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Overhead transmission line Faults, their effect and

Protection scheme
Submitted to Mr Car.

Submitted by Qaisar.

Dated: 22 Jun. 18

EHV and UHV OH lines are tall structures and have insulators with larger creepage distances
and clearances. Faults on OH lines of these levels, therefore, are rare. Rarest faults of faults are
between phases and involving three phases. Common faults are single phase to ground faults
are mostly due to flashover across insulator due to some surges (BIL are much higher than
typical lightning surge and hence are conducted away by surge arresters… making switching
surges as major cause of flashovers). Types of faults like short circuit condition in power
system network results in severe economic losses and reduces the reliability of the electrical
system. Electrical fault is an abnormal condition, caused by equipment failures such as
transformers and rotating machines and environmental conditions. Theses faults cause
interruption to electric flows, equipment damages and even cause death of humans, birds and
Types of Faults
Electrical fault is the deviation of voltages and currents from nominal values or states. Under
normal operating conditions, power system equipment or lines carry normal voltages and
currents which results in a safer operation of the system.
But when fault occurs, it causes excessively high currents to flow which causes the damage to
equipment and devices. Fault detection and analysis is necessary to select or design suitable
switchgear equipment, electromechanical relays, circuit breakers and other protection devices.
There are mainly two types of faults in the electrical power system. Those are symmetrical and
unsymmetrical faults.

1. Symmetrical faults

These are very severe faults and occur infrequently in the power systems. These are also called
as balanced faults and are of two types namely line to line to line to ground (L-L-L-G) and line
to line to line (L-L-L).
Only 2-5 percent of system faults are symmetrical faults. If these faults occur, system remains
balanced but results in severe damage to the electrical power system equipment.
2. Unsymmetrical faults

These are very common and less severe than symmetrical faults. There are mainly three types
namely line to ground (L-G), line to line (L-L) and double line to ground (LL-G) faults
Line to ground fault (L-G) is most common fault and 65-70 percent of faults are of this type.
It causes the conductor to make contact with earth or ground. 15 to 20 percent of faults are
double line to ground and causes the two conductors to make contact with ground. Line to line
faults occur when two conductors make contact with each other mainly while swinging of lines
due to winds and 5- 10 percent of the faults are of this type.
These are also called unbalanced faults since their occurrence causes unbalance in the system.
Unbalance of the system means that that impedance values are different in each phase causing
unbalance current to flow in the phases. These are more difficult to analyze and are carried by
per phase basis similar to three phase balanced faults

Effects of electrical faults

• Over current flow: When fault occurs it creates a very low impedance path for the current
flow. This results in a very high current being drawn from the supply, causing tripping of relays,
damaging insulation and components of the equipments.
• Danger to operating personnel: Fault occurrence can also cause shocks to individuals.
Severity of the shock depends on the current and voltage at fault location and even may lead to
• Loss of equipment: Heavy current due to short circuit faults result in the components being
burnt completely which leads to improper working of equipment or device. Sometimes heavy
fire causes complete burnout of the equipments.
Disturbs interconnected active circuits: Faults not only affect the location at which they
occur but also disturbs the active interconnected circuits to the faulted line.
• Electrical fires: Short circuit causes flashovers and sparks due to the ionization of air between
two conducting paths which further leads to fire as we often observe in news such as building
and shopping complex fires.

Fault limiting devices

It is possible to minimize causes like human errors, but not environmental changes. Fault
clearing is a crucial task in power system network. If we manage to disrupt or break the circuit
when fault arises, it reduces the considerable damage to the equipments and also property.
Some of these fault limiting devices include fuses, circuit breakers, relays, etc.
Effects of Types of Faults on Generator
Generators are frequently subjected to high currents and voltages caused by electrical
disturbances in the power system and these significantly contribute to the reduction of the
machine operating life.
Faults in particular, although transient in nature, subject the generator to stresses beyond its
design limits and cause high temperature increase that weakens the machine’s mechanical
strength and insulation, amplify and distort air gap torques and create unbalance flux densities
in the air gap. Even more stressful as a consequence of faults are sudden loss of load, fault
clearance and reclosing. The cumulative effect of these abnormalities leads to material
fatigue, insulation and structural failure and eventually to equipment breakdown.
Mechanically, the abnormal forces generated excite and amplify the rotor oscillatory motion
and result in severe machine vibration.


Transmission lines are a vital part of the electrical distribution system, as they provide the path
to transfer power between generation and load. Transmission lines operate at voltage levels
from 69kV to 765kV, and are ideally tightly interconnected for reliable operation.

Factors like de-regulated market environment, economics, right of-way clearance and
environmental requirements have pushed utilities to operate transmission lines close to their
operating limits. Any fault, if not detected and isolated quickly will cascade into a system wide
disturbance causing widespread outages for a tightly interconnected system operating close to
its limits. Transmission protection systems are designed to identify the location of faults and
isolate only the faulted section. The key challenge to the transmission line protection lies in
reliably detecting and isolating faults compromising the security of the system.
As the length of electrical power transmission line is generally long enough and it runs through
open atmosphere, the probability of occurring fault in electrical power transmission line is
much higher than that of electrical power transformers and alternators. That is why a
transmission line requires much more protective schemes than a transformer and an alternator.
Protection of line should have some special features, such as-
During fault, the only circuit breaker closest to the fault point should be tripped.
If the circuit breaker closest to the faulty point, fails to trip, the circuit breaker just next to this
breaker will trip as back up.
The operating time of relay associated with protection of line should be as minimum as possible
in order to prevent unnecessary tripping of circuit breakers associated with other healthy parts
of power system.
These above mentioned requirements cause protection of transmission line much different from
protection of transformer and other equipment of power systems. The main three methods of
transmission line protection are -
Time graded over current protection.
Differential protection.
Distance protection.

Time Graded Over Current Protection

This may also be referred simply as over-current protection of electrical power

transmission line. Let' discuss different schemes of time graded over current
Protection of Radial Feeder
In radial feeder, the power flows in one direction only, which is from source to load.
This type of feeders can easily be protected by using either definite time relays or
inverse time relays.
Line Protection by Definite Time Relay
This protection scheme is very simple. Here total line is divided into different
sections and each section is provided with definite time relay. The relay nearest to
the end of the line has minimum time setting while time setting of other relays
successively increased, towards the source. For example, suppose there is a source
at point A, in the figure below

At point D the circuit breaker CB-3 is installed with definite time of relay operation
0.5 sec. Successively, at point C another circuit breaker CB-2 is installed with
definite time of relay operation 1 sec. The next circuit breaker CB-1 is installed at
point B which is nearest of the point A. At point B, the relay is set at time of operation
1.5 sec. Now, assume a fault occurs at point F. Due to this fault, the faulty current
flow through all the current transformers or CTs connected in the line. But as the
time of operation of relay at point D is minimum the CB-3, associated with this relay
will trip first to isolate the faulty zone from rest part of the line. In case due to any
reason, CB-3 fails to trip, then next higher timed relay will operate to initiate the
associated CB to trip. In this case, CB-2 will trip. If CB-2 also fails to trip, then next
circuit breaker i.e. CB-1 will trip to isolate major portion of the line.

Advantages of Definite Time Line Protection

The main advantage of this scheme is simplicity. The second major advantage is,
during fault, only nearest CB towards the source from fault point will operate to
isolate the specific position of the line.
Disadvantage of Definite Time Line Protection
If the number of sections in the line is quite large, the time setting of relay nearest to
the source would be very long. So during any fault nearer to the source will take
much time to be isolated. This may cause severe destructive effect on the system.
Over Current Line Protection by Inverse Relay
The drawback as we discussed just in definite time over current protection of
transmission line, can easily be overcome by using inverse time relays. In inverse
relay the time of operation is inversely proportional to fault current.

In the above figure, overall time setting of relay at point D is minimum and
successively this time setting is increased for the relays associated with the points
towards the point A. In case of any fault at point F will obviously trip CB-3 at point
D. In failure of opening CB-3, CB-2 will be operated as overall time setting is higher
in that relay at point C. Although, the time setting of relay nearest to the source is
maximum but still it will trip in shorter period, if major fault occurs near the source,
as the time of operation of relay is inversely proportional to faulty current.
Over Current Protection of Parallel Feeders
For maintaining stability of the system it is required to feed a load from source by
two or more than two feeders in parallel. If fault occurs in any of the feeders, only
that faulty feeder should be isolated from the system in order to maintain continuity
of supply from source to load. This requirement makes the protection of parallel
feeders little bit more complex than simple non direction over current protection of
line as in the case of radial feeders. The protection of parallel feeder requires to use
directional relays and to grade the time setting of relay for selective tripping.

There are two feeders connected in parallel from source to load. Both of the feeders
have non-directional over current relay at source end. These relays should be inverse
time relay. Also both of the feeders have directional relay or reverse power relay at
their load end. The reverse power relays used here should be instantaneous type.
That means these relays should be operated as soon as flow of power in the feeder
is reversed. The normal direction of power is from source to load. Now, suppose a
fault occurs at point F, say the fault current is If. This fault will get two parallel paths
from source, one through circuit breaker A only and other via CB-B, feeder-2, CB-
Q, load bus and CB-P. This is clearly shown in figure below, where IA and IB are
current of fault shared by feeder-1 and feeder-2 respectively.
As per Kirchoff's current law, IA + IB = If.

Now, IA is flowing through CB-A, IB is flowing through CB-P. As the direction of

flow of CB-P is reversed it will trip instantly. But CB-Q will not trip as flow of
current (power) in this circuit breaker is not reversed. As soon as CB-P is tripped,
the fault current IB stops flowing through feeder and hence there is no question of
further operating of inverse time over current relay. I A still continues to flow even
CB-P is tripped. Then because of over current IA, CB-A will trip. In this way the
faulty feeder is isolated from system.

Differential Pilot Wire Protection

This is simply a differential protection scheme applied to feeders. Several
differential schemes are applied for protection of line but Mess Price Voltage
balance system and Translay Scheme are most popularly used.
Merz Price Balance System
The working principle of Merz Price Balance system is quite simple. In this scheme
of line protection, identical CT is connected to each of the both ends of the line. The
polarity of the CTs is same. The secondary of these current transformer and
operating coil of two instantaneous relays are formed a closed loop as shown in the
figure below. In the loop pilot wire is used to connect both CT secondary and both
relay coil as shown.
Now, from the figure it is quite clear that when the system is under normal condition,
there would not be any current flowing through the loop as the secondary current of
one CT will cancel out secondary current of other CT. Now, if any fault occurs in
the portion of the line between these two CTs, the secondary current of one CT will
no longer equal and opposite of secondary current of other CT. Hence there would
be a resultant circulating current in the loop. Due to this circulating current, the coil
of both relays will close the trip circuit of associate circuit breaker. Hence, the faulty
line will be isolated from both ends.