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Biruk Eyasu
December, 2013

Basic structure of a power system

Electric power systems are real-time energy delivery systems. Real time means that power is generated, transported, and supplied the moment you turn on the light switch. Electric power systems are not storage systems like water systems and gas systems. Instead, generators produce the energy as the demand calls for it. Figure 1 shows the basic building blocks of an electric power system. he system starts with generation, by which electrical energy is produced in the power plant and then transformed in the power station to high-voltage electrical energy that is more suitable for efficient longdistance transportation. he power plants transform other sources of energy in the process of producing electrical energy. For e!ample, heat, mechanical, hydraulic, chemical, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, and other energy sources are used in the production of electrical energy. "igh-voltage #"$% power lines in the transmission portion of the electric power system efficiently transport electrical energy over long distances to the consumption locations. Finally, substations transform this "$ electrical energy into lower-voltage energy that is transmitted over distribution power lines that are more suitable for the distribution of electrical energy to its destination, where it is again transformed for residential, commercial, and industrial consumption. & full-scale actual interconnected electric power system is much more comple! than that is shown in Figure 1' however the basic principles, concepts, theories, and terminologies are all the same.

Fi !re 1" Electric power system structure

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Basic structure of a power system

B#$#%ci% &'e ri( (ne of the main difficulties in power systems is that the amount of active power consumed plus losses should always e)ual the active power produced. If more power would be produced than consumed the fre)uency would rise and vice versa. Even small deviations from the nominal fre)uency value would damage synchronous machines and other appliances. *aking sure the fre)uency is constant is usually the task of a transmission system operator.

&ll power systems have one or more sources of power. For some power systems, the source of power is e!ternal to the system but for others it is part of the system itself. +irect current power can be supplied by batteries, fuel cells or photovoltaic cells. &lternating current power is typically supplied by a rotor that spins in a magnetic field in a device known as a turbo generator. here have been a wide range of techni)ues used to spin a turbine,s rotor, from steam heated using fossil fuel #including coal, gas and oil% or nuclear energy, falling water #hydroelectric power% and wind #wind power%. he speed at which the rotor spins in combination with the number of generator poles determines the fre)uency of the alternating current produced by the generator. &ll generators on a single synchronous system, for e!ample the national grid, rotate at sub-multiples of the same speed and so generate electrical current at the same fre)uency. If the load on the system increases, the generators will re)uire more tor)ue to spin at that speed and, in a typical power station, more steam must be supplied to the turbines driving them. hus the steam used and the fuel e!pended are directly dependent on the )uantity of electrical energy supplied.

Fi !re 2- "ydro power generation station

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Basic structure of a power system

Electricity grid systems connect multiple generators and loads operating at the same fre)uency and number of phases, the commonest being three-phase at ./ or 0/ "1. "owever there are other considerations. his range from the obvious- "ow much power should the generator be able to supply2 3hat is an acceptable length of time for starting the generator #some generators can take hours to start%2 Is the availability of the power source acceptable #some renewable are only available when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing%2 o the more technical- "ow should the generator start #some turbines act like a motor to bring themselves up to speed in which case they need an appropriate starting circuit%2 3hat is the mechanical speed of operation for the turbine and conse)uently what is the number of poles re)uired2 3hat type of generator is suitable #synchronous or asynchronous% and what type of rotor #s)uirrel-cage rotor, wound rotor, salient pole rotor or cylindrical rotor%2 &s I have stated above, power is generated from different kinds of sources which are renewable and non- renewable. 4e!t, we will see some of the most fre)uently used ones. H)(r* +*,er S&#&i*%In a hydro power station, water head is used to drive water turbine coupled to the generator. 3ater head may be available in hilly region naturally in the form of water reservoir #lakes etc.% at the hill tops. he potential energy of water can be used to drive the turbo generator set installed at the base of the hills through piping called pen stock. 3ater head may also be created artificially by constructing dams on a suitable river. In contrast to a thermal plant, hydro power plants are eco-friendly, neat and clean as no fuel is to be burnt to produce electricity. 3hile running cost of such plants is low, the initial installation cost is rather high compared to a thermal plant due to massive civil construction necessary. &lso sites to be selected for such plants depend upon natural availability of water reservoirs at hill tops or availability of suitable rivers for constructing dams. 3ater turbines generally operate at low rpm, so number of poles of the alternator is high. For e!ample a 5/-pole alternator the rpm of the turbine is only 6// rpm. S*$#r r#(i#&i*% 3ith the e!clusion of nuclear and geothermal energy, most energy resources on and in this world originate from the sun. he sun can be seen as a huge nuclear reactor with a radiating power of 6// million e!awatt. 3hen this is fully written out, it is 6//,///,///,///,///,///,///,///,/// watt. he surface of the earth, being 7ust a very small part in the total radiation sphere of the sun, receives only about a half of a billionth of this energy, e)ualing some 10/ 83. In the year 5//9, the total primary energy supply to the world:s economies was 15,50; megaton oil e)uivalent, e)ualing .1< e!a7oule. &veraging this amount of energy over a full year means a continuous energy flow of 10.6 terawatt # 3%. his is only
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Basic structure of a power system

/./1= of the 10/ 83 of energy that the surface of the earth receives from the sun. he fact is that capturing this amount of energy is not easy. >eologists have calculated that it took the earth some million years to build up the fossil fuel resources that are used now in one year. he current use of fossil fuels resembles a rapid discharge of the earth as a battery, while charging it took an aeon. $egetation has a low efficiency of capturing solar energy. Forests and wheat have a capturing efficiency of only /.5.=, while straw is relatively much better with about 5=. Everybody will agree that even 5= is still a very low number since one cannot cover the world with straw producing plants. &s an illustration, if all grain produced in the world would be converted into li)uid bio fuel' it would cover only 1/= of all current petrol use. In this respect, photo voltaic cells with their solar-energy capturing efficiency of 1/ to 1.= perform much better than most plants. "owever, plants will reproduce, whereas solar cells must be replaced regularly. & ma7or problem in producing electricity from direct solar radiation is the unpredictability and variability of sunshine. ?ountries in the higher latitudes, such as ?anada and Finland, lack the necessary sunshine at those times of the day and year when electricity is needed most. Fortunately, in areas such as the *iddle East and *e!ico, the peak in solar radiation practically coincides with the ma!imum need for cooling buildings.

Fi !re 3- @olar 8anel

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Basic structure of a power system

.i%( +*,er 3ind, a renewable energy source indirectly caused by solar radiation, also has problems of variability. &t an optimum location, generally offshore, a wind-mill-driven generator will only run at its nominal #A name plate% power during 6/= of the time, while at most land-based locations that will take place may be 5/= of the time. Because wind speed varies in time, the output of a wind park can have a distribution during the year. & capacity factor of 5.= to 6.= is the best that can be e!pected. +uring a large part of the year, individual wind turbines have no output at all. herefore, wind parks always need backup power.

Fi !re /" 3ind farm &lthough 5<-hour wind level forecasts are )uite accurate, wind speeds can change )uickly and unpredictably so that the back-up capacity should have the ability to react very fast. +ifficult situations arise especially when a wind park is operating at its nominal output and the wind speed suddenly increases to values where the wind turbines have to be shut down to prevent damage. @uch events re)uire a substantial amount of rapid back-up generating capacity.

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Basic structure of a power system

Transmission system
he huge amount of power generated in a power station #hundreds of *3% is to be transported over a long distance #hundreds of kilometers% to load centers to cater power to consumers with the help of transmission line and transmission towers.

Fi !re 0" ransmission tower o give an idea, let us consider a generating station producing 15/ *3 power and we want to transmit it over a large distance. Cet the voltage generated #line to line% at the alternator be 1/ k$. hen to transmit 15/ *3 of power at 1/ k$, current in the transmission line can be easily calculated by using power formula circuit #which you will learn in the lesson on &.? circuit analysis% for 6-phases follows-

Instead of choosing 1/ k$ transmission voltage, if transmission voltage were chosen to be <// k$, current value in the line would have been only 501.. &. @o sectional area of the transmission line #copper conductor% will now be much smaller compared to 1/ k$ transmission voltages. In other words the cost of conductor will be greatly reduced if power is transmitted at higher and higher transmission voltage. he use of higher voltage #hence lower current in the line% reduces voltage drop in the line resistance and reactance. &lso transmission loss is
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Basic structure of a power system

reduced. @tandard transmission voltages used are 165 k$ or 55/ k$ or <// k$ or ;0. k$ depending upon how long the transmission lines are. herefore, after the generator we must have a step up transformer to change the generated voltage #say 1/ k$% to desired transmission voltage #say <// k$% before transmitting it over a long distance with the help of transmission lines supported at regular intervals by transmission towers. It should be noted that while magnitude of current decides the cost of copper, level of voltage decides the cost of insulators. he idea is, in a spree to reduce the cost of copper one cannot indefinitely increase the level of transmission voltage as cost of insulators will offset the reduction copper cost. &t the load centers voltage level should be brought down at suitable values for supplying different types of consumers. ?onsumers may be #1% big industries, such as steel plants, #5% medium and small industries and #6% offices and domestic consumers. Electricity is purchased by different consumers at different voltage level. For e!ample big industries may purchase power at 165 k$, medium and big industries purchase power at 66 k$ or 11 k$ and domestic consumers at rather low voltage of 56/$, single phase. hus we see that <// k$ transmission voltages are to be brought down to different voltage levels before finally delivering power to different consumers. S!b-&#&i*%@ubstations are the places where the level of voltage undergoes change with the help of transformers. &part from transformers a substation will house switches #called circuit breakers%, meters, relays for protection and other control e)uipment. Broadly speaking, a big substation will receive power through incoming lines at some voltage #say <// k$% changes level of voltage #say to 165 k$% using a transformer and then directs it out wards through outgoing lines. &t the lowest voltage level of <// $, generally 6-phase, <-wire system is adopted for domestic connections. he fourth wire is called the neutral wire #4% which is taken out from the common point of the star connected secondary of the 0 k$D<// $ distribution transformer.

Fi !re 1- @ingle line representation of power system

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Basic structure of a power system

Distri ution system

Fi !re 2" 8ower distribution scheme he loads of a big city are primarily residential comple!es, offices, schools, hotels, street lighting etc. hese types of consumers are called C #low tension% consumers. &part from this there may be medium and small scale industries located in the outskirts of the city. C consumers are to be supplied with single phase, 55/ $, </ "1. 8ower receive at a 66 k$ substation is first stepped down to 0 k$ and with the help of underground cables #called feeder lines%, power flow is directed to different directions of the city. &t the last level, step down transformers are used to step down the voltage form 0 k$ to <// $. hese transformers are called distribution transformers with <// $, star connected secondary. Eou must have noticed such transformers mounted on poles in cities beside the roads. hese are called pole mounted substations. From the secondary of these transformers < terminals #R, E, B and 4% come out. 4 is called the neutral and taken out from the common point of star connected secondary. $oltage between any two phases #i.e., R-E, E-B and B-R% is <// $ and between any phase and neutral is 56/ $ #A<//D %. Residential buildings are supplied with single phase 56/$, ./"1. @o individual are to be supplied with any one of the phases and neutral. @upply authority tries to see that the loads remain evenly balanced among the phases as far as possible. 3hich means roughly one third of the consumers will be supplied from R-4, ne!t one third from E-4 and the remaining one third from B-4. he distribution of power from the pole mounted substation can be done either by #1% overhead lines #bare conductors% or by #5% underground cables. Fse of overhead lines although cheap, is often accident prone and also theft of power by hooking from the lines takes place. &lthough costly, in big cities and thickly populated areas underground cables for distribution of power, are used.

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