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# ISBN 978-0-620-44584-9

## Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering

c 2009 SAIEE, Innes House, Johannesburg

## A STATISTICAL METHOD FOR LIGHTNING INCIDENCE

CALCULATIONS IN TRANSMISSION LINES
P. N. Mikropoulos* and Th. E. Tsovilis
High Voltage Laboratory, School of Electrical & Computer Engineering,
Faculty of Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,
Building D, Egnatia St., 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
*Email: <pnm@eng.auth.gr>
Abstract: Lightning is the main cause of transmission line outages affecting reliability of power
supply thus, consequently, resulting in economic losses. A statistical method for lightning
incidence calculations in transmission lines is introduced. Simple expressions for the estimation of
an expected range of lightning strikes to a transmission line depending on interception probability
distribution have been obtained, based on a recently proposed statistical lightning attachment
model derived from scale model experiments. The expected number of lightning strikes depends,
besides transmission line geometry, on lightning stroke current distribution and interception
probability. The results of the statistical method have been compared with those obtained by
employing other models from literature, including that suggested by the IEEE Std. 1243:1997, in
lightning incidence calculations, and with field observation data; a satisfactory agreement has been
shown to exist. Results on lightning incidence calculations are further discussed through an
application to typical 150 kV and 400 kV lines of the Hellenic transmission system.
1.

## observation data [2, 11]; a satisfactory agreement exists.

Results on lightning incidence calculations are
discussed also through an application to typical 150 kV
and 400 kV lines of the Hellenic transmission system.

INTRODUCTION

## Lightning is the main cause of transmission line outages

affecting reliability of power supply thus, consequently,
resulting in economic losses. Therefore, shielding
against direct lightning strokes to phase conductors of
transmission lines is provided by shield wires, which are
metallic elements that are able to, by physical means,
launch a connecting upward discharge that intercepts
the descending lightning leader from a distance termed
striking distance within a capture radius commonly
termed attractive radius or lateral distance.

2.

MODEL

## Lightning interception by an air terminal depends on the

total probability for a certain lightning stroke current
and a connecting upward discharge initiated at the air
terminal. Thus, lightning incidence calculations or
shielding analysis in overhead transmission lines should
take into account, besides lightning stroke current
distribution, the interception probability distribution by
considering the striking distance and attractive radius of
a conductor as statistical quantities. However, the IEEE
Standard [1], suggesting for lightning incidence
calculations the use of Erikssons method [2], does not
consider interception probability.

## Lightning interception is a stochastic phenomenon, thus

to analyse it statistically knowledge of the lightning
stroke current and interception probability distributions
is required. Although, the former distribution is
available in [12] the latter, being dependent upon
several geometrical and physical parameters, is almost
impossible to be estimated in practice. However, this
becomes feasible when simplifying the real case into
laboratory investigation on the discharge interception
efficiency of a simple earthed rod inserted in a rodplane gap (Figure 1). Although such scale model
experiments can be considered as a rough
approximation of the natural lightning flash, they were
proved useful in investigating the relation between
striking distance, interception radius and interception
probability, and to extend this experimental work to the
lightning environment [3-6].

## In the present study, a statistical method for lightning

incidence calculations in transmission lines is
introduced, which yields an expected range of lightning
strikes depending on interception probability
distribution. This task is accomplished by simple
expressions, which have been derived on the basis of
scale model experiments [3-6], and take into account
besides transmission line geometry, the lightning stroke
current and interception probability distributions. The
results according to the statistical method are compared
with those obtained from the IEEE Standard [1],
previously reported models [2, 7-10] and with field

## In previous work [4], by using the three electrode

arrangement shown in Figure 1, at applied voltages
always causing breakdown interception probability
distributions were obtained, for several electrode
configurations differing in D and h, by varying R;
typical such distributions are shown in Figure 2. The
interception probability distributions were found to be
well approximated with the normal distribution, thus
both striking distance and interception radius can be
treated as statistical quantities with their distribution
described by a mean value and a corresponding standard
deviation [4]. Actually, the interception radius R is
Pg. 1

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## Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering

c 2009 SAIEE, Innes House, Johannesburg

ISBN 978-0-620-44584-9

140

Attractive

Critical

Failure
[2]

120

[10]

100

[9]

80
60
40
20

## Figure 1: Schematic diagram of the electrode

arrangement; D striking distance to earth surface; S
striking distance to earthed rod; R interception radius; h
height of the earthed rod.

0
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

## Figure 3: Interception radius as a function of air

terminal height; negative lightning peak current 30 kA.
be deduced that all models yield an increase of
interception radius with increasing air terminal height;
however, the variation of interception radius with
interception probability, yielded by the statistical model,
indicates that the expected lightning strikes to an air
terminal should vary with interception probability.

## Figure 2: Interception probability distribution of an

earthed rod when inserted in a 75 cm rod-plane gap;
fitting curves are drawn according to normal
distribution; (a) positive polarity, (b) negative polarity.

3.

3.1.

## In an analogous way to the overall attractive distance in

[10], the equivalent interception radius Req of a
conductor with height h is defined as:

## well expressed at any interception probability by the

following expression:
k

Rci
h
, = c2 [6]

D
h

Req = R ( I , h ) f ( I ) dI

(1)

## where f(I) is the probability density function of the

lightning stroke current distribution and R is the
According to [12] the probability density function of the
stroke current is lognormally distributed as:

( ln I ln I )2
f (I ) =
exp

2
2 i
2 i I

[13]

(4)

## where I is the median current and i is the standard

deviation of the natural logarithm of the current
amplitudes.

## For negative lightning, a widely used expression in

literature for the striking distance to earth surface D is:
0.65

(3)

## where h, D are defined in Figure 1 and values for the

coefficients c2, k and for , in formula form, are given in
Table I [6]. Equation (1) is valid for 0<h/D 1. For
h/D >1 the asymptotic values of (1) at h/D unity i.e. the
equal coefficient c2 may be adopted [6].

D = 10 I

## According to the statistical model, by using the

equations (1)-(4) the variation of the equivalent
interception radius with interception probability for
negative lightning can be estimated by:

(2)

## with D in meters and I in kA; expression (2) is used

hereafter in (1) for interception radius calculations.
Figure 3 shows the variation of interception radius with
air terminal height at 2.5% (failure), 50% (critical) and
97.5% (attractive) interception probabilities obtained by
using the statistical lightning attachment model. Figure
3 also shows the interception radii obtained from those
lightning attachment models suggested by [1] and [14]
to be applied for lightning incidence calculations. It can

Reqc

ln 2 I
= 6.21h exp
2
2 i
0.3

(%) = 13.3e
Pg. 2

0.18 i

ln I
0.455 + 2 (5a)
i

0.27 0.43

(5b)
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## Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering

c 2009 SAIEE, Innes House, Johannesburg

ISBN 978-0-620-44584-9

## dispersion, as was recognized by Eriksson [2]. Apart

from [7], all models agree well with the data points TL
from [2], which is regarded as the most reliable
according to Eriksson [2], and PA which was derived
from [11] where direct flashes were recorded together
with the local ground flash density.

## where h is in meters and I is in kA. Expression (5b)

has been obtained by solving equation (3) with the aid
of a mathematical software package by considering the
distribution of interception radius. For the lightning
crest current distribution with I = 30.1 kA and
i = 0.76, suggested in [12], (5a) and (5b) become:

Reqc

= 31h

0.3

, (%) = 38.2h

0.43

## It is important to note that expressions (6) and (7) do not

take into account the variation of equivalent interception
radius with lightning stroke current distribution. This is
considered in expressions (5a) and (5b) and the result of
their application for three different lightning stroke
current lognormal distributions (Table 3) is shown in
Figure 5. From Figure 5 it is obvious that with
increasing I the equivalent interception radius
increases, however this is more evident for lower
interception probabilities and higher conductors.

(6)

## The general expression (7) can be used for the

estimation of the equivalent interception radius
according to the lightning attachment models suggested
for lightning incidence calculations in [14]:

Req

= rh

(7)

Table 2:

180

Attractive
[2]

160

Critical
[11]

Failure

100

Critical
Attractive

80
60
40

20

## Median current 30.1 kA, = 0.76

120
Critical

100

Attractive

80
60
40
Median current 39kA, = 0.76

20

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

## Figure 5: Equivalent interception radius as a function of

conductor height calculated according to (5a) and (5b)
for different lightning stroke current distributions.
3.2.

140

## The annual number of lightning strikes to shield wires

per 100 km of a transmission line, NS, is given as:

[10]

100

N S = 0.1N g 2R eq +b

[9]

80

Failure
Failure

[7], [8]
[1], [2]

120

.
Equivalent Interception radius (m)

## The variation of the equivalent interception radius with

conductor height, obtained by using (6) as well as (7)
and Table 2 is shown in Figure 4 together with field
data reported in [2] and derived from [11]. There is a
large variability in equivalent interception radius among
lightning attachment models, however all of them yield
an increase of Req with increasing conductor height.

140

3
3

120

140

TL

(8)

60
PA

## where Req is in meters, Ng is the ground flash density

(strikes km-2yr-1) and b is the separation distance
between the outer shield wires.

40
20
0
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

## The expected annual number of lightning strikes to

shield wires of typical 150 kV and 400 kV lines of the
Hellenic transmission system, tower geometries are
shown in Figure 6, according to different models
employed in lightning incidence calculations is shown
in Tables 4 and 5, respectively. In these calculations Req
has been estimated by putting the average height of
shield wires over the span in equations (6) and (7) and
assuming Ng = 4 km-2yr-1. From Tables 4 and 5 it can be
deduced that there is variability in NS among models,
however all of them yield an increase of NS with
increasing transmission line height. The range of NS
yielded by the statistical method depending on

## Figure 4: Equivalent interception radius as a function of

conductor height; points depict field data.
In all models, the equivalent interception radius tends to
saturate with increasing conductor height; an exception
to this is model [7], which, as noted in [14], tends to
concave upwards and seems to underestimate the
equivalent interception radius at lower conductor
heights. In general, there is satisfactory agreement
between the present work and previously reported
models with the field data in [2] considering also that
the latter are relatively uncertain and have a statistical
Pg. 3

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ISBN 978-0-620-44584-9

## Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering

c 2009 SAIEE, Innes House, Johannesburg

4.

DISCUSSION

## The expected annual number of lightning strikes to

shield wires of a transmission line depends upon the
ground flash density and equivalent interception radius
of the shield wires. From (3) it can be deduced that the
equivalent interception radius of a conductor varies with
the lightning attachment model used for interception
radius calculation, as also shown in Figure 4, and
depends on the conductor height (Figure 4) and
lightning stroke current distribution. Both IEEE Std [1]
and [14] suggest for lightning incidence calculations in
transmission lines the use of height dependent
expressions for NS, which do not consider the variation
of the latter with lightning stroke current distribution;
this is important when considering that the lightning
stroke current distribution varies seasonally and
geographically [12].
Figure 6: Typical towers of the 150 kV (a), (b) and
400 kV (c), (d) lines of the Hellenic transmission
system.

## Lightning incidence calculations performed according

to the present statistical method, that is by putting in (8)
the equivalent interception radius given by (5a), take
into account, besides transmission line height, the
lightning stroke current distribution, as shown in Figure
5 and Table 6. In addition, employing also (5b)
according to the statistical method the variation of
equivalent interception radius with interception
probability may be considered; this results, rather than
in a deterministic value, in an expected range of NS
(Tables 4-6), which seems more realistic when
considering the stochastic nature of lightning
interception phenomenon. Actually, the expected range
of NS of a transmission line calculated according to the
present statistical method, agrees well with the values of
NS obtained from other lightning attachment models
[2, 7-10], when considering also that there is variability
in NS among models (Tables 4 and 5). It must be noted
that the Erikssons method [2], which is suggested by
the IEEE Std [1] for lightning incidence calculations,
yields generally the highest values of NS among models
(Tables 4 and 5).

## interception probability distribution, agrees well with

the values of NS obtained from the models suggested by
[1], [14] for lightning incidence calculations.

## It is well established that S is related to the expected

backflashover rate of a transmission line [17]. The latter
together with the shielding failure flashover rate
determine the lightning performance of the transmission
line, hence also its expected outage rate due to lightning
strokes. Thus, careful selection of the lightning
attachment model and of the lightning stroke current
distribution necessitates when evaluating the lightning
performance of overhead transmission lines.

## Table 6 shows the variation of NS with lightning stroke

current distribution obtained by using in the set of
equations (5a), (5b) and (8) the lightning stroke current
distribution parameters shown in Table 3. There is a
variability in NS with lightning stroke current
distribution; a maximum increase of about 30% is found
at the lowest interception probability.
Pg. 4

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ISBN 978-0-620-44584-9

5.

## Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering

c 2009 SAIEE, Innes House, Johannesburg

[6]

CONCLUSIONS

## A statistical method for lightning incidence calculations

has been introduced which takes into account besides
transmission line geometry, lightning stroke current
distribution and interception probability. Simple
expressions are proposed to estimate the distribution of
the equivalent interception radius of a conductor with
interception probability. Hence, rather than in a
deterministic value, an expected range of annual number
of lightning strikes to shield wires of a transmission line
is calculated; this seems more realistic when
considering the stochastic nature of lightning
interception phenomenon.

[7]

[8]

[9]

## The results of the proposed statistical method have been

compared with those obtained by employing other
models from literature, including that suggested by the
IEEE Std. 1243:1997, in lightning incidence
calculations, and with field observation data; a
satisfactory agreement has been shown to exist. Results
on lightning incidence calculations are further discussed
through an application to typical 150 kV and 400 kV
lines of the Hellenic transmission system.
6.

[10]

[11]

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

[12]

## Th. E. Tsovilis wishes to thank the Research Committee

of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki for the support
provided by a merit scholarship.
7.

REFERENCES

[1]

## IEEE Guide for improving the Lightning

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A. J. Eriksson, The Incidence of lightning strikes
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Experimental investigation of the Franklin rod
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P. N. Mikropoulos and Th. E. Tsovilis, Striking
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Trans. Power Delivery, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 15711580, Jul. 2008.
P. N. Mikropoulos and Th. E. Tsovilis,
Interception radius and shielding against
lightning, 29th Int. Conf. Lightning Protection,
Uppsala, Sweden, 2008, paper 4-10, pp. 1-11.

[2]
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[4]

[5]

[13]

[14]

[15]

[16]

[17]

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## P. N. Mikropoulos and Th. E. Tsovilis,

Interception probability and shielding against
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