Controlling harmonics and improving power quality

2015-06-22 - Sohar Aluminium in Oman, one of the world’s largest aluminium smelter facilities, employs a customised power quality solution from ABB.

The history of the city of Sohar, in north Oman, goes back over 5,000 years. At one time it was the capital of Oman and served as an important port town, and this heritage has been revitalized over the past decade with the development of a new modern deepwater port. “The Sultan of Oman’s vision is to restore Sohar to its former glory as the nation’s shipping centre,” explains Henk Pauw, CEO of Sohar Aluminium.

The Omani government has therefore been investing in a number of projects in the area, including the aluminium industry. The flagship enterprise in the industrialisation of the region, and the new port’s first major customer, is Sohar Aluminium, one of the largest aluminium smelters in the world.

Experts in power quality

Sohar Aluminium produces more than 360,000 tons of aluminium annually and is also one of the biggest power consumers in Oman. The smelting process was creating high levels of harmonics and it was imperative to keep these under control to adhere to the grid codes and be connected to the Oman power grid without any compliance issues. Edward Hough, electrical engineer at Sohar Aluminium, explains: “As a leading specialist on power factor correction, we contacted ABB to assist with the design and installation of harmonic filters to reduce the amount of harmonics generated by our smelting process.”

Harmonics are akin to electrical pollution created by non-linear loads. If harmonics in a network are too high, it can result in forced aging as well as overload and tripping of electrical equipment. High harmonics also interfere with the smooth operation of electronic equipment like computers and UPS systems and create an increase in network losses. Many utilities impose penalties for non-compliance with harmonic regulations and grid codes.

Tailormade success

ABB delivered a turnkey solution, including a study of the harmonics in the plant as well as the design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of a harmonic filter system. The power quality solution comprises four harmonic filter banks at 55 MVAR (Mega Volt Ampere Reactive) and high-voltage switchgear.

The filter system has solved power quality issues with regard to harmonics and reactive power and allows Sohar Alumininum to connect to the Oman grid without any compliance issues. The system has also improved power quality in the smelter facility and reduced electrical losses. “This harmonic filter solution has been highly reliable and successful,” says Edward Hough.

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