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Impact of harmonics on the power system

Not all electrical quality problems in an installation are attributable to electrical harmonics, but they are usually the most common and significant. As we can see in the following graph, there are several sources of problems in an installation and grid:

Sources of problems in an installation and grid
Sources of problems in an installation and grid

The main effects of voltage and current harmonics in a power system are usually:

  • The potential amplification of some harmonics due to parallel or series resonance*
  • Reduced performance of energy generation, transport and usage systems
  • The premature ageing of insulation on grid components, leading to energy reduction
  • Poor functioning of the system or any of its components

* Resonance is a physical effect in which several elements with specific values interact with each other, oscillating and amplifying a particular frequency. This amplification leads to higher energy consumption by forcing the system or some of its parts to work above their specifications. If resonance is not controlled it can lead to the destruction of parts of the system or the entire system.

Main problems generated by harmonics
Main problems and effects generated by harmonics in the components or elements of an electrical network

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