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Sizing and Selection of Grounding Transformers

Decision Criteria
George Eduful Godfred Mensah
Electricity Company of Ghana Electricity Company of Ghana
System Planning Division System Planning Division
P.O. Box 5278, Accra-North, Ghana P.O. Box 5278, Accra-North, Ghana

Abstract- Within a period oHwo years, the Electricity t:ompany duty transformer of equal kVA rating. For this reason,
of Ghana (ECG) lost a total of six grounding transformers in a grounding transformers are often not sized by "kVA" but by
particular substation. The situation created a lot of instability their continuous and short time current ratings. They are
and resulted in huge productivity losses to both the company usually oil immersed and may be installed outdoor.
and its customers. The failures were believed to be related to Grounding transformer is used for direct grounding or
wrong selection of grounding transformer rating. However, through a current limiting resistor. Zero sequence impedance
using the concept of capacitive charging current of a system, it
of grounding transformer is quite low, but it can be increased
was found that the short time rating of the grounding
if the purpose is to limit current through the transformer
transformers were rightly selected. Analysis of the phenomenon
during earth fault. The reasons for limiting current may be:
strongly linked the damages to protection deficiency. This paper
discusses analysis of the problem and proposes decision criteria
for selecting a grounding transformer. a. To reduce transient over voltage incursion from
phase-to-earth fault.
Keywords: Grounding transformer, Capacitive charging current, b. To reduce mechanical stresses in circuits and
Zero sequence impedance, short time rating current apparatus carrying fault currents.

As a rule of thumb, grounding transformers are designed

with a continuous current rating equal to approximately 10%
A proposal for a change in specification of grounding of its short-time rating. For example, a grounding transformer
transformer was presented in response to persistent failure of rated 1000A for 10 seconds may carry 100A (10% of 1000A)
grounding transformer in a particular substation of the continuously. In practice, the size of a grounding transformer
Electricity Company of Ghana. Among others, the proposal is based on capacitive charging current of a system. This is
suggested a reduction in flow of earth fault current from 3180 because the charging capacitive current is the lowest level of
A to 1245 A and an increase in short time rating from 10 earth fault current at which system transient overvoltage can
seconds to 10 minutes. be effectively reduced.

The role of grounding transformer in power systems is so As discussed above, grounding transformers can safely
critical that issues relating to its quality and reliability are carry about 10% of it short time rated load. Temperatures
treated with the utmost seriousness. As a holistic approach to during its continuous rating should not damage the windings.
solving the problem, the report first looks at the basic concept Heating of grounding transformers are caused by random
of grounding transformer in power systems to put the subject short duration currents. Temperatures that cause excessive
in perspective. Thereafter, the proposal is examined in a gas development in the oil should be avoided. The
broader context. Based on technical analysis, it was proposed temperature for the windings in direct contact with the oil
that the existing grounding transformer specification be should not exceed 140C. For this reason, Bucholz relay and
maintained. This paper presents report of the analysis and temperature protection are provided. Neutral C.T is also
proposes decision criteria for selecting a grounding installed at neutral point of grounding transformers to ensure
transformer. that in an event of severe earth-fault, it signals the appropriate
earth-fault relay to initiate tripping to protect the transformer.
Grounding transformer is used to provide a ground path to
an ungrounded delta connected system. As a short-time rating With the brief overview of the general concept of
device, its size and cost are less compared with a continuous grounding transformers in power system, we now examine
the proposal in detail.

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Proposal 1: Reduce the thermal stress on network The zero sequence capacitance of transformer is negligible.
components, and hence failure rates, by reducing currents However, for over headlines, zero sequence capacitance can
that flow during earth faults from the current maximum of be high if considerable lengths are involved. As a general
3180A to 1245A. is being proposed that the rule, the following approximate capacitance values are used:
existing zero sequence impedance of 19.2Q be changed to
50Q. Transformer Co = O.OlflFltransformer
Although the proposal did not give detail on the technical Over headline Co = 0.00625 flFlkm
consideration that influenced the choice of the 1245A, it is a
general knowledge that zero sequence impedance determines As indicated above, value of 3Ico is critical for sizing and
the value of earth-fault current. The desired value of the zero selecting grounding transformers. For good approximation of
sequence impedance is dependent on the system charging 3Ico value, we considered all cables and the overhead lines
capacitive current. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the length in the system. Also considered are transformers and a
charging current before the zero impedance value can be capacitor bank of 1O.8MVar at the station.
Based on equation (2), the zero sequence capacitance of the
The generally accepted criterion for determining the size of cables are calculated, see the table-I. SIC value used for the
zero sequence impedance (Zo) is that capacitance calculation is 3.5.The capacitance values of the
transformer and the overhead lines are based on the
approximate values as indicated above.

From Table 1, total zero sequence capacitance of the 33kV

At this condition, the destructive voltage build up on the
system is 104.3IlF.
charging capacitance of the un-faulted phases cannot occur
[1, 2, 3, and 4]. Where, Xco is the line-to-earth capacitive
Accordingly, using equation (2), 3Ico for the 33kv system
reactance of the system. Stated in another way, the current in
the zero sequence impedance IN during a line-to-earth fault
must be equal to or greater than three times the line-to-earth
system charging current, 3Ico. 31 = .J3 ( 2 x 1T x 50 x104.3 x 33 )

3Ieo = 1872.308 Amps

According to [4, 5], during line-to-earth system, charging
33000 1
current (3Ico) is given as =--x-
.J3 624

= x 1[ x fx C o
X ELL) Amperes (1) =30.5Q


Where, ELL is the system line-to-line voltage in kilovolts, SIC Criterion 1: Based on the general rule that Z0 ::; X0' it
is dielectric constant, D is the diameter of cables over the
can be said that grounding transformers with values of Zo up
insulation shield, d is the diameter of the conductor, system
to 30.50 is appropriate for selection.
frequency and Co is zero sequence capacitance of the system
In relation to the above criteria, the 500 zero sequence
Based on equation (1), the system charging currents for the
impedance value suggested by the proposal does not match
system (33kV network) can be calculated and hence,
the property of the system. Hence, the proposed 500 zero
determine the appropriate zero sequence impedance. The
sequence impedance is not appropriate.
charging current is calculated by summing the zero-sequence
capacitance of all the cable and equipment connected to the
Criterion 2: It appears that the existing specification of
19.40 at short time current rating 3180A also satisfies the
general criteria. However, to take an informed decision, it is
The zero sequence capacitance of any type of cable can be
necessary to compute the values of transient over voltage
calculated using the following formula:
under the existing specification and the calculated one (30.50
at rating of 1872A). For comparative analysis, transient
o = 0.00736 x SIC (2)
C j1F 1l000 fl overvoltage for Zo=500 is also computed.

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Table 1: Components of the Substation

Cable Overhead line Transformers Capacitors

Cable (I x630) Cable (lx500)
Diameter over
48 28.2 62 NA NA NA
insulation D (mm)
Diameter over
conductor d (mm) 32.6 21.1 52 NA NA NA

Number I-bank
17.2 39.85 12.02 69.3 NA NA

Capacitance in J1
0.153311763 0.204498567 0.337224215 NA NA

Total capacitance
8.702845932 26.89527355 13.3776735 0.430610236 0.18 54.66854076
(Co) in I!

From ASPEN One-liner modeling of the substation, Criterion 3: The third criterion is to consider sensitivity of
the relaying system and the thermal stress that will be
for Zo=19.40, Xo/X\=33.6177 imposed on the system in an event of earth-fault. At this
for Zo=300, Xo/X\=62.5156 stage, system engineers are normally guided by protection
for Zo=500, Xo/X1=168.732 philosophies. The general philosophy is that in an event of
fault, enough current should be allowed to flow such that
Where, Xo/X\ is the Thevenin's ratio of zero sequence protective devices can detect earth-fault current and trip off
reactance to positive sequence reactance of the location of the line but not so much current to cause major damage.
grounding transformer.
Thermal stress rating of power system equipment depends
The transient over voltage is then calculated from the on ft. Using Zo = 19.40 will result in the following:
following relation [6]:
a. Higher earth fault current and faster operating times
for the existing IDMT protection schemes at the
b. Effects of high earth current will affect;
a. Grounding transformer
2 2
ifl t. . n xtd eSl
Irlp >Id eSl .gn
During a line-to-earth fault on one phase, the transient J g
Where IFfault
voltages on the healthy phases in relation to the Zo values are current, 1tnp=relay operation time.
given in P.U and kV as:
b. Cable and Overhead lines if the damage
Zo Values in curve of these equipment are lower than the
P.U Overvoltage value
0 IDMT curve of protection scheme
protecting these equipment.
19.4 1.47 48.56

30 1.48 48.99 From IDMT protection schemes at the station, the

50 1.49 49.31 protection curves are all far lower than the damage curve of
the cables and feeders, see the Fig.1.

As can be seen, the transient voltage values presented by V. CASE STUDY: THERMAL STRESS ANALYSIS ON THE
the respective zero sequence impedances to the healthy RECENT GROUNDING TRANSFORMER FAILURE AT THE
phases under line-to-earth condition are lower for Zo=19.40 STATION
and for Zo=30.50 as compared to Zo=500. This confirms that
Zo=500 does not satisfy the general condition of Zo:::Xco. This case uses typical earth-fault data, obtained from the
However, relative to the closeness of the transient protection relays and technical data as specified on the most
overvoltage values for Zo=19.40 and Zo=300, decision recent failed grounding transformer, to examine impact of
regarding the selection of the grounding transformer can still thermal stress, if any, on the system during the recent failure
not be made at this stage. at the station.

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10 2 3 4 5 7 1 2 3 4 5 7 lOll 2 3 4 5 7 lCDX1 2 3 4 5 7
f- llX1ll00010

. -1-' c;w.lIId<\c>'OM 111191 r-- I c. r-

+' __ ..i!="""'_ko(lDl9J'5IP':zo:o:nocmls m _

,oo , c=:c"",e ko(l0497S_736470c"*
r- "

, - t
f-' .

'-1-' + \ .

\ 1\ r-'"
t:t \ + \


\ -

+ 1+- ,

, ,

, ,

, I
, ,

I,: m

++ + +

.1-- - m

' " , , .. , ,oo , , .. , , , , .. , , .. , , .. ,

3 4 5 7 100 : 3 4 5 7
1000 : 3 4 5

(a)3X240 Cu XLPE (a)IX630 AI XLPE

+ 1+ + .

1 X500 Cu XLPE

Figure 1. Protection curves for cables at the station

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Calculated design stress: VI. CONCLUSION
I x t 4800 X 10 230,400,000A2 S

Frequent damage of grounding transformer at the station

Relay on Grounding transformer is attributed to inability of temperature protection system to
detect overheating of the grounding transformers possibly
IN>140A, td= O.3Sseconds, curve: Long Time resulting from the flow of current exceeding the continuous
Inverse Curve (LTI) rating of grounding transformer and poor sensitivity of
IFI7.7SkA (anticipated trip time=0.34secs, neutral CT to ground fault current.
assuming no CT saturation)
Sizing of zero sequence impedance depends entirely on
Calculated thermal stress on the grounding the total capacitive charging current of the system. To avoid
transformer due to the fault: transient over-voltages, grounding transformers must be sized
so that the amount of the earth-fault current allowed to flow
2 2 exceeds the electrical system's charging current.
177S0 x 0.34 = 107,12 1,2S0A s

Grounding transformers should be selected to limit phase

As shown from the calculation, the design stress of the
to-ground fault current such that the thermal stress imposed
grounding transformer is about 200% greater than the stress
on the system will be less than the equipment design stress.
imposed on the system during the fault condition. Ideally, the
fault stress should not damage the transformer. The high level
Grounding transformer should be selected such that in an
of the fault current could be attributed to a short in the
event of fault, enough current will flow to allow protective
transformer winding due to insulation breakdown. Insulation
device to detect ground fault.
breakdown might be due to the following:

1. Inability of temperature protection system
to detect overheating of grounding
[1] J.R. Dunki-Jacobs, "The Reality of High-Resistance Grounding," IEEE
transformer possibly from the flow of Transactions on Industry Applications, vol IA-13, pp 469-475, Sept/Oct
current exceeding the continuous rating of
the grounding transformers. [2] J.P. Nelson, "System Grounding and Ground Fault Protection in the
Petrochemical Industry: A Need for a Better Understanding," IEEE
Transactions on Industry Applications, vol 38, pp 1633-1640, NovlDec 2002.
2. Poor CT sensitivity to the flow of ground
fault current. [3] W.C. Bloomquist, KJ. Owen and R.L. Gooch, "High-Resistance
Grounded Power Systems - Why Not?" IEEE Transactions on Industry
Applications, vol IA-l2, pp 574-580, Nov/Dec 1976.
Our analysis was also extended to the previous failures at
the station. It was confirmed that the thermal stress from the [4] D.S. Baker, "Charging Current Data for Guesswork-Free Design of High
phase-to-earth faults were all far lower compared to the Resistance Grounded Systems," IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications,
vol IA-15, pp 136- 140, Mar/Apr 1979.
equipment designed stresses.
[5] B. Bridger, Jr., "High-Resistance Grounding," IEEE Transactions on
Based on the above analysis, it obvious that the existing Industry Applications, vol IA-19, pp 15- 21, JanlFeb 1983.
specification (Zo = 19.4n at 3180A) has no connection with
[6] Electricity Company of Ghana Distribution Planning Manual, Revised
the frequent damages. The existing specification even Edition 2011.
provides room for future growth of the substation compared
with the proposed rating of SO n at 1245A.

Proposal 2: Prolong the life span of the grounding

transformers by increasing the short time duration rating
from the current 10 seconds to 10 minutes.

Line-to-earth is undesirable condition and must not be

allowed to persist for long time. Short-time rating is
necessary to limit damage in an event that the system earth
fault escalates into a double line-to-earth fault or the
impedance of the transformer becomes shorted. The standard
rating allowed for grounding transformer ranges from 10 to
60seconds. However, where grounding transformers are used
to establish a neutral point to enable connection of phase-to
neutral loads, continuous neutral current rating of the device
is allowed because of the attendant load imbalance.

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