total losses of each converter are compared to the corresponding grid-side
converters quite higher. This is an expected outcome since the current of the generator-side
converter is higher which automatically affects both switching and conduction losses.

Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw


1400 550
500
1200
450
1000 400
350

PLOSS (W)
PLOSS (W)

800 300
600 250
200
400 150
100
200
50
0 0
6 m/s 8 m/s 10 m/s 12 m/s 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
T1/D1 T2/D2 T3/D3
2
(a) 2L-VSC (b) 3L-T C

Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw


550 550
500 500
450 450
400 400
350 350
PLOSS (W)

PLOSS (W)

300 300
250 250
200 200
150 150
100 100
50 50
0 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
T1/D1 Module T2/D2 Module T1/D1 T2/D2 Dnpc
Module Module
(c) 3L-HB (d) 3L-NPC

Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw


550 550
500 500
450 450
400 400
350 350
PLOSS (W)

PLOSS (W)

300 300
250 250
200 200
150 150
100 100
50 50
0 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
T1/D1 T2/D2 T5/D5 T1/D1 Module T2/D2 Module T5/D5 Module
Module Module Module
(e) 3L-ANPC PWM-1 (f) 3L-ANPC PWM-2

69
Simulation Results

Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw


550 550
500 500
450 450
400 400

PLOSS (W)
350 350
PLOSS (W)

300 300
250 250
200 200
150 150
100 100
50 50
0 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
T1/D1 Module T2/D2 Module T5/D5 Module T1/D1 Module T2/D2 Module T5/D5 Module
(g) 3L-ANPC DF (h) 3L-ANPC ALD

Figure 5-3 Loss distribution of generator side converter topologies for wind speeds of 6, 8, 10 and 12m/s

2-level Voltage-Source Converter

The 2L-VS Converter (Figure 5-3 (a)) is again the topology that is most heavily loaded among
the tested converters. The reason is the same one described in the grid-side converters. The
exposure of the module to the full extent of the dc-voltage plays again a negative role in the
amount of switching losses. However the total losses of each component of the modules look
well distributed. Even though the conduction losses of the diodes are higher than those of the
IGBT’s as a result of the largest conduction time, due to the switching characteristics of the
IGBT the switching losses of the IGBT part of the module are higher. This creates a balance
between the total losses of the IGBT and the diode.

3-level Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter

For the 3L-NPC converter (Figure 5-3 (d)), the image of the loss distribution between the
switches changes compared to the grid-side converter. The largest part of losses are now
spotted at the inner modules (T2/D2 module). However the conduction losses are now better
distributed between the inner diodes and IGBTs. This can be featured as a built-in advantage
of the 3L-NPC topology when used at the generator side as the IGBT mandatorily conducts
during zero state of both voltage cycles. On the other hand the diodes have the vast majority
of conduction losses during the other two states. Even though this feature appears to be a
deteriorating factor for grid-side converter, it serves well for the generator-side converter.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: PWM-1 Switching Strategy

In PWM-1 strategy of the ANPC converter (Figure 5-3 (e)) a different power loss distribution
is observed than this of the grid-side. Due to the significantly less switching losses that diodes
produce when run through the same current with IGBT’s, diodes of the inner modules are
heavier loaded than those of the outer switches. Therefore conduction losses become a
determining factor for the heaviest loaded component.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: PWM-2 Switching Strategy

The PWM-2 strategy of the ANPC generator-side converter (Figure 5-3 (f)) shows a great
inequality of loss distribution among the components. The vast majority of losses are spotted
in the inner modules. Therefore this particular strategy seems to be more ineffective
regarding loss distribution compared to the other topologies.

70
Simulation Results

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: DF Switching Strategy

In the DF strategy of the ANPC generator-side converter the smaller switching frequency has
the same impact as in grid-side converter (Figure 5-3 (g)). Switching losses are also shared
between the inner and outer modules. However when it comes to the inner power module,
the diode is taking most of the conduction losses. This makes the inner diode the most heavily
loaded component of the converter.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: ALD Switching Strategy

In the ALD strategy of the generator-side converter a 100% Stress-out strategy has been
chosen (Figure 5-3 (h)). This selection has again been made in an attempt to balance the losses
between the most heavily loaded components. Therefore the total amount of the
distributable switching losses loads the outer switches in order to “relieve” the inner IGBT
which displays the largest part of dissipated losses. Even though the inner switches still take
up the biggest part of the load, the distribution among the individual parts of each module is
improved.

3-level H-Bridge Converter

The 3L-HB generator-side converter (Figure 5-3 (c)) presents an improved image compared to
the graph of the grid-side converter. The losses of the modules are once again increased
compared to the losses of the other topologies. This can be attributed to the smaller number
of switches sharing the load which denotes biggest conduction times and more frequent
switching of the components. However losses are more distributed between the IGBT’s and
the diodes of each switch module which constitutes an improvement.

3-level T-type Converter

Regarding the 3L-T2C converter (Figure 5-3 (b)) all modules appear to be subjected to the same
amount of losses. However, the diodes of the outer modules are the most heavily loaded
components, a reasonable outcome given the fact that they are exposed to the full extent of
the dc-voltage and that they are of higher voltage rating than the utilized middle switches.

5.2.3 Assessment of Power Losses


Summarizing, some first conclusions can already be made regarding the power losses and
their distribution among the power components of the studied wind turbine converters.
Initially, an observed trend is that in the topologies that utilize switches of higher voltage
rating, those switches mostly constitute the weak links of those topologies. This is mainly
because of the exposure of those switches to the full dc-link voltage which increases
significantly the switching losses compared to those of the switches with half the voltage
rating. Added to that, the H-Bridge topology also appears to face large amount of losses due
to the continuous switching of its components and the smaller number of switches that share
the total amount of conduction or switching losses. For the aforementioned reasons three
(2L-VSC, 3L-T2C, 3L-HB) of the studied topologies show a larger amount of losses than the rest
but not necessarily a worse distribution.

Regarding the remaining two converter topologies, the 3L-NPC presents an unequal loss
distribution between outer switches and inner switches for the grid-side converter but shows

71
Simulation Results

a very decent distribution on the generator side. In the ANPC converter, PWM 2 switching
strategy appears to have a negative effect on the loading of the inner switches taking into the
account that it combines the higher conduction losses that occur at the inner IGBT modules
with higher switching losses on the same switches. PWM 1 strategy improves this feature and
exhibits better distribution of losses among the components loading the outer switches with
the majority of switching losses. However this serves not as well in grid-side converters as in
the generator-side. Finally, DF and ALD strategies appear to achieve better distribution of
losses among the components compared to the other tried converters and switching
strategies.

5.2.4 Determining factors for power loss distribution


Some more general conclusions can be drawn from this power loss study regarding the factors
that affect the power losses of a component. First of all, the rating of a module is an important
parameter in that estimation. The amount of switching losses changes from one module to
another according to the current and voltage ratings.

A second significant parameter is the type of the specific semiconductor that is subjected to
the losses. Even though the conduction losses that a diode and an IGBT produce when they
are run through the same current can be quite close, the switching losses of an IGBT and a
diode when on the same current and voltage differ with the IGBT producing significantly more.

Additionally the packaging method of switches employed plays a significant role in the amount
of losses dissipated. Within the framework of this thesis the type of switches employed are
IGBT modules which are packaged together with the antiparallel diode. In the case that the
components employed were separately packaged the amount of power losses would differ.
Apart from that, the type of switch employed also affects the amount of losses dissipated. A
typical example that can be mentioned is the study case of [15] where IGCT switches are
employed instead of IGBT’s. As a consequence the amount of switching losses is remarkably
larger than the conduction losses and proves to be the determining factor in the thermal
response and the reliability of the examined topologies.

The switching frequency can understandably also change the image of the power losses
distribution. Therefore, the high amount of switching losses is the main limiting factor when
it comes to the determination of a switching frequency for a converter in a trade-off with the
quality of the voltage output. To be more specific, an example is showcased in Figure 5-4
where the losses of the NPC are plotted for a switching frequency equal to 8 kHz as in the
studied case and for a switching frequency of 2 kHz. It can be seen that when the switching
frequency is reduced, the conduction losses constitute the vast majority of the power losses
and the components that are subjected to the biggest part of them are the most heavily
loaded devices.

72
Simulation Results

Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw


450 450
400 400
350 350
300 300

PLOSS (W)
PLOSS (W)

250 250
200 200
150 150
100 100
50 50
0 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
T1/D1 Module T2/D2 Module Dnpc T1/D1 Module T2/D2 Module Dnpc

Figure 5-4 The difference in the amount of power losses on the components between a switching frequency of
8kHz (left) and a switching freequency of 2kHz (right)

5.3 Thermal Performance


The thermal response of the power semiconductors to the losses that they are subjected is
closely linked to the reliability of each converter. Apart from that, it constitutes a determining
factor when it comes to the selection of the power rating of the modules of wind turbine
applications. Besides, it has been mentioned that it is a usual practice to overrate the used
switches in order to forestall the development of high junction temperatures. Especially when
these components are used in wind turbine converters the temperature profile plays also an
important role in the selection of the appropriate cooling system with all the consequent size
and cost considerations. According to the already described thermal model (Paragraph 4.7)
and taking into consideration the power loss distribution that is showcased in paragraph 5.2,
the temperature profile of the components of the wind turbine converters that are tested are
studied for the four different wind profiles. The thermal performance of each converter will
be judged upon the uniformity of temperature characteristics among the components and of
course upon the amplitude of their junction temperature parameters.

Taking into account the already mentioned power and wind conditions, the simulations’
results regarding the junction temperature of each semiconductor of the examined topologies
are showcased in Appendix B. Due to the large amount of data, only the mean temperatures
and the maximum amplitudes of temperature oscillation ΔTj per wind profile are plotted as
characteristic figures of the thermal profile. The maximum values of the temperature
oscillations have been calculated with the help of rainflow counting. This way a clearer image
is provided regarding the build-up of the temperature as the wind speed increases. The
ambient temperature which is the reference temperature of the thermal model has been set
equal to 40oC.

2-level Voltage-Source Converter

The 2L-VSC develops high mean temperatures both in the grid and the generator-side. The
most heavily loaded components are the ones that show the highest mean temperatures but
also the largest maximum ΔTj values. Analytically, in the generator-side converter the diode
displays higher temperature values while in the grid-side the switch is the hottest device. Even
though the mean temperatures of the hottest components are large, the maximum
amplitudes of the temperature cycles are kept within acceptable levels. This can be attributed
to the larger modules that are used for this converter. The bulkier switches and diodes have
by default better thermal capacitance than the smaller ones as a result of the larger amount

73
Simulation Results

of material they employ. The loading of the generator-side components is also heavier than
that of the grid-side devices since the generator-side power losses are higher.

3-level Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter

In the 3L-NPC topology differences are noted between the generator and the grid-side thermal
behaviour. On the generator-side converter the inner IGBT T2 develops the highest mean
temperature with the outer diode D1, the inner diode D2 and the clamping diode D5 following.
This comes as a result of T2 taking the majority of power losses. But when it comes to the
amplitudes of the temperature cycles, the diodes clearly show higher values than the switch
especially in larger wind speeds. This can be attributed to the thermal characteristics of the
diodes which are worse than those of the switches. The better thermal capacitance of the
switch allows it to have temperature cycles of smaller amplitude even though its mean
temperature is higher than the corresponding of the diodes.

On the grid-side the hottest semiconductor is clearly the outer switch with the inner switch
following. T1 displays the highest mean temperature and the highest ΔTj. This comes as a
natural consequence of the outer switches being the most heavily loaded components.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: PWM-1 Switching Strategy

In the PWM-1 strategy of the ANPC converter there are not remarkable improvements
observed regarding thermal behaviour in comparison with the NPC. The almost identical
loading of the outer switches that the NPC converter and the PWM-1 strategy display on the
grid side reflect also on the junction temperatures with T1 developing the highest temperature
profile.

On the generator-side the fact that the clamping is achieved by active switches has as a result
that the inner diode D2 has the highest mean temperature and the largest maximum
amplitude of temperature cycles. Even though the clamping IGBT is subjected to more losses
it shows a lower mean temperature and a much lower ΔTj than the outer diodes.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: PWM-2 Switching Strategy

In the PWM-2 strategy where the switching losses are transferred to the inner switch the
semiconductors with the highest temperatures are those of the inner modules. Therefore, as
can be seen in the data of Appendix B, the highest mean temperatures are observed at the
inner IGBT and diode. In the same principal as above, however, the diode exhibits higher
amplitudes when it comes to the temperature cycles due to the “worse” thermal response to
the dissipated losses. In the same fashion as in grid-side the hottest device is the IGBT of the
inner module showing increased mean Tm and ΔTj compared to the other components.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: DF Switching Strategy

In the DF switching strategy, the image of the better distribution of losses among the
components is also noted in their thermal profile. On the generator side the inner diode is the
hottest semiconductor device. On the grid-side the thermal response of the T1 and T2 are close
in both plotted thermal aspects. This denotes an improved thermal behaviour as the thermal
load is shared between two components and it can be realized by the height of the
temperatures. The mean temperatures are significantly lower than the ones of the already

74
Simulation Results

mentioned converters and the amplitude of the junction temperature oscillations shows
remarkable improvement.

3-level Active-Neutral-Point-Clamped Converter: ALD Switching Strategy

On the same terms, the thermal profile of the ALD strategy presents a large improvement in
thermal distribution compared to the other tested converters and strategies. On the grid-side
the selected Stress-in/Stress-out proportionality has brought the mean temperature of T1 and
T2 very close to the point that they almost identify. The difference in their ΔTj is also very small
and has to do with the difference in the type of losses they suffer. Nevertheless, on the
generator side even though the highest mean temperature is displayed by the inner switch
which is the most heavily loaded component, ΔTj exhibits a different trend. Due to the already
mentioned inferior thermal characteristics of the diodes compared to the IGBT’s, the
temperature cycle amplitude of the two diodes surpasses this of T2. For that reason it is noted
that a better strategy could have been chosen initially for the even distribution of the losses
between D1 and D2.

3-level H-Bridge Converter

The H-Bridge displays an excellent distribution of losses among its components. On both the
grid and the generator side there is an identification of the temperature characteristics of the
hottest semiconductors. These are in the case of the generator-side converter the diodes and
on the grid side the switches of the topology. However compared to the other topologies, the
amount of losses they undergo increases the values of the temperature profiles of these
components.

3-level T-type Converter

Regarding the T-type converter, there are two different trends regarding the temperature
results from the topology. The first one is the thermal behaviour of the outer switch which
suffers the majority of losses. But due to the use of bulkier switches of higher voltage rating,
the thermal capacity and resistance of the outer modules provide a better thermal response.
On the other hand, the two middle switches have an identical temperature profile as they are
subjected to the same losses, but the utilized switches have half the voltage rating of the outer
ones. Nevertheless the large amount of losses that is dissipated at the outer switches define
the hottest semiconductors. Therefore, on the grid-side, even though at lower wind speeds
the middle module diodes, D2 and D3, have a mean temperature very close to that of T1 and
their ΔTj is the largest of the topology, at higher wind speeds the temperature parameters of
T1 are the highest.

5.3.1 Thermal response assessment and comparison


Summarizing the above remarks, it is concluded that in the transition from power loss
estimation to temperature profile calculation, the power loss distribution is not the only
deciding factor. The differences in the thermal modelling of modules of different voltage
rating, but also between IGBT’s and diodes of the same module is also a significant parameter.
The temperature profile is one step closer to the estimation of the lifetime, since it is the input
of the lifetime model. Therefore it is understood that the particularities of each part of this
thermal modelling can make a difference in the reliability of a component and by extension
to the reliability of the converter.

75
Simulation Results

The principles of reliability and lifetime command that a system is as weak as its weakest link.
Therefore, the damage and the expected lifetime of a power converter are identified as the
damage and the expected lifetime of the component that is expected to fail first. Since the
consumed lifetime of each component is a function of its temperature profile, it is understood
that the components that will show the highest temperatures are the ones that are more
prone to failure. This does not exclusively concern the mean temperatures of the components,
but also includes the amplitude of the temperature cycles. Of course as far as consumed
lifetime is concerned, the count of the temperature cycles of each amplitude is a determining
factor but this aspect is not going to be analyzed in this paragraph.

120

110

2L-VSC
Mean Temperature (oC)

100
3L-NPC
90
PWM1
80 PWM2
70 DF
ALD
60
3L-HB
50
3L-T2C
40
6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure 5-5 Maximum mean temperatures of the converter topologies versus average wind speed for generator-
side converters

45

40
2L-VSC
35
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

3L-NPC

30 PWM1
PWM2
25
DF

20 ALD
3L-HB
15
3L-T2C

10
6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure 5-6 Maximum amplitude of temperature cycle of each converter topology versus average wind speed for
generator-side converters

76
Simulation Results

Following this philosophy, in Figure 5-5 and Figure 5-6 the maximum values of the recorded
temperature parameters of each generator-side converter are plotted together. From their
comparison the following can be noted.

 The 2L-VSC presents the highest temperature profile and hence the worst thermal
response among the evaluated converters.
 The 3L-T2C converter exhibits high mean temperature as well as quite large ΔT’s.
 The 3L-NPC converter and the PWM-1 switching strategy show very similar plots that
almost identify. These are characterized by mediocre mean temperatures and
relatively high values of ΔTj.
 Regarding the mean junction temperature of their hottest component, the rest of the
converter topologies are quite close. Among these the DF switching strategy displays
an overall better performance in this aspect. The ALD and the PWM-2 switching
strategies also exhibit relatively low mean junction temperatures especially at high
wind speeds.
 Regarding the highest amplitudes of the temperature cycles, PWM-2 and ALD
strategies of the 3L-ANPC converter showcase the lowest values among the tested
converters. DF switching and the 3L-HB converter follow.

Summarizing the above, a preliminary conclusion is that three switching strategies (PWM-2,
DF and ALD) of the ANPC converter outmatch the thermal response of the rest of the tested
converters.

90
85
Mean Temperature (oC)

80 2L-VSC
75 3L-NPC
70 PWM1
65 PWM2

60 DF

55 ALD

50 3L-HB

45 3L-T2C
6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure 5-7 Maximum mean temperatures of the converter topologies versus average wind speed for grid-side
converters

77
Simulation Results

20

18

16 2L-VSC
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

14 3L-NPC
PWM1
12
PWM2
10
DF
8
ALD
6
3L-HB
4 3L-T2C
2
6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure 5-8 Maximum amplitude of temperature cycle of each converter topology versus average wind speed for
generator-side converters

Similarly, in Figure 5-7 and Figure 5-8 the corresponding measured thermal parameters of the
grid-side converters are plotted together. From their comparison the following can be noted.

 The most elevated junction mean temperatures are displayed by the 3L-HB and the
2L-VSC topologies.
 The largest values of temperature cycle amplitudes are observed in the 3L-HB, 3L-NPC
converters as well as in the PWM-1 switching strategy of the 3L-ANPC converter.
 The best temperature performance is showcased by the DF and the ALD switching
strategies of the ANPC converter. Both their maximum mean temperatures and their
ΔΤj’s are the lowest.

5.4 Damage and Lifetime Estimations


Following the analysis of the thermal performance of the examined converters, the
temperature profiles as generated for the wind profiles of the simulations are used as input
parameters to the LESIT lifetime model as described in paragraph 4.9. Since this lifetime model
is proposed for a specific range of mean temperatures and amplitudes of temperature cycles
[48], the necessary (but not necessarily valid) assumption was taken that its application can
be extended for temperature cycles of lower amplitude. At this point it is necessary to restate
that all the modelling-related choices and assumptions have been made so that the
comparison among the examined converters can stress out the differences that are observed
from one converter to another in a simple and straightforward way. As mentioned in
subchapter 4.8, the deviation from the common practice to use overrated switch modules for
the simulations is one step towards this direction. To these one can add the selection of the
lifetime model proposed by the LESIT project even though more reliable and complex lifetime
models have been developed. As a result the extracted consumed lifetime values of each
converter topology may not be offered for safe conclusions regarding lifetime estimation.
However the fact that all the simulations and calculations are executed based on the same
references offers a solid basis upon which a fruitful reliability comparison can be conducted.

78
Simulation Results

As has been described, the tested converters have been examined for four different wind
profiles characterized by different average wind speeds. For the comparison of the consumed
lifetime of the devices of the studied converters the temperature profiles of a single wind
profile are used. The wind profile with an average wind speed of 10m/s was selected for two
reasons. Primarily, the average wind speed is close to the rated wind speed of the turbine
(12m/s) and therefore the high power losses of the converters during maximum production
can be imprinted within this time interval. Secondarily, the “distance” of the average wind
speed from the rated wind speed of the turbine allows variations in the power production of
the turbine hence more diversified temperature profiles. Therefore both the high power
cycles but also the intense variations of the wind speed can be captured by the selection of
an average wind speed of 10m/s.

The values of consumed lifetime of each component are listed altogether in Appendix C. In
Figure 5-9 the converter topologies are again displayed with their components marked with
color codes corresponding to their consumed lifetime after their simulated profile. The red
color components represent the devices with the higher consumed lifetime, the yellow ones
represent the devices with a medium inflicted damage, and the green ones represent the
devices that have low consumed lifetime. This color coding can accordingly be matched with
the temperatures of the devices, where the red semiconductors are the “hot” ones, the yellow
would be the “warm” ones and the green would be the “cold” ones. The dashed red circle
represents the component with the highest value of damage during this simulated time
interval.

79
Simulation Results

(a) 2L-VSC (b) 3L-HB

(c) 3LT2C (d) 3L-NPC

(e) 3L-ANPC PWM-1 (f) 3L-ANPC PWM-2

(g) 3L-ANPC PWM-DF (h) 3L-ANPC PWM-ALD

Figure 5-9 Consumed lifetime of the components of the tested back-to-back configurations with color coding

Based in that it is concluded that the components with the heaviest load and the highest
consumed lifetime:

80
Simulation Results

 in the 2L-VSC are the switches on the grid side and the diodes on the generator side
 in the 3L-HB converter are similarly the switches for the grid side and the diodes on
the generator side
 in the 3L-T2C converter is the outer diode D1 for the generator side and the outer
switch T1 for the grid side
 in the 3L-NPC converter is the outer diode D1 for the generator side and the outer
switch T1 for the grid side
 in the PWM-1 switching strategy of the 3L-ANPC converter is the inner diode D2 for
the generator side and the outer switch T1 for the grid side
 in the PWM-2 switching strategy of the 3L-ANPC converter is the inner diode D2 for
the generator side and the inner switch T2 for the grid side
 in the PWM-DF switching strategy of the 3L-ANPC converter is the inner diode D2 for
the generator side and the inner switch T2 for the grid side
 in the PWM-ALD switching strategy of the 3L-ANPC converter is the outer diode D1 for
the generator side and the inner switch T2 for the grid side

Additionally if the maximum values of consumed lifetimes per converter are listed in
ascending order as in Table 5-1 and Table 5-2, the comparison of the reliability of the tested
converters is now possible as the consumed lifetime of the converters identifies with the
maximum damage inflicted on their components.
Table 5-1 Maximum consumed lifetime per converter topology for generator-side converters

Topology Damage
3L-ANPC ALD 1.408E-06
3L-NPC 1.456E-06
3L-ANPC PWM-2 1.726E-06
3L-ANPC DF 3.972E-06
3L-HB 7.298E-06
3L-ANPC PWM-1 8.598E-06
3L-T2C 1.905E-05
2L-VSC 7.056E-05
Table 5-2 Maximum consumed lifetime per converter topology for grid-side converters

Topology Damage
3L-ANPC ALD 1.578E-07
3L-ANPC DF 2.153E-07
3L-ANPC PWM-1 6.958E-07
3L-NPC 6.972E-07
3L-T2C 9.111E-07
3L-ANPC PWM-2 1.063E-06
3L-HB 1.539E-06
2L-VSC 1.840E-06
According to these it is concluded that the generator-side converter with the best reliability is
the ANPC converter when using the PWM-ALD even though the optimal stress-in/stress-out
proportionality has not been selected. PWM-2 and the 3L-NPC also display reduced damage
and seem decent choices for the generator-side converter when it comes to reliability. The
3L-T2C and the 2L-VSC are, on the other hand the converter topologies with the lower
expected lifetime. On the grid-side the PWM-ALD and PWM-DF strategies of the ANPC

81
Simulation Results

converter showcase the lower inflicted damage. This comes as a natural consequence of the
clearly better thermal distribution that is exhibited by these two PWM techniques. The highest
damage values for the grid-side converter are observed for the 2L-VSC and the 3L-HB
converter.

Regarding more general observations, it is noted that there is a consistency between the
thermal response of the components of the converters and their reliability. The switches or
diodes that display high temperatures and large temperature cycles have been proved to have
a smaller expected lifetime. Added to that, it is clearly concluded that the transition from a 2-
level to a 3-level converter has a remarkable effect on the lifetime expectancy of the power
electronic system. Finally, the availability of different switching strategies for the ANPC
converter prove to be of great importance for the increase of the lifetime.

82
Conclusions and recommendations for future research

6 Conclusions and recommendations for future research


This chapter summarizes and comments on the results that have been recorded within the
course of this thesis. Based on these, useful conclusions are made regarding the studied case.
Apart from these, the observed dynamics of each device offer a wider insight into the power
loss and thermal response of the power electronic components. As a result more general
conclusions can be made regarding the reliability of the topologies when other power
conditions or switch combinations are applied. These conclusions can be of importance to the
future users of this methodology and converter designers. Additionally, certain suggestions
aim to trigger the attention of future research on the field of lifetime and reliability evaluation
of the wind power converters.

6.1 Conclusions
Within the framework of this thesis a reliability comparison has been conducted between
different topologies of multilevel wind turbine converters. This comparison includes both
generator and grid-side converters of back-to-back configurations. A detailed model of a 2MW
wind turbine system has been developed as a common reference upon which this comparison
takes place. The converters that have been tested have as a common basis the capability of
generation of three different levels of voltage at their output. Five different converter
topologies have been examined in total for one of which four alternative switching techniques
have been looked into.

Initially the PWM techniques employed are analyzed so that through simple steps the
conduction time of the converters can be discretized to smaller individual time intervals so
that the power losses of each component of the converters can be calculated. After the
composition of a detailed list of the conduction and switching losses of all the employed
devices, the constructed models have been used to simulate wind profiles of different average
wind speeds. With the help of the power loss models the evolution of the power losses against
the wind speed has been examined.

At this stage it has been realized that the converter topologies that employ switches that are
exposed to the full dc-link voltage, including the 2L-VSC, suffer significantly more switching
losses on these switches and therefore experience a disadvantage. Moreover, the most even
distribution of losses is achieved by certain PWM techniques (ALD, DF) of the 3L-ANPC
converter that distribute accordingly the amount of switching losses among the components.
The rest of the topologies and techniques display an intermediate situation. Different trends
are observed regarding the components that take the majority of losses in every case. Grid-
side converters tend to stress the IGBT switches more while generator-side converters load
the diodes more intensively.

Following, through the thermal modelling of the used power electronic components, the
junction temperature profile of each device has been generated and an integrated image of
the thermal response of each converter has been put together. By analyzing the temperature
profiles of these components useful information such as the mean temperature and the
maximum amplitudes of the temperature cycles have been extracted.

As a result the semiconductor devices with the highest temperature have been discovered for
all the examined converters. Moreover, the maximum values of the temperature parameters

83
Conclusions and recommendations for future research

displayed in each converter have been plotted together so that the thermal response of the
converters can be compared. From that comparison it has become known that on the
generator side the ALD, PWM-2 and DF switching strategies of the 3L-ANPC converter display
the lowest temperature values while the hottest components among the converters are found
in the 3L-T2C and the 2L-VSC topologies. Similarly on the grid side ALD and DF have a superior
thermal distribution while the 2L-VSC and the 3L-HB converters exhibit the highest
temperature values.

Eventually, with the use of the LESIT lifetime model where the temperature profiles of the
semiconductor devices are used as input, the damage or else the consumed lifetime of the
components is calculated. The results confirm the preliminary assessments that state that the
PWM-ALD switching method is the most appropriate for extended lifetime of converters on
both sides of the dc-link. The DF technique is also suitable for the grid-side converter while
PWM-2 as well as the 3L-NPC converter show good lifetime expectancy compared to the other
converters and switching strategies.

A first general outcome of this assessment is that the step-up from the 2L-VSC to a 3-level
converter increases the reliability of the power electronic system. The distribution of the
losses and the thermal load to more components clearly favors the increase of the expected
lifetime of the converter and that has been proven throughout the complete process.
Therefore, it can safely be generalized that going up a level in multilevel converters even
though more cost intensive increases the lifetime system.

Among others, it is proven that the larger number of components that the ANPC converter is
equipped with, provides it with the capability of multiple alternatives when it comes to
switching strategies. The advantages that each one of them has to offer can be utilized in
different cases of loads, frequencies and power factors. The ALD and the DF switching
techniques offer great improvement and can be considered for a number of different cases.
Firstly, the ALD strategy as its names commands can be adjusted according to case in order to
distribute the switching losses in a way that the total load can be distributed evenly between
the inner and outer IGBT modules. That brings a balance between the two components with
the highest load. Secondly the DF strategy with its unique sequence of states accomplishes
the same output with only half the switching frequency. This creates a uniform switching
pattern among all modules of the topology and reduces the switching losses to half improving
the developed temperatures and extending the lifetime of the converter.

However the case-specific results of this simulation obviously are not suitable for broad
generalizations. Beyond the wide insight that is offered through the analysis of all the different
aspects of these converters, there are a lot of other parameters that determine the ideal
converter in each case.

6.2 Recommendations for future work


The following suggestions for future work are provided on the grounds of the desirable goal
that each of them may achieve:

6.2.1 Further research on ALD-Switching strategy


The unique flexibility that the ALD strategy gives to the 3L-ANPC converter may be extended
if a clever temperature control loop can be integrated in the system. The ALD Stress-in/Stress-

84
Conclusions and recommendations for future research

out analogy can be adjusted according to the load conditions in order to ensure even
distribution of losses. However in the case of a wind turbine where the grid-code where the
conditions change continuously and the grid-codes include a wide range of power factors the
Stress-in/Stress-out proportionality cannot be set constant or change discretely. Therefore, it
is proposed that with the help of temperature sensors a control technique can be developed
that dynamically changes this factor according to the thermal feedback received.

6.2.2 Investigation of sensitivity of reliability


Another proposed subject of further research is the investigation of the sensitivity of the
lifetime of a converter in relation to different factors affecting it. Different parameters like
switching frequency, power factor, voltage and current rating of the switches and other have
been proved to affect the loading of the converter components, deteriorate their thermal
response and reduce their lifetime. Therefore, the lifetime of a component and hence of the
converter topology can be determined as a function of these parameters and investigate the
relation.

6.2.3 Investigation of other cases


The numerous parameters that can be altered in a wind turbine system like that gives the
possibility of limitless alternative systems to be investigated. A proposed topic of further work
could be the scaling up of the system in order to verify if the findings of this thesis apply for
other cases and if other rules apply. Another suggested area of research would be a series of
simulations with one of the multilevel converter topologies for a variety of wind speed profiles
and for the full range of the power factors of the grid code so a more detailed lifetime
calculation can be conducted.

85
Conclusions and recommendations for future research

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92
Appendix A: Power loss simulation results

Appendix A: Power loss simulation results


Table A-1 Power losses of 2-level Voltage Source Converter

Wind Gen Gen Gen Gen


Switch Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
Speed Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
6 m/s 1 13.19 104.99 2.56 79.49 17.74 141.02 36.09 113.3
8 m/s 1 38.58 137.04 7.17 103.63 33.59 202.9 79.74 158.99
10 m/s 1 93.54 207.5 16.3 142.93 54 310.85 151.07 225.5
12 m/s 1 202.85 362.06 32.42 198.42 77.1 494.84 260.97 315.86

Table A-2 Power losses of 3-level NPC converter

Wind Gen Gen Gen Gen


Switch Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
Speed Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
1 10.84 58.71 0.2 1.49 0.002 2.19 14.45 14.5
6 m/s 2 14.83 8.91 0.2 0.14 32.81 86.83 14.51 0.07
5 4.53 11.43 36.59 15.13
1 30.49 75.11 0.86 1.76 0.04 4.32 38.24 18.97
8 m/s 2 41.32 10.64 0.62 0.17 59.98 115.05 38.39 0.11
5 11.96 14.33 64.11 19.98
1 71.3 105.47 1.77 2.26 0.32 8.1 82.36 25.46
10 m/s 2 95.06 14.21 1.78 0.22 93.4 156.35 82.68 0.2
5 25.5 19.07 95.14 25.26
1 149.45 160.02 4.89 3.17 1.83 14.86 156.87 34.74
12 m/s 2 193.96 21.55 4.89 0.28 128.28 213.77 157.42 0.32
5 46.45 25.97 123.08 33.49

Table A-3 Power losses of 3-level ANPC converter for PWM-1 switching strategy

Wind Gen Gen Gen Gen


Switch Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
Speed Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
1 10.84 58.71 0.2 1.49 0.002 2.19 14.45 14.5
6 m/s 2 14.29 0.82 0.85 0.14 0.12 0.39 50.72 0.07
5 0.56 8.84 3.89 9.86 32.78 87.01 0.13 0.37
1 30.49 75.11 0.62 1.76 0.04 4.32 38.24 18.96
8 m/s 2 39.73 1.04 2.51 0.17 0.76 0.68 100.6 0.13
5 1.64 10.42 10.1 12.39 59.29 115.07 0.83 0.73
1 71.3 105.46 1.77 2.26 0.32 8.05 82.37 25.45
10 m/s 2 90.92 1.44 6.49 0.22 3.32 1.13 171.97 0.22
5 4.21 13.54 20.86 16.36 90.04 155.93 3.38 1.38
1 149.46 160.02 4.88 3.17 1.84 14.86 156.88 34.73
12 m/s 2 183.9 2.14 15.57 0.29 11.12 1.83 266.96 0.38
5 9.97 19.59 35.95 21.74 117.23 212.75 10 2.5

93
Appendix A: Power loss simulation results

Table A-4 Power losses of 3-level ANPC converter for PWM-2 switching strategy

Wind Gen Gen Gen Gen


Switch Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
Speed Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
1 10.93 0.82 0.2 0.14 0.002 0.39 14.51 0.07
6 m/s 2 11.38 68.11 4.08 11.42 32.69 89.24 14.58 14.91
5 3.38 0.82 0.65 0.14 0.11 0.39 36.44 0.07
1 30.71 1.03 0.62 0.17 0.04 0.68 38.4 0.12
8 m/s 2 32.08 86.49 10.71 14.29 59.28 119.95 39.04 19.85
5 9.07 1.03 1.89 0.17 0.72 0.68 63.26 0.12
1 71.49 1.42 1.77 0.22 0.32 1.13 82.69 1.94
10 m/s 2 75.41 121.05 22.59 18.96 90.49 165.86 85.58 27.34
5 19.52 1.39 4.72 0.22 3.01 1.13 91.83 0.2
1 148.27 2.1 4.89 0.28 1.83 1.82 157.43 0.32
12 m/s 2 159.48 184.8 40.72 25.69 119.19 231.99 166.31 38.86
5 35.19 1.99 10.72 0.28 9.32 1.83 113.34 0.3

Table A-5 Power losses of 3-level ANPC converter for DF switching strategy

Wind Gen Gen Gen Gen


Switch Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
Speed Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
1 10.88 28.92 0.17 4.42 0.002 1.1 13 7.09
6 m/s 2 12.83 33.51 2.47 5.61 16.5 43.23 32.71 7.67
5 1.96 33.31 2.27 5.61 16.54 43.33 18.35 7.37
1 30.6 36.85 0.53 5.2 0.04 2.16 35.95 9.22
8 m/s 2 35.89 42.41 6.62 6.96 30.11 57.33 69.96 10.42
5 5.33 41.73 6.01 6.95 30.09 57.36 32.2 9.53
1 71.4 51.38 1.56 6.76 0.32 4.02 81.66 12.36
10 m/s 2 83.16 59 14.57 9.1 46.74 77.9 128.97 14.54
5 11.84 56.85 12.82 9.07 46.36 77.78 47.82 12.21
1 148.84 77 4.42 9.77 1.83 7.39 167.04 17.07
12 m/s 2 171.73 89.04 28.19 12.13 64.26 106.8 216.78 20.54
5 22.61 82.49 23.38 12.02 62.44 106.7 61.84 15.18

Table A-6 Power losses of 3-level ANPC converter for ALD switching strategy

Wind Gen Gen Gen Gen


Switch Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
Speed Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
1 10.88 28.28 0.2 1.49 0.002 0 14.49 7.42
6 m/s 2 11.43 38.79 4.09 4.76 32.85 46.29 14.61 6.87
5 3.38 0.82 0.65 0.14 0.11 0.39 36.44 0.07
1 30.6 35.1 0.62 1.76 0.04 0 38.36 5.79
8 m/s 2 32.2 49.73 10.74 5.84 59.46 38.34 39.09 12.9
5 9.07 1.02 1.89 0.17 0.72 0.68 63.26 0.12
1 71.4 47.62 1.78 2.26 0.32 0 82.67 2.48
10 m/s 2 75.53 70.21 22.66 7.57 90.16 22.14 85.63 22.85
5 19.52 1.39 4.72 0.22 3 1.13 91.83 0.2

94
Appendix A: Power loss simulation results

1 148.84 69.78 4.88 3.17 1.83 10.69 157.43 0


12 m/s 2 158.87 107.89 40.83 10.05 117.02 4.38 166.32 37.79
5 35.19 1.99 10.72 0.28 9.32 1.83 113.33 0.3

Table A-7 Power losses of 3-level H-Bridge converter

Wind Gen Gen Gen Gen


Switch Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
Speed Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
1 12.76 68.19 2.46 11.39 16.45 78.61 32.63 15.62
6 m/s
2 12.76 68.19 2.46 11.39 16.47 88.71 32.54 15.58
1 35.74 86.69 6.61 14.17 30.06 102.79 69.79 21.33
8 m/s
2 35.74 86.69 6.61 14.17 30.06 118.27 69.74 21.32
1 83.01 121.59 14.54 18.63 46.8 137.05 128.65 29.9
10 m/s
2 83.01 121.59 14.54 18.63 46.75 162.09 128.85 29.94
1 172.48 186.12 28.12 25 64.61 183.61 216.27 42.49
12 m/s
2 172.48 186.12 28.12 25 64.79 225.83 216.45 42.51

Table A-8 Power losses of 3-level T-type converter

Wind Gen Gen Gen Gen


Switch Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
Speed Tcon Tsw Dcon Dsw
1 11.21 90.47 0.2 4.43 0.002 3.16 16.02 106.36
6 m/s 2 3.93 6.81 4.49 33.16 32.8 86.85 36.66 0.41
3 3.93 6.81 4.49 33.16 32.89 87.05 36.56 0.41
1 32.93 119.38 0.65 11.32 0.04 6.22 43.81 143.25
8 m/s 2 10.71 8.07 11.85 43.38 59.95 115.08 64.09 0.86
3 10.7 8.07 11.85 43.38 59.99 115.14 64.05 0.86
1 80.31 182.36 1.94 14.93 0.33 11.77 96.99 193.51
10 m/s 2 23.71 10.75 25.23 59.42 93.1 156.38 94.91 1.71
3 23.72 10.75 25.23 59.42 92.96 156.15 95.04 1.71
1 175.45 318 5.51 21.38 1.98 22.95 189.74 256.05
12 m/s 2 45.17 16.65 45.98 80.4 126.49 213.7 122.93 3.25
3 45.16 16.65 45.99 80.4 126.47 213.53 122.94 3.24

95
Appendix B: Junction temperature of the power electronic components

Appendix B: Junction temperature of the power electronic


components
In this appendix the temperature profile of the semiconductor components of each tested
topology are plotted. At the left part of each figure the mean junction temperatures of each
component are plotted versus the mean wind speed of each simulated wind profile. Similarly
on the right part of each figure, a graph of the maximum ΔTj’s has been plotted versus the
same mean wind speeds.

Generator-Side Converters
T1 D1 T1 D1
120
50
110
Mean Temperature (oC)

100 40

Maximum ΔTj (oC)


90
30
80
70 20
60
50
10
40 0
6 8 10 12
6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-1 Temperature profile of generator-side 2L-VS converter

T1 D1 T2 D2 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 D5
100 40

90 35
Mean Temperature (oC)

30
80
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

25
70 20

60 15
10
50
5
40
0
6 8 10 12
6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-2 Temperature profile of generator-side 3L-NPC converter

T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5
100 40

90 35
Mean Temperature (oC)

Maximum ΔTj (oC)

30
80
25
70 20

60 15
10
50
5
40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-3 Temperature profile of generator-side 3L-ANPC converter for PWM-1 switching strategy

96
Appendix B: Junction temperature of the power electronic components

T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5
100 40
35
90
Mean Temperature (oC)

30

Maximum ΔTj (oC)


80 25

70 20
15
60
10
50 5

40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-4 Temperature profile of generator-side 3L-ANPC converter for PWM-2 switching strategy

T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5
90 40
35
Mean Temperature (oC)

80
30
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

25
70
20
60 15
10
50
5
40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-5 Temperature profile of generator-side 3L-ANPC converter for PWM-DF switching strategy

T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5
100 40
35
90
Mean Temperature (oC)

30
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

80
25
70 20
15
60
10
50 5
40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-6 Temperature profile of generator-side 3L-ANPC converter for PWM-ALD switching strategy

97
Appendix B: Junction temperature of the power electronic components

T1 D1 T2 D2 T1 D1 T2 D2
100
40
90 35
Mean Temperature (oC)

30

Maximum ΔTj (oC)


80
25
70
20
60 15
10
50
5
40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-7 Temperature profile of generator-side 3L-HB converter

T1 D1 T2 D2 T3 D3 T1 D1 T2 D2 T3 D3

100 40
35
90
Mean Temperature (oC)

30
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

80 25

70 20
15
60
10
50 5
40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-8 Temperature profile of generator-side 3L-T2C converter

98
Appendix B: Junction temperature of the power electronic components

Grid-Side Converters
T1 D1 T1 D1
90 20
Mean Temperature (oC)

80
15

Maximum ΔTj (oC)


70
10
60

5
50

40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-9 Temperature profile of grid-side 2L-VS converter

T1 D1 T2 D2 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 D5
90 20
Mean Temperature (oC)

80
15
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

70
10
60

5
50

40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-10 Temperature profile of grid-side 3L-NPC converter

T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5
90 20
Mean Temperature (oC)

80
15
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

70
10
60

50 5

40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-11 Temperature profile of grid-side 3L-ANPC converter for PWM-1 switching strategy

99
Appendix B: Junction temperature of the power electronic components

T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5
Mean Temperature (oC) 90 20

80
15

Maximum ΔTj (oC)


70
10
60

5
50

40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-12 Temperature profile of grid-side 3L-ANPC converter for PWM-2 switching strategy

T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5

90 20
Mean Temperature (oC)

80 15
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

70
10
60

5
50

40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-13 Temperature profile of grid-side 3L-ANPC converter for PWM-DF switching strategy

T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5 T1 D1 T2 D2 T5 D5
90 20
Mean Temperature (oC)

80
15
Maximum ΔTj (oC)

70
10
60

5
50

40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-14 Temperature profile of grid-side 3L-ANPC converter for PWM-ALD switching strategy

100
Appendix B: Junction temperature of the power electronic components

T1 D1 T2 D2 T1 D1 T2 D2
90 20
80
Mean Temperature (oC)

70
15

Maximum ΔTj (oC)


60
50
10
40
30
20 5
10
0 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-15 Temperature profile of grid-side 3L-HB converter

T1 D1 T2 D2 T3 D3 T1 D1 T2 D2 T3 D3

90 20
Mean Temperature (oC)

80
15
Maximum ΔTj (oC)
70
10
60

5
50

40 0
6 8 10 12 6 8 10 12
Wind Speed (m/s) Wind Speed (m/s)

Figure B-16 Temperature profile of grid-side 3L-T2C converter

101
Appendix C: Consumed lifetime

Appendix C: Consumed lifetime


In this appendix the consumed lifetime of the power electronic components of the examined
converters is displayed as calculated for a 10-minute wind profile with average wind speed of
10m/s.
Table C-1 Consumed Lifetime of components of 2L-VS converter

Consumed Lifetime / Damage


Generator-Side Grid-Side
Converter Converter
T1 1.663E-06 1.840E-06
2L-VSC
D1 7.056E-05 1.114E-07

Table C-2 Consumed Lifetime of components of 3L-NPC converter

Consumed Lifetime / Damage


Generator-Side Grid-Side
Converter Converter
T1 4.672E-12 6.972E-07
D1 1.456E-06 1.504E-12
3L-NPC T2 1.098E-06 6.580E-07
D2 4.923E-07 4.231E-13
D5 1.887E-07 3.325E-09

Table C-3 Consumed Lifetime of components of 3L-ANPC converter for the PWM-1 switching strategy

Consumed Lifetime / Damage


Generator-Side Grid-Side
Converter Converter
T1 4.222E-12 6.958E-07
D1 1.437E-06 1.479E-12
3L-ANPC T2 2.511E-12 3.638E-08
PWM-1 D2 8.598E-06 2.658E-11
T5 9.445E-07 1.229E-11
D5 3.262E-11 1.659E-09

102
Appendix C: Consumed lifetime

Table C-4 Consumed Lifetime of components of 3L-ANPC converter for the PWM-2 switching strategy

Consumed Lifetime / Damage


Generator-Side Grid-Side
Converter Converter
T1 N/A 1.333E-08
D1 4.730E-07 4.310E-13
3L-ANPC T2 1.145E-06 1.063E-06
PWM-2 D2 1.726E-06 2.304E-09
T5 1.178E-08 2.127E-11
D5 3.866E-08 1.031E-11

Table C-5 Consumed Lifetime of components of 3L-ANPC converter for the PWM-DF switching strategy

Consumed Lifetime / Damage


Generator-Side Grid-Side
Converter Converter
T1 1.036E-12 1.134E-07
D1 1.251E-06 1.067E-11
3L-ANPC T2 1.311E-08 2.153E-07
PWM-DF D2 3.972E-06 2.095E-10
T5 1.258E-08 8.650E-10
D5 3.367E-09 1.067E-10

Table C-6 Consumed Lifetime of components of 3L-ANPC converter for the PWM-ALD switching strategy

Consumed Lifetime / Damage


Generator-Side Grid-Side
Converter Converter
T1 5.857E-12 1.423E-07
D1 1.408E-06 6.041E-13
3L-ANPC T2 1.005E-06 1.578E-07
PWM-ALD D2 5.913E-07 2.040E-09
T5 2.609E-12 2.081E-11
D5 4.168E-08 1.006E-11

Table C-7 Consumed Lifetime of components of 3L-HB converter

Consumed Lifetime / Damage


Generator-Side Grid-Side
Converter Converter
T1 1.125E-07 1.539E-06
D1 7.298E-06 7.048E-10
3L-HB
T2 3.331E-07 1.538E-06
D2 7.292E-06 7.047E-10

103
Appendix C: Consumed lifetime

Table C-8 Consumed Lifetime of components of 3L-T2C converter

Consumed Lifetime / Damage


Generator-Side Grid-Side
Converter Converter
T1 4.735E-12 9.111E-07
D1 1.905E-05 2.608E-11
T2 1.110E-06 2.030E-10
3L-T2C
D2 6.152E-08 6.008E-08
T3 1.124E-06 2.029E-10
D3 5.713E-08 6.009E-08

104