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Sensitivity Assessment of Lightning-Induced Surges in

Distribution Feeders Using ATP

Roberto J. Cabral*, Arturo S. Bretas*, Roberto C. Leborgne*, John A. Morales, Eduardo A. Ordua
* Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil,

Electric Energy Institute National University of San Juan UNSJ, San Juan, Argentina,

Lightning is an important disturbing phenomenon for the

Keywords: Electromagnetic Transients, Grounding, distribution feeders performance analysis [13]. Studies of
Lightning Protection, Power System Protection, Sensitivity lightning protection in power systems are generally carried
Analysis. out by digital simulation [3]. Thus, this paper presents a
comparative lightning performance study conducted on a 23
Abstract kV distribution feeders using software ATP-Draw [15].
Preliminary results obtained with this approach have been
This paper presents a sensitivity assessment of a 23kV presented in [4], [5] and [6].
distribution feeder subject of indirect lightning. The study Four different poles configurations were modelled, two are
focuses in a comparative performance analysis of different horizontal feeders; and two are vertical feeders. For each type
configurations poles. Four distribution lines topologies of structures are considered two cases: a) unshielded feeder
performance are assessed. ATP program was used to simulate and b) shielded feeder with grounding connection.
the electromagnetic phenomena and to evaluate the transients The format of the remaining of this paper is as follows:
caused by induced lightning discharges. Section 2 gives a brief description about lightning
performance. Section 3 presents the power system modelled in
1 Introduction ATP-Draw. Application of the case study and simulation
results is presented in Section 4. Finally, Section 5 summarizes
Lightning is a major cause of overhead line faults. Between the main conclusions, presents the main contributions of this
5% to 10% of the lightning-caused faults are thought to result work and possible future works.
in permanent damage to power system equipment [1].
Analysis of lightning performance is fundamental when 2 Lightning Performance
designing new lines and for uprating existing lines to higher
Brazil is in its majority a tropical country with high ground 2.1 Induced Overvoltage Calculation
flash density. Lightning overvoltages are one of the most
frequent causes of medium voltage distribution systems The maximum-induced voltage on the line due to nearby
outages. The induced overvoltages caused by the indirect strikes can be estimated through equation (1). Values from
lightning strikes to the nearby objects or ground have smaller flashes that terminate near a distribution feeder are obtained
amplitude than overvoltages caused by the direct strikes. by using the simplified Rusk formula [2], [17].
Different studies have evidenced that the indirect lightning
return strokes, hitting the ground in the vicinity of overhead
lines, constitute a more dangerous cause of damage than
direct strikes, because of their more frequent occurrence. 30 I 0 h 1 v 1
U Induced 1 (1)
Lightning induced overvoltages may cause damage to the y 2 c 1 v

insulation of the distribution feeders or other power 1 

equipments and can strongly influence lightning performance 2 c
of the overhead distribution feeders.
In this context, experience and observations show that many Where UInduced is the maximum overvoltage at the location
of the lightning-related outages of low-insulation lines are due nearest the ground flash (kV), I0 is the peak stroke current
to lightning that flashes to the ground or to structures in (kA), h is the height of the conductor over ground (m), y is
proximity of the line. Most voltages induced on a distribution the lateral distance from the horizontal line to the vertical
line by flashes that terminate near a line are less than 300 kV lightning stroke ground termination (m), c is the velocity of
[2]. light in free space (3108 m/s), v is the speed of propagation
With respect to traditional methodologies for the study of of the return stroke (m/s), typically c/3.
lightning effect on distribution feeders, those are usually One limitation in the Rusck simplified formula, related to
carried out by digital simulation, which reproduce the transient imperfect ground effects, can be resolved efficiently with
overvoltages at the insulators and by using manual processing reasonable accuracy by artificially increasing the apparent
they are developed [1]-[13].

height of the phase conductors over ground, using equation ground flash per km2 for various values of the distribution line
(2) [2]. critical impulse flashover voltage (CFO) [2]. Assuming that
the number of induced flashovers is directly proportional to
4.7 the line height (h) and the GFD during a storm event (Ng
heff h (2) lightning flashes/100km2/yr) the lightning-induced overhead
V line flashover rate, Nind can then be obtained by Eq. (6) [2].

Where: heff is an effective height (m), h is the height of the

conductor over ground (m) and is the conductivity of the Nind Ni N g P( I 0 t i0 ) (6)
uniform, lossy ground beneath the conductor (mS/m). 10
The surge impedance of a single wire over ground, fed from
one end, is calculated from equation (3) [2].

2000 heff
Z0 60ln (3)

Where Z0 is the surge impedance (), heff is the height of the

conductor over ground (m) and r is the radius of the
conductor (mm).
Currently data from current discharge can be obtained
through measurements on poles with current transducers.
Although this procedure presents sources of error, this
process is widely used.
The cumulative distribution function to calculate the
Fig. 1. Number of induced-voltage flashovers versus
probability that the peak discharge current is equal to or
distribution-line insulation level CFO [2].
greater than a current value I, and can be approximated by the
following equation [2]:
3 Power System Modelled in ATP
P( I 0 t i0 ) 2.6
(4) The power system simulated for lightning effect analysis is
1 0 presented in this section. The intrinsic characteristics of each
31 element of the distribution feeder are evaluated through their
voltage levels throughout the distribution network [4]-[6].
Where: P(I0 i0) is the probability that a subsequent return Based on this, previously studies have been done analysing
stroke has a peak current I0 that exceeds i0, and i0 is the performance of 23 kV distribution feeders related to the
prospective subsequent return stroke peak current (kA). occurrence of lightning disturbances. Therefore, a distribution
feeder located in southern Brazil is employed as a case study
to illustrate the potential of the developed methodology.
2.2 Flashover Voltage Calculation Using ATP-Draw software [15], the 23 kV distribution feeders
An insulation flashover in the distribution line will occur is simulated, which is single-circuit line with poles and
whenever the resulting maximum voltage (Vmax), from a direct without wire-guard. Furthermore, an adequate model has to
or nearby lightning strikes satisfies [2]. been represented. Thus, by using studies published in recent
years regarding the modelling of components in power system
transient analysis [2], [16] and [18], those different elements
Vmax t 1.5 CFO (5)
of distribution line are simulated

Where CFO is the critical impulse flashover voltage (kV), - Wooden Pole: The wooden pole impedance ZPole is
which characterizes the insulation level of the structures used. calculated according to the equation (7) [2], [4], [5] and [6].
The CFO values, adopted for the common types of structures,
were obtained from laboratory tests in accordance with the H
up-and-down method. The extended CFO-added method [2] Z Pole 60ln 2 2 c  60 (7)
was used in some configurations. rc

The number of faults caused by induced flashover depends on Where Hc and rc stand for the average height of the poles (m)
the number of ground flashes, the distance of shielding and the radius of the base of the poles (m) respectively.
objects from the overhead line, and the height of the shielding The wooden poles are simulated by series connected
objects. Fig. 1 shows the induced flash-over rate, Ni of a 10- impedances, with the same value to avoid wave reflections.
meter-high overhead line at a location that expects 1 lightning

- Grounding Resistance: An approach to the surge impedance - Insulators: Porcelain and glass insulators are represented by
can be made in terms of the grounding static resistance Rg. [4], voltage-controlled switches [18]. The insulation failure occurs
[5]. The grounding resistance Rg is modeled by a concentrated when the voltage exceeds the critical impulse flashover
resistance (estimated average value for all the poles of the voltage (CFO). Therefore, if the CFO has been exceeded,
region). flashover or backflashover discharge can occur. It is
The grounding resistance is also considered and again it is important to explain that the ability of electrical equipment to
connected in series with the pole impedances that is modeled withstand surge is not easily defined and depends on the
using distributed parameters LINEZT_1, with values exposure time.
calculated according formulas for the calculation of resistances
to grounding. [19]. The pole structure and grounding 4 Case Study and Simulation Results
geometries are shown in Fig. 2.
The line is assumed to be located on flat terrain with a ground
flat density of Ng of a 10 flashes per kilometre square per year
(flashes/km2/year). It is also assumed that there is no nearby
object present to cause an induced voltage flashover on the
The phase and wire-guard conductors were assumed without
mid-span sag. The pole structure and conductor geometry are
shown in Fig. 3

Fig. 2. Model representation of the pole with grounding

system in distribution systems.

- Lightning Model: The lightning was simulated by a source

of current impulse available in the library of ATP-Draw.
These parameters can be randomly changed, representing the
stochastic behavior of a lightning strike. In this study, 500
(a) (b) (c) (d)
kHz was used as a characteristic frequency.
Fig. 3. N-type structure: (a)- unshielded and (b)- shielded;
- Frequency Dependent Distribution Line: The modeled feeder P2-type structure: (c)- unshielded and (d)- shielded.
is represented by distributed frequency-dependent parameters
(type J.Marti). The parameters are generally calculated at 500 Characteristics of distribution feeders:
kHz for lightning studies with the skin effect considered in x A 23kV single circuit line with 80m span length was
calculations. The wave propagation speed is assumed in this selected in this study.
work to be equal to the speed of light [18]. Since the highest x The surge impedance of the pole using equation (7).
voltages will be observed at the point of impact, it is only The power frequency voltage may influence the
necessary to consider the poles near the affected one. In this insulator flashover.
study, lightning discharge is applied on the pole. x The effect of corona coupling in the line it is ignored
in ATP-Draw.
- Equivalent Distribution Systems: For distribution feeders the x Main feeder length 45.9 km, primary branch network
contribution of the 60 Hz voltage to the total overvoltage is 112.7 km.
negligible [2]. In order to reproduce the effect of length of the
line, the affected pole is connected between two sections of 3 Transient overvoltages across the insulators depend of the
km feeder, that are modeled using model type LINEZT_3 voltages induced in the conductors of the circuit. When a
[15]. One of the feeders sections is connected to the lightning strike occurs, the insulators are the most affected
substation and the other with an array of resistances, which is elements of the power system and are considered of vital
equal to the characteristic impedance of the feeder to prevent importance in studies of protection and performance.
the reflection of voltage waves [18]. For the sensitivity analysis it was considered the following
The simulated feeder is connected to the Brazilian national parameters: structures type, amplitude of lightning current,
grid at the Marmeleiro substation. The national grid is soil resistivity and grounding resistance. A typical soil
resistivity value of the studied region varies between 100 and
represented by an equivalent network modeled by an ideal
2000 m, as shown in TABLE I.
voltage source type ACSOURSE and the equivalent system
impedance is modeled by a line type PI (RLC3) [15].

Soil type Resistivity [m]
Earth wet, humus, mud, swamp 100 Grounding Soil Resistivity [m]
500 Resistance []
Earth or clay with 20% humidity 100 500 1000 1500 2000
1000 Equivalent
Wet sand 1000 1000 1000 1000 1000
Limestone, granite, dry sand 2000 1gr 40.47 202.35 404.69 607.04 809.39
2gr 23.32 116.61 233.21 349.82 466.42
For unshielded feeders, the grounding resistance was constant
bhw 26.17 130.87 261.74 392.60 523.47
and equal to 1000 regardless the soil resistivity variation
from 100 to 2000 m). However, the feeders with wire-guard 4ps 16.12 80.61 161.22 241.83 322.44
simulations were performed according to two grounding grid 13.53 67.64 135.28 202.92 270.56
topologies. The different cases gave benchmarks dependent of
soil resistivity.
In addition to variations in resistivity of the ground is In order to determine the parameters related to this natural
considered the grounding resistance calculated for a rod of phenomenon with greater influence on the generation of
2.4 m of length and inch diameter, see TABLE II. overvoltages in feeders, a sensitivity study was performed to
Where: determine those parameters that most influenced the
1gr = one ground rod, atmospheric overvoltages.
2gr = two ground rods, During the sensibility study, the peak current of the lightning
bhw = buried horizontal wire, is increased of 0.1 kA until flashes is observed. The voltages
4ps = four point star and, on the insulators and on the lightning injection point, with
grid = grid. reference to the remote ground, were measured. The critical
current values producing flashes are presented upon Fig. 4
and Fig. 5.

Fig. 4. Critical Current due to Induced Lightning on Overhead Distribution Feeder N-Type.

Fig. 5. Critical Current due to Induced Lightning on Overhead Distribution Feeder P2-Type.

During the study of flashover voltage calculation, the Fig. 6 present the backflashover rate due to induced lightning
performance indices for each type of pole structure were Nind on overhead distribution feeder N-type; and Fig. 7 present
calculated in accordance with Eq. (6). the backflashover rate due to induced lightning Nind on
overhead distribution feeder P2-type.

Fig. 6. Backflashover Rate Due to Induced Lightning, Nind on overhead distribution feeder N-type.

Fig. 7. Backflashover Rate Due to Induced Lightning, Nind on overhead distribution feeder P2-type.

According to the results, the shielded feeder with wire-guard South-Brazil distribution systems. Efficiency against
is the one with the best performance against induced lightning stroke was performed to identify an appropriate
overvoltage lightning. The different sensitivity parameters, structure with grounding.
such as the type of grounding and soil resistivity considerably The existing system unshielded feeders and modified
affect the behaviour of types structures analysed. configurations with wire-guard were carried out by ATP-
Draw. The simulation result revealed that structures N-type
5 Conclusions and P2-type with wire-guard and grounding, tended to
improve the lightning performance indices. It was observed a
It has been investigated in this paper the effects of grounding reduction of overvoltages, increase in critical current, and
and soil resistivity with wire-guard on overhead distribution reduction in flashover rate.
feeder N-type and P2-type circuits of 23kV; which is used in

Although most distribution feeders are not shielded, a small Proceedings 4th Asia-Pacific Conference on
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