Insulation Coordination in Power System

Insulation Coordination in Power System was introduced to arrange the electrical insulation levels of different components in the electrical power system including transmission network, in such a manner, that the failure of insulator, if occurs,
confindes to the place where it would result in the least danmage of the system, easy to repair and replace, and results least disturbance to the power supply.
When any over voltage appears in the electrical power system, then there may be a chance of failure of its insulation system. Probability of failure of insulation, is high at the weakest insulation point nearest to the source of over voltage. In power system and transmission networks, insulation is provided to the all equipment and components. Insulators in some points are easily replaceable and repairable compared to other. Insulation in some points are not so easily replaceable and repairable and the replacement and repairing may be highly expensive and require long interruption of power. Moreover failure of insulator at these points may causes bigger part of electrical network to be out of service. So it is desirable that in situation of insulator failure, only the easily replaceable and repairable insulator fails. The overall aim of insulation coordination is to reduce to an economically and operationally acceptable level the cost and disturbance caused by insulation failure. In insulation coordination method, the insulation of the various parts of the system must be so graded that flash over if occurs it must be at intended points.

For proper understanding the insulation coordination we have to understand first, some basic terminologies of the electrical power system. Let us have a discussion.

Nominal System Voltage

Nominal System Voltage is the phase to phase voltage of the system for which the system is normally designed. Such as 11KV, 33KV, 132KV, 220KV, 400KV systems.

Maximum System Voltage

Maximum System Voltage is the maximum allowable power frequency voltage which can occurs may be for long time during no load or low load condition of the power system. It is also measured in phase to phase manner.

List of different nominal system voltage and their corresponding maximum system voltage is given below for reference,

Nominal System Voltage in KV 11 33 66 132 220 400
Maximum System Voltage in KV 12 36 72.5 145 245 420

NB – It is observed from above table that generally maximum system voltage is 110% of corresponding nominal system voltage up to voltage level of 220 KV, and for 400 KV and above it is 105%.

Factor of Earthing

This is the ratio of the highest rms phase to earth power frequency voltage on a sound phase during an earth fault to the rms phase to phase power frequency voltage which would be obtained at the selected location without the fault.

This ratio characterizes, in general terms, the earthing conditions of a system as viewed from the selected fault location.

Effectively Earthed System

A system is said to be effectively earthed if the factor of earthing does not exceed 80% and non-effectively earthed if it does.
Factor of earthing is 100% for an isolated neutral system, while it is 57.7% (1/√3 = 0.577) for solidly earthed system.

Insulation Level

Every electrical equipment has to undergo different abnormal transient over voltage situation in different times during its total service life period. The equipment may have to withstand lightning impulses, switching impulses and/or short duration power frequency over voltages. Depending upon the maximum level of impulse voltages and short duration power frequency over voltages that one power system component can withstand, the insulation level of high voltage power system is determined.

During determining the insulation level of the system rated less than 300 KV, the lightning impulse withstand voltage and short duration power frequency withstand voltage are considered. For equipment rated more or equal 300 KV, switching impulse withstand voltage and short duration power frequency withstand voltage are considered.

Lightning Impulse Voltage

The system disturbances occur due to natural lightning, can be represented by three different basic wave shapes. If a lightning impulse voltage travels some distance along the transmission line before it reaches to a insulator its wave shaped approaches to full wave, and this wave is referred as 1.2/50 wave. If during travelling, the lightning disturbance wave causes flash over across an insulator the shape of the wave becomes chopped wave. If a lightning stroke hits directly on the insulator then the lightning impulse voltage may rise steep until it is relieved by flash over, causing sudden, very steep collapse in voltage. These three waves are quite different in duration and in shapes.

Switching Impulse

During switching operation there may be uni-polar voltage appears in the system. The wave form of which may be periodically damped or oscillating one. Switching impulse wave form has steep front and long damped oscillating tale.

Short Duration Power Frequency Withstand Voltage

Short duration power frequency withstand voltage is the prescribed rms value of sinusoidal power frequency voltage that the electrical equipment shall withstand for a specific period of time normally 60 seconds.

Protection Level Voltage of Protective Device

Over voltage protective device like surge arrestors or lightning arrestors are designed to withstand a certain level of transient over voltage beyond which the devices drain the surge energy to the ground and therefore maintain the level of transient over voltage up to a specific level. Thus transient over voltage can not exceed that level. The protection level of over voltage protective device is the highest peak voltage value which should not be exceeded at the terminals of over voltage protective device when switching impulses and lightening impulses are applied.

Now let us discuss the insulation coordination methods one by one-

Using Shield Wire or Earth Wire

insulation coordination by shield wire
Lightning surge in over head transmission line may be caused due to direct hits of lightening strokes. It can be protected by providing a shield wire or earth wire at a suitable height from the top conductor of transmission line. If the conducting shield wire is properly connected to transmission tower body and the tower is properly earthed then direct lightning strokes can be avoided from all the conductors come under the protective angle of earth wire. Over head earth wire or ground wire or shield wire is also used to over the electrical substation to protect different electrical equipment from lightning strokes.

Conventional Method of Insulation Coordination

insulation coordination with la
As we discussed above that a component of electrical power system may suffer from different level of transient voltage stresses, switching impulse voltage and lightning impulse voltage. The maximum amplitude of transient over voltages reach the components, can be limited by using protecting device like lightning arrestor in the system. If we maintain the insulation level of all the power system component above the protection level of protective device, then ideally there will be no chance of breakdown of insulation of any component. Since the transient over voltage reaches at the insulation after crossing the surge protective devices will have amplitude equals to protection level voltage and protection level voltage < impulse insulation level of the components.

Generally, the impulse insulation level is established at 15 to 25% above the protective level voltage of protective devices.

Statistical Methods of Insulation Coordination

insulation coordination
At higher transmission voltages, the length of the insulator strings and the clearance in air do not increase linearly with voltage but approximately to V1.6. The required number of insulator disc in suspension string for different over voltages is shown below. It is seen that increase in the number of disc is only slight for 220 KV system, with the increase in the over voltage factor from 2 to 3.5 but that there is a rapid increase in the 750 kV system. Thus, while it may be economically feasible to protect the lower voltage lines up to an over voltage factor of 3.5(say), it is definitely not economically feasible to have an over voltage factor of more than about 2 to 2.5 on the higher voltage lines. In the higher voltage systems, it is the switching over voltages that is predominant. However, these may be controlled by proper design of switching devices.