Voltage Flicker Measurement in Wind Turbines

  • J. J. Gutierrez
  • P. Saiz
  • A. Lazkano
  • J. Ruiz
  • L. A. Leturiondo
  • I. Azkarate
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


In the last years the use of wind farms has drastically increased. The question is how those new generation systems will affect to the whole grid. In principle, wind energy can be considered a risky source in terms of power quality that must be certified on the basis of measurements performed according to international standards and guidelines. The IEC 61400-21 standard is the reference normative for the certification of the power quality of wind turbines. The first edition was published in 2001 and it specifies the main relevant features of power quality that should be measured in a wind turbine as well as the procedures for their measurement and assessment. According to it, measurements should be performed for harmonic content, flicker, voltage drops as well as active and reactive power, during normal and switching operations. Among those disturbances, flicker has the most complex and sensitive testing procedure.

Power fluctuations of the wind turbine generate voltage fluctuations causing changes in the luminous flux from light sources. Such changes may produce a very unpleasant visual sensation, known as flicker, leading to complaints from utility customers. The IEC 61000-4-15 standard describes the functional specifications of a flicker measurement device and provides a short-term indicator, \(P_{\rm st},\) to characterize the discomfort. This chapter demonstrates the sensitivity of the procedure defined by the IEC 61400-21 standard to asses the flicker by means of different signal processing techniques.



This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN) of Spain through the project ENE2009-13978-C02-02. The authors would also like to thank SOTAVENTO GALICIA S.A. (Spain) for making the signals available free of charge for the purpose of this work.


  1. 1.
    Ackermann T (2006) Wind power in power systems. Multi Sci 30:447–449Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Council G (2010) Global Wind 2009 Report. Online: http://www.gwe.. net
  3. 3.
    De Koster M, De Jaeger E, Vancoetsem W (1999) Light flicker Caused by Interharmonics. Proceedings on CIRED. [Online]. Available:
  4. 4.
    Gunther E, Inc E, Knoxville T (2001) Interharmonics in power systems. Power engineering society summer meeting 2001. IEEE 2Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    IEC: 61400-21 (2008) Wind turbines part 21: measurement and assessment of power quality characteristics of grid connected wind turbines. Ed. 2.0Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    IEC: 61000-4-15 (2010) Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) part 4: testing and measurement techniques - section 15: flickermeter functional and design specifications. Ed. 2.0Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jorgensen P, Tande J, Vikkelso A, Norgand P, Christensen J, Sorensen P, Kledal J, Sondergard L (1997) Power quality and grid connection of wind turbines. CIRED IEE. doi: 10.1049/cp:19970476
  8. 8.
    Keppler T, Watson N, Arrillaga J, Chen S (2003) Theoretical assessment of light flicker caused by sub- and interharmonic frequencies. IEEE Trans Power Delivery 18(1):329–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Larsson A (2002) Flicker emission of wind turbines caused by switching operations. Energy Convers, IEEE Trans 17(1):119–123CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Larsson A (2002) Flicker emission of wind turbines during continuous operation. Energy Convers, IEEE Trans 17(1):114–118CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lee J, Devaney M (1994) Accurate measurement of line frequency in the presence of noiseusing time domain data. In: Proceedings of the 10th IEEE instrumentation and measurement technology Conference, pp 1016–1019Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    MEASNET: Power quality measurement procedure, Version 4Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Mombauer W (1998) Flicker caused by interharmonics. EtzArchiv 12:391–396Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Moreno-Munoz A (2007) Power quality: mitigation technologies in a distributed environment. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Piwko R, Camm E, Ellis A, Muljadi E, Zavadil R, Walling R, O’Malley M, Irwin G, Saylors S (2009) A whirl of activity. Power Energ Mag, IEEE 7(6):26–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ruiz J, Gutierrez J, Irusta U, Lazkano A (2009) A precise analysis of the IEC flickermeter when subject to rectangular voltage fluctuations. IEEE Trans Instrum Meas 58(11):3839–3846. doi: doi:10.1109/TIM.2009.2020837 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ruiz J, Gutierrez J, Lazkano A, Ruizde Gauna S (2010) A review of flicker severity assessment by the IEC flickermeter. IEEE Trans Instrum Meas 59(8):2037–2047CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sørensen P, Pedersen T, Gerdes G, Klosse R, Santier F, Robertson N, Davy W, Koulouvari M, Morfiadakis E, Larsson Å (2001) European wind turbine testing procedure developments. Task 2: Power quality. Risø National LaboratoryGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Tayjasanant T, Wang W, Li C, Xu W (2005) Interharmonic-flicker curves. IEEE Trans Power Delivery 20(2):1017–1024CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Vilar C, Usaola J, Amaris H (2003) A frequency domain approach to wind turbines for flicker analysis. IEEE Trans Energy Convers 18(2):335–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Xu W (2005) Deficiency of the IEC flicker meter for measuring interharmonic-caused voltage flickers. Power engineering society general meeting, 2005. IEEE pp 2285–2288Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. Gutierrez
    • 1
  • P. Saiz
    • 1
  • A. Lazkano
    • 1
  • J. Ruiz
    • 1
  • L. A. Leturiondo
    • 1
  • I. Azkarate
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Electronica y Telecomunicaciones (UPV-EHU)Escuela Tecnica Superior de Ingenieria de BilbaoBilbaoSpain

Personalised recommendations