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318

Study Committee B5 Colloquium


2005 September 14-16
Calgary, CANADA





EVALUATION OF WEAK INFEED TRIPPING TECHNIQUE ON THE ESKOM
TRANSMISSION NETWORK

Adam Bartylak*


ABSTRACT

To enable fast operation of the impedance relay in case of lack or insufficient fault current at the supplying
substation, a "weak infeed" function has been developed on feeder protection schemes which operate in
permissive intertripping mode. Since the introduction of this functionality to modern protection relays, ESKOM
has experienced some high-risk incorrect operations, resulting in the overtripping of parallel lines. The
investigation identified two areas of possible lack of proper co-ordination. Timing co-ordination due to
unforeseen drop off delays of the relays, and impedance co-ordination due to lack of required overlapping of
relays' characteristics as a result of different measuring principals, different polarising, sometimes contradictory
requirements and some limitations of the relays. Limited benefits of weak infeed functionality as applied on the
ESKOM Transmission system are indicated. The risk analysis is then provided with conclusion to either disable
weak infeed function or make sure that very careful studies are provided in order to evaluate all possible
scenarios that could lead to incorrect operations.

KEY WORDS: Transmission - Protection - Performance - Weak Infeed

1 INTRODUCTION

In line with technological and scientific advancements, more and more sophisticated protection relays are
reaching the market every year and new features and enhancements are available to protection engineers with the
aim of improving the performance of electrical power systems and attracting new customers. An introduction of
electronic (static) relays in the early eighties opened an era of continuous improvements in protection algorithms
and additional functions. Weak infeed tripping logic is an example of such advancement designed to speed up
the operation of protection schemes in situations where there is lack or insufficient current for the relay to
operate reliably. This feature is well recognised and used wherever permissive transfer tripping scheme is
utilised instead of blocking. On the ESKOM Transmission network, the weak infeed tripping has been
implemented but some incorrect operations dangerous to system integrity have occurred over the last few years,
which prompted an in-depth investigation.

The Transmission network in South Africa consists of 160 substations interconnected via 27000km of 220 -
765kV lines and is operated by a vertically integrated organisation - ESKOM. The South African Transmission
network is exposed to large numbers of primary faults, as indicated in Figure 1.1, that can be classified into four
major groups in terms of their cause as shown in Figure 1.2 below.




* Power System Operations Performance Manager, ESKOM Transmission, South Africa
318 - 1

Figure 1.1. Number of Transmission Faults
400
500
600
700
800
900
1000
1
9
9
8
1
9
9
9
2
0
0
0
2
0
0
1
2
0
0
2
2
0
0
3
2
0
0
4
Figure 1.2 Transmission fault reasons
Fires
27%
Lightning
25%
Bird Polution
30%
Other
18%
Figure 1.3. Histogram of fault resistance
1
10
100
1000
10000
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
Fault Resistance [primary ohms]
N
u
m
b
e
r

o
f

o
c
c
u
r
r
e
n
c
e
s
Over a quarter of all faults on the ESKOM Transmission network are caused by fires under the lines which often
result in very high resistance faults when a flash-over occurs in the mid-span of the line. A very dry winter in
most of the country in South Africa results in difficulties in maintaining tower footage resistance within required
limits and additional fault resistance at the entry point of the fault arc to ground. A histogram of fault resistances
measured over four years on the ESKOM network is shown
in Figure 1.3. 16% of all recorded faults have resistance
above 10 primary ohms, which is a significant value.
The dynamic behaviour of a long arc may also result in
substantial changes in arc resistance during the fault. For
such faults the impedance measured by the relay changes
with time during the fault. As a result, a high enough fault
resistance may cause the fault impedance locus not to enter
the tripping characteristic of the relay or to leave the
characteristic during the fault. Such faults are difficult to
detect and isolate properly and pose many challenges to
protection equipment. One of such problem, which is
relevant to weak infeed tripping, is possibility of impedance
locus entering areas of relay characteristics where
appropriate impedance co-ordination is not available. This
issue will be described in more details later in this paper.


As a result of changes in protection technology over the last few decades a great variety of protection relays are
installed on the ESKOM Transmission system from electromechanical, through electronic, digital to highly
sophisticated programmable Intelligent Electronic Devices.
Feeders are equipped with over twenty different types of
impedance relays, each with different options available,
different shapes of characteristics, type of polarisation,
sequence components used, measuring algorithms, starting
quantities etc. As long as both ends of the line are equipped
with the same vintage of impedance relay the co-ordination
of different functions is fairly straightforward. Problems are
becoming more challenging where different types of relays
have to be co-ordinated with each other. A composition of
different protection technologies applied on ESKOM's
network is presented in Figure 1.4.
Figure 1.4. Comprosition of protection
technologies on the ESKOM
Transmission system
Electromech.
48%
Electronic
32%
Digital
17%
Programable
3%
Since the introduction of electronic relays in the early
eighties, ESKOM adopted permissive overreach transfer
tripping scheme as most beneficial for local conditions and
weak infeed functionality is utilised since then. Another
words, over half of ESKOM Transmission feeders are
presently set to operate using weak infeed facility.
318 - 2
2 WEAK INFEED TRIPPING BACKGROUND

The weak infeed function is an addition to the distance protection scheme set to operate in permissive tripping
mode to improve its performance in situations where there is insufficient fault current to operate the protection
relays (low fault current substations or open remote breaker). Figure 2.1 below illustrates such a situation where
the source impedance Z
sA
behind substation A is very high or there is no source behind it. The fault current I
fA
is
therefore very low and may be insufficient to operate the starting elements of the relays.



Fault
B A
Z
sA
>>
~
I
fB
>>
Z
sB
<<
~
I
fA
~ 0






Figure 2.1. Weak infeed conditions during line fault


In this case the fault will be cleared at the substation B which has sufficient current to operate the protection
relays but at the substation A, the current may be lower than that required to operate the protection.

To ensure correct tripping of the circuit breaker at substation A in the above conditions the following logic has
been applied:

With insufficient current at the substation A to operate the distance relays for fault in the forward direction
the forward looking measuring elements will not pick-up.
If there is a genuine fault on the line in forward direction then at strong substation B, the forward elements of
the distance relays will operate and initiate transmission of permissive carrier to the substation A.
Substation A will receive the permissive carrier with no measuring elements picked up. This could be
sufficient information to trip the breaker in permissive underreach scheme where the underreaching zone
sends permissive signal.
In permissive overreach mode of operation the protection at strong end B will send permissive carrier also for
faults beyond substation A as indicated in Figure 2.2.
To prevent incorrect tripping at end A in case of reverse faults, additional, reverse looking impedance
elements are employed to block unnecessary weak infeed operation in case of reverse faults, in the same way
as for blocking inter trip scheme.

During reverse faults there is sufficient fault current at substation A supplied from strong substation B (see
Figure 2.2) and reverse, blocking elements will operate reliably.



Fault Z relay
A
Z
sA
>>
~
I
fA
>> I
fB
>>
B
Forward elements picked-up
Permissive
signal
Z relay
Z
sB
<<
~





Reverse elements picked-up

Figure 2.2. Blocking of weak infeed tripping for reverse faults

Once the weak infeed conditions are detected, the protection trips the breaker, initiates autoreclose cycle and
sends permissive signal back to the substation B. This so-called "echo carrier" is necessary to speed up the
protection operation at the substation B in case the fault is close to the substation A.
318 - 3

The simplified logic diagram for activation of the weak infeed tripping is shown on Figure 2.3 below.


Reverse looking measuring
elements are NOT operated
Trip local breaker
Initiate ARC
Send permissive
carrier (Echo)
Forward looking measuring
elements are NOT operated
Permissive carrier is being received
Additional security features e.g.
undervoltage/overcurrent monitoring,
contact racing timers, breaker status
monitoring etc.
AND













Figure 2.3. Simplified weak infeed tripping logic diagram

Protection manufacturers often include additional security features such as undervoltage, undercurrent
monitoring, contact racing timers, breaker status monitoring etc. to prevent weak infeed function from
unnecessary operation. These are indicated by dotted line in Figure 2.3 above.


3 APPLICATION AND BENEFITS OF WEAK INFEED TRIPPING

To evaluate benefits of the weak infeed tripping sequence many local aspects of fault environment, protection
philosophies, automatic re-closure (ARC) policies, available relays, teleprotection equipment, installed circuit
breakers and application of switch-onto-fault (SOTF) tripping function have to be considered.

Weak infeed tripping may contribute to faster fault clearance in two different scenarios on the power system:
During the first occurrence of a fault on the Transmission line when breakers at both ends of the line are
closed and one substation does not have sufficient fault current to operate relays;
during ARC cycle or manual closing when dead line charging breaker is closed onto a fault and the remote
end breaker is opened.

The discussion below evaluates expected benefits of weak infeed tripping as applied on the ESKOM
Transmission network in these different scenarios and indicates possible alternative options to ensure fast fault
clearance.


3.1 Genuine Weak Infeed Conditions

Substations with fault level too low to operate protection relays are not common on the ESKOM Transmission
system since most of the network is well meshed with very few radial connections.

Figure 3.1. Fault Level Histogram
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
Fault Level [kA]
N
u
m
b
e
r

o
f

b
u
s
b
a
r
s
The fault level histogram shown in Figure 3.1 indicates only 4
busbars out of 190 with fault level below 2000A. Weak infeed
could be expected practically only at these four substations but
even there, with sufficiently low CT ratio (e.g. 600/1A or less),
the secondary current required to operate any electronic or
digital impedance relay would be available. Some of old
electromechanical relays require currents as high as 250mA on
the secondary side to ensure reliable operation but on these
relays weak infeed functionality is not available. With a
current sensitivity setting of 10%, which is common practice in
ESKOM, fault currents as low as 60A primary can be detected
with a CT ratio of 600/1. Fault resistance, however, can limit
the magnitude of fault current significantly even at high fault
level substations, which can not be ignored. Figure 3.2
318 - 4
indicates the impact of fault resistance on the
magnitude of fault current for a single phase to ground
fault on a line terminating at a 2000A fault level
substation. Even with very high fault resistance at the
end of a 300km long 275kV standard Transmission
line, the fault current does not decrease below 400A
which is far above the required minimum of 60A. On
radial feeds where three phase fault level of the
supplied substation may be equal to zero, if
contribution of customers' rotating machines is
ignored, most of the faults - single phase to ground
faults, will still be detected due to zero sequence
contribution of remote transformers. In the case of
multiphase or three phase faults the lack of fault
contribution does not jeopardise the network or
equipment as fault will be cleared once strong end
breaker opens. The only disadvantage of tripping only
one breaker in such situations will be more complicated faultfinding.
Figure 3.2. Line fault currents for different fault resistan
400
600
800
1000
1200
1400
1600
1800
2000
0 100 200 300
Fault distance [km]
F
a
u
l
t

c
u
r
r
e
n
t

[
A
]
0
50
100
150
Fault
Resistance
[ohm]

On the ESKOM Transmission network weak infeed substations that would not be able to deliver fault current of
at least 10% of maximum load of the line for most common, single phase to ground faults, practically do not
exist.


3.2 Weak Infeed During ARC Cycle or manual closing

Weak infeed tripping can play a role during ARC cycle when one breaker of the opened line is being closed onto
the remote fault (beyond zone 1 reach) as indicated on the Figure 3.3 below.


I
fA
= 0
I
fB
B
Z
sB
Z
sA
A
Fault
Zone 2
Zone 1
~ ~





Figure 3.3. Fault beyond zone 1 reach during ARC cycle when remote breaker is open.

In such case the fault can not be rapidly cleared at substation B as it is beyond zone 1 reach. Assuming that
permissive overreach intertripping scheme is employed, weak infeed logic would result in "echo carrier"
transmission from end A to end B speeding up protection operation (ref. Figure 2.3 Simplified weak infeed
tripping logic diagram).
In such a scenario, a very clear benefit could be obtained from
the application of weak infeed logic i.e. instantaneous or slightly
delayed fault clearance, as only small co-ordinating timer in
range of 50 milliseconds is necessary to accommodate contact
racing. Another benefit is better resistive coverage of the
protection scheme. The fault beyond zone 1 due to its high
resistive nature, as illustrated in Figure 3.4, will still be cleared
instantaneously with "echo carrier" transmission. This benefit is
particularly important on short lines where resistive coverage of
zone 1 is often limited unless independent settings of resistive
part of the impedance characteristics are available on the relays
(e.g. quadrilateral characteristics). With limited resistive
coverage of zone 1 even high current resistive faults, on lines
close to power stations, would have to be cleared in zone 2 time.
Instantaneous trip in ARC cycle, when the breaker is closed onto
a sustained fault is very important also from another perspective.
Once the breaker is open after the initial fault clearance, the
relay has lost its memory voltages often used to enhance
polarisation. For a very close up fault, where secondary voltages are very low, there is also a possibility that the
R
Figure 3.4. High resistance fault beyond
zone 1 characteristic.
Z
line
R
f
Zone 2
Zone 1
X
318 - 5
relay may not detect the fault in directional zone 1 on closing with no fault resistance. Such situations could
have a detrimental impact on the stability margins of the Transmission network as well as stability of auxiliary
plant at the power stations which is not acceptable on highly stressed Transmission networks.

For these reasons, however, a "line check" or "switch-on-to-fault" (SOTF) protection function has been
developed and is successfully utilised world-wide. The SOTF function provides instantaneous operation of the
relay on closing of the breaker by insertion for a short duration either a simple overcurrent relay or a
unidirectional fault detector (starter) to enhance the reliability of tripping on closing onto the fault. On many
relays this functionality can also be inserted during ARC cycle providing more reliable instantaneous fault
clearance than that provided by weak infeed logic, as communication channels are not require for SOTF.

The benefits of weak infeed tripping during ARC cycle are covered by SOTF function if the relay settings allow
to insert this function during short ARC dead time. During manual closing SOFT function is always activated.


4 CO-ORDINATION OF WEAK INFEED TRIPPING FUNCTION

Weak infeed tripping function requires quite sophisticated co-ordination to ensure reliable and, more
importantly, secure operation in all possible, practical system conditions. Focus of this co-ordination should be
on security more than reliability as unnecessary operation of weak infeed function results in the simultaneous
loss of two Transmission circuits instead of one, which in many cases may result in cascading tripping leading to
a major incident with serious, if not catastrophic, consequences. Failure to operate on the other hand may result
only in prolonged fault duration (zone 2 tripping time) for low fault current faults assuming failure of SOFT
function, which in most practical cases will not jeopardise equipment, safety or system stability.

There are three aspects of weak infeed co-ordination that have to be taken care of to ensure adequate
performance:
timing co-ordination;
co-ordination of tripping and blocking impedance polygons;
co-ordination of undervoltage and undercurrent guards.


4.1 Timing Co-ordination

The most important role of timing co-ordination in weak infeed tripping logic is to prevent possible incorrect
tripping for faults on parallel feeder as illustrated on Figure 4.1 below.



Z
sA
~
Zone 2 +
Carrier Sent
Z
sB
A
B
2
1 Blocking Zone +
Carrier Receive
~




Fault

Figure 4.1. Possible incorrect tripping due to lack of timer co-ordination.

During fault on feeder 2 as indicated in Figure 4.1 above, at substation B the zone 2 will operate on healthy
feeder 1, and send permissive inter trip signal to substation A. At substation A this signal will be received but
reverse "looking" blocking elements will prevent any unwanted operation. As soon as the breakers open on
faulty feeder to clear the fault, all measuring elements on healthy feeder have to drop off. If the blocking
element at substation A drops off faster than zone 2 at substation B then there will be a situation when all the
requirements of weak infeed tripping are met resulting in incorrect operation and sympathy trip. The weak
infeed tripping has to be therefore delayed by the difference of drop-off times between them. Moreover after the
zone 2 at substation B drops off, the transmission of permissive signal will be maintained for a certain time until
relevant relays in teleprotection equipment drop off at both ends of the telecommunication channel. Finally the
propagation delay of the channel has to be considered plus some safety margin.
318 - 6

The effective time delay that has to be introduced to prevent overtripping is equal to:

T
d
= (T
d/o Zone 2
- T
d/o Blocking Zone
) + T
Teleprotection
+ T
propagation
+ T
safety margin

Where: T
d
- required delay setting;
T
d/o Zone 2
- zone 2 drop delay off at substation B;
T
d/o Blocking Zone
- blocking zone drop off delay at substation A;
T
Teleprotection
- delay of teleprotection equipment at both substations A and B;
T
propagation
- propagation delay;
T
safety margin
- safety margin.

As long as relays at both ends of the line are of the same manufacturers their drop off delays should be
comparable and the first part of the equation (T
d/o Zone 2
- T
d/o Blocking Zone
) becomes negligible. In such cases delay
of 50 - 100 milliseconds seems to be sufficient. Where different relays are installed, however, the drop off
delays have to be carefully evaluated from records of past performance or tested, as from ESKOM's experience
they can be surprisingly long on certain relays. Where high differences are detected, the T
d
delay has to be
increased accordingly reaching possibly 150 - 200 milliseconds. If such delays are necessary, the whole
application of weak infeed has to be carefully thought through as reduction of zone 2 timer to 200 milliseconds
would give the same result.

The selection of this delay is critical for the security of weak infeed tripping. In cases where the difference in the
drop off delays of the relays at substations A and B are substantial, the application of weak infeed may
jeopardise security of the entire protection scheme unless long co-ordination delays are selected. Long delays on
the other hand make the application of weak infeed function questionable as same results can be achieved by
reduction of zone 2 time delay with much lesser risk.


4.2 Co-ordination of Tripping and Blocking Impedance Characteristics

Co-ordination of tripping and blocking
characteristics of the relays on the X/R impedance
plain is the most critical to avoid incorrect tripping.
Many factors have to be considered such as shapes of
the characteristics, types and depths of polarisation,
algorithms used in digital relays, particularly the
dynamic expansion of the resistive part of the
characteristic during earthfaults and impact of series
compensation of the line. There is usually little
explanation in manufacturers' manuals how this co-
ordination should be provided with a few guidelines
recommending that the reverse blocking zone must
overreach the remote end forward zone 2 as indicated
in Figure 4.2. This is to ensure effective blocking for
every reverse fault (or fault on parallel line) that can
be measured by the remote end zone 2. Such co-
ordination can easily be achieved for the reactive
parts of the characteristics. Where fault resistance
reaches significant values, however, the co-
ordination can be lost. A very simplified illustration
of such a situation on relays with pure mho
characteristics is shown in Figure 4.3. In this
example, due to significant value of fault resistance
R
f
, the impedance locus falls outside the blocking
characteristic of the relay at substation A but inside
the forward zone 2 characteristic of the relay at
substation B. In this case the weak infeed function
will result in "sympathy trip" of the line AB for an
external fault. The area of lack of co-ordination has
been shaded in Figure 4.3. To ensure that proper co-ordination is maintained for high resistance faults, the
blocking characteristic of the relay at end A must cover the entire part of the forward zone 2 at end B that can
B
A
Reverse
Blocking
Zone
Forward Zone 2
Figure 4.2 Simple example of tripping and blocking
elements co-ordination.
B
A
Reverse
Blocking
Zone
R
f
Forward Zone 2
Figure 4.3 Simplified example of possible lack of co-
ordination during high resistance fault.
318 - 7
operate for faults beyond substation A. This part of forward zone 2 characteristic is indicated with bold line in
Figure 4.3.

In practice, many factors influence shape of the area
where co-ordination may be lost. Let's consider the
more realistic situation with cross-polarised relays
as indicated on Figure 4.4 below.
In order to ensure appropriate co-ordination, the
polarisation of the blocking characteristic at
substation A should be much stronger than that of
the tripping characteristics at substation B.
Assuming that the same relays are installed at A and
B, with the same type and percentage of
polarisation for blocking and tripping
characteristics, the areas where the co-ordination
requirements are not met (shaded on Figure 4.4) are
much smaller but they are still there. Such areas are
exposing the protection scheme to overtripping.

The co-ordination of tripping and blocking
characteristics becomes more complicated where
relays with different polarisation methods and/or
depths are used. Protection engineers have to
examine the whole range of operating conditions for a particular feeder in order to evaluate possible scenarios
that could lead to incorrect operations. Factors such as loading of the line (magnitude and direction), possible
configurations of the surrounding network and generation patterns that influence source impedances as well as
expected fault resistance have to be included in order to predict possible shapes of polarised characteristics.
Such calculations are very complicated and require intimate knowledge of relay algorithms and filtering
techniques. Relay manufacturers normally do not provide such information in their manuals.
B
A
Reverse
Blocking
Zone
Forward Zone 2
Figure 4.4 Example of lack of co-ordination between
cross polarised relays.

Some impedance relays use negative sequence voltages and currents to enhance their operation. Co-ordination
of such relays with relays that measure positive sequence only creates another challenge. One of such
application was examined on the ESKOM Transmission network and due to different profiles of positive and
negative sequences along the network for a variety of faults and system configurations, co-ordination was not
possible.

Quadrilateral characteristics with well-defined
borders of resistive reach are much easier to check
for co-ordination of weak infeed functionality.
Reverse Blocking
Zone
A
B
Forward Zone 2
Figure 4.5. Simple example of proper co-ordination of
quadrilateral characteristics.

Figure 4.5 illustrates a simple example of required
co-ordination where the entire forward zone 2
polygon of the relay at substation B that can operate
for faults beyond substation A is covered with
sufficient safety margin by the reverse blocking zone
of the relay at substation A.

Such co-ordination is possible, however, only on
relays that are equipped with independent resistive
reach settings for blocking and tripping
characteristics, which is not always available.

The real characteristics are often carved to avoid load encroachment, which introduces another complication and
may expose certain areas on the X/R impedance plain for maloperations. One such example is shown in Figure
4.6, where characteristics of the relays installed at both ends of the line are plotted together to highlight required
overlapping areas.

Relay characteristics at end A of the line are indicated by continuous line and characteristics of the relay
installed at end B are rotated 180 deg. and indicated by dotted line. On this particular application, digital relays
are installed which use the reverse reach of fault detector (FDR) characteristics for blocking in the weak infeed
logic.
318 - 8

Only zone 2 and fault detector characteristics are plotted to make the picture more readable. The following
abbreviations were used:
FD
A
- Forward reach of fault detector at end A;
FDR
A
- Reverse reach of fault detector at end A;
FD
B
- Forward reach of fault detector at end B;
FDR
B
- Reverse reach of fault detector at end B;
Z2
A
- Zone 2 at end A;
Z2
B
- Zone 2 at end B;

The four shaded squares indicate areas where co-
ordination has not been achieved.

The above picture, although complex and difficult to
read, is still a simplification of real values of
impedances that the relays measure during faults,
particularly high resistance faults, when load plays
significant role. For precise evaluation, the
impedances measured at end A and B should be
plotted on separate X/R planes. The Figure 4.6 is just
for illustration of required overlapping in no load
condition on "homogenous" system.

During this incident, a healthy line tripped for a high
resistance fault on a parallel line in heavy loaded
corridor of the network, almost resulting in system
islanding. Investigation based on plots of measured
impedances recorded during the incident together with
relay characteristics on the X/R plain revealed areas of
lack of co-ordination between blocking and tripping
characteristics on this line as approximately illustrated
in Figure 4.6. During the investigation separate
impedance plots were done for end A and end B.
Max load
B
Z2
B
FD
B
FDR
B
Max load
A
Z2
A
FD
A
20
40
60
80
100
-60 -40
0
20 40
60
-20
-40
-60
FDR
A
-20
X [sec ohms]
R
B
A
Figure 4.6. Example of incorrect co-ordination areas
identified on ESKOM 400kV network.
- Relay characteristics at end A of the line
- Relay characteristics at end B of the line
- Incorrect co-ordination areas
- Movement of impedance locus during incident

In this particular application two adjustments to the relay settings could be considered in order to avoid incorrect
tripping:
increase the resistive reach of fault detectors at both ends of the line to +/- 36 ohms to maintain required
20% safety margins of overlapping, which would result in possible load encroachment or
reduce resistive reach of zone 2 at both ends of the line to +/- 15 ohms, which would result in poor resistive
coverage of the relay.

Figure 4.7. Illustration of increased
reactive reach of zone 2 d

ue
to series compensation.
A B
Reverse Blocking
Zone
Forward Zone 2
A B
Reverse Blocking
Zone
Forward Zone 2
Both solutions or any compromise between the two would result
in increased risk to reliability and/or security of the protection
scheme, considering ESKOM fault environment and possibility
of short time line overloading as a result of disturbance
development.

On series compensated lines, care has to be taken to ensure that
proper overlapping by the blocking zone is provided in the worst
case scenario when the series capacitor does not by-pass. In
such cases, which are common for faults in reverse direction, the
reactive reach of forward zone 2 is much higher due to
compensation of the capacitor as illustrated on Figure 4.7.

This situation can become much more complicated for adequate
analysis where series capacitors are protected by MOV without
spark-gap and bypass breaker. The MOV during fault
conditions will introduce nonlinearity to this circuit, which may
impact shapes of relay characteristics.
318 - 9

In summary, to ensure acceptable security of weak infeed tripping function co-ordination has to be achieved on
the entire X/R plain with sufficient security margins of 20%. Proper co-ordination on the reactive axis alone is
sufficient for low resistance faults. High resistance faults move fault impedance locus away from line
characteristics into the insecure areas.

Over the past ten years ESKOM has experienced six incorrect operations of the weak infeed function due to lack
of proper co-ordination, all with potentially series consequences. Four of them were due to incorrect co-
ordination of relays using different sequence components for their impedance measurements (positive and
negative). One was as a result of long drop off delay of measuring elements. In one case "blind spots" on relays
using quadrilateral characteristics, as described in this chapter, caused sympathy trip.


4.3 Effectiveness of undervoltage and undercurrent guards

Monitoring of voltage and currents as supervising quantities can provide additional security in weak infeed
tripping algorithms and most manufacturers of protection relays include such supervision. To evaluate
effectiveness of undervoltage and undercurrent guards again two situations should be considered:
Fault on the Transmission feeder where one substation is not able to deliver sufficient fault current - genuine
weak infeed, and
weak infeed as a result of closing the feeder onto the fault during ARC cycle or manual closing
During the low resistance fault on the line on which one
end is a weak infeed end the voltage and current
distribution is highlighted in Figure 4.8. The following
observations can be made:
At strong substation B, where source impedance is low
(Zs
B
<<), voltage during the fault on the line remains
significant (Vf
B
>0) unless fault is very close to the
busbars B, and the fault current is high (If
B
>>). At the
weak substation A, where source impedance is high
(Zs
A
>>), the fault current is very low and assumed to be
insufficient to operate protection relays (If
A
~0).
Voltage during the fault on the line is close to zero
(Vf
A
~0).
If
A
~0 If
B
>>
B
~
Vf
B
>0
Rf~0 Vf
A
~0
Zs
B
<<
~
Zs
A
>>
A
Figure 4.8. Current and voltage distribution during
low resistance fault

The weak infeed conditions at substation A can be easily detected by monitoring of the level of voltage and/or
current. Undervoltage and undercurrent supervision therefore is a very effective method to differentiate between
strong and weak conditions to improve security of the weak infeed function. Setting level of 10-15% would be
appropriate for both undervoltage and undercurrent relays.

For high resistance faults, however, the situation
becomes more complicated as voltages and currents may
not drop significantly enough for reliable detection of a
weak infeed condition. The distribution of voltages and
currents for high resistance faults is illustrated in Figure
4.9 with the following observations:

At strong substation B similar conditions exist as for a
low resistance fault with lower level of current and
higher level of voltage. At substation A, the current
level may reach significant values (If
A
+I
L
>0), up to
1p.u., due to load still being transferred through the high
resistance fault. Similarly the voltage will not be insignificant anymore (Vf
A
>0) and theoretically, with
increasing fault resistance, may reach any value between 0 and 1p.u.
If
A
+I
L
>0 If
B
>
B
~
Zs
A
>>
A
Zs
B
<<
~
Vf>0
Vf
B
>>0
Rf>>
Vf
A
>0
Figure 4.9. Current and voltage distribution during
high resistance fault

With settings of supervising undervoltage and undercurrent relays in range of 10-15% the weak infeed function
would not be activated. With settings higher than that, in the range of 50-60%, the supervision would be
ineffective in preventing incorrect operations in case of incorrect co-ordination of impedance characteristics.
318 - 10

During ARC cycle when the breaker at substation B
(Figure 4.10) closes onto a fault while the breaker at
substation A is still open (dead line charging), the
substation A becomes a weak infeed end due to open
breaker. In this case undercurrent supervision would
enable weak infeed tripping but undervoltage relay
could measure any value between 0 and 1p.u. depending
on fault resistance.
~
If
A
=0 If
B
>
B
Zs
B Zs
A
~
Vf
B
>>0
Vf
A
>0
Rf>>
Vf>0
A

The undercurrent and undervoltage supervision with low
settings could provide desired security against incorrect
operations for high resistance faults. Very complicated
studies would have to be provided, however, to evaluate
areas of possible lack of co-ordination and to calculate values of corresponding voltages and currents for which
weak infeed should not be activated. Values of such currents depend on actual system configuration and
generation patterns that can be predicted only with limited confidence level. During the development of a
disturbance the network may be severed beyond N-2 condition which is very difficult to study due to multiple
possible scenarios.
Figure 4.10. Current and voltage distribution
during high resistance fault and open
breaker at substation A

The undervoltage supervision with low setting would disable weak infeed operation in ARC cycle for high
resistance faults where most of the benefits could be expected.


5. CONCLUSIONS

The weak infeed function was developed to improve sensitivity of protection relays at the substations where the
fault current could be insufficient to reliably operate protection relays. Some of the older electromechanical
relays require as much as 250mA secondary current for operation. With the introduction of more sensitive
electronic and digital relays and growth of ESKOM Transmission network the necessity for weak infeed tripping
diminished to a degree that the benefits of this functionality are very limited. Possible faster fault clearance for
end zone faults during the ARC cycle when one breaker of the line is open are reliably covered by the use of
SOTF function in the ARC cycle.

At the same time increasing load of Transmission network moved focus of protection co-ordination towards
improved security of protection schemes. Sympathy trips can result in cascading tripping of parallel connections
leading to major disturbances. Over the past few years, lack of appropriate co-ordination of weak infeed
function was a major contributor to overtripping of Transmission feeders in ESKOM.
Very complex protection co-ordination analysis, as indicated in this paper, is required to ensure acceptable
security level of weak infeed tripping. In many cases required data is not available for adequate studies and in
some cases relays' limitations do not allow for appropriate co-ordination.
High resistance faults are major contributors to incorrect operations and Transmission system in ESKOM is
exposed to high percentage of such faults.
Small deterioration of drop off delays of the impedance relays may also result in a lack of weak infeed tripping
co-ordination and overtripping.

The high level of potential insecurity and very limited benefits of application of weak infeed tripping led
ESKOM to a decision to use this functionality only on selected and very carefully studied applications where
benefits are apparent and justifiable and uncertainties can be quantified and minimised.


6. RECOMMENDATIONS

For secure operation of weak infeed facility overlapping of the zone 2 characteristic has to be provided by
reverse blocking zone on the entire X/R plain and for all possible system configurations that influence
shapes of the dynamic characteristics of the relays. Co-ordination of the reactive components alone is
insufficient to avoid overtripping during high resistance faults.
On relays where resistive reach of blocking zone can not be set independently from tripping zones used in
weak infeed logic, very careful studies have to be conducted to ensure acceptable security via undervoltage
and undercurrent guards.
318 - 11
Weak infeed should not be used on relays that are not compatible in terms of measuring principals unless
performance of such relays is well known and co-ordination well studied. In some cases it may not be
possible to co-ordinate positive sequence measuring relays with relays that are equipped with zero and/or
negative sequence directional overcurrent measuring elements.
To ensure proper time co-ordination of weak infeed function, the drop off time of impedance relays at both
ends of the line should be known, either from tripping records or tests, for adequate time delay settings.
Wherever deterioration of drop off time is detected, the co-ordination time setting should be increased or
weak infeed function disabled.
Undercurrent and undervoltage guards provide only limited security improvements during high resistance
faults.
In well-interconnected areas of Transmission networks where genuine weak infeed does not occur, benefits
of weak infeed tripping / echo carrier transmission are very limited once switch-onto-fault function is
inserted during ARC dead time.

7. BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1] M. J. Mackey "Optimisation of Protection Performance during System Disturbances" -
CIGRE WG B5.09 Final Report
[3] IEEE Special Publication, Application of Fault and Disturbance Recording Devices
for Protective System Analysis, IEEE Publication No. 87TH-0195-8 PWR,
Operations Center, Piscataway, NJ, 1987.
[2] Adam Bartylak Application of Disturbance Recorders as near real time information
support for National Control in ESKOM - IEE Conference Developments in Power
System Protection, (Amsterdam, April 2001).
[4] Protective Relays Application Guide, GEC Alsthom, Stafford 1990.


318 - 12