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# Short Circuit Calculations using SIMARIS design software

M Prakash Senior Manager, Business Development - LV Controls & Distribution, Siemens Ltd

Introduction

Today, business processes be it manufacturing or services require reliable power
supply. Proper designing of the electrical power system is of paramount importance to
achieve a reliable power supply. While designing an electrical power system has never
been easy, it has never been as complex as it is today.

Multiple sources like transformers, generators and various options like parallel operation
of a number of generators and automatic load sharing has increased the complexity of
the power system design. For example, calculating the short circuit currents at various
levels in the distribution feeder is important for the switchgear and conductor
(cable/busbar) selection. The short circuit currents varies greatly every time a different
number of generators operate in parallel. Calculating these manually for such varying
combinations can be very time consuming besides the errors that can creep in. Further,
it is difficult to do these calculations every time there is a change of load or source,
which is very common during the design phase.

In such cases, SIMARIS design software from Siemens can be of great help. All the
calculations can be done with ease and can be recalculated effortlessly whenever there
is a change in the project.

Short Circuit Currents

As mentioned earlier, it is important to calculate the short circuit currents for the
selection of switchgear and conductors. However, it is not enough if we calculate only
the maximum short circuit currents at various levels as is the practice conventionally. It is
also important to calculate the minimum short circuit current at various levels. Before we
discuss the importance of these, let us look at some of the important definitions.

Definitions

Some important definitions of short circuit currents, which are relevant to our
discussions, are listed below.

The IEC standard for Calculation of Short Circuit Currents in three-phase AC systems,
IEC 60909 Part 0 (2001-07) defines the following terms:

Prospective (available) short-circuit current
Current that would flow if the short circuit were replaced by an ideal connection of
negligible impedance without any change of the supply

Symmetrical short-circuit current
r.m.s. value of the a.c. symmetrical component of a prospective (available) short-circuit
current, the asymmetrical component of current, if any, being neglected

Initial symmetrical short-circuit current I
k

r.m.s. value of the a.c. symmetrical component of a prospective (available) short-circuit
current, applicable at the instant of short circuit.
Peak short-circuit current i
p

Maximum possible instantaneous value of the prospective (available) short-circuit
current

k

r.m.s. value of the short circuit current which remains after the decay of the transient
phenomena.

Typical Short Circuit Current Calculation

Consider the following example for which the short circuit current at the fault location has
to be calculated.

In order to calculate the short circuit current we must calculate the total impedance till
the point of short circuit as below

Total impedance till the point of Short Circuit =

Source impedance +
HT cable impedance +
Transformer impedance +
Busbar impedances +
LT cable impedance

Then we use the following formula to arrive at the short circuit current
SkQ max = 350 MVA
SkQ min = 250 MVA
M
Cable 1
Length = 125 m
3 x 150 mm
2
Armoured Al
R / Km = 0.249
X / Km = 0.082
Cable 2
Length = 75 m
3 x 50 mm
2
Armoured Al
R / Km = 0.770
X / Km = 0.086
11 kV / 433 V
630 kVA
% Z 5 %
X/R Ratio 4.84

where Z
k
- the total impedance = R
k
+ jX
k

and R
k
is the total resistance X
k
is the inductive reactance.

Maximum and Minimum Short Circuit Currents

However, it must be noted that at any given point in the installation, short circuit current
can have a maximum and minimum value.

The maximum value (r.m.s) of steady-state short circuit current that can occur at any
given point in an installation is referred to as the I
kmax
and similarly, the minimum value is
referred to as the I
kmin
.

While it is essential to calculate the I
kmax
which determines the breaking capacity of the
switchgear to be used, calculating the I
kmin
is also important. I
kmin
is required to determine
the setting of the short circuit releases of the circuit breakers. To elaborate, since I
kmin
is
the smallest short circuit current that can occur at a given point in the installation, the
setting of circuit breaker releases installed at that point should be sufficient to sense the
fault and trip the circuit.

The point can be elucidated with the following example

Example:
Consider a 2000 amp Air Circuit Breaker (ACB) with the following release being installed
at a place which has an I
kmax
of 36 kA.

Circuit Breaker rated current (In) = 2000A
Parameter Range Set Value
L (Long time setting) Ir 0.4 to 1 x In 1 (2000A)
S (Short-time delayed short circuit setting) 1.5 to 11 x In 11 times (22kA)
I (Instantaneous short circuit setting) 12 times In Fixed (24kA)

3
U
n
(Rated Voltage)
. Z
k
Short-circuit current Ik =
G
In = 2000A
Ikmax = 36kA
In this case if the calculated I
kmin
value is 18 kA, then for the above setting of release the
circuit breaker would not see this as a short circuit but rather as an overload and trip
according to the inverse time-current (i-t) characteristics. This is not desirable as the
short circuit current is allowed to flow for a longer duration before the circuit breaker
trips. The appropriate setting of S release in this case should have been 9 times or
lesser.

Determinants of short circuit currents
So how does short circuit have multiple values (I
kmax
, I
kmin
) at the same point on a
network? The short circuit currents depend on the following factors:

Type of source
Type of fault
The voltage levels and
The impedance values
Synchronous and asynchronous machines like Induction Motors in the circuit

Let us discuss them one by one.

Type of source

The type of source is one of the determinants of the magnitude of short circuit. If a
feeder is fed from two different sources e.g. a transformer and a generator, the fault level
can have varying magnitude. For a given kVA rating, transformers generally feed more
short circuit currents owing to their low impedance than synchronous generators which
have higher X
d
(Sub-transient reactance).

In the earlier example the I
kmax
of 36kA could be when the feeder is being fed by the
transformer and the I
kmin
could be when the feeder is being fed from generator, as shown
below.

Short-circuit currents when transformer is feeding Short-circuit current when Generator is feeding
G
In = 2000A
Ik = 36kA
G
In = 2000A
Ik = 18kA

Similarly the magnitude of short circuit currents will also increase if more sources are
operated in parallel as the effective impedance of the sources connected in parallel
reduces.

A designer has to calculate the I
kmax
and I
kmin
values for all such combinations which can
be cumbersome. SIMARIS design software from Siemens provides options for defining
various operating modes as shown below and can calculate these values considering all
the operating conditions.

Screenshot of a sample operating modes defined in SIMARIS design software

Type of fault

The next factor influencing the magnitude of short-circuit currents is the type of fault. The
short-circuit condition can be of various types. IEC 60909 part 0 (2001-07) describes the
four major type of faults as illustrated below.

Three-phase short circuit current is a symmetrical fault and is the easiest of the fault
currents to calculate. Though this constitutes only a small portion of all the faults that
happen practically, calculating this fault is important as in most of the cases this causes
the maximum short-circuit currents (I
kmax
). When short-circuit current calculations are
being done manually, often only a three-phase short circuit current is calculated owing to
its simplicity.

However, in order to determine the I
kmin
, it is essential to calculate all possible types of
short-circuit including other 3 types of short circuits depicted above. These short-circuits
are asymmetry in nature and require calculations involving Zero-sequence and Positive-
sequence components. Hence when a designer is designing a system, these short-
circuit currents are generally ignored.

SIMARIS design software automatically calculates all these short-circuit currents and
arrives at the I
kmax
and I
kmin
. A screen shot from SIMARIS design software showing all
the calculates short circuit currents for a distribution feeder is shown below
Three-Phase Short Circuit
L1
L2
L3
L1
L2
L3
Phase-to-Phase
Ungrounded Fault
L1
L2
L3
Phase-to-Phase
Grounded Fault
L1
L2
L3
Phase-to-Ground Fault
I k3 I k2
I k2E2 I k1

Screenshot from SIMARIS design showing various short-circuit currents

Voltage Levels

Voltage is another factor that influence the short-circuit current as we all know from the
formula which was mentioned earlier.

Where Z
k
(Impedance till the point of short-circuit) = R
k
+ jX
k

IEC 60909-0 (2001-2007) allows for the tolerance in voltage while calculating Maximum
short-Circuit current I
kmax
and Minimum short-circuit current I
kmin
. This is discussed later
in this paper.

3
U
n
(Rated Voltage)
. Z
k
Short-circuit current Ik =

Impedance Values

The other major determinant of the short-circuit currents is of course the impedance till
the point of the short-circuit as mentioned in the above equation.

As seen from the above equation Z
k
consists of two parts, the resistance part (R
k
) and
the inductive reactance (X
k
) part. Since the resistance part can vary with the temperature
IEC 60909-0 (2001-07) describes the conditions for calculating I
kmax
and I
kmin
which is
described subsequently.

Synchronous and asynchronous machines like Induction Motors in the circuit

IEC 60909-0 (2001-07) describes that when calculating the initial symmetrical short-
circuit current I
k
, the peak short-circuit current ip, and the steady-state short-circuit
current I
k
. Synchronous compensators are treated in the same way as synchronous
generators. If synchronous motors have a voltage regulation, they are treated like
synchronous generators. If not, they are subject to additional considerations.

Similarly, medium-voltage and low-voltage asynchronous motors also contribute to the
initial symmetrical short-circuit current I
k,
to the peak short-circuit current ip, and, for
unbalanced short circuits, also to the steady-state short-circuit current Ik.

Further, it states that the contribution of asynchronous motors in low-voltage power
supply systems to the short-circuit current I
k
may be neglected if their contribution is not
higher than 5 % of the initial short-circuit current I
k
calculated without motors.

Again, all the above conditions are automatically taken care of when the designer uses
SIMARIS design software.

Conditions for calculating I
kmax
and I
kmin
according to IEC60909 - 0 (2001-07)

Having understood the importance of calculating the Maximum and Minimum values of
short-circuit currents let us look at the conditions for calculating these values as
described in IEC60909 - 0 (2001-07)

Maximum Short Circuit Current I
kmax

Introduce voltage factor c
max
, as per table 1 of IEC 60909-0 2001-07 (also furnished
below for reference), if there are no national standards to be applied This is done
to take care of the positive voltage tolerance while calculating the I
kmax

Resistance RL of lines (overhead lines and cables) are to be introduced at a
temperature of 20 C At lower temperature the resistance would be lower and
the short-circuit currents would be higher
Motors, if present in the circuit, are to be considered for calculating I
kmax

Consider the maximum short circuit power (in MVA) of the system infeed (Source
Fault Capacity) or
If substitute impedances Z
Q
for simulating system infeed are used, select the
lowest short- circuit impedance

Minimum Short Circuit Current I
kmin

Introduce voltage factor c
min
, as per table 1 of IEC 60909-0 2001-07 (also furnished
below for reference). This is done to take care of the negative voltage tolerance
while calculating the I
kmin

Resistance RL of lines (overhead lines and cables) are to be introduced at a
higher temperature At higher temperature the resistance would be higher and
the short-circuit currents would be lower
R
L
=[1+ (
e
20 C)] R
L20

where
RL20 is the resistance at a temperature of 20 C

e
is the conductor temperature in degrees Celsius at the end of the
short-circuit period;
is the temperature co-efficient of resistance of the conductor
Motors, if present in the circuit, are to be neglected (considered switched off)
Consider the minimum short circuit power (in MVA) of the system infeed (Source
Fault Capacity) or
If substitute impedances Z
Q
for simulating system infeed are used, select the
highest short- circuit impedance

Conclusion:

In practice, it is difficult to observe all these conditions, particularly for a large project
involving various sources of supply and multiple levels of distribution. SIMARIS design
considers all the above conditions specified in the IEC 60909 0, including the
contribution of induction motors to the short-circuit currents in the calculation, thus
making it reliable and accurate.

Apart from the short circuit calculations described above, SIMARIS design provides the
following functionality which is vital for power system design

Load flow analysis including currents and power factor at various feeders in the
distribution
Energy balance report highlighting the apparent, active and reactive power
enabling the designer to optimize the power requirement
Voltage drop calculations at various points in the network
Selectivity graphs for optimum setting of circuit breaker releases
maximum short circuit
currents cmax
minimum shor circuit
currents cmin
Low Voltage 100V upto 1000V (IEC 60038, Table I) 1.05
(1)
or 1.10
(2)
0.95
Medium Voltage >1 kV upto 35 kV (IEC 60038, Table III) 1.1 1
High Voltage >35 kV (IEC 60038, Table IV)
Voltage Factor c for calculating
1) For low voltage network with a tolerance of +6 %
2) For low voltage networks with +10 %
Nominal Voltage U
n
Suggestions for protection against personal safety considering the type of
connection to earth (e.g. TN-S, TT, IT etc)
Selection of Switchgear, Cables sizes etc.
Output in the form of pdf and dxf files (autocad compatible)

SIMARIS design with the above features, along with its easy-to-use user interface
makes power system design Easy, Safe and Fast.

References:

International Electrotechncial Commission (IEC) Standard, IEC 60909-0, First edition
2001-07, Short-circuit currents in three-phase system Part 0: Calculation of currents

Electrical Installations Handbook - Third Edition by Gunter G Seip

Switching, Protection & Distribution in Low-Voltage Networks 2
nd
revised edition 1994,