Eli5: How do synchronous condensers and STATCOMs each work on a basic level? I get the why we want them on the electrical grid, but stuck on the how they each work internally.

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I could ask this over in r/engineers but I’m a dumb mechanical playing in the electrical world and really need a more straight forward answer in words I or any other layman can understand. I’ve had a long day and scholarly articles and and NERC/FERC documents are just confusing me and putting me to sleep. None of my immediate co-works know either, already asked them.

In: Engineering

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You know how synchronous generators produce real power (MW) and can produce or absorb reactive power (VARs)? Synchronous condensers are just generators† that only produce/absorb reactive power.

†Technically they’re motors. They absorb a little real power to keep spinning to overcome friction losses.

A statcom is basically a variable capacitor and/or reactor bank. It uses power electronics to switch on and off a capacitor/reactor bank really quickly.