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Panama Canal Locks Dynamic VAr Compensation Project

Panama Canal Locks Dynamic VAr Compensation Project

The Panama Canal had problems due to a weak grid over 90 years old. The locomotives that pull the ships through the canal had extremely heavy and fast changing loads caused by the many starts and stops, thus creating power quality and voltage stability issues.

The Innovative Power Quality Approach 

The locomotives require delivered power to be free of transients, over and-under voltage, unbalanced voltage and current and maintain a stable frequency to ensure a safe transit. The hilly terrain added to the existing complications.

Initially, four (4) prototype Equalizer systems were installed by Panama Canal Authority (ACP) personnel in the Miraflores Lock central east wall in the four transformers that feed the locomotives. The Equalizers were then monitored for three months before the entire project was realized. An additional 44 Equalizer systems were then installed by ACP personnel on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the canal with a final inspection made by the ACP with system start-up performed by Elspec. Immediately upon installation, the three Locks (Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatun) saw an almost complete mitigation of voltage disturbance.

Panama Canal

Voltage Optimisation
Harmonic Filtration
PQ Metering and Monitoring



  • Reduced voltage disturbances in the Panama Canal Locks and eliminated costly transit delays
  • Reduced harmonic distortion in the Locks
  • Allowed the ACP to monitor PQ in the Panama Canal Locks
Case Study File 
PDF icon EQ_Panama_Canal.pdf2.65 MB