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FACTS (Flexible Alternating Current Transmission System)

The concept of FACTS (Flexible Alternating Current Transmission System) refers to a family of power electronics-based devices able to enhance AC system controllability and stability and to increase power transfer capability.

The design of the different schemes and configurations of FACTS devices is based on the combination of traditional power system components (such as transformers, reactors, switches, and capacitors) with power electronics elements (such as various types of transistors and thyristors). Over the last years, the current rating of thyristors has evolved into higher nominal values making power electronics capable of high power applications of tens, hundreds and thousands of MW.

FACTS devices, thanks to their speed and flexibility, are able to provide the transmission system with several advantages such as: transmission capacity enhancement, power flow control, transient stability improvement, power oscillation damping, voltage stability and control. Depending on the type and rating of the selected device and on the specific voltage level and local network conditions, a transmission capacity enhancement of up to 40-50% may be achieved by installing a FACTS element. In comparison to traditional mechanically-driven devices, FACTS controllers are also not subject to wear and require a lower maintenance.

Costs, complexity and reliability issues represent nowadays the main barriers to the integration of these promising technologies from the TSOs' perspective. Further FACTS penetration will depend on the technology providers' ability to overcome these barriers, thanks to more standardization, interoperability and economies of scale.


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