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Wind Turbine Flicker Calculation using Neural Networks


Stavros A. Papathanassiou
(1)
, Spyros J. Kiartzis
(2)
, Michael P. Papadopoulos
(1)
and Antonios G. Kladas
(1)
(1)
Electric Power Division, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, National Technical University of Athens
9, Iroon Polytechniou st., 15780 Zografou, Athens, GREECE. E-mail: st@power.ece.ntua.gr
(2)
Electric Energy Division, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
54006 Thessaloniki, GREECE. E-mail: skiar@tee.gr
ABSTRACT
The connection of wind turbines to the distribution networks may affect the voltage quality offered to the consumers. One of the
factors contributing to this effect are the rapid variations of the wind turbine output power, which cause respective fluctuations
in the supply voltage, referred to as flicker. This paper presents a neural network based model for wind turbine flicker emission
calculations. Neural network training patterns are developed using a simulation model of a typical 500 kW stall-controlled wind
turbine, by varying all wind and network parameters that might affect the expected flicker levels. The proposed neural network
model predicts flicker emissions with sufficient accuracy under any normal operating conditions (wind speed mean value and
turbulence intensity) and network characteristics (short circuit capacity, angle of Thevenin impedance and local load). The paper
also includes an extensive discussion on the dependence of the flicker severity on the wind and network parameters considered.
KEYWORDS: Wind Turbines, Flicker, Neural Networks
1. INTRODUCTION
Wind Turbines (WTs) connected to electrical grids may affect the power quality of the supply, as a result of the fluctuating
character of their output power. This contains both periodic components (due to aerodynamic phenomena, such as the tower
shadow effect) and "random" variations (due to wind gusting and the general variability of the wind speed), resulting in
corresponding fluctuations of the voltage magnitude along the feeder where the WTs are connected. Fluctuations in the
frequency range between 0.5 and 35 Hz contribute to the light flickering effect, referred to as flicker. Flicker is evaluated
according to the IEC 60868 standard [1,2]. A common measure of its severity is the short-term flicker index, P
st
, measured over
10 min periods, whereas in certain cases (but not in WTs) the long-term (120 min) index, P
lt
, is also applicable.
Wind turbine flicker emissions are receiving a lot of attention lately and standards are being developed to establish
requirements and methods of assessment, (e.g. IEC 61400-21, [3]), which are generally based on measurements in existing
installations. According to these standards, the WT manufacturers have to specify the continuous operation flicker coefficient,
derived from a specific measurement procedure, as a function of the network impedance phase angle and the 10-min average of
the wind speed. Flicker emission due to switching operations should be given as well. This information is then used to evaluate
the expected flicker levels when the WT is connected to a specific point in the grid and examine the conformity with the
applicable emission levels, as determined by national and international standards and recommendations (e.g. [4,5]). The
importance of being able to predict the expected flicker emissions at the design stage or before the installation of a WT or wind
farm is obvious. For this purpose, suitable WT and grid simulation models have been developed and applied, both in the time
and frequency domain, e.g. as in [6-8].
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Neural networks are a promising area of artificial intelligence, having found numerous applications in modelling and
forecasting applications in power engineering. A variety of neural network based models appeared in the last decade (e.g.
[9,10]) and have been applied in many diverse areas, such as load forecasting, dynamic security assessment, component fault
detection and diagnosis, machine control and parameter estimation.
In this paper neural networks are applied to the calculation of the flicker induced by the operation of grid-connected wind
turbines. The objective is to derive a single neural network which will predict flicker levels at the Point of Common Coupling
(PCC) of the WT, under any normal operating conditions (wind speed mean value and turbulence intensity) and network
characteristics (short circuit capacity, phase angle of Thevenin impedance and local load). These parameters will serve as inputs
to the network, its output being the flicker severity index at the PCC.
For this purpose, a set of training patterns (i.e. input-output combinations) of sufficient size and representativity is
required. Although in principle the training set could be derived from an extensive measurement data-base, in practice such data
are not available, particularly regarding the network characteristics (this would require measurements on the same WT,
connected to a great variety of different network points). For this reason, the simulation model of a typical 500 kW stall-
controlled WT, presented in Section 2 of the paper, is used here for the creation of the training set. By varying all wind and
network parameters that may affect the flicker levels, an extensive number of input combinations is generated. For each case the
flicker severity index is calculated using the flickermeter algorithm of IEC 60868, outlined in Section 3. The neural network
approach fundamentals and the application of this technique to the flicker calculation problem is presented in Section 4,
followed by an extended discussion of the results obtained. Particular emphasis is placed on the investigation of the dependence
of the flicker severity on the wind and network parameters.
The developed neural network is machine-specific, since its generation is based on training patterns derived from
simulations (or measurements, if data are available) on a specific WT. Once generated, the neural network permits the accurate
and effortless computation of the expected flicker levels, without resorting to additional measurements or time-consuming
simulations. The possibility, in particular, of substituting expensive and difficult to perform measurements is a very important
aspect of the utility of the proposed neural network application and it is certainly worth investigating its applicability in
simplifying extensive measurement campaigns, such as required in IEC 61400-21 ([3]).
2. STUDY CASE SYSTEM MODELLING OF THE COMPONENTS
2.1 The Grid

Z
th
E
th
=20 kV
800 kVA
20/0.69 kV
200 CkVA
! "
X
T
=5%
S
L
=500 kVA
cos!
L
= 0.8
AG
500 kW WT
3-Blade
29 rpm
PCC
Figure 1. Study case power system
The study case power system considered in the paper is shown in Fig. 1. The medium voltage (MV) distribution grid is
represented by its Thevenin equivalent, consisting of a voltage source E
th
and the series impedance Z
th
. A concentrated local
3
load is connected at the PCC, corresponding to the consumer loads in the nearby area. Although the local load could have been
included in the Thevenin equivalent of the grid, it is modelled here independently in order to investigate its effect on the PCC
voltage flicker.
2.2 The Wind Turbine
The WT considered is a typical 500 kW stall-controlled unit. It is equipped with a squirrel cage induction generator,
connected to the MV network via a 800 kVA, 0.69/20 kV step-up transformer. The 200 CkVA capacitor bank at the generator
terminals provides no-load power factor correction
The WT is equipped with a 3-blade fixed-pitch rotor, rotating at 29 rpm. The rotor aerodynamic characteristics are
simulated using its static aerodynamic power coefficient, C
p
("), curve, resulting in the power curve shown in Fig. 2.
0 5 10 15 20 25
0
100
200
300
400
500
600
Wind speed (m/s)
P
o
w
e
r

(
k
W
)
Figure 2. Wind turbine power curve.
In order to account for the aerodynamic torque pulsations at multiples of the rotor speed (the nP and 3nP harmonics, of a
3-blade rotor), a simplified representation of the tower shadow and wind shear effects is incorporated in the WT model. The
effect of the tower is to reduce the aerodynamic torque of each blade as it sweeps in front of it. This is represented by an
approximate reduction !V
sh
of the equivalent blade wind speed, in the 2#
sh
interval around the tower, as shown in Fig. 3.

!V
sh
3#/2 3#/2+#
sh
3#/2-#
sh
0
$ (rad)
v
w
($)
Figure 3. Tower shadow representation.
The wind shear effect signifies the change of the horizontal wind speed component with the altitude, within the rotor disk
area. As a result, the blades experience an increased equivalent wind speed at their top position ($=#/2, in Fig. 3) and a reduced
one at the bottom position ($=3#/2). The wind shear is simulated by the widely used exponential law:
2#
sh
4
%
w
wh h
v z
v z
_


,
(1)
where v
w
is the equivalent blade wind speed, acting on the aerodynamic centre of the blade, located at height z. v
wh
is the wind
speed at the hub height, z
h
, and % the shear exponent.
The variability of the aerodynamic torque, due to periodic variations, random wind speed fluctuations and gusting, is
propagated in the drive train of the WT towards the output. The magnitude of the resulting output power fluctuations, and
therefore the induced voltage flicker, depends critically on the torsional characteristics of the drive train, which must be properly
represented in the simulation model. The mechanical equivalent utilised in this study is shown in Fig. 4 and consists of a number
of lumped inertias, elastically coupled to each other, as it is common in WTs (e.g. [11,12]). The three inertias H
B
correspond to
the three rotor blades. H
H
, H
GB
and H
G
represent the hub, gearbox and generator rotor, respectively, into which other secondary
drive train elements are lumped (axes, disc brakes etc.). C
ij
and d
ij
are the stiffness and damping coefficients of the elastic
coupling between adjacent elements j and k. D
j
is the external damping coefficient of the rotating inertia j. Inputs to the model
are the generator torque T
G
and the aerodynamic torques T
W1
, T
W2
and T
W3
, acting on each blade.
C
GBG
d
GBG
!
G
, "
G
H
H
H
GB
H
G
T
W2
d
HGB
C
HGB
D
GB
!
GB
, "
GB
T
G
D
G
D
H
H
B
H
B
d
HB
C
HB
C
HB
C
HB
d
HB
d
HB
D
B
D
B
D
B
T
W1
T
W3
!
B#
, "
B#
!
B2
, "
B2
!
B3
, "
B3
H
B
Figure 4. Drive train 6-mass mechanical equivalent.
The state equations of the drive train model are the following, expressed in per unit, using the base quantities of the Appendix:
1 1 1
[ ] [ ] [ ]
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]
d
dt

1 1 1 1
+
1 1 1 1

1 1 1 1
] ] ] ]
! 0 I ! 0
T
" 2H C 2H D " 2H
(2)
where
1 2 3
[ , , , , , ]
B B B H GB G


! is the vector of the angular positions of the blades, hub, gearbox and generator
1 2 3
[ , , , , , ]
B B B H GB G


" is the vector of the angular velocities of the blades, hub, gearbox and generator
1 2 3
[ , , , 0, 0, ]
W W W G
T T T T

T is the vector of the external torques, acting on the turbine blades (aerodynamic torques &
W,j
,
j=1,2,3) and on the generator rotor (electromagnetic torque, &
G
, conventionally
accelerating)
[ ] 0 and [ ] I are the 6x6 zero and identity matrices, respectively
[ ] (2 , 2 , 2 , 2 , 2 , 2 )
B B B H GB G
diag H H H H H H 2H is the diagonal 6x6 inertia matrix
5
[ ]
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
3 0
0 0 0
0 0 0 0
HB HB
HB HB
HB HB
HB HB HB HGB HB HBG
HGB HGB GBG GBG
GBG GBG
C C
C C
C C
C C C C C C
C C C C
C C
1
1

1
1

1
+
1
1
+
1
1
]
C is the 6x6 stiffness matrix and
[ ]
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
3 0
0 0 0
0 0 0 0
B HB HB
B HB HB
B HB HB
HB HB HB H HGB HB HBG
HGB GB HGB GBG GBG
GBG G GBG
D d d
D d d
D d d
d d d D d d d
d D d d d
d D d
+ 1
1
+
1
1 +

1
+ +
1
1
+ +
1
+ 1
]
D is the 6x6 damping matrix
For the induction generator, the well-known 4
th
order dq model is used, expressed in the arbitrary reference frame, rotating
with an angular velocity '
dq
(e.g. [13]):
0 ( )
0 ( )
sd s sd dq sq sd
sq s sq dq sd sq
rd r rd dq G rq rd
rq r rq dq G rd rq
u r i p
u r i p
u r i p
u r i p



+
+ +
+
+ +
(3)
where p(1/'
0
)(d/dt) and '
0
is the base electrical angular frequency. Generator convention is used for the stator currents. The
stator and rotor fluxes are related to the currents by:
rq r sq m rq
rd r sd m rd
rq m sq s sq
rd m sd s sd
i X i X
i X i X
i X i X
i X i X
+
+
+
+

and (4)
and the generator electromagnetic torque is given by
( )
G rd rq rq rd m sq rd sd rq
T i i X i i i i (5)
All variables in the above equations are expressed in per unit, using the base quantities defined in the Appendix.
2.3 The Wind
Figure 5. Generated wind speed time series. Average value 8 m/s, turbulence intensity 0.20.
For the reproduction of suitable wind speed time-series, the Fourier synthesis method of [14] is employed, using the von
Karman power spectral density function of the horizontal wind speed component. This method, frequently used in similar
studies in the literature (e.g. [11,15]), provides a flexible tool for the generation of hub height wind speed time series of arbitrary
length and sampling frequency, which otherwise might be unavailable from measurements. Input data are the average wind
6
speed V
w
and the turbulence intensity I
n
. A sample time series generated by this method, for V
w
=8 m/s and I
n
=0.20, is shown in
Fig. 5. Its length is 600 sec (10 min), which is the time interval required for the calculation of the short-term flicker severity
index, P
st
. In the case of wind turbines the normal operation long-term flicker coefficient, P
lt
, (based on 120-min time intervals)
is equal to P
st
and therefore requires no further examination.
3. FLICKER CALCULATION
u(t)
p
st
(t)
!U(t)
High Pass
Filter
Low Pass
Filter
Eye Response
Curve
Brain Response
(1
st
Order Lag)
2

2
0
U

Statistical
Processing
P
st
-3
35
Hz
dB
-3
0.5
Hz
dB
8.8
Hz
1
Figure 6. UIE/IEC flickermeter functional diagram.
The assessment of the short-term flicker severity index, P
st
, is performed as specified in IEC 60868 and briefly described
in this section, for the sake of completeness. $n Fig. 6, the UIE/IEC flickermeter block diagram is shown. Input is a 10-min time
series of the voltage at the evaluation node, which may be expressed as
[ ]
0
( ) sin u(t) = U U t ('t + ) + (6)
where U
0
is the average node voltage magnitude, !U(t) the superimposed amplitude variations, '=2#f the system frequency and
( the initial phase angle. Using eqn. (6), the output of the first block of the flickermeter can be expressed as:
2
0 0
0
( ) ( ) cos[2( ]
2 2
U U u (t)
+ U t + U t 't + )
U

1

1
]
The constant U
0
/2 in the above expression is eliminated by the high pass filter (1
st
order, 0.5 Hz cut-off frequency),
whereas the double power frequency component is filtered out by the subsequent low-pass filter block (6
th
order Butterworth, 35
Hz cut-off frequency). Hence, output of the third block are the voltage magnitude variations, !U(t), in the frequency range 0.5
to 35 Hz.
The next block in the diagram of Fig. 6 is a weighting function, simulating the perception ability of the human eye vs. the
frequency of the disturbing signal. The peak of this curve is located at 8.8 Hz. Since the irritation caused is proportional to the
square of the voltage magnitude fluctuations, the output of the weighting function block is squared and led to a 1
st
order lag (300
ms time constant), representing the memory tendency of the human brain. Its output is the time series of the instantaneous flicker
sensation, p
st
(t).
The calculation of the short term flicker index, P
st
, requires then a simple statistical processing of the p
st
(t) time series.
First the cumulative duration curve of the p
st
(t) values is found. The P
st
index is then given by
0.1 1 3 10 50
0.0314 0.0525 0.0657 0.28 0.08
st s s s s s
P P P P P P + + + + (7)
where P
x
is the x % percentile (i.e. the flicker level which is exceeded for x % of the time), calculated from the p
st
(t) duration
curve. The subscript s denotes smoothed values, obtained by averaging neighboring values of the duration curve, as described
in IEC 60868-0.
7
4. NEURAL NETWORK APPLICATION
4.1. The Concept of Neural Networks
X1
X2
Xn
y y
f
Figure 7. The neuron.
Neural networks provide alternative solutions to forecasting problems. Accuracy is the main advantage of neural networks,
since they do not rely on human experience but are trained to learn the functional relationship between the system inputs and
outputs. A neural network can be defined as a highly connected ensemble of processing elements called neurons. A neuron,
schematically shown in Fig. 7, is a multi-input-single-output processing element consisting of a summation operation and an
activation function. In a typical neuron the weighted sum of the inputs constitutes the argument of the activation function f,
which determines the output value y and therefore the neuron characteristic. A type of activation function commonly employed
is the sigmoid function, f(x) = [1+exp(-x)]
-1
, which monotonically maps the interval x < < into the interval 0 ( ) 1 f x < < .
The most frequently used sigmoid-type function, also employed in this paper, is the hyperbolic tangent, which is non-linear,
permitting training of the network to capture the non-linearities of complex systems:
( )
2 2
2 2
( ) tanh 1,1
2
x x
x x
x e e
f x
e e

_


,
+
(8)
Fig. 8 illustrates the architecture of a typical neural network, which consists of an input layer, one hidden layer and an
output layer. Neurons in a layer are generally interconnected to all neurons in the adjacent layers with different weights. Each
neuron receives its inputs from neurons in the higher layer through interconnections and propagates its activation to the neurons
in the next lower layer, (e.g. [16]). Notably, input layer neurons lack the activation function processing of the subsequent
layers, their role being to receive and propagate the input values to the neurons of the first hidden layer.
1=x
0
x
1
x
x
2
n
1=y
0
{w }
ij
(1)
{w }
(1)
i0
f

y
1
y
1
f

y
2
y
2
f

y
p
y
p
o
o
o
1
2
m
{w }
ki
(2)
{w }
(2)
k0
f

o
1
f

o
1
f

o
1
Hidden layer Output layer Input layer
Figure 8. Neural network architecture.
8
A neural network can be trained to learn the functional relationship between its inputs and its outputs as follows: The
neural network is presented with a set of Q input-desired output training data {x
q
, d
q
, q=1,...,Q}, also called training patterns.
Inputs {x
1
, x
2
, ..., x
Q
} are applied to the input layer. The neural network is trained to respond to the corresponding desired
output vectors {d
1
, d
2
, ... d
Q
}. The training continues until the average error between the desired and the actual outputs over
the Q training patterns is less than a predefined threshold.
The minimisation of the output error is achieved through a gradient algorithm. The Generalised Delta Rule (GDR) ([17])
is used in this paper. Initially, the neural network weights are given small random numbers. When the neural network is
presented with a training pattern {x
q
, d
q
} the input signal, x
q
, is propagated in the forward direction in the network in order to
compute the output o
q
and error e
q
= d
q
- o
q
. Then, the error, e
q
, is propagated through the network in the backward direction
for the computation of the gradients of the error with respect to the network weights. Because of this backward propagation of
the error, the GDR is also called error back-propagation algorithm.
The objective of the neural network training is to minimise the average error over all training patterns:
( ) ( )
1 1 1
1 1 1
( )
2
Q Q Q
T
q T q q q q q q
q q q
J e J
Q Q Q



e d o d o (9)
where ( )
q q T q
J e e .
4.2. Neural Network Model for Flicker Calculation
A prerequisite for the generation of neural networks capable of predicting with sufficient accuracy the expected flicker
levels is the identification of the physical parameters that might affect the flicker emissions of a given wind turbine. These
parameters will be candidate inputs to the neural network to be created. Subsequently, a set of input-output combinations is
generated and used for the training of the neural network. Each element of the training set comprises the values of the input
parameters for the specific operating conditions, and the resulting flicker emission, as expressed by the flicker severity index,
P
st
. To ensure the ability of the developed neural network to correctly calculate the flicker severity under all possible (and
realistic) wind and network conditions, the cases included in the training set should span the entire expected range of variation
of the input parameters.
It is known that the output power variability of a wind turbine is strongly affected by the average wind speed, V
w
, and the
turbulence intensity, I
n
. The voltage fluctuations, resulting from the variability of the WT output power, are then determined by
the Thevenin impedance,
th
Z
!
, of the network at the PCC. Thus, two additional parameters of interest are the short circuit
capacity at the PCC, S
sc
, and the angle ( ) arctan
th th th
X R of the complex impedance
th
Z
!
. Another factor that might affect
the PCC voltage flicker is the local load level, S
L
. The range of variation considered for each of these five input parameters is
shown in Table 1.
Scanning the range of each parameter, a training set is created which spans all possible wind and network conditions. For
each combination, the wind turbine operation is simulated for a 10-min interval, using wind speed time series generated as
described in Section 2.3. Then, the UIE/IEC flickermeter algorithm, outlined in Section 3, is applied to obtain the resulting
short-term flicker severity index, P
st
. The majority of the input-output patterns thus generated are used for training purposes,
while the remaining cases are utilised as an independent test set, for evaluating the neural network performance in unforeseen
(i.e. not included in the training set) operating conditions.
9
Input parameter Range of variation
1. Mean wind speed, V
w
4 - 20 m/s
2. Turbulence intensity, I
n
0.02 0.3
3. Grid short circuit capacity at the PCC, S
sc
5 50 MVA
4. Angle of Thevenin impedance at the PCC, !
th
10 90 deg
5. Local load, S
L
100 1000 kVA
Table 1. Wind and network parameters considered and respective range of variation.
Various tests were performed in order to identify the optimum number of hidden neurons and layers of the proposed
neural network model. The selection criteria were both the minimisation of the training error and the time required. This
procedure led to the fully connected 4-layer feed-forward neural network, shown in Fig. 9, which has 5 input neurons, 4 neurons
in the first and 3 neurons in the second hidden layer and 1 output neuron, providing the forecasted value of P
st
. The five input
neurons represent the mean wind speed V
w
, the turbulence intensity I
n
, the network short circuit capacity S
sc
, the angle !
th
and
the load level, S
L
, at the PCC.
It was found that the selection of the training data set significantly affects the performance of the model. Many experiments
were conducted in order to identify a selection of the training patterns that gives the best results at a reasonable training time.
Too large a training set would comprise obsolete data and require high training times. The training data set eventually selected
consists of 680 input/output training patterns. Using the back-propagation algorithm, the network was trained until the average
error became less than 4%. It was observed that further training did not improve the accuracy of the forecasts, since training of
the neural network to a very small error, results in data over-fitting. Once trained, the network parameters are kept fixed and
flicker forecasts are obtained, as discussed in detail in the following section.
!
th
S
L
S
sc
I
n
V
w
P
st
Figure 9. Neural network model for flicker forecasting.
4.3 Neural Network Testing Results
In this section, the performance of the developed neural network is investigated in predicting the flicker levels and their
10
dependence on the wind and network parameters considered. For this purpose, the neural network results are compared to the
calculated flicker index values for a variety of test cases, not included in the neural network training set. Each time, one
parameter is varied, while the others remain fixed at their base case values, which are the following:
Mean wind speed, V
w
=10 m/s
Turbulence intensity, I
n
=0.10
Network short circuit capacity, S
sc
=10 MVA (20 times the WT rated power)
Network impedance ratio R
th
/X
th
=0.6 (!
th
%60
o
)
PCC Load: S
L
=500 kVA, cos!
L
=0.8 lag.
In Figs. 10 and 11 the results of the neural network are compared with the calculated flicker index values for varying
network short circuit capacity and impedance angle at the PCC. In Fig. 12 the flicker values (calculated and forecasted) are
plotted against the average wind speed, for three different network impedance angles, and in Fig. 13 as a function of the wind
turbulence intensity. The effect of the aggregate system load at the PCC is illustrated in Fig. 14.
0.00
0.02
0.04
0.06
0.08
0.10
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
S
sc
[MVA]
P
s
t
Calculated
Forecasted
Figure 10. Neural network performance in predicting the variation of P
st
with the network short circuit capacity, S
sc
0.00
0.05
0.10
0.15
0.20
0.25
0.30
0.35
0 15 30 45 60 75 90
arctan(X/R) [deg]
P
s
t
Calculated
Forecasted
Figure 11. Neural network performance in predicting the variation of P
st
with the network angle, !
th
=arctan(X
th
/R
th
).
11
R
th
/X
th
=0.6
0.00
0.01
0.02
0.03
0.04
0.05
0.06
0.07
0 5 10 15 20
V
w
[m/s]
P
s
t
Calculated
Forecasted
R
th
/X
th
=0.8
0.00
0.02
0.04
0.06
0.08
0.10
0.12
0 5 10 15 20
Vw [ m/s]
P
s
t
Calculated
Forecasted
R
th
/X
th
=1.0
0.00
0.02
0.04
0.06
0.08
0.10
0.12
0.14
0.16
0 5 10 15 20
V
w
[m/s]
P
s
t
Calculated
Forecasted
Figure 12. Neural network performance in predicting the variation of P
st
with the mean wind speed,
for three network impedance angles (R
th
/X
th
=0.6, 0.8, 1.0).
0.000
0.025
0.050
0.075
0.100
0.125
0.150
0.175
0.200
0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0.35
I
n
P
s
t
Calculated
Forecasted
Figure 13. Neural network performance in predicting the variation of P
st
with the wind turbulence intensity, I
n
.
12

0.040
0.045
0.050
0.055
0.060
0.065
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
Load [KVA]
P
s
t
Calculated
Forecasted
Figure 14. Neural network performance in predicting the variation of P
st
with the local load, S
L
.
Observing these diagrams, the neural network capability of forecasting reliably the WT flicker emission is fully confirmed.
The output of the neural network tracks very closely the actual (i.e. calculated from the simulation results) flicker variation
curves, with consistent error behaviour in all cases. In Table 2 the mean and maximum forecast errors are summarised, for each
diagram of Figs. 10 to 14. All error values appearing (mean and maximum) are perfectly acceptable, since even a 10% error
cannot be regarded as unacceptably high when evaluating a stochastically varying quantity such as flicker.
Flicker parameter Mean forecast error (%) Maximum forecast error (%)
P
st
=f(V
w
), R
th
/X
th
=0.6 5.816 7.506
P
st
=f(V
w
), R
th
/X
th
=0.8 4.269 7.086
P
st
=f(V
w
), R
th
/X
th
=1.0 1.767 3.181
P
st
=f(I
n
) 3.202 6.240
P
st
=f(S
sc
) 5.336 8.945
P
st
=f(!
th
) 6.132 8.617
P
st
=f(S
L
) 0.485 0.903
Table 2. Mean and maximum forecast error per flicker parameter.
5. DISCUSSION
The neural network testing results presented in the previous section, besides providing the neural network forecasting
accuracy and its sensitivity to the various parameters considered, contribute also to the better understanding of the physical
relation between the induced flicker and the wind and system characteristics. This is examined in more detail in the following.
In Fig. 10, the inversely proportional relation between P
st
and the short circuit capacity of the feeding network is clearly
apparent. This is a well-known and rather obvious fact, incorporated in all flicker evaluation recommendations (e.g. [3,5]), since
13
a given variability of the WT output power will result in higher voltage flicker in case of a weak (low S
sc
) grid. This is also
justified by eqn. (10), presented in the following.
The V-shaped curve of Fig. 11 can be explained using the following simplified relation, associating power and voltage
variations (all quantities in per unit):
( ) cos
th th th
sc
S
U R P X Q U
S

+ (10)
where !U is the PCC voltage change, due to a change !P and !Q in the active and reactive power flowing into the system. By
convention, active power is positive when exported to the infinite system and reactive when drawn from the system. !S is the
corresponding apparent power change and ! is given by
arctan
Q
P

,
(11)
For a WT equipped with a grid connected induction generator, an increase in the produced active power (!P>0) is always
accompanied by an increase in the reactive power drawn by the generator (!Q>0), hence !>0. The angle ! is the slope of the
induction generator P-Q curve and should not be confused with the power factor angle, !
PF
=arctan(Q/P).
0 100 200 300 400 500 600
0
100
200
300
400
500
P (kW)
Q

(
K
V
A
r
)
Figure 15. P-Q curve of the study case induction generator.
0 100 200 300 400 500 600
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
P (kW)
A
n
g
l
e

(
d
e
g
)
!
!
PF
Figure 16. Diagram of angles ! and !
PF
for the study case induction generator.
14
The P-Q curve of the induction generator considered in this study is shown in Fig. 15 and the respective diagram of angles !
and !
PF
in Fig. 16, as a function of the generator active power (for operation at rated voltage). At the base case 10 m/s wind
speed, the WT power is approx. 330 kW and !25
o
, as it is found from Figs. 2 and 16. Hence, from eqn. (10) it is deduced that
minimum flicker emissions would occur at a network impedance angle !
th
65
o
, where !
th
+!=90
o
. Deviating from this angle, the
voltage fluctuations and therefore the flicker increase, which fully explains the shape of the P
st
curve in Fig. 11. Eqn. (10) also
justifies the inversely proportional relation between P
st
and S
sc
, observed in Fig. 10.
The P
st
variation with the mean wind speed V
w
, illustrated in the diagrams of Fig. 12, can be explained considering first the
power curve of the simulated WT, shown in Fig. 2. In the low wind region the output power is low and therefore the induced
voltage fluctuations not significant. As the wind speed increases, the output power fluctuations and hence P
st
also increase,
approximately in proportion to V
w
. However, the slope of the WT power curve beyond 12-13 m/s is drastically reduced,
resulting in a corresponding reduction in the output power variability. The other important factor affecting the shape of these
diagrams and the position of their peaks is the change in the WT operating point, and thus of !
th
+! in eqn. (10), with the wind
speed. More specifically, as V
w
exceeds 9-10 m/s, !
th
+! approaches 90
o
and for this reason the flicker index starts reducing well
before the knee-point of the WT power curve. The irregularity of the R
th
/X
th
=0.6 (!
th
65
o
) diagram (Fig. 12) between 9 and 13
m/s is also due to the angle !
th
+! transversing the 90
o
region. This is not observed in the other two diagrams of Fig. 12 (!
th
50
o
and 45
o
) because the maximum value of ! in Fig. 16 is 40
o
and thus !
th
+! cannot exceed 90
o
.
At this point it must be noted that the simplified aerodynamic model used in the paper is inappropriate for representing
dynamic stall phenomena. In practice, the output power of a stall regulated WT exhibits a much higher variability above rated
wind speed, increasing considerably its flicker emission. Thus, the decline of P
st
observed in Fig. 12 around and beyond the
rated wind speed is rather optimistic. Using more elaborate aerodynamic models to represent the torque and power variability in
the high wind region is possible but would increase dramatically the computation time for generating the training set. However,
once this was achieved, the developed neural network would reliably predict flicker in this region of wind speeds, obviating the
need for time-consuming simulations. It is also worth investigating the combined use of measurement data and simulations for
the creation of the training set.
The almost linear relation between P
st
and the turbulence intensity I
n
, evident in Fig. 13, is expected, since high wind
turbulence indicates a correspondingly high variability of the output power.
The local load connected at the PCC has been simulated as a static load, represented by a constant impedance. Hence, its
effect is to increase slightly the fault level of the system, being connected in parallel to the Thevenin impedance, Z
th
. For this
reason, increasing load levels result in a small reduction of the flicker intensity, as shown in Fig. 14. The load power factor also
plays a certain role, affecting the angle of the resulting system impedance, Z
th
//Z
L
, but not critically.
More important may be the load type, i.e. dynamic (motor) load instead of static. Significantly reduced flicker levels are
reported in [7] when motor load is connected to the system. Investigations conducted by the authors and presented in [6] have
shown that representing the PCC load as dynamic (induction motor, modelled by the standard 3
rd
order transient equivalent)
results in modified P
st
values, but to a much smaller extent and not necessarily reduced. Nevertheless, this is a point that requires
further investigation, if more general conclusions are sought.
6. CONCLUSIONS
An application of neural network theory in the assessment of the flicker emission by grid connected wind turbines has been
presented in this paper. A comprehensive WT model was employed to simulate the operation of the machine against a study
15
case infinite system, as described in Section 2. Using this model, a set of training patterns was generated, by varying the wind
and network parameters, which might affect the flicker induced by the operation of the WT. These parameters are the average
wind speed and the turbulence intensity, the short circuit capacity and Thevenin impedance angle of the network and the local
load level. Using the training data, a neural network model was developed which is capable of predicting flicker emissions with
sufficient accuracy under any normal operating conditions and network characteristics. The neural network was
comprehensively tested and all error indices (mean and maximum) were perfectly acceptable. The neural network results track
very closely the actual flicker variation curves, with consistent error behaviour in all cases. Along with the neural network
testing results, a detailed investigation was also presented of the dependence of the induced flicker on the wind and network
parameters considered.
7. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Part of the work presented in this paper has been conducted within the EU project Integration of Wind Turbines into Electricity
Supply Networks with Limited Power Transportation Capacity WIRING (JOR3-CT98-0245). The authors gratefully
acknowledge the support of the European Commission in their efforts.
8. NOMENCLATURE
E
th
Internal EMF of network Thevenin equivalent
th th th th th
Z Z R jX +
!
Impedance (magnitude angle and resistive-reactive part) of the network Thevenin equivalent
S
sc
Network short-circuit capacity at the PCC
S
L
Consumer load at the PCC
r
s
, r
r
Induction generator stator and rotor resistance
X
s
, X
r
Induction generator stator and rotor reactance
X
m
Induction generator magnetising reactance
u
sd
, u
sq
d and q components of induction generator stator voltage
i
sd
, i
sd
, i
rd
, i
rd
d and q components of induction generator stator and rotor current
)
sd
, )
sq
d and q components of induction generator stator flux
)
rd
, )
rq
d and q components of induction generator rotor flux
'
dq
Angular velocity of the arbitrary dq reference frame
'
0
Base electrical angular velocity
p(1/'
0
)(d/dt) Derivation operator
C
p
Rotor aerodynamic power coefficient
" Tip speed ratio
v
w
Wind speed
16
v
wh
Wind speed at hub height
z
h
Hub height
a Wind shear exponent
!V
sh
Equivalent wind speed reduction due to tower shadow
#
sh
Tower shadow angle
H
k
Inertia constant of rotating mass k (k=B1,B2,B3,H,GB,G)
1
D
k
External damping coefficient of rotating mass k (k=B1,B2,B3,H,GB,G)
1
C
jk
Stiffness coefficient of coupling between adjacent inertias j and k (j,k=B1,B2,B3,H,GB,G)
1
d
jk
Relative damping coefficient of coupling between adjacent inertias j and k (j,k=B1,B2,B3,H,GB,G)
1
#
k
Angular position of rotating mass k (k=B1,B2,B3,H,GB,G)
1
'
k
Angular velocity of rotating mass k (k=B1,B2,B3,H,GB,G)
1
T
G
Generator electromagnetic torque
T
Wj
Aerodynamic torque acting on blade j (j=1,2,3)
V
w
10-min average wind speed
I
n
Turbulence intensity
u(t) Instantaneous node voltage
U
0
10-min average voltage magnitude
!U Voltage magnitude change
' System frequency ('=2#f)
( Initial phase angle of the node voltage
p
st
(t) Instantaneous flicker severity index
P
x
x % percentile of the instantaneous flicker, p
st
(t)
P
st
Short-term (10 min) flicker severity index
P
lt
Long-term (120 min) flicker severity index
!P,!Q,!S Change in active, reactive and apparent power exported to the grid
!=arctan(!Q/!P) Angle of incremental change in output power
!
PF
Induction generator power factor angle
x
q
Neural network input training data
d
q
Neural network desired output training data
o
q
Neural network output
e
q
Neural network forecast error
J Neural network average forecast error
Q Number of neural network training patterns
W
ij
Neural network weights

1
Bj: Blade j (j=1,2,3), H: Hub, GB: Gearbox, G: Generator
17
9. REFERENCES
[1] IEC 60868 Flickermeter - Functional and design specifications, 1
st
Edition, 1986 and Amendement 1, 1990.
[2] IEC 60868-0 Evaluation of flicker severity, 1991.
[3] IEC 61400-21 Measurements and assessment of power quality characteristics of grid connected Wind Turbines (WT).
Final Draft, 1999.
[4] IEC 61000-3-7, Assessment of emission limits for fluctuating loads in MV and HV power systems, 1996.
[5] VDEW, Eigenerzeugungsanlagen am Mittelspannungsnetz, 1994 (revised 1998).
[6] Papadopoulos MP, Papathanassiou SA, Tentzerakis ST and Boulaxis NG (1998), Investigation of the Flicker Emission by
Grid Connected Wind Turbines. Proc. of 8
th
IEEE Int. Conf. on Harmonics and Quality of Power, Athens, pp. 1152-1157.
[7] Saad-Saoud Z and Jenkins N (1999), Models for Predicting Flicker Induced by Large Wind Turbines. IEEE Trans.
Energy Conversion, Vol.14, No.3, pp. 743-748.
[8] Amaris H, Vilar C, Usaola J and Rodriguez JL (1998), Frequency Domain Analysis of Flicker Produced by Wind Energy
Conversion Systems. Proc. of 8
th
IEEE Int. Conf. on Harmonics and Quality of Power, Athens, pp. 1162-1167.
[9] D. Niebur et al. (1995), Artificial neural networks for Power Systems. CIGRE TF38.06.06 Report, ELECTRA, No. 159,
pp. 77-101.
[10] M. El-Sharkawi and D. Niebur (editors) (1996), A Tutorial Course on Artificial Neural Networks with Applications to
Power Systems, IEEE/Power Engineering Society, 96TP112-0.
[11] Wasynzuk O, Man DT and Sullivan JP (1981), Dynamic Behavior of a Class of Wind Turbine Generators during Random
Wind Fluctuations. IEEE Trans. Power Apparatus and Systems, Vol. 100, No.6.
[12] Chedid R, LaWhite N and Ilic M (1993), A Comparative Analysis of Dynamic Models for Performance Calculation of
Grid-Connected Wind Turbine Generators. Wind Engineering, Vol. 17, No. 4.
[13] Krause PC (1986), Analysis of Electric Machinery, McGraw-Hill.
[14] Shinozuka M and Jan CM (1972), Digital Simulation of Random Processes and Its Applications. Journal of Sound and
Vibration, Vol.25, Nov. 1972, pp. 111-128.
[15] Chan SM, Cresap RL, Curtice DM (1984), "Wind Turbine Cluster Model". IEEE Trans. Power Apparatus and Systems,
Vol. 103, No.7.
[16] Mohammed O, Park DC, Uler FG and Ziqiang C (1992), Design Optimization of Electromagnetic Devices using Artificial
Neural Networks, IEEE Trans. on Magnetics, Vol. 28, No. 5.
[17] Pao Y-H (1989), Adaptive Pattern Recognition and Neural Networks, Addison-Wesley Inc.
APPENDIX
Mechanical base quantities
The base quantities used for per-unitizing the equations of the drive train mechanical equivalent are given in this section. If S
B
is
the base power (VA), '
0
the base electrical angular velocity (rad/sec) and * the number of poles of the generator, then the base
values at the high-speed (generator) side of the drive train are defined as follows:
18
0
/ 2
B
P

the base mechanical speed, in mechanical rad/sec


B
B
B
S
T

the base torque, in Nm


B B
the base mechanical angle, in mechanical rad/sec
2
0.5 0.5
B B
B
B B
S T
J



the base inertia, in Nm/(rad/sec)
2
B B
B
B B
T S
C



the base stiffness coefficient, in Nm/(rad/sec)
2
B B
B B
B B
T S
D d



the base damping coefficient, in Nm/(rad/sec)
In the above equations, the prime denotes high-speed side values. The low-speed (rotor) side base quantities are then found
using the following relations:
B
B B
B B
n
n
T n T





B

2
2
2
B B
B B
B B
J n J
D n D
C n C



where n is the gearbox transfer ratio and the double-prime denotes low speed side values.
Electrical base quantities
The rms base current
Babc
I is found from the base power S
B
and the rms base voltage
Babc
V (phase-to-neutral):
3
B
Babc
Babc
S
I
V

where the subscript abc denotes abc system values (as opposed to dq). The base impedance is defined as:
2
3
Babc Babc
Babc
Babc B
V V
Z
I S

The dq system base voltage and current are equal to the respective abc instantaneous base values:
2
Bdq Babc
V V 2
Bdq Babc
I I
Using these definitions, the base power S
B
is then given by
3
2
B Bdq Bdq
S V I
The dq base impedance is equal to the respective abc value
Bdq
Bdq Babc
Bdq
V
Z Z
I

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES
Stavros A. Papathanassiou was born in Thesprotiko, Greece, in 1968. He received the Diploma in Electrical Engineering from the
National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece, in 1991 and the Ph.D. degree in 1997 from the same University. His
research mainly deals with electric machines and drives, wind turbine modelling and control and the analysis of autonomous power
systems with large wind penetration. He is a member of the IEEE Power Engineering, Industry Applications and Power Electronics
Societies and a registered professional engineer and member of the Technical Chamber of Greece.
19
Spyros J. Kiartzis was born in Thessaloniki, Greece, in January 1969. A graduate of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, he
studied electrical and computer engineering (Dipl. EE 92, Ph.D. 98). Upon completion of his military service in the Greek
Army in the Engineering Command Headquarters he returned to the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 1998 as a
researcher. His research interests are in artificial intelligence applications, in power systems and in electric machines and drives.
Dr. Kiartzis is a member of IEEE, CIGRE, the New York Academy of Sciences and the Society of Professional Engineers of
Greece.
Michael P. Papadopoulos was born in Ioannina, Greece, in 1932. He received the Diploma in Electrical and Mechanical
Engineering in 1956 and the Ph.D. degree in 1974 from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece. In 1956 he
joined the Public Power Corporation of Greece, where he was engaged in the planning, design, operation and control of rural and
urban distribution networks, as well as in the utilisation of electric energy. He is currently Professor in the Department of Electrical
and Computer Engineering of NTUA. His research interests lie in the field of distribution systems and renewable energy sources. He
is a member of the IEEE Power Engineering Society and a registered professional engineer and member of the Technical Chamber
of Greece.
Antonios G. Kladas was born in Athens, Greece, in 1959. He received the Diploma in Electrical Engineering from the Aristotle
University of Thessaloniki, Greece in 1982 and the DEA and Ph.D. degrees in 1983 and 1987 respectively from the University
of Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris 6), France. He served as Associate Assistant in the University of Pierre and Marie Curie from
1984-1989. During the period 1991-1996 he joined the Public Power Corporation of Greece, where he was engaged in the System
Studies Department. Since 1996 he is Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the National
Technical University of Athens (NTUA). His research interests include electric machine modelling in generating units by
renewable energy sources and industrial drives.