2, 2006, 17‐26
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia ELEKTRIKA
Abstract: This paper is intended to review the development of active power filter (APF) technologies that are commonly
used to mitigate harmonics in utility power lines. This review can also be considered as a “tutorialtype paper” as it provides
a holistic coverage of the APF technologies by omitting the tedious details, but without losing the main essence of the
subject matter. It is hoped that by this approach, it would be possible to lure more power engineering readers to be involved
in this important and growing field. The discussion starts with a brief overview of harmonic distortion problems and their
impacts on electric power quality. The operation of common APF topologies, namely the shunt, series and hybrid APFs are
described in detail. This is followed by a review on different types of reference signal estimation extraction techniques. In
particular, the application of the pq and extension pq theorems to extract the reference signals are elaborated, as they are
the most commonly found in practical APF systems. Finally, an overview of the APF control strategies is provided. A brief
discussion on the APFsolar photovoltaic system is also given. At the end of the paper, important references are cited to
assist readers who are interested to explore the subject in greater detail.
Keywords: Active power filter, Harmonics mitigation, Power electronics, Power quality, Voltage source inverter.
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ZAINAL SALAM, TAN PERNG CHENG, AWANG JUSOH/ ELEKTRIKA, 8(2), 2006, 17‐26
large power losses at fundamental frequency, is rarely APFs have a number of advantages over the passive
used. The secondorder HPF is the simplest to apply filters. First of all, they can suppress not only the supply
while providing good filtering action and reduced current harmonics, but also the reactive currents.
fundamental frequency losses [9]. The filtering
performance of the thirdorder HPF is superior to that of supply
the secondorder HPF. However, it is found that the interfacing
thirdorder HPF is not commonly used for lowvoltage or inductor/ nonlinear Load
transformer
mediumvoltage applications since the economic,
complexity, and reliability factors do not justify them [8].
switching power circuit
system variables
pattern detection
interface
R L C
C R gating signals compensated
L
L generator variables
Load
Load
Load
Load
R
C
C overall system reference signal
C controller estimator
control reference
1storder 2ndorder 3rdorder effort signal
Singletuned
Highpass Highpass Highpass
Figure 2. Generalised block diagram for APF
Figure 1. Common types of passive filters and their
configurations Moreover, unlike passive filters, they do not cause
harmful resonances with the power distribution systems.
Although simple and least expensive, the passive filter Consequently, the APFs performances are independent on
inherits several shortcomings. The filter components are the power distribution system properties [9], [34]. On the
very bulky because the harmonics that need to be other hand, APFs have some drawbacks. Active filtering
suppressed are usually of the low order [4], [9]. is a relatively new technology, practically less than four
Furthermore the compensation characteristics of these decades old. There is still a need for further research and
filters are influenced by the source impedance. As such, development to make this technology well established.
the filter design is heavily dependent on the power system An unfavourable but inseparable feature of APF is the
in which it is connected to [8]. Passive filters are known necessity of fast switching of high currents in the power
to cause resonance, thus affecting the stability of the circuit of the APF. This results in a high frequency noise
power distribution systems [9]. Frequency variation of that may cause an electromagnetic interference (EMI) in
the power distribution system and tolerances in the power distribution systems [34]. APF can be
components values affect the filtering characteristics. connected in several power circuit configurations as
The size of the components become impractical if the illustrated in the block diagram shown in Figure 3. In
frequency variation is large [8], [9]. As the regulatory general, they are divided into three main categories,
requirements become more stringent, the passive filters namely shunt APF, series APF and hybrid APF.
might not be able to meet future revisions of a particular
Standard. This may required a retrofit of new filters. Active Power Filter
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ZAINAL SALAM, TAN PERNG CHENG, AWANG JUSOH/ ELEKTRIKA, 8(2), 2006, 17‐26
Shunt APF acts as a current source, compensating the for higher currents, which makes this type of circuit
harmonic currents due to nonlinear loads. The operation suitable for a wide range of power ratings [34].
of shunt APF is based on injection of compensation
current which is equals to the distorted current, thus
eliminating the original distorted current. This is
achieved by “shaping” the compensation current 1
waveform (if), using the VSI switches. The shape of 0
iL
compensation current is obtained by measuring the load 1
current (iL) and subtracting it from a sinusoidal reference. 1
The aim of shunt APF is to obtain a sinusoidal source 0
if
current (is) using the relationship: i s = i L − i f . 1
1
0
is
AC Source is iL 1
Nonlinear 20 40 60 t [ms]
Load
Figure 5. Shunt APF harmonic filtering operation
Lf if
principle
+
Cf 2.2 Series Active Power Filter

The series APF is shown in Figure 6. It is connected in
VSI series with the distribution line through a matching
transformer [38], [39]. VSI is used as the controlled
Figure 4. Principle configuration of a VSI based shunt source, thus the principle configuration of series APF is
APF similar to shunt APF, except that the interfacing inductor
of shunt APF is replaced with the interfacing transformer.
Suppose the nonlinear load current can be written as
the sum of the fundamental current component (iL,f) and AC Source is iL
the current harmonics (iL,h) according to vf
Nonlinear
Load
i L = i L , f + i L ,h (1)
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ZAINAL SALAM, TAN PERNG CHENG, AWANG JUSOH/ ELEKTRIKA, 8(2), 2006, 17‐26
I2R losses [10]. However, the main advantage of series can thus be divided into two parts: the loworder
APFs over shunt one is that they are ideal for voltage harmonics are cancelled by the shunt APF, while the
harmonics elimination. It provides the load with a pure higher frequency harmonics are filtered by passive HPF.
sinusoidal waveform, which is important for voltage This topology lends itself to retrofit applications with the
sensitive devices (such as power system protection existing shunt APF.
devices). With this feature, series APF is suitable for Figure 8 (b) shows the system configuration of hybrid
improving the quality of the distribution source voltage. series APF, in which the series APF is coupled to the
distribution line by an interfacing transformer [43][45].
vf
is  + iL is,f Zeq=0 iL,f is,h Zeq= ∞ iL,h The shunt passive filter consists of one or more single
tuned LC filters and/or a HPF. The hybrid series APF is
if if,f if,h
Zs Zs,f Zs,h controlled to act as a harmonic isolator between the
+
Zf
+
Zf
+
Zf source and nonlinear load by injection of a controlled
vs vs,f vs,h harmonic voltage source. It is controlled to offer zero
  
impedance (short circuit) at the fundamental frequency
(a) (b) (c)
and high impedance (ideally open circuit) at all undesired
Figure 7. Operation principle of series APF: (a) single harmonic frequencies. This constrains all the nonlinear
phase equivalent of series APF, (b) fundamental load current harmonics to flow into the passive filter,
equivalent circuit, and (c) harmonic equivalent circuit decoupling the source and nonlinear load at all
frequencies, except at the fundamental.
2.3 Hybrid Active Power Filter
Previously, majority of the controllers developed for APF
Nonlinear Load Nonlinear Load
are based on analogue circuits [9], [11], [12], [36][38]. AC Source AC Source
As a result, the APF performance is inherently subjected
to signal drift. Digital controllers using DSPs or
microcontrollers are preferable, primarily due to its
flexibility and immunity to noise [13][15], [39], [40].
However it is known that using digital methods, the high
order harmonics are not filtered effectively. This is due
to the hardware limitation of sampling rate in realtime
application.
Moreover, the utilisation of fast switching transistors
Shunt Passive Shunt Passive
(i.e. IGBT) in APF application causes switching Shunt APF
Filter
Series APF
Filter
frequency noise to appear in the compensated source (a) (b)
current. This switching frequency noise requires
additional filtering to prevent interference with other Figure 8. Hybrid APFs: (a) combination of shunt APF
sensitive equipment. Technical limitations of and shunt passive filter and (b) combination of series
conventional APFs mentioned above can be overcome APF and shunt passive filter
with hybrid APF configurations [16][18], [41][45].
They are typically the combination of basic APFs and 3. REFERENCE SIGNAL ESTIMATION
passive filters. Hybrid APFs, inheriting the advantages of TECHNIQUES
both passive filters and APFs, provide improved As shown in Figure 2, the reference signal to be
performance and costeffective solutions. The idea processed by the controller is the key component that
behind this scheme is to simultaneously reduce the ensures the correct operation of APF. The reference
switching noise and electromagnetic interference [34]. signal estimation is initiated through the detection of
The idea of hybrid APF has been proposed by several essential voltage/current signals to gather accurate system
researchers [16][18]. In this scheme, a low cost passive variables information. The voltage variables to be sensed
highpass filter (HPF) is used in addition to the are AC source voltage, DCbus voltage of the APF, and
conventional APF. The harmonics filtering task is voltage across interfacing transformer. Typical current
divided between the two filters. The APF cancels the variables are load current, AC source current,
lower order harmonics, while the HPF filters the higher compensation current and DClink current of the APF.
order harmonics. The main objective of hybrid APF, Based on these system variables feedbacks, reference
therefore is to improve the filtering performance of high signals estimation in terms of voltage/current levels are
order harmonics while providing a costeffective low estimated in frequencydomain or timedomain.
order harmonics mitigation. Numerous publications, for example [10], [35], [52][55]
There are various hybrid APFs reported in literature report on the theories related to detection and
[10], [41], [42], but the two most prominent ones are measurement of the various system variables for
shown in Figure 8. Figure 8 (a) is the system reference signals estimation.
configuration of the hybrid shunt APF. Both the shunt Figure 9 illustrates the considered reference signal
APF and passive filter are connected in parallel with the estimation techniques. They cannot be considered to
nonlinear load [16][18]. The function of the hybrid APF belong to the control loop since they perform an
20
ZAINAL SALAM, TAN PERNG CHENG, AWANG JUSOH/ ELEKTRIKA, 8(2), 2006, 17‐26
independent task by providing the controller with the 3.2.1 Instantaneous ReactivePower Theorem
required reference for further processing. This section The instantaneous reactivepower (pq) theorem is
presents the considered reference signal estimation proposed by Akagi et al. [57]. This theorem is based on
techniques, providing for each of them a short description αβ 0 transformation which transforms threephase
of their basic features. voltages and currents into the αβ 0 stationary reference
Frequency
frame [14], [45], [58]. From this transformed quantities,
Fourier Transform
Domain the instantaneous active and reactive power of the
nonlinear load is calculated, which consists of a DC
Reference Signal component and an AC component. The AC component is
Estimation Techniques pq Theorem
extracted using HPF and taking inverse transformation to
Extension pq Theorem obtain the compensation reference signals in terms of
Time either currents or voltages. This theorem is suitable only
Domain SynchronousDetection Theorem
for threephase system and its operation takes place under
SynchronousReferenceFrame the assumption that threephase system voltage
Theorem
waveforms are symmetrical and purely sinusoidal. If this
SineMultiplication Theorem technique is applied to contaminated supplies, the
resulting performance is proven to be poor [59].
Figure 9. Subdivision of reference signal estimation In order to make the pq theorem applicable for single
techniques phase system, some modifications in the original pq
theorem were proposed and implemented by Dobrucky et
3.1 Frequency Domain Approaches al. [27]. Assume that the source voltage ( v s ) and load
Reference signal estimation in frequencydomain is current ( i L ) of a singlephase system are defined as
suitable for both single and three phase systems. They
mainly derived from the principle of Fourier analysis as
follows. v s (t ) = 2V s sin(ωt ) (4)
21
ZAINAL SALAM, TAN PERNG CHENG, AWANG JUSOH/ ELEKTRIKA, 8(2), 2006, 17‐26
22
ZAINAL SALAM, TAN PERNG CHENG, AWANG JUSOH/ ELEKTRIKA, 8(2), 2006, 17‐26
signal ( i f ,ref or v f ,ref ) through the compensated error and lower limits of a hysteresis band. The i f or v f is
amplifier to produce the control signal. The resulting then measured and compared with i f ,ref or v f ,ref ; the
control signal is then compared with a sawtooth signal resulting error is subjected to a hysteresis controller to
through a pulse width modulation (PWM) controller to determine the gating signals when exceeds the upper or
generate the appropriate gating signals for the switching lower limits set by (estimated reference signal + H/2) or
transistors [9], [11][13], [18], [23][25], [36], [37], [40]. (estimated reference signal – H/2). As long as the error is
The frequency of the repetitive sawtooth signal within the hysteresis band, no switching action is taken.
establishes the switching frequency. This frequency is Switching occurs whenever the error hits the hysteresis
kept constant in linear control technique. As shown in band. The APF is therefore switched in such a way that
Figure 11, the gating signal is set high when the control the peaktopeak compensation current/voltage signal is
signal has a higher numerical value than the sawtooth limited to a specified band determined by H as illustrated
signal and via versa. by Figure 13.
Compensated
error amplifier
Hysteresis band
control comparator
_ signal gating
if or vf
+ PWM signal Active Power +H gating
if or vf
error 2 signal
∑
controller Filter Active Power
if,ref or vf,ref error
+ Filter
if,ref or vf,ref sawtooth _ −H
signal 2
sawtooth signal
control signal
Figure 12. Block diagram of hysteresis control technique
23
ZAINAL SALAM, TAN PERNG CHENG, AWANG JUSOH/ ELEKTRIKA, 8(2), 2006, 17‐26
Efforts have been made to combine the shunt APF with In the daytime with intensive sunlight, the PV
PV system [23][25], [50], [51]. The PV interactive shunt interactive shunt APF system brings all its functions into
APF system can supply real power from the PV array to operation. At night and during no sunlight periods, the
loads, and support reactive and harmonic power power required by the loads is received from the
simultaneously to utilise its utmost installation capacity. distribution system while the inverter system only
provides reactive power compensation and filter
actual signal harmonic currents. Thus, the utilisation level of the PV
if or vf
if or vf interactive shunt APF system is higher than the
reference signal
distribution line interactive PV inverter system.
if,ref or vf,ref
H t 6. CONCLUSION
This paper gives an overall view on the development of
APF technologies. A brief discussion on the harmonic
distortion problems and their impacts on electric PQ are
given. The conventional mitigation methods using
gating signal
passive filters are presented first, followed by the
improved mitigation methods using APFs. It also
( uneven frequency fs )
reviews different types of reference signal estimation
techniques which is an integral part of the APF. An
Figure 13. Gating signal generation by hysteresis
overview of the control strategies for APF is presented.
controller
Finally recent efforts in combining the PV system with
the shunt APF are discussed briefly.
Generally, the distribution line interactive PV system
extracts power from the PV array, providing current to
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