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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MAGNETICS, VOL. 43, NO.

4, APRIL 2007

1181

Grounding Performance Analysis of the Substation


Grounding Grids by Finite Element Method
in Frequency Domain
Lei Qi1 , Xiang Cui1 , Zhibin Zhao2 , and Huiqi Li2
Beijing Key Laboratory of High Voltage and EMC, North China Electric Power University, Beijing 102206, China
Key Laboratory of Power System Protection and Dynamic Security Monitoring and Control under Ministry of Education, North
China Electric Power University, Baoding 071003, China

Based on finite-element method (FEM) of 1-D conductor element coupled with 3-D soil element, we take into account the frequency
dependent characteristic of the discretized elements to analyze the grounding performance of the substation grounding grids. Compared
with A-V formulation of 3-D FEM, the proposed method can greatly save the CPU time, and the frequency can be considered during
FEM modeling. In comparison with the method of moment (MoM) and the measured results, the presented method is proved to be
correct and effective. Furthermore, we can calculate the H-field generated by the substation grounding grids with both currents in the
underground conductors and leakage currents flowing in the soil. The results show slight difference between FEM and MoM, which can
be explained by the fact that the leakage currents in the soil are not taken into account for MoM.
Index TermsFinite-element method (FEM), frequency domain method, method of moment (MoM), substation grounding grids.

I. INTRODUCTION
HE substation grounding grids provide a common ground
to apparatus and reduce external electromagnetic interference (EMI) to the relay and control equipment. The scale of the
substation grounding grids is enlarged with the increase of the
voltage class. And the safety analysis becomes more important
from the viewpoint of the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)
in power systems.
Along with the rapid development of computer technology,
the electromagnetic field methods are widely applied to analyze
the grounding performance of the substation grounding grids
[1][4]. The boundary element method (BEM) is introduced for
modeling the grounding grids in [1] and proved to be difficult
for the layered soil. Based on the method of moment (MoM), a
numerical method has been used to analyze the frequency domain characteristic of the substation grounding grids in the layered soil [2], [3]. However, this method is tested to be relatively
complicated for the complex soil [4].
As an effective numerical method, the finite-element method
(FEM) is preliminarily applied for the grounding performance
analysis of the substation grounding grids [5][8]. In order to
consider the effect of the frequency on the grounding performance, the A-V formulations of FEM are used in [5], [6] and
demonstrated to be time-consuming. In [7] and [8], 1-D conductor element is coupled with 3-D soil element during the FEM
modeling. Since the electric scalar potential is adopted to reduce
the computational cost, the frequency is not considered in this
method.

In this paper, based on FEM of a 1-D conductor element


coupled with a 3-D soil element, we take into account the frequency-dependent characteristic of the discretized elements to
model the substation grounding grids. Compared with the measured results, the proposed method is verified to be correct and
effective.
The spatial magnetic field due to the short-circuit fault in
a substation is generated by three kinds of currents: 1) in the
aerial conductor; 2) in the underground conductor; and 3) in the
soil. The current in the aerial conductor can be easily calculated
and is not involved in this paper, while the current in the underground conductor and the leakage current in the soil will be
discussed in the following sections.
II. METHODOLOGY
Using the electric scalar potential, the current field of the substation grounding grids is expressed by Laplaces equation (1)
with boundary conditions (2) and (3)

at infinity
on the earth's surface

(1)
(2)
(3)

where is the electric scalar potential and is the soil conductivity.


The eight-node 3-D finite element and two-node 1-D finite element are chosen to discretize the soil region and the grounding
grids region, respectively. By the method of weighted residual,
(4)(7) are obtained.
The equations of the 3-D finite element in the soil region are

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TMAG.2007.892283


Color versions of one or more of the figures in this paper are available online
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0018-9464/$25.00 2007 IEEE

(4)

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MAGNETICS, VOL. 43, NO. 4, APRIL 2007

(10)
Fig. 1. 1-D and 3-D elements.

(5)
where

is the conductivity of the 3-D soil element


, and
and
are the interpolation function of the eight-node
soil element of the first order, electric scalar potential function,
and electric scalar potential of the node, respectively.
While the equations of the 1-D finite element in the grounding
grids region are
(6)

(11)
where
, and
are the lengths in three directions of the
3-D soil element.
For the two-node line element in the grounding grids region,
the element stiffness matrix is
(12)

(7)

here
(13)

where
, and are the length, the cross section and the conductivity of the 1-D conductor element, and
and
are
the interpolation function of the two-node conductor element
of the first order, electric scalar potential function, and electric
scalar potential of the node, respectively.
In order to solve the above FEM equations, the element stiffness matrices
of the soil element and the conductor element
are required. Then, the total stiffness matrix can be obtained
by integrating all the element stiffness matrices. In this paper,
the truncation boundary (potentials are set to zero) of the domain to be modeled is set to be seven times of the dimension
of the grounding grids to ensure higher accuracy. As shown in
Fig. 1, the 1-D conductor element matches together with one
edge of the 3-D soil element and both elements share the nodes
1 and 2.
For the eight-node brick element in the soil region, the element stiffness matrix is
(8)

where
is the per-unit length (PUL) dc resistance of the 1-D
conductor element.
In order to take the frequency into account during the FEM
modeling, on one hand, both the displacement current and the
conduction current are considered for the soil element, i.e., the
real conductivity
is replaced by the complex conductivity
, where is the permittivity of the soil element. On
the other hand, the PUL impedance
works as the substitute
for the conductor element. For the
for the PUL dc resistance
underground conductor with the radius , the PUL impedance
can be calculated by a closed-form approximation [9]
(14)
here
(15)
(16)
(17)

here

(18)

(9)

where
and
are the PUL internal impedance and the
PUL external impedance, and
and are the conductivity,
the permeability, and the buried depth of the underground
conductor, and
is the soil conductivity, and
is the zero
order Bessels function of the second kind.
It should be noted that the presented method is applicable for
both the voltage exciting source and the current exciting source.
For the current exciting source, the grounding impedance of the

QI et al.: GROUNDING PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS OF THE SUBSTATION GROUNDING GRIDS

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TABLE II
GROUNDING IMPEDANCES AT DIFFERENT FREQUENCIES

Fig. 2. Test grounding grids.

TABLE I
SOIL RESISTIVITY MODEL

substation grounding grids equals to the ratio of the voltage to


the current at the injected node. While for the voltage exciting
source , the corresponding grounding impedance is
(19)
where
and
are the complex powers of the soil element
and the conductor element, respectively.
The magnetic field generated by the substation grounding
grids is composed of two parts. One part produced by the axial
currents in the underground conductors is calculated by the
BiotSavart law, while the other part produced by the leakage
currents flowing in the soil can be calculated by the integration
method in [10].
III. VALIDATION
The test grounding grids with the buried depth of 0.6 m shown
in Fig. 2 consist of a 30 m 30 m main grid, a 4 m 4 m auxiliary grid, and a 30 m horizontal grounding electrode. The underground conductor made of steel has the radius of 1 cm, the
resistivity of 1.702 10
m, and the relative permeability
of 636. In Fig. 2, the origin of coordinate is at the center of
the main grounding grid, and the current can be injected into
the grounding grids at Points AD. Table I gives the four-layer
model of the soil resistivity, and the relative permittivity of the
soil is 10.
Table II lists the grounding impedances of the test grounding
grids at different frequencies when the current is injected at
Point A. We can find that the results of FEM are slightly less
than that of MoM.
When the current of 30 Hz, 30 A is injected at Point A, the
potential distribution on the earths surface along Line 1 and 2
is, respectively, given in Fig. 3(a) and (b). We can see that the

Fig. 3. Potential distribution on the earths surface at 30 Hz. (a) Line 1. (b)
Line 2.

results of FEM are in agreement with the measured results and


slightly less than that of MoM.
In order to validate the proposed method at high frequencies,
the currents of 2 kHz, 0.592A, and 10 kHz, 0.554 A are, respectively, injected at Point A and extracted at Point C. Then, we
can calculate the potential differences between Point A and the
points on the earths surface with the interval of 0.5 m along
Line 3 in Fig. 2. Figs. 4 and 5 illustrate the measured results
and the calculated results using FEM and MoM at the two frequencies. It can be seen that the calculated results of FEM are in
good agreement with the measured results and superior to that
of MoM.
When the current of 30 Hz, 30 A is injected at Point A, the
H-field distribution on the earths surface along Line 1 and 2
is, respectively, given in Fig. 6(a) and (b). We can see that the
results of FEM are slightly larger than that of MoM.
From Figs. 36 and Table II, the following conclusions can
be obtained. 1) For the grounding impedance of the grounding
grids and the potential distribution on the earths surface, the

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MAGNETICS, VOL. 43, NO. 4, APRIL 2007

Fig. 4. Potential distribution on the earths surface along Line 3 at 2 kHz.

Fig. 5. Potential distribution on the earths surface along Line 3 at 10 kHz.

results of FEM are slightly less than that of MoM and fit the
measured results better. 2) For the H-field distribution on the
earths surface, the results of FEM are slightly larger than that
of MoM. These conclusions are consistent with the conclusions
drawn in [6], which is due to the fact that the leakage currents
in the soil are not considered for MoM.
IV. CONCLUSION
In this paper, we present a finite-element method for analyzing the grounding performance of the substation grounding
grids in frequency domain. The advantage of the proposed
method is that the effect of the frequency is taken into account
during the FEM modeling. In comparison with MoM and the
measured results, this method is proved to be correct and effective. Furthermore, combined with the method of nodal analysis
in the circuit theory, the method can be conveniently used for
modeling the grounding system with multiple exciting sources
(e.g., voltage source and current source) and lumped elements
(e.g., resistance, inductance and capacitance) connected.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
This work was supported in part by Scientific Funds for
Outstanding Young Scientists of China under Grant 50325723,
in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China
under Grant 50577019, and in part by Program for Changjiang
Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University under
Grant IRT0515.

Fig. 6. H-field distribution on the earths surface at 30 Hz. (a) Line 1. (b) Line
2.

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Manuscript received October 27, 2006 (e-mail: qilei_emfemc@126.com).