Synchronous Condenser: a perfect tool to use renewables at a large scale

11th January 2023 by Jayasree Prabhakaran | Energy

Synchronous Condenser Market


A synchronous Condenser is a synchronous machine used to improve power factors to regulate voltage variation. It is a motor that works without mechanical load. It can excite the field winding and generate volt-ampere (VAr). It is used to cool down the system and maintain the voltage desired. It contains a shaft that is not connected to anything but rotates freely. It can adjust the required terms for the electrical power transmission grid and set out the levels of electricity coming from the reactive power and into a grid. The lower power factor draws more current with electrical load and puts more load on the distribution system. Power Factor Correction maintains stability by the use of a synchronous condenser, which can increase efficiency. It is used in the modern-day power grids or renewable resources sites like Solar Farms, Wind Farms, hydropower farms, nuclear power plants, and coal-fired plants, where electricity is created or electricity distribution networks. Synchronous condensation has a high maintenance cost.

Over-excitation - when the motor is working at a leading power factor where the motor draws a leading current, and it acts as a capacitor. When the current is led by the voltage at 90 degrees. Under-excitation - when the motor is operated as a lagging power factor, it draws a lagging current from the system and provides a leading current and it acts as an inductor.

Market Sizing with Segmentation

The estimated market size for the synchronous condenser is $591 million at a 2.7% CAGR, by 2028. North America is the largest regional market in the synchronous condenser market. It can produce reactive power which can lead to actual power by 90 degrees. The scope of the synchronous market is under high voltage equipment market, STATCOM market, power transformer market, synchronous motor market, synchronous generator market, Static VAR compensator market, and Shut reactor market. The need for power factor correction is increasing day by day. The synchronous condenser market is segmented into three cooling types air-cooled, hydrogen-cooled, and water-cooled. Air-cooled provide 2000+ MW inertia, provide instant power feed and short-circuit strength to grid networking system. Hydrogen-cooled, the highest cooling type market of synchronous condenser market. It can provide high thermal conductivity with low density. It is a highly preferable market with high specific heat.

Why do we use Synchronous Condenser?

Transformers are set up in an industry to increase the current and efficiency of the system. With the increased current, the heat loss for the setup is higher. As the power is directly proportional to the square of the current. It increases heat loss in the system.

P = I2R

H = Pt

And the result may reduce the efficiency of the transformer due to an increase in the heat loss, and so the power factor decreases. To resolve these issues, we use Synchronous Condenser so that the current and voltage lead at a 90o angle and to improve the stability of the system. The continued operation increases the heat and reduces the efficiency of the system, and a synchronous condenser is used to cool down the system and maintain the voltage desired.

Recent Development

  • On 16 February 2021, ABB synchronous condenser is used by Statkraft in UK National Grid to target a zero-carbon electricity system. It can stabilize the power grid and control the amount of wind and solar power to rotate power plants. Where Statkraft signed a 10-year-long service contract with ABB. The system provides power compensation and short-circuits power capacity to ensure network frequency and voltage.
  • On May 13, 2020, GE provide two synchronous condensers to the Brindisi Terna substation an Italian operator. With a power consumption for each is up to the level of +250/-125 MVAr and 1750 MWs inertia. GE’s synchronous condensers can provide consistent power flow to the grid and regulate the voltage to ensure reliable power availability. It can provide a reliable electricity grid to Italy for the growth of renewable power.

Synchronous Condenser Market

Power Factor Correction

Use to provide stability in power factor to unity to maintain electricity distribution network. It works by the use of a capacitor to maintain the current level, to compensate for the lagging current by creating a leading current.

power factor = active power (P)/apparent power (S)

(Where apparent power is the supplied power with no load, and the active power is the power consumed by the load while performing work)

If a motor can provide a useful current of 8 Ampere instead of 10 Amps due to the power factor of 0.80, with a 500-voltage load, we received an output of 500*8 = 4000 W. Without power factor correction we cannot get the appropriate output of 5000 V with 10 Ampere current. So, the use of power factor correction through a synchronous condenser is an urging need for society to reduce power losses. Power plants have the instant need for the Power Factor Correction to maintain the unnecessary strain on the electricity distribution network, owing to the regulations placed by the international organization EU and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. The improvement in power factor can reduce the power consumption, voltage drop in long wires, power loss in transformers, and more. It can provide the full strength of the power plant to supply electricity with full capacity and reduce the current demand from the supply.


A Static Synchronous Compensator is known as STATCOM used to regulate voltage variation by absorbing reactive current. It uses electronically commutated circuits for compensation and has fewer power losses than the synchronous condenser. It costs less than the Synchronous condenser with low maintenance. STATCOM is a well-used substitute for the synchronous condenser.

The working function of STATCOM is to regulate voltage variation, using an output voltage of STATCOM to regulate voltage variation, if reactive power demand increases then STATCOM increases the output voltage and balances the voltage between STATCOM voltage and system voltage. A STATCOM voltage maintains a zero angle between the system voltage and the STATCOM voltage. In case Va is more than the Vb, then the reactive power will flow from Va to Vb. and similarly with the magnitude of Vb being more than Va then the reactive power will flow from Vb to Va. With the increase in the system voltage, STATCOM can absorb the reactive power and hence stabilize the voltage to normal known as voltage regulation mode.

With some limitations STATCOM does not increase or decrease the output voltage, it can only absorb or supply reactive power to its limiting end not further. In this situation, current acts like a constant, and the process is known as VAR Control Mode.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • It can easily adjust power and provide a seamless reactive power factor continuously.
  • Synchronous condenser can solve the inertia problem effectively, through its swing machinery. It can improve the voltage stiffness.
  • At extremely low voltage, it can perform tasks without any contingencies.
  • Synchronous condensation has a high maintenance cost.
  • Produce more noise and transient.
  • Cost for supplementary protection devices is added due to the high short circuit rating, but the feature can improve the system stability with weak interconnections.


The extinction of non-renewable resources is near, we are urged to find their replacement with renewable resources. With the increase in the demand for renewable resources for the development of electricity, the synchronous condenser can perform a key role to save power losses. Governments take initiation to reduce the power loss in the power plants, as 754 GW of electricity capacity produced by coal is expected to turn down in near future. The power loss major reason is the high-power factor which can be corrected by power factor correction using a synchronous condenser. The market scope for the synchronous condenser is high, with the largest market in North America. Besides the high maintenance cost of a synchronous condenser, it is highly used in renewable resource sites for electricity development due to its advantages. The conversion of the old power plants into the synchronous condenser is being performed in North America and Europe, it can eliminate the dependency on the thermal power plant. Availability of substitutes on large can bring a tough challenge to the synchronous condenser, but Synchronous condenser can provide a long service life and stability than others. Overall, the use of Synchronous Condenser use is increased in large megacities can boost the demand in the market.

Jayasree Prabhakaran

Research Associate

Jayasree Prabhakaran is research associate at Delvens. Her core responsibilities involve conducting primary and secondary research based on the raw datasets, and other quantitative and qualitative data acquired through data collection, analyzing and interpreting the data to deliver key insights on market trends. She engages with experts, academics, and executives to execute research goals and provide them with the best possible outcomes.

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