Electric field exposure in a 765 kV open air substation
by P H Pretorius, Trans-Africa Projects, and K R Hubbard, Eskom In view of Eskom’s current network expansion at 765 kV, it was necessary to address occupational exposure of substation workers to electric fields, particularly in 765 kV substations with busbar height of 12 m. This paper reports on the assessment of 50 Hz electric field levels that substation workers may be exposed to in 765 kV open air substation. It was found that at 12 m busbar height, at 800 kV line voltage, the maximum calculated electric field, 21,9 kV/m, exceeds the International Commission for Non-ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) reference level (20 kV/m) at two locations covering a small area (the larger about 11 x 6 m) in the HV yard. Although the reference level is exceeded, the ICNIRP basic restriction of 10 mA/m2 is met. This is important in view of possible future regulation of EMF exposure limits in South Africa. Electric field measurements close to primary equipment have been shown not to exceed the ICNIRP Reference Level. Protection against contact and discharge current is advisable. Electric field, exposure, 765 kV, substation, ICNIRP The power frequency electric and magnetic field (EMF) guidelines published by the ICNIRP [1] are endorsed by the Department of Health of South Africa. These guidelines receive wide support at international level:

Fig. 1a: Phase configurations no. 1.

Fig.1b: Phase configurations no. 2.

The European Standard: EN 50392 is strongly based on the ICNIRP guidelines [2] The National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB, UK) recommended in 2004 that restrictions on exposure to EMF should be based on the guidelines issued by ICNIRP [3] Several countries apply the ICNIRP guidelines or guidelines equivalent to ICNIRP [4] Approach Worst case conditions Worst case exposure was assumed to occur with maximum voltage (Umax = 800 kV) on the busbars. A summary of the technical parameters used in the study is presented in Appendix A. Exposure assessment Exposure assessment was done by comparing calculated and measured field levels against the ICNIRP exposure guidelines. The assessment included exposure to electric fields and contact currents. ICNIRP guidelines


Fig. 2: Typical EMF exposure locations (ground level and elevated platforms) in Eskom's Hydra 765 kV substation.


In view of the current network expansion at 765 kV, undertaken by Eskom in South Africa, it was necessary to address occupational exposure of substation workers to electric fields, particularly in 765 kV substations with proposed 12 m busbar height. If the ICNIRP levels are not met, the busbar height has to be increased to 14 m with significant cost implications. The technical requirement was to conduct an exposure assessment of the 50 Hz electric and magnetic field levels that substation workers may be exposed to in the newly planned 765 kV open air substations with Zeus Substation as an example. Magnetic field exposure has been shown to be compliant with ICNIRP [5]. The electric field exposure assessment is treated in this paper.

Electric field exposure: The ICNIRP guideline (reference level) for occupational exposure to 50 Hz electric energize - October 2009 - Page 41

fields is 10 kV/m with a basic restriction of 10 mA/m2 not to be exceeded. (The basic restriction must be met if the reference level is exceeded). Another important point covered in the ICNIRP guideline [1] is that “For the specific case of occupational exposures at frequencies up to 100 kHz, the derived electric fields can be increased by a factor of two under conditions in which adverse indirect effects from contact with electrically charged conductors can be excluded.” Interpretation of the above effectively allows for a power frequency electric field exposure (reference) level up to 20 kV/m in the occupational setting with the proviso that the basic restriction and the contact current requirement are met. Because of the insulation provided by a layer of crushed stone in the HV yard, the maximum and conservatively

Table 1 shows the field contours for various thresholds: > 20 kV/m. Even though the ICNIRP Reference Level of 20 kV/m is exceeded at the two locations indicated. The earth mat was not modeled as balanced (current) conditions were assumed. at ground level and elevated platforms (Fig. VTs or post insulators) were modeled. The layout and the three 765 kV lines feeding the substation are visible. l Field modeling Electric and magnetic fields were calculated by modelling (in 3-D) the busbar arrangement of Zeus substation with the HIFREQ module of the CDEGS software package. l Results Substation layout Fig. anticipated electric field that workers may be exposed to without exceeding the basic restriction of 10 mA/m 2 is 29 kV/m [6]. No primar y equipment (reactors. isolators.9 kV/m) exceeded the 20 kV/m ICNIRP guideline at two locations (covering small areas) as indicated in Table 1. 3: Layout of Zeus 765 kV substation with three 765 kV feeders (a) plan view. breakers. 1 as the final design was not yet available at the time of the assessment. (b) perspective view. 2). Agreement of energize . > 10 kV/m and > 500 V/m.October 2009 . where personnel may be exposed in the reactor bay of an existing 765 kV open air substation [9]. No (confirmed) feeder was connected to the bay West of the Mercury-Zeus line (Fig. l l l Table 1: Electric field levels for phase configuration 1 and 2. This arrangement will not change any of the expected electric field levels inside the HV yard should such a link be provided in future and based on the configurations modeled.TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION the electric field profiles calculated with CDEGS was confirmed with 2-D electric field calculation.7 m above ground) for the two phase configurations 1 and 2 (Fig. At 765 kV the 20 kV/m ICNIRP level was exceeded at only one location (with small area) for configuration no. the levels at these two locations are within the 29 kV/m level that complies with the ICNIRP basic . The 400 kV Yard and lines were not modeled. The busbars were modeled as continuous elements connected throughout the substation by means of breakers and isolators (disconnectors) without any isolated sections. the maximum electric field (21. Electric fields were calculated for the worst case (Umax = 800 kV) conditions for two phase configurations noted in Fig. 1) energised at 800 kV. Field measurements Electric (and magnetic) field measurements were made at typical locations. 1. A Narda ELF measurement system was used for the measurements conducted in June 2008 [9]. The reference level for contact currents is given “above which caution must be exercised to avoidshock and burn hazards” [1]. Electric field levels l Table 2: Electric field profile for phase configuration 1. Some notes on field levels expected from primary equipment are listed in Appendix B. Field modeling: Table 1 compares the electric field levels (calculated at 1. transformers. 3 illustrates different views of the substation modeled.Page 42 Contact currents: The ICNIRP reference level for 50 Hz time varying contact current from conductive objects is 1 mA. 3 a). Assumptions and exclusions The following assumptions were made for the field modelling: l Fig. CTs. For both configurations Umax.

The yard surface covering (crusher stone) must be at least 10 cm deep to provide additional insulation to that provided by the safety boots of the substation worker.7 kV/m. Concluding remarks For a 12 m busbar height.9 kV/m. may exceed the ICNIRP level of 1 mA. 4: Contour plot of the electric field levels measured in the reactor bay [9]. exceeds the ICNIRP Reference Level (20 kV/m) at two locations covering a small area (the larger about 11 x 6 m). 1a to that indicated in Fig. 4 [9]. it is recommended that specific work procedures be followed. These may include wearing protective clothing (safety boots and gloves). This situation is representative of a substation worker wearing safety boots (with insulated sole 1.1 cm thick) and standing in the 21. This arrangement yields a calculated electric field level of 11. substation worker exposure in a 765 kV substation with busbar height of 12 m. Contact current.TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION the top of the yard surface covering (crusher stone) and the busbars. such as a steel support or gantr y. electric field levels measured in the vicinity of the breaker ranged between 4 to 13 kV/m. This current is estimated at 0.016 mA per kV/m [8]. 1b moved the location where the 20 kV/m ICNIRP level is exceeded to a new location (See Table 1) in the HV yard and does not necessarily enlarge the area or increase the levels significantly. a contact current of 0. Field measurements: The maximum electric (and magnetic) field levels measured on the elevated platforms were 24. Measured electric field levels: From an ABB 800 kV circuit breaker installed with low profile CB steel support.3 kV/m at 800 kV (10.Page 43 l . with higher steel support installations.8 m above ground of 11. approach the ICNIRP level of 1 mA.9 kV/m at 765 kV). Changes in the phase configuration (from that indicated in Fig. 21.1 μT respectively) [9]. Measured electric fields were lower than 8 kV/m. 1 mA. can be considered compliant with the ICNIRP guidelines. In order to meet and maintain the ICNIRP reference level for contact current. Maximum electric field levels measured next to the tank were low with the field shielded by the tank. Appendix A A summary of the technical parameters used in the study is presented in Table A-1. the maximum calculated electric field. Contact current. through capacitive coupling. restriction of 10 mA/m 2 for a person insulated 1. The importance of this work lies in demonstrating compliance with ICNIRP when a busbar height of 12 m is introduced as opposed to 14 m. through inductive coupling.4 mA. Fig.4 kV/m (and 14. Table 2 shows. prior to making bare hand contact with steel structures inside the HV yard. for example) and touching an earthed conductive object.1 cm above ground [6]. approaching the 1 mA. ABB has modelled (2–D) the electric field levels at 1. Considering the maximum electric field level calculated inside the substation. Calculated electric field levels: The 800PM circuit breaker (low structure version with longer 31 mm/kV bushing) with a terminal height just over 10 m presents a neat integration with yard conductor height of 12 m. current transformer housing. The field measurements at ground level are in agreement with that reported elsewhere (Appendix B) [10]. Electric field measurements close to primar y equipment have been shown not to exceed the ICNIRP reference level (Appendix B) [10].8 m above ground based on the geometry of a single bushing. Discharge current is likely to be annoying to substation workers (and exceeds the perception level of 1 mA). tank and interrupter. The model also showed a maximum field level of 11. it has been found that the basic restriction of 10 mA/m 2 is met. At ground level within the reactor bay the maximum recorded electric (and magnetic) field levels were 11. l Contact currents due to magnetic coupling may be higher. at 800 kV.4 kV/m (and 21. A contour plot of the electric field levels measured in the reactor bay is illustrated in Fig. Discharge currents (current flowing through person just before contact is made with object) are likely to be perceived by workers touching steel structures inside the HV yard.October 2009 . l Work procedures should be developed (wearing protective gloves and boots) and used by substation workers to ensure the ICNIRP requirement in terms of avoiding contact currents (> 1 mA) with simultaneous high electric field exposure is adhered to. Appendix B In view of electric field perturbation by primary equipment. Although the Reference Level is exceeded.8 μT respectively). A contact current (current flowing through person when contact has been made with an object) will be experienced by a worker (wearing insulated shoes. Not the distance between ground level (top of the soil/bottom of sur face covering) and the busbars. The field modeling yielded a maximum electric field level at 1.9 kV/m. Protection against contact and discharge current is advisable and the following is noted: l Based on the above conclusions and with due consideration of the recommendations made. is expected. The 12 m busbar height results in a cost saving of about one third of the cost of steel of the substation when compared to a 14 m busbar height.9 kV/m field. The busbar height of 12 m must be specified for the distance between energize .3 kV/m at a point approximately 3 m away from the tank. the following notes are recorded and summarised based on extracts from correspondence between Eskom and ABB [10]. Contact currents Substation workers wear safety boots when working inside the substation. the electric field profile (N-S) at 800 kV running through the location where the level of 20 kV/m is exceeded in the HV yard for configuration no 1. for example. 21.

co. 2006. Table A-1: Summary of technical parameters used in the study. Electric field levels calculated (11. Ref 2005-450-0006. Review of the Scientific Evidence for Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (0–300 GHz). Project No 5143. magnetic and electromagnetic fields (Up to 300GHz). Aug 2007. AC Transmission Line Reference Book – 2 0 0 k V a n d A b o v e. No. EMC Zurich. Mar 2006. E M F E x p o s u r e S t a n d a r d s Applicable in Europe and Elsewhere. [3] NRPB. Electric and Magnetic Field (EMF) Exposure Assessment – Measurements Conducted at Hydra 765 kV Substation. Corporate Consultant (Transmission Switchgear Design).5 200 14 11 m m mm m m Value / Reference Unit Summary The bus lead conductor to the breaker bushing terminal profile is important and can affect the measured electric field. Britten A v energize .October 2009 . Hubbard K R. Implications of the Revised ICNIRP Electric Field Exposure Guideline on the Design of Overhead AC Power Lines: 400kV and Above.TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION Parameter Substation Busbar height (N-S) Busbar height (E-W) Busbar diameter Phase spacing (E-W) (as per drawing) – See Fig. [9] Hubbard K R. (USA). [2] European Norm: EN 50392. 3 Phase spacing (N-S) (as per drawing) – See Fig. References [1] Guidelines for limiting exposure to time-varying electric. international commission on non-ionizing radiation protection (ICNIRP). [10] Personal e-mail correspondence between Messrs Richard Hopkins. A Report by the Environment & Society Group of the Union of the Electricity Industry. December 2005.Page 44 . CIGRé. Volume 15. 7 June 2008. a higher breaker terminal presents a lower electric field level. Generic standard to demonstrate the compliance of electronic and electrical apparatus with the basic restrictions related to human exposure to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz . 17 . Singapore. 29 June 2007. Acknowledegment This article was presented as a paper at the Cigré 2009 6th Southern Africa Regional Conference: Somerset West. [4] E u r e l e c t r i c.7 kV/m) are within the range measured (13 kV/m). Trans-Africa Projects Final Report.21 August 2009. Eskom and Michael A Lane. ABB Inc. pieter@tapprojects. [6] Pretorius P H. In general. 1998. Trans-Africa Projects.300 GHz). Burger A A. Zeus Substation – Electric and Magnetic Field Levels. Jan 2004.Technical Lead Centre. 3. Electric field levels are lower close to the tank. Manager . 3 Power Lines Tower type Conductor attachment height Maximum sag Minimum conductor height above ground 702B 39 24 15 m m m 12 22. [5] Pretorius P H. Somerset West. Apr 2004. [7] Pretorius P H. [8] EPRI. T h i r d E d i t i o n. Electric field levels are higher between two poles. Contact P H Pretorius. and is reprinted with permission Eskom's Resources and Strategy is hereby acknowledged and thanked for financially supporting the study. 6th Southern African Regional Conference and Colloquium. Summary of international levels. Britten A C. Tel 011 209-9474. Muftic D. Bhulose P T. Eskom Technical Note to Transmission. A Framework for Electric and Magnetic Field Limits in Power System Design and Operation.

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