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N. McDonagh*, W. Phang

*MIET, MIEI, ESBI Ireland,, 00-353-1-7038418


Keywords: Faulted Phase Earthing, Earth Fault Controller,
Continuity of Supply, High Impedance Fault
In order to reduce customer hours lost (CHL) and customer
interruptions (CI), the use of Faulted Phase Earthing (FPE) is
being considered on the Irish 20kV distribution system. The
operation of this particular FPE system is enabled by the use
of a custom built Earth Fault Controller (EFC) that has the
ability to detect high impedance faults of up to 12k. The
EFC can also successfully identify single pole switching
events, which have at times caused the mal-operation of
existing protection. FPE involves the earthing of a faulted
phase during a single line to ground fault. This ensures that
the fault site is made safer and that no customers are
interrupted during the fault.

This paper details the algorithms associated with the EFC and
outlines simulated tests which highlight the EFCs sensitivity
and ability to discriminate between high impedance earth
faults and single pole switching events.
1 Introduction
1.1 Background
In order to reduce customer hours lost (CHL) and customer
interruptions (CI), changes in the method of operation of the
Irish 20kV distribution system are being investigated [1-3].
Two of the methods described in [1] are currently on trial.
The first involves earthing 20kV transformer neutrals via an
automatically tuned Peterson coil. The second is the use of
Faulted Phase Earthing (FPE) through the use of a custom
built Earth Fault Controller (EFC) [2], [3]. The proposed
system will operate as an interchangeable high resistance
earthed/isolated system in conjunction with faulted phase
earthing (FPE), by the use of a custom designed EFC. The
proposed system uses a 300 Neutral Earth Resistor (NER),
which is switched out during sustained faults. This NER is
required to restrict switching over-voltages. During a single
line to ground fault, the faulted phase will be earthed and
transformer neutral will be isolated, as shown in Figures 1
and 2. As the phase to phase voltage is unchanged with the
FPE applied, and load is connected via delta windings the
supply voltage to customers is maintained. The concept for
this controller was initially developed and was patented by
the ESB in 1997 [2] and as described in [3].

Figure 1 20kV system under normal operation

Figure 2 Operation under single line to ground fault

1.2 Existing Methods of Operation
At present operations policy is to earth the 20kV transformer
neutrals via a 20 Neutral Earth Resistor (NER). Sensitive
Earth Fault (SEF) protection on the earthed neutrals is
installed to detect and trip for high resistance earth faults.
This existing system has the ability to detect single line to
ground faults with a resistance of not more than 3k. The
20kV network includes extensive two phase sections resulting
in a high level of capacitive unbalance on the 20kV system.
Single pole switching on a two phase spur may in some cases
lead to mal-operation of protection even though there is no
fault on the system.

1.3 Controller Development
Initial attempts at deployment of the EFC have failed due to
issues surrounding the algorithms used by the EFC; also a
lack of priority around the project until CHL/CI penalties and
incentives were introduced meant that the project remained
dormant. In late 2007 ESB International (Ireland), was
commissioned to reassess the function of the controller, and
significant changes have been made to the methods used
which addresses the limitations of earlier attempts at
implementation. This paper presents the development of
algorithms associated with the EFC, and the testing of these
algorithms. The controller provides a robust method of
detecting earth faults of up to 12k, and can distinguish
between high resistance faults and single pole switching
events. The benefit of this method of system operation is to
maintain supply during a single line to ground fault.
1.4 Existing HIF Detection Methods
With regards to High Impedance Fault (HIF) detection a good
overview of current market solutions and ongoing research is
given in [4], a number of techniques in existence to detect
HIFs are described, such as:
a) Change in third harmonic current on the feeder.
b) Voltage imbalance in negative and zero sequence.
c) Energy algorithms looking at high frequency energy
d) detection of non-synchronous noise
e) Analysis of wave distortion
f) neural networks
g) wavelet transforms
h) Multiple algorithm HIF detectors
i) Comparison of the squares of positive and negative
sequence current
A comprehensive HIF detection algorithms for compensated
and isolated networks is outlined in [5], however these do not
seem to account for single pole switching. A commercial
solution produced by ABB is detailed in [6], uses a multi-
algorithm approach and has detection rates of 80%. None of
above listed methods is completely successful [4], or enables
continuity of supply to customers during single line to ground

2 Hardware/Software System of The EFC
The controller algorithms are designed using Labview

graphical programming language, which is produced by
National Instruments. All the hardware associated with the
controller is also supplied by National Instruments. The
program was developed on a conventional PC and installed
on a stand alone industrial computer which has real time
capability. An illustration of the system hardware is shown in
Figure 3. All I/O functions are channelled through a signal
processing unit. The EFC performs each of the following:
Measures individual phase currents on three feeders as
well as the neutral current, three phase voltages,
Operates digital outputs to control four switches within
the substation compound on the neural and three phases.
Signals a number of alarms, which identify the nature of
the fault, which are connected to the SCADA system.

Figure 3 System Interface of EFC
A flow chart detailing the function of the controller is shown
in Figure 4, which is accompanied by Tables 1 and 2 detailing
the name of each event and process shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4 Flow chart of EFC

Event Description
0 Start up
1 Scanning Phasors
2 Scanning after 2 seconds
3 FPE cycle
4 Scanning Post FPE cycle
5 FPE lock-out and alarms
6 Wait for trip/low voltage/reset
7 Remove FPE switches
8 Reset/low volt, reset
Table 1 EFC Functions

Process Description
0-1 Start up and initialisation
All-0 Voltage signals lost, EFC disabled
1-2 A 0.5A change in neutral current is detected
2-3 This change is still present after two seconds
3-4 FPE auto reclose cycle
4-5 Sustained fault, reapply FPE
4-1 SLG has cleared or initial event was switching
5-6 Lock out FPE and raise appropriate alarms
6-7 Wait for trip command
7-4 FPE switches reset
6-8 Voltage lost or reset command received
8-1 System is reset and reinitialised
Table 2 EFC Flows
3. Algorithm Development
The EFC detects Single Line to Ground (SLG) faults and
single pole switching events. When a SLG is applied to a
network the voltages and currents of that network will change
accordingly. Changes that occur will include:
Drop in the faulted phase & rise in healthy phase voltages
Increase in current flowing in the faulted phase
Change in Current flowing in the system neutral

It is this change in neutral current that the EFC uses as a
trigger to detect for SLGs or switching events. The controller
continually analyses the voltage and current phasors for each
feeder and the neutral current. Upon a change of 0.5A or
more in the neutral current the EFC carries out calculations,
using the change in zero sequence current, to identify the
possible faulted phase and feeder. If this 0.5A change of
persists for two seconds then an FPE cycle is carried out to
determine the nature of the disturbance (single pole switching
or single line to ground fault). The zero sequence current I
defined as the phasor average of the three currents flowing in
any line, as illustrated in Equation 1.

Figure 5 shows a simplified illustration of a typical network
in the steady state situation. For the network shown in Figure
5 the zero sequence current is calculated via Equation 2 [7],
this value is determined entirely by the capacitance of the
feeders, leakage resistances, and voltage drops due to loads
flows have been neglected for the purposes of this discussion.
In the case of a network with a single line to ground fault the
zero sequence current may be calculated using Equation 3[7].
0 T S R
I 3 I I I = + +
Equation 1
0 N _ C
I 3 Y V =

Equation 2
( )
0 N _ C
N F P _ F
I 3 Y V Y V =


Equation 3

Figure 5
V : Voltage to earth of the R, S or T phase.

P _ F
V : Faulted phase voltage
N _ C
Y : Capacitive admittance of R, S and T
Y : Fault admittance
: Zero sequence current
On the Irish 20kV system there are significant sections of
feeders with only two wires (commonly referred to as single
phase feeders), and single pole switching is allowed. There
are circumstances that may arise where the zero sequence
current, or change of this quantity, as a result of a fault may
be identical to that of a single pole switching event. During a
single line to ground fault, the zero sequence current will
increase closely in phase with the faulted phase voltage. As
shown in Equation 2, the zero sequence current is made up of
the capacitive line currents and the fault current. As this is a
resistance earthed system, the single line to ground fault
current will dominate Equation 2, this means that the change
in zero sequence current will be closely aligned to the faulted
phase voltage (generally within 30
). During certain single
pole switching events, the change in zero sequence current
may also be in close phase alignment to one of the phase
voltages. A clear example of this may be seen in Figure 6.

Figure 6
In this example a single pole switch is opened on a two phase
line. As a result of the single pole switching, the capacitance
of the opened sections is connected to the other phase through
the load. Therefore, capacitive current will be dropped by one
phase and picked up by another. In this case an R phase
switch on an RT two phase spur is pulled, resulting in a
change in zero sequence current in phase with the S phase
voltage. There are numerous single pole switching
combinations that may give a similar effect which are
outlined in [2].

Initial attempts [2] at solving this issue were unsuccessful.
Therefore a change was needed to how the EFC identified
single line to ground faults as opposed to switching events.
The EFC now computes the change in currents and voltages
before, during and after the FPE cycle, as opposed to only
analysing the data before and after the initial event as set forth
in [2]. During this analysis the controller specifically looks
zero sequence current to determine if there is an earth fault on
the system. Using this method in conjunction with an
elaboration of Equation 3 yields a set of equations that enable
the EFC to successfully identify earth faults and switching
events. Resolving Equation 3 into both active and reactive
parts yields Equations 4 and 5.



( ) x I 3 Y y V Y x V
0 N _ C
N F P _ F


Equation 4
( ) y I 3 Y x V Y y V
0 N _ C
N F P _ F


Equation 5
Applying Equations 3 and 4, both during and after the FPE
cycle, yields four equations which may be combined to form
a non-singular matrix, as shown in Equation 6. As there are
four unknowns that must be solved for the system, as per
Equation 2, the capacitances of each phase and the fault
admittance, and four separate system equations have been
developed and these set of equations can be solved.
Rearranging the Equation 6 as Equation 7 and solving for [Y]
identifies if there is a fault admittance of significance
resulting in the successful identification of single line to
ground faults. If the initial change in zero sequence current is
caused by a single pole switching event the calculated
admittance will be very small or negative. Using this method
single line to ground faults of 12,000 (~1A) and even up to
16,000 (~0.75A) may be detected, identified, and earthed.
This full calculation is displayed clearly in Equation 8, which
corresponds to a calculation for a suspected fault on the R
phase. The development of these equations is discussed
further in [8]
[V]*[Y]=[I] Equation 6
]*[I] Equation 7




y _ I 3
x _ I 3
y _ I 3
x _ I 3
x V x V x V y V
y V y V y V x V
x V x V x V y V
y V y V y V x V
E 0
E 0
F 0
F 0
T _ C
S _ C
R _ C
R _ F
E _ T E _ S E _ R E _ R
E _ T E _ S E _ R E _ R
F _ T F _ S F _ R F _ R
F _ T F _ S F _ R F _ R
Equation 8
F refers to the values when the FPE switches have not been
applied, as per Figure 1.
E refers to values when the FPE has been applied, as per
Figure 2.
Equation 7 makes the following assumptions:
That no significant network changes resulting in a change
in network capacitance take place during the FPE cycle
Voltage drops along feeders due to load flows, resulting in
a change in capacitive current have been neglected.
Leakage resistance of the network is neglected, and will
not have a major impact on calculations. This is due to the
leakage resistance being considerably larger than the
highest fault resistance to be detected by the EFC
3 Simulation and Testing
A software model of the system was created in order to assist
in algorithm development. The results from this model were
used as inputs to verify the function of the controller
algorithms in the developmental stage. Due to the high level
of unbalance and asymmetry on this network, it would not be
acceptable to use conventional program using sequence
components [9], for this reason an Electromagnetic Transient
Program (EMTP) is preferred, and Alternative Transient
Program (ATP) was selected for this purpose.
This model consists of transformers, three phase feeders,
single phase feeders, three phase loads, single phase loads,
NER and FPE switches. A simplified illustration of the ATP
model is shown in Figure 7, which displays the application of
a fault. The actual model has three feeders, but for this
illustration only one feeder is shown in Figure 7. Voltage and
current results were taken from this model to test the
controller. These results were taken upon the application of a
fault; 2 seconds after fault application, during the FPE auto
reclose cycle and after the FPE reclose cycle. The phasor
values were than used to test the algorithm created with
Labview. Numerous faults and switching events were
simulated and the phasor data was used to test the controller.

Figure 7
4 Simulated Results
Results show that the controller is successful in the detection
of single line to ground faults up to 12k and the algorithm
can successfully distinguish single pole switching events. For
the purposes of illustration three events are considered here:
SLG with a fault resistance of 50
SLG with a fault resistance of 10,000
Single pole switching causing a 1A change in neutral

Relevant voltages and currents from the software model are
used to populate the matrix shown in Equation 8. The fault
admittance is calculated and inverted to give the calculated
fault resistance. The first two incidents considered the FPE is
applied on the R phase, while in the single pole switching
event the FPE is applied on the S phase, thus changing
Equation 8 accordingly.

Case 1 SLG with a fault resistance of 50



38 . 7
09 . 7
9 . 0
16 . 32
18775 18585 0 0
10578 10830 0 0
15416 15164 3211 1975
12662 8755 1975 3211
T _ C
S _ C
R _ C
R _ F

From Equation 8 the calculated fault admittance
R _ F
Y is
10.4 mS, therefore the calculated fault resistance is 96, and
an SLG is successfully detected.
Case 2 SLG with a fault resistance of 10,000



28 . 8
26 . 0
93 . 0
18775 18583 0 0
10579 10833 0 0
6532 6270 12156 311
10786 10682 311 12156
T _ C
S _ C
R _ C
R _ F

From Equation 8 the calculated fault admittance
R _ F
Y is
0.1055 mS, therefore the calculated fault resistance is 9.5k,
and an SLG is successfully detected.

These two examples show that this method is capable of
detecting single line to ground faults. For the 50 fault the
calculation of the fault impedance is higher than the actual
fault resistance due to the line impedance as fault is placed
40km from the measurement location, meaning that there is
significant line impendence included in the fault impedance

Case 3 Single Pole Switching



6 . 4
2 . 10
8 . 1
3 . 0
146 0 18310 0
21163 0 10572 0
5939 5892 12207 10030
10954 10030 419 5892
T _ C
S _ C
R _ C
S _ F

From an altered Equation 8 to account for the suspected fault
being on the S phase, the calculated fault admittance
S _ F
Y is
13S, therefore the calculated fault resistance is 75k, this is
distinguished as not being an earth fault, due to the low
admittance. This shows that the algorithm is successful in
identifying switching events which result in a change in
neutral current of greater than 0.5A, as not being a single line
to ground faults.

5 Conclusions
Faulted phase earthing using a custom built earth fault
controller has been successfully implemented. The new
system has the capability to both detect high impedance faults
and maintain supply during single line to ground faults.
Numerous benefits as a result of this work have been
identified such as:
Improved Sensitivity: Existing SEF protection can
identify a fault of about 3,000 (~4A) while the EFC can
identify a High Impedance Faults (HIF) of up to 12,000
Selectivity: Existing SEF protection may mal-operate due
to single pole switching on a long two phase spur. The
controller using FPE can identify this event as not being a
Fault Location: With the existing system, network
technicians may have no indication of the phase or feeder
on which a fault has occurred; The EFC will identify the
faulted feeder and phase thus saving time in fault location.
There are also a number of benefits associated with the
FPE method of operation but not specifically associated
with this work, such as:
Supply Continuity: With the use of FPE on the 20kV
system no customers need be interrupted during a single
line to ground fault, until the fault is found and an
adequate plan is formulated how to remove the fault,
which may involve temporarily switching out customers.
Fault Site Safety: Previous work carried out by Tobin et
al [3] has shown that fault site GPR using the FPE is
generally lower than a similar fault on a system with a
neutral earthed via a Peterson coil.

Future work involving the development of the EFC will
involve further live testing and the creation of algorithms to
detect remote side breaks on the network.
The authors would like to show their gratitude to all the asset
management team in ESB Networks with special thanks to
Martin Hand and Hugh Borland, to all in ESB Networks,
Gracedieu, and to the Power System Studies Group at ESBI,
with special thanks to James Dooley and Tony Higgins for
their proof reading of this text, and to all at National
Instruments with a special mention to Seamus Casserly.
[1] H.Borland, Influence of fault handling techniques on supply
security IEE Colloquium on Improving Supply Security on 11 kV
Overhead Networks, May 1990
[2] Electricity Supply Board, of Ireland, 1997, Fault Detection
Apparatus and Method of Detecting Faults in An Electrical Distribution
Network, Patent Application Number S970641.
[3] N. Tobin, B. Brady, Managing Earth Faults on Distribution
Networks, Paper Presented to Institution of Engineers of Ireland. (1997)
[4] L. Li, M. Redfern, A review of techniques to detect downed
conductors in overhead distribution systems, Seventh International
Conference on Developments in Power System Protection, 2001, IEE
Conference publication, April 2001
[5] S. Hanninen, Single phase earth faults in high impedance
grounded networks Characteristics, indication and location, VTT
Energy 2001.
[6] R. Das et al, Detected! A vote of confidence of ABBs high
impedance fault detection system. ABB review 3/2007.
[7] M. Lethonan & T. Hakola Neutral Earthing and Power System
[8] N. McDonagh Faulted Phase Earthing Using a Custom Built
Controller Dissertation as part of MSc, University of Bath, 2009
[9] D. Tziouvaras, EMTP Applications for Power System Protection,
Protection, Automation & Control World, Spring 2008.
Neil McDonagh,,
Phone: 00-353-1-7038418.
Born 1981, received a Bachelor of Engineering from University College
Dublin in Mechanical Engineering, 2003, and an MSc with distinction, from
the University of Bath, in Electrical Power Systems, 2009. Mr McDonagh
has worked in the area of power system studies for over 5 years with ESB
International, specialising in: system modelling, earthing of high and medium
voltage substations, lightning protection, and insulation coordination.