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ICTD International Centre for Training and Development

Power Factor Correction and Harmonics

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Typically, both utilities and consumers have incentives for power factor improvement. For a utility, power factor improvement reduces system losses and increases the portion of generation capacity for productive use. In addition it can help maintaining voltage at desired level. Consequently, utilities often encourage consumers to maintain high power factors by applying tariff clauses which penalize consumers for low power factor.

The course is intended to provide electric engineers and technicians with collective and recent knowledge about power factor improvement. This includes the system measurement and analysis to justify the economy of introducing power factor correction technique. Furthermore, it provides procedures for designing, sizing specifying the required capacitor. The information includes both theoretical and practical aspects.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course participants will know:

  • Definitions of specific electrical terms
  • Relationship between voltage, current, and power versus time for alternating current circuits
  • The importance of minimizing current flow in AC electrical systems
  • How power companies charge for the electricity they transport to their customers
  • How Capacitors actually correct for reactive power in industrial plants.

Course Outline

  • Reactive energy and power factor
  • The nature of reactive energy
  • Equipment and appliances requiring reactive energy
  • The power factor
  • Practical values of power factor

Why to improve the power factor?

  • Reduction in the cost of electricity
  • Technical/economic optimization

How to improve the power factor?

  • Theoretical principles
  • By using what equipment?
  • The choice between a fixed or automatically-regulated bank of capacitors

Where to install power factor correction capacitors?

  • Global compensation
  • Compensation by sector
  • Individual compensation

How to decide the optimum level of compensation?

  • General method
  • Simplified method
  • Method based on the avoidance of tariff penalties
  • Method based on reduction of declared maximum apparent power (kVA)

Compensation at the terminals of a transformer

  • Compensation to increase the available active power output
  • Compensation of reactive energy absorbed by the transformer

Power factor correction of induction motors

  • Connection of a capacitor bank and protection settings
  • How self-excitation of an induction motor can be avoided

Example of an installation before and after power-factor correction

The effects of harmonics

  • Problems arising from power-system harmonics
  • Possible solutions
  • Choosing the optimum solution


  • Harmonics Analysis,
  • Harmonic Spectrum,
  • Sources of Harmonics,
  • Non-Linear Loads,
  • Harmonic Current Flow

Harmonic related problems

  • Capacitor Failure,
  • Fuse Interruptions,
  • Equipment over Heating,
  • Equipment Mis-Operation,
  • Metering Errors


  • Determining Parallel and Series Resonance,
  • Effect of Source Impedance and Capacitor Size,
  • Effects of Resonance on the System,
  • Impedance vs. Frequency Scans,
  • Approximations of Parallel Resonance

Evaluating Harmonics

  • Resonance Calculations,
  • Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) Calculations,
  • Effect of Parallel Resonance on THD,
  • Effect of Source Strength on THD,
  • Impact of System Configuration

IEEE 519

  • Voltage and Current Distortion Limits,
  • Point of Common Coupling Between the Utility and Customer,
  • Enforcement of IEEE 519,
  • Ratio of Load vs. Source Strength to Determine Harmonic Limits

Harmonic mitigation method

  • Utility Transformer Configuration to Block 3rd Harmonics,
  • Phase Cancellation using Delta and Wye Connections,
  • Capacitor Operating Restrictions,
  • Filtered Capacitor Banks,
  • Detuning Capacitor Banks

Harmonic Filter Design

  • Selecting the Tuning Frequency,
  • Series Resonance,
  • Sizing the Tuning Reactor,
  • Evaluating the Capacitor Adequacy,
  • Capacitor Voltage Stress,
  • Filter Design Examples

Case problem

Design of a 5th Harmonic Filter Tuned to the 4.7th

Implementation of capacitor banks

  • Capacitor elements
  • Choice of protection, control devices and connecting cables

Course Methodology

A variety of methodologies will be used during the course that includes:

  • (30%) Based on Case Studies
  • (30%) Techniques
  • (30%) Role Play
  • (10%) Concepts
  • Pre-test and Post-test
  • Variety of Learning Methods
  • Lectures
  • Case Studies and Self Questionaires
  • Group Work
  • Discussion
  • Presentation

Who should attend

This course is designed for Electric utility engineers and technicians in various departments deal with power factor correction in transmission and distribution systems. Also, it intended to engineers deal with power factor correction at consumer plants.


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