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The surge impedance loading or SIL of a transmission line is the MW loading of a transmission line at which a natural reactive power balance occurs. The following brief article will explain the concept of SIL. Transmission lines produce reactive power (Mvar) due to their natural capacitance. The amount of Mvar produced is dependent on the transmission line's capacitive reactance (XC) and the voltage (kV) at which the line is energized. In equation form the Mvar produced is:

Transmission lines also utilize reactive power to support their magnetic fields. The magnetic field strength is dependent on the magnitude of the current flow in the line and the line's natural inductive reactance (XL). It follows then that the amount of Mvar used by a transmission line is a function of the current flow and inductive reactance. In equation form the Mvar used by a transmission line is:

A transmission line's surge impedance loading or SIL is simply the MW loading (at a unity power factor) at which the line's Mvar usage is equal to the line's Mvar production. In equation form we can state that the SIL occurs when:

If we take the square root of both sides of the above equation and then substitute in the formulas for XL (=2pfL) and XC (=1/2pfC) we arrive at:

The term

significance of the surge impedance is that if a purely resistive load that is equal to the surge impedance were connected to the end of a transmission line with no resistance, a voltage surge introduced to the sending end of the line would be absorbed completely at the receiving end. The voltage at the receiving end would have the same magnitude as the sending end voltage and would have a phase angle that is lagging with respect to the sending end by an amount equal to the time required to travel across the line from sending to receiving end.

The concept of a surge impedance is more readily applied to telecommunication systems than to power systems. However, we can extend the concept to the power transferred across a transmission line. The surge impedance loading or SIL (in MW) is equal to the voltage squared (in kV) divided by the surge impedance (in ohms). In equation form:

. Note in this formula that the SIL is dependent only on the kV the line is energized at and the line's surge impedance. The line length is not a factor in the SIL or surge impedance calculations. Therefore the SIL is not a measure of a transmission line's power transfer capability as it does not take into account the line's length nor does it consider the strength of the local power system. The value of the SIL to a system operator is realizing that when a line is loaded above its SIL it acts like a shunt reactor - absorbing Mvar from the system - and when a line is loaded below its SIL it acts like a shunt capacitor - supplying Mvar to the system. Figure 1 is a graphic illustration of the concept of SIL. This particular line has a SIL of 450 MW. Therefore is the line is loaded to 450 MW (with no Mvar) flow, the Mvar produced by the line will exactly balance the Mvar used by the line.

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