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SIEMENS Power Transmission and Distribution

Power Technology Issue 102

Protective Relaying
Luis G. Pérez, Ph.D.
Senior Staff Consultant

Control and Protection

Power system automation is performed by a variety of devices and subsystems which
can be hierarchized. Among these, the system human operators, the automatic control
subsystem and the relay protection subsystem lie in the highest levels of the hierarchy. The automatic
control and relay protection subsystems monitor the power system behavior on a permanent basis and
automatically respond to system disturbances (see Fig. 1).
The control system is comprised of generator voltage
and speed controls, transformer automatic tap changers,
Settings Control
automatically switched reactors and capacitors, FACTS,
etc. These devices sensitively react to changes of the
power system state variables (commonly voltage and
frequency) caused by practically any disturbance. This
Manual Outputs system is intended to fix the deviation of frequency and
Orders Power
(V, f, P, etc) voltage caused by relatively minor disturbances, like
System load connection/disconnection and normal maintenance
switching. The control system must be set in order to
respond to a series of pre-established design
considerations. Power control engineers calculate the
control settings with the help of dynamic simulation
programs, like PSS®E.
Settings Protection

Protection Hardware and Philosophy

The protection system is based on the philosophy of
Figure 1 - The protection system what has been traditionally defined in the United States
changes the power system to minimize as Protective Relaying. Its main elements are circuit
the impact of severe disturbances [1]. breakers, instrument transformers, protective relays and
auxiliary devices (see Fig. 2). In medium and low-voltage
systems, fuses are also part of the protective hardware. Unlike the control system, the protection system
is designed to react primarily to severe disturbances, as in the case of short circuits caused by line
insulation breakdowns during a lightning storm. The protection system quickly reacts to disconnect the
faulted element (power line, transformer, generator, etc.). The automatic disconnection is achieved with
the circuit breakers, which open their high-duty power contacts after receiving an order from the
protective relays (see Fig. 2). This disconnection –and the consequent extinguishing phenomenon– is
known as fault clearing. During the time the fault exists, and immediately after its clearance, the power
system experiences a series of dramatic changes which may destroy individual components or, in cases
where the system dynamics are negatively impacted, may lead to a major system dismembering and,
eventually, to wide area blackouts.
Protective relays are low-voltage low-current intelligent devices which detect the fault by measuring the
current and/or voltage of the system as reflected at the secondary side of specially designed current and
voltage transformers (see Fig. 2). The measured phase currents and/or voltages generally have sufficient
information to feed a relaying algorithm (or mechanism) which determines the breaker disconnection.
Relays are configurable and settable, so it is possible to use the same kind of line protective relay to
protect different types of lines; however, there will be different relay settings for each particular
Power Technology July 2008

application. These relay or protection settings are

calculated according to a well established set of SS
Bus Circuit
criteria. Side
Current Breaker
The protection system has to be: (a)sensitive, to detect Transformer Side
all faults; (b)fast, to minimize the damage that faults
may cause; (c)secure, to avoid operation for non-fault
or out of reach disturbances; (d)selective, to strictly
disconnect the minimum amount of service to clear the
fault; and (e)dependable, to ensure a reliability close to
100%. When a short circuit occurs at some point in the
52 CB
power system, one or more protective relays in the Cabinet
neighborhood of the fault detect the fault; however, TC
only those relays that accomplish conditions (a) to (d) 52a
should be allowed to disconnect their corresponding
circuit breakers (see Fig. 3). A protection system that Relay
simultaneously accomplishes all these characteristics SS
is said to be coordinated. Some relays, called backup Battery
relays, are set in a way that their circuit breakers clear 52
(A = Circuit breaker trip coil
a fault in case there is a failure in the operation of the TC

relays originally intended to clear that fault. This 52a = Circuit breaker auxiliary contact
system backup type of design redounds in reliability.

Protection Coordination
When all the relay designs, schemes and
configurations of a protection system are defined, the
process of calculating the relay settings in order to
make such a system coordinated, as defined in the
previous paragraph, is commonly called protection
coordination. Engineers perform coordination studies
to assure that the protection system works according
to the aforementioned philosophy. Protection
coordination –or relay coordination– studies are (B
traditionally carried out using short circuit simulation
programs and relay simulation programs. In traditional Bus Line
methods, the relay settings are calculated using rules Side Side
of thumb based on engineers’ experience: faults are
simulated over critical points of the system and the
relays’ behavior is observed for each fault. If no
coordination is achieved at one attempt, the process (C
must be repeated as many times as needed until the
protection system works according to the coordination
criteria. Engineers use simulation programs (for
example, the protection modules of PSS®SINCAL
used at Siemens PTI) as a support in the iteration
process. In some cases, due to the complexity of the Figure 2 - Protection Hardware
system, the volume of calculations involved is A. Simplified scheme of line protection
enormous; consequently, engineers cannot find a B. Engineers “set” the relays
satisfactory coordination solution for all the relay C. One-line diagram of (A)
settings. There are some (not many) automatic
coordination programs that help in this task [2]. Among
other characteristics, good automatic coordination programs have to be able to receive practical inputs
from the protection engineer in order to adapt to any particular criteria and experience.

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Power Technology July 2008

As any power system changes in the short, medium and long term, engineers have to re-calculate the
optimum relay settings for each new power system configuration. In other words, coordination studies
have to be performed on a regular basis to guarantee proper system performance. Relay coordination
and all aspects related to protective relaying represent a continual source of work for the protection
engineering specialists.

Siemens PTI and Protective Relaying

1 2 3 10 11
Siemens PTI – US has the computer tools and 4 12

professionals with the experience and skills needed 5 6 13 14

to calculate relay settings and produce the optimum
results in protection coordination studies as well as 9 15 16
7 8 17
in all other aspects related to protective relaying.
18 19 20 21 22
Siemens PTI offers the following consulting services 23

in the protection area:

• Short-circuit calculation and fault analysis
• Current transformer analysis and dimensioning 24

• Dynamic and pseudo-static analysis and setting 25 26

of electromechanical, solid-state-analog and
microprocessor-based protective relays and 27 28
schemes for transmission, distribution, 30 31 32
generation and industrial systems F
• Optimum setting calculation (coordination) of
33 34 35
directional overcurrent relays in transmission
and subtransmission systems 39 37
• Distance relay setting calculation (coordination)
for high-voltage transmission lines 42 44 43 41
• Protective relay setting calculation (coordination) 45
for power generators 46
• Protective relay setting calculation (coordination)
for power transformers and other substation
• Utility distribution feeder protection coordination Note:
This symbol
using relays, fuses, sectionalizers, and reclosers 47 means that
• Industrial system protective relay setting the line is
calculation (coordination)
• Protective relay database design and
maintenance Figure 3 - One-line diagram view of the power
system and the protection system (only circuit
Protective relaying is a wide field of knowledge. breakers are shown). Example: for a fault at F1,
Everyday, new applications, new situations, new breakers 29 and 35 automatically open in 5
problems to solve and new criteria are born. The list cycles. If 29 failed to operate, then 31 and 26
displayed above is just a subset of all the should trip to clear the fault. This selective mode
possibilities. of operation is part of the whole coordination
[1] Pérez, L.; Venkatasubramanian, V.; Flechsig, A., “Modeling the Protective System for Power
System Dynamic Analysis,” IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, vol. 9, no. 4, Nov. 1994.
[2] Pérez, L.; Urdaneta, A., “Optimal Coordination of Distance Relays Second Zone Timing in a
Mixed Protection Scheme with Directional Overcurrent Relays,” IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery,
vol. 16, no. 3, Jul. 2001.

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