American Journal of Scientific Research

ISSN 2301-2005 Issue 63(2012), pp. 111-119
© EuroJournals Publishing, Inc. 2012

Ranking of Iran 400KV Transmission Line Towers from View
Point of Protection against Lightning Stroke

Yasser Mahmoudian
Electrical and Computer Engineering Faculty, Semnan University, Semnan, IRAN
Tel: +98-2313354264; Fax: +98-2313354123

Mostafa Jazaeri
Electrical and Computer Engineering Faculty
Semnan University, Semnan, IRAN


Every year the most number of overhead transmission line outages occur due to
lightning strike. Hence, a complete protection for high-voltage transmission lines must be
designed. Lightning overvoltage are induced to phase conductor following shielding failure
or back flashover. Design of perfect protection can be obtained by optimum arrangement of
shielding wires. Shielding wires attraction radius depends on conductor height and
amplitude of lightning current. A maximum lightning current exist which attraction radius
of shield wires completely covered phase conductors and provide a complete protection.
This current is called Maximum Shielding Failure current (IMSF) and identifies the number
of lightning strikes per unit time, which is terminate to phase conductor of transmission
lines due to shielding failure. In this paper, IMSF is calculated for towers, which are
commonly used in Iranian transmission lines. Thereafter, these currents are compared to
each other. For each tower’s probability of lightning strike with IMSF is computed by both
IEEE and CIGRE methods separately, and finally, towers are ranked from view point of
perfect protection against lightning. Furthermore, the effect of shielding angle on IMSF is

Keywords: Lightning, shield wire, Maximum Shielding Failure current, Transmission
lines, Insulation Coordination

1. Introduction
Lightning is the main cause of transmission line outage and the most number of these outages are
caused by lightning strike to power system instrument. Thus, a safe protection against lightning must
be designed to increase power supply reliability and decrease the economic loss of outages and
instrument failure. Protection against lightning strike to phase conductors of transmission lines are
provided by means of shield wires. Shield wires intercept the descending lightning leader, and the
lightning current is conducted through the towers and dispersed by ground electrodes into earth. The
shielding design of transmission lines, that is the appropriate positioning of shield wires with respect to
phase conductors, can be achieved by implementing electro geometric models. A representative of their
application is the method suggested by IEEE Standard 1243:1997, which assumes the striking distance
Ranking of Iran 400KV Transmission Line Towers from View Point of
Protection against Lightning Stroke 112

to be solely a function of the prospective strike current [1], [2]. Shielding design may be realized by
employing models based on more solid physical ground of lightning attractiveness, called hereafter,
generic models [3], [4]. A perfect shielding of transmission lines is achieved when lightning strikes
possessing peak current are greater than the critical current, which causes flashover of insulation, are
intercepted. Apparently, some of the less intense strikes may not be intercepted by the shield wires and
strike to phase conductors, however these are not expected to cause flashover. Hence, there is a range
of currents of lightning strikes terminating at the phase conductors, which may cause flashover [5]. The
lower limit of this range, that is, the critical current can be estimated based on the geometrical and
electrical characteristics of the transmission line [6]. The upper limit, called maximum shielding failure
current, requires extensive geometrical analysis depending on the lightning attachment model used for
shielding analysis. The maximum shielding failure current of a transmission line is used in calculations
of the expected shielding failure flashover rate of the line, and it is an important parameter in insulation
coordination studies [7]. The maximum shielding failure current has been formulated based on electro
geometric models that provide general expressions for the calculation of the maximum shielding
failure current [8]. Most dependencies exist between this maximum current and line geometry and
lightning characteristic.

2. Maximum Shielding Failure Current Calculation
The maximum shielding failure current determines the number of strikes per unit time that terminate at
the phase conductors of a transmission line as a result of shielding failures. The shielding failure rate of
a transmission line, SFR (shielding failures/100km/year), can be calculated as follows:
dl I f I W N SFR
) ( ) ( 0.2
Where N
/year) is the ground flash density, f(I) is the probability density function
of the strike current amplitude distribution and W is the shielding failure width in meters. However, a
shielding failure current may not necessarily cause flashover of insulation; the minimum lightning
current causing flashover, termed critical current, I
(kA), is given as:
) CFO ( 2
Where CFO (kV) is the critical lightning impulse flashover voltage of the insulation and Z
is the conductor surge impedance under corona. The shielding failure flashover rate of a transmission
line, SFFOR (flashovers/100km/year), normally used together with back flashover rate to estimate the
expected outage rate of a transmission line is given as:
dI I F I W N SFFOR ) ( ) ( 0.2 (3)
Both SFR and SFFOR depend upon striking distance and interception radius since the latter
shielding design parameters determine I
and W used in (1) and (3). The competing upward
discharge from a neighboring phase conductor, modifying the extent of development of the connecting
upward discharge from the shield wire, may result in a reduction of the striking distance and
interception radius of the shield wire. Such an effect on the striking distance or interception radius of
the shield wire would reasonably result in higher I
and wider W, therefore leading to a larger SFR
and SFFOR. I
and SFFOR are significant parameters in insulation coordination studies [9].

3. Maximum Shielding Failure Current Formulation based on Different Lightning
Attachment Model
In this section, various lightning attachment models presented to survey shielding failure and electro
geometric models are described.
113 Yasser Mahmoudian and Mostafa Jazaeri

3.1. Electrogeometric Models
Electro geometric models have historically been employed in transmission line shielding providing
acceptable protection against direct lightning strikes to phase conductors, and are still widely used [2].
The application of these models in shielding design is based on striking distance, which is defined as
the distance between the descending lightning leader and the struck object at which the upward
connecting discharge is initiated. Striking distance to an object, S, is solely related to the prospective
lightning peak current and can be associated to striking distance to the earth’s surface, D, by using a
factor γ as:
= = AI S (4)
Where I (kA) is the prospective lightning peak current, S and D are in meters. Factors A, B and
γ are given in TABLE 1 [8].

Table 1: Factors A, B and γ to be Used in Eq. (1) [9]

The implementation of electrogeometric models in shielding analysis of transmission lines is
described based on Fig. 1 as follows. Arcs of radii S are drawn from the shield wires and phase
conductors; In addition, a line parallel to the earth’s surface is drawn at the height D. According to
electrogeometric models, a descending lightning leader which reaches the arc between M and N will
strike to the phase conductor, hence a shielding failure width, W, is defined (Fig.1). With increasing the
lightning current, the shielding failure width decreases, thus there is a critical design current which
corresponds to W = 0, hereafter called maximum shielding failure current, I

Figure 1: Shielding analysis according to electrogeometric models.

Ranking of Iran 400KV Transmission Line Towers from View Point of
Protection against Lightning Stroke 114

For a given transmission line geometry, thus also shielding angle α, geometrical analysis yields
the following relation as a good approximation of I
p m
h h γ
) sin 1 (
2 / ) (


o ¸ ÷
From eq. (5) it can be deduced that I
increases with increasing transmission line height.
Despite their simplicity and widespread applicability, the electrogeometric models, do not consider the
effects of the struck object height on striking distance S.

3.2. Eriksson’s Model
Eriksson [10], based on field data, modified the electrogeometric model by introducing the attraction
radius in shielding design, defined as the “capture” radius at which the upward and downward leader
intercept. The attraction radius, R, of a shield wire or phase conductor, is expressed as a function,
besides lightning peak current, of its height, h, as:
0.74 0.6
67 . 0 I h R = (6)
Eriksson, performing a shielding analysis similar to that of the electrogeometric models,
employed the attraction radius to draw arcs from the shield wire and phase conductor up to the phase
conductor height, as shown in Fig. 2.

Figure 2: Shielding analysis according to Eriksson’s electrogeometric model

3.3. Generic Models
In generic model, attraction radius of an object, R, defined as the longest lateral distance from the
object where lightning attachment occurs [4] and R can be expressed as [11]:
I h ξ R = (7)
Shielding failure will occur when the descending lightning leader enters the shielding failure
width W (Fig. 3):
m p
R R R W ÷ A + = (8)

115 Yasser Mahmoudian and Mostafa Jazaeri

Figure 3: Shielding analysis according to generic models.

3.4. Statistical Model [12], [13]
Lightning attachment is a stochastic phenomenon, thus the most commonly employed parameters in
shielding design, namely striking distance and attraction radius, should be considered as statistical
quantities varying, besides struck object height and lightning stroke current, with interception

4. Probability Distribution Function of Lightning Current Amplitude
We can estimate all lightning parameters (e.g. waveform, maximum amplitude, rise time etc.) with a
Neperian logarithm distribution that has a probability density function as [14]:
x β 2π
) (
= x f (9)

Where x is the definite parameter of lightning, f(x) is Neperian logarithm probability density
function. This function presents the probability of lightning occurrence with the definite value of x
where β is logarithmic Standard Deviation and m is the median. One of the important parameters in
line lightning performance evaluation is the probability of lightning occurrence with the maximum
amplitude of I. The values of β and m that are presented by CIGRE for probability calculation of f(x)
by (9) are defined as:
m= 64.1 KA , β=1.33 I ≤ 20 KA
m= 33.1 KA , β=0.605 I > 20 KA
If there is no access to normal distribution tables, CIGRE presents the following relations for
calculating the summation distribution of lightning maximum current amplitude [15]:
6 . 1
31 . 0 1 ) (
e I Q ÷ =

3 ≤ I < 20 KA
Q(I)=0.5–0.35Z 20 < I < 60 KA (10)
7 . 1
278 . 0 ) (
e I Q = 60 ≤ I <200 KA
Where Q(I) shows the probability that the maximum lightning current amplitude in each
incidence be equal or greater than I. On the other hand, IEEE presents the following relation for
computing of Q(I) [16]:
( )
| |
\ .
Ranking of Iran 400KV Transmission Line Towers from View Point of
Protection against Lightning Stroke 116

5. Ranking of 400 kV Towers from Viewpoint of Protection against Lightning
In this section, we gain the maximum shielding failure current in Iran’s transmission lines for certain
specific towers. Indeed, we calculate the probability of lightning incidence with current equal or more
than the maximum shielding failure current and we follow by ranking the different towers from
viewpoint of perfect protection against lightning. Fig. 4 (see appendix) shows the towers, and their
details are described in TABLE 2.

Table 2: Detail of Towers

TowerType Location h
1 Semnan - Shahrood 46.05 36.22 14.9
2 Sabzevar - Revish 47.8 38.3 11.9
3 Esfehan - Sormagh 56.7 37.02 11.5
4 Esfehan - Sormagh 44.65 27.06 9.3
5 Mashhad 69.2
59.31 8.5
48.71 9.7
39.51 4

The standard measure in Iran’s Ministry of Power for A and B in the eq. (1) are 7.2 and 0.65
respectively [17]. Therefore as a result, eq. (4) becomes: S = 7.2 I

According to eq. (5), we calculate the maximum shielding failure current for towers 1 to 5.
Results are given by Fig. 5.

Figure 5: Maximum shielding failure rate for towers 1 to 5

5.1. Conclusion
For the tower types 1 to 4, we calculate I
separately in side phase and for type 5, in upper phase and
middle and down phase.
From Fig. 4, it can be deduced that I
increases with increasing transmission line height.
Therefore, we need strong lightning with high current for reaching to zero shielding failure rate
“complete cover”. In other words, a lower number of lightnings can provide complete protection. We
identify I
for tower No. 5 in each of the three phases. The upper phase has higher I
with other phases, and the middle phase has higher current in contrast to the lower phase. That shows
that the shielding failure probability and lightning incidence to lower phase is lower than the other
phase, and the upper phase has more opportunity to impact lightning than other phases.
For clarification, we calculate the lightning incidence probability with current equal or more
than IMSF for each tower. In TABLE 3, we compare and count the measure of Q (I
) for all five
117 Yasser Mahmoudian and Mostafa Jazaeri

tower types by using CIGRE and IEEE methods. Although each of the two formulas provided by
CIGRE and IEEE are used in transmission line lightning protection system design, however the
CIGRE method is used more often.
Potentially, the probability for obtaining a high safe condition impact of lightning depends on
having a small I

Table 3: Q (I
) For Variety Towers

Tower type Q(I) base on CIGRE Q(I) base on IEEE
1 23.05 0.71 0.68
2 22.35 0.727 0.7
3 25.13 0.659 0.63
4 15.49 0.884 0.858
37.06 0.43 0.386
33.74 0.49 0.445
25.04 0.66 0.64

For instance, tower No. 4 that has the smallest I
by probability of 88.4 percent will absorb
lightning that comes to the transmission line with shield wires.
This high probability is obtained for a tower with smallest I
because of its lowest height.
Considering tower No. 5, the probability of lightning incidence to the upper phase wire is more than
others; therefore the lower phase wire has the safest situation. Hence, the towers No. 4, 2, 1, 3 and 5
have better performance against lightning respectively.

6. Effect of Shielding Angle on Maximum Shielding Failure Current
In the previous sections we concluded that, keeping a suitable situation to absorb lightning with
shielding wire requires having a minimum I
. we evaluation the effect of shielding wire and phase
conductor height. In addition, there is another item which significant effect that is called “shielding
angle”. According to available formulas for maximum shielding failure current, having small shielding
angles can decrease I
. Fig. 6 illustrates the relation between I
and shielding angles.

6.1. Conclusion
According to Fig. 6, we estimate that the maximum shielding failure current will increase if the
shielding angle increases. This can prove that the probability of lighting struck to phase conductor will
increase; in other words, an SFR increase. In Fig. 6, the angles change in certain logical areas

Figure 6: The impact of shielding angle on I

Ranking of Iran 400KV Transmission Line Towers from View Point of
Protection against Lightning Stroke 118

One of the most important points is that change of I
in taller towers is faster than others.
Therefore, choosing a proper shielding angle in tall towers is of great importance. It can be inferred
that lines should be designed in a form that provide minimum shielding angle and this is obtained by
increasing shield wire height or dragging the shield wire toward the phase conductor along the horizon.
By looking into the relation between having increasing height and increasing the maximum shielding
failure current, the most effective way will be to drag the shield wire toward the phase conductor along
the horizon in order to decrease the angle. In fact, this should be performed so that it will not occur in
lines with direct arrangement disturbance, in middle phase protection.

7. Conclusion
Lightning overvoltage are induced to phase conductor following shielding failure or back flash over
and cause line outages. Transmission line outage has two drawbacks: it destroys the suitable condition
for having good operation, and reduces the economic benefit. As a result, it is critical to make safe
conditions for phase wire to protect it from lightning, decreasing the probability of shielding failure
rate. Therefore, in this article, I
was calculated for towers, which commonly used in Iranian
transmission lines. Thereafter these currents were compared to each other. For each towers probability
of lightning strike with current equal to I
computed by both IEEE and CIGRE method separately
and finally, towers are ranked from view point of perfect protection against lightning. On the other
hand, it demonstrates that the size of shielding angle has significant effect on the maximum failure
current, which has to be considered in the shielding design. We will discuss more about meaningful
issues in this research in section 5 and 6 separately.

Figure 4: Towers type, (a) type 1, (b) type 2, (c) type 3, (d) type 4, (e) type 5

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119 Yasser Mahmoudian and Mostafa Jazaeri

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