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CIGRE 2014

Health Index: the TERNAs Practical Approach for Transformers Fleet


Management

M. POMPILI

F. SCATIGGIO
A. FRAIOLI
V. IULIANI
Terna Rete Italia
S.p.A.

University of
Roma Sapienza

Italy

Italy

fabio.scatiggio@terna.it

SUMMARY
The asset management of any Transmission System Operator (TSO) cannot ignore the
evaluation of the power transformers fleet. Even in the absence, to date , of any specific
international guide or standard, every big electrical utility is adopting a home-made Health
Index (HI). An HI is developed to summarize in numerical form the transformers reliability
for the purpose of evaluation, ranking and comparison.
In the present paper the author will elucidate a new model that merge the evidences of
periodic tests (DGA, furans, acidity, inductance, FDS, etc.) with the keraunic properties of a
substation
KEYWORDS
Health Index, Asset Management, Transformer

RISK AND CLASSIFICATION OF TRANSFORMERS IN HOMOGENEOUS


CLASSES
The risk evaluation may be the key tool for classifying power transformers, mainly when belonging to
large fleets, in iso-attention classes. The risk related to every unit may be defined as the probable
losses due to a severe failure of the same transformers in a given period of time. This risk is formed by
three partial components as in the following:
a) Causes of the failures, as for example:
- overvoltage due to lightning strokes of the electrical substation or the incoming overhead lines;
- short-circuit currents which have interested the transformer;
- energizations;
- temporary overloads;
- other accidental and operational causes.
b) Probability that a failure may provoke a damage
c) Type of damages, as for example:
- human injuries;
- economical losses;
- social-economic negative impacts.
The risk has the same dimensions of the damage which is at the origin of the same risk. Under some
conditions, the risk may be expressed in terms of money. Starting from Eq. (1) the risk can be written
as follows:
R = N P L (1)
where:
- N is the number of dangerous events (like: lightning strokes, etc.). N is function of several
parameter as the location of the substation, the number and the characteristics of the incoming
overhead lines, etc;
- P is the probability of one dangerous event may cause a damage. P is function of the capability of
the transformers to withstand at the negative event without serious consequence: this capability
may be considered as an health index (HI) of the transformer;
- L is the average damage and is function of the economical asset of the transformer and its location
(visibility, proximity to houses, etc).
The evaluation of N, P and L requires great attention and may be done for all the power transformers
belonging to the electrical Operator. The determination of N may start from the evaluation of the risk
due to the direct lightning of the transformers, the surrounding substation busbars system and the
incoming overhead lines; N is, of course, function of the number of lightning to ground .
For every single substation the geometrical area of transformers, busbars and lines, the annual lighting
density based on international and national standard, ground orography, presence of other interfering
buildings, towers, etc is considered. Figure 1 depicts a typical substation electrical scheme.
EHV LINES

EHV BUSBARS

EHV / HV TRAFO

HV BUSBARS

HV LINES

Figure 1 Typical electrical scheme of an HV substation

The second parameter P, is related to the Health Index (HI) of the power transformer and is strictly
dependent on the transformer and should be considered dynamic, since it changes as the transformer
ages. It gives information on:
 dielectric and thermal condition - from DGA and furans analysis.
 mechanical condition - from on-site electrical tests such as sweep frequency response analysis
(SFRA), frequency domain spectroscopy (FDS).
 insulating oil condition - from water content, acidity, breakdown voltage (BDV) and dielectric
dissipation factor (DDF).
Other aspects such as system events and conditions and evidence from periodic field inspections
should be considered for evaluating the transformer status (number of energizations, load, oil and
winding temperature, defects and breakdowns, external condition issues, oil leaks, etc). Although
these parameters are of fundamental importance they are often partially unknown, frequently difficult
to collect and hard to incorporate automatically into computer programs.
The transformer status is monitored at regular intervals by off-line tests and/or continuously by on-line
tests. The information coming from both kinds of checks are grouped into four different families in
according with our approach:
 parameters about the dielectric and thermal condition derived from DGA. They include
electrical faults (like partial discharges, low energy discharges, arcing) and thermal faults (hot
spots).
 parameters about the purely thermal condition of paper derived from the CO2 , CO and furans.
 parameters about the mechanical condition derived from on-site electrical tests (inductance,
SFRA, PDC/FDS).
 parameters about the insulating oil condition derived from water, acidity, BDV and DDF.
Some other parameters (see IEC 60422 [1]) were not taken into consideration as it was considered that
there is a substantial overlap with the parameters described above.
In the present work, the risk due to PCB contamination was not taken in consideration because all of
TERNAs oils are PCB free. Also the risks related to DBDS and corrosive sulfur presence were
disregarded as consequence of the mitigating actions adopted for tackling them.
Since the risk relevance of the 4 conditions is largely different, the scoring system is designed so that
every individual measure is weighted. The relative weight applied is inevitably subjective as it is
largely dependent on field experience of every single utility.
The component L of the risk of Eq. (1) gives the magnitude of the damage. This component is mainly
related to location and scheme of the substation where the power transformers are located. L can be
evaluated for each transformer in function of the number of people which could be involved or injured
in case of a serious incident, the consequences of fires and explosions, the proximity to houses for
possible throw of mechanical parts in case of fault, presence of a sensitive environment, risk of
earthquakes and weather disasters, etc. In the present work have been adopted 5 classes of
vulnerability (very low, low, medium, high and very high).
In conclusion, starting from the calculation of the components N, P and L is possible to obtain for each
transformer, through Eq. (1), an evaluation of the associated risk of damage (R) in case of failure and
hence the possibility to rank all units comprised in the fleet.
The most important features of the present management approach of fleet of power transformers are:
- to classify all the transformers of the fleet in homogeneous classes;
- to take the most appropriate actions, at the proper time, with regards to the transformers which for
some reason present higher values of risk, even if the same values of risk are below to prefixed
dangerous thresholds;
- to prevent dangerous situations; it is important to underline that the present approach requires a
periodical check, because all the function N, L and P may change during the time.

One final consideration concerns the fact that actions taken in the management of the fleet of power
transformers may also introduce positive corrective factors as, for instance, the treatment of the
dielectric oil (if needed), the use of more appropriate protections against the effect of the lightning, the
adoption of advanced diagnostic tool or on-line monitoring systems, etc. Of course all the diagnostic
activities should be done by expert technicians and by accredited laboratories able to ensure all the
necessary support to the engineers involved in taking the most appropriate decisions for each single
power transformers (Life Cycle Management).
In the present paper the evaluation of HI, which is also called P in the Eq. (1), is fully detailed in
following paragraphs.

SCENARIO
It is well known that the traditional concept of transformer life must be reconsidered in light of new
electrical market requirements. Increase of load, smart grids, competition and reduction of investment
are elements that force the owner to reconsider operating and maintenance strategies [2].
Transformer manufacturers used to define the transformers life in the range of 25-40 years depending
on application, after this period the original transformer reliability is not assured or at least corrective
actions must be taken.
Basically the maintenance policies are time-based and therefore the utilities used to schedule over the
years the oil sampling for testing, the on-field electrical & thermographic tests, the OLTC periodic
check, the oil degassing or reclaiming, etc. All these operations are costly and time consuming and
some require that the transformer is switched-off at additional cost.
Nevertheless, many transformers are still in service with an acceptable failure rate even once they have
reached or exceeded 50-60 years old, as may be seen in Figure 2 . So the traditional age oriented
maintenance is no longer acceptable and must be replaced by another strategy such as condition-based
maintenance.
18
16
14

12
10
8
6
4
2
0
0-5

6-10 11-15 16-20 21-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 41-45 46-50 51-55 56-60
age (years)

Figure 2 Ternas transformer age grouping

BENCHMARKING
Recently a CIGRE WG has presented an interim report on transformer failures [3] as an update of the
previous CIGRE report [4] published in 1983. It summarized an international survey on transformer
reliability in terms of failure rates and classification into failure location. The definition of failure was
limited to major failure and described as any situation which required the transformer to be removed
from service for a period longer than 7 days for investigation, remedial work, usually requiring the
transformer to be removed form its installation site and returned to the factory.
Failure rate () is expressed as:

= 100

n
N
i

Where n is the number of transformers failed in the ith year, and N is the number of transformers in
service during the ith year. The following table reports the failure rate for substation transformers
grouped by voltage.
TABLE 1 FAILURE RATE OF SUBSTATION TRANSFORMERS
Highest System Voltage (kV)
69 100
200 300 all
>700
100
200
300
500
Failures
145
206
136
95
7
589
Transformers
15077
46152
42635
29347
219
135491
- Years
Failure Rate
0.96
0.45
0.32
0.32
3.20
0.43
%

In Figure 3 is shown the failure rate that affected the Terna transformers fleet over the last decade,
compared with CIGRE target for 200-500 kV transformers. Ternas trend is comparable with the
CIGRE survey results and demonstrates the excellence of the Terna strategies.
0,5

F a i l u r e R a te %

0,4

0,3

0,2
Terna
0,1

CIGRE

0
2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Year

Figure 3 Terna vs CIGRE failure rate

In Figure 4 the failure locations for transformers (all applications) from the CIGRE survey are given,
and it can be easily seen how the ancillary components (bushings and OLTC) are responsible for more
than 40% of the breakdowns. It is evident that particular attention should be taken in planning periodic
checks for this kind of equipment.
Other
1%
OLTC
26%
Windings
45%

Core and
magnetic
circuits
3%
Bushings
17%
Insulation
1%

HV
connections
7%

Figure 4 fault location grouping from CIGRE

THRESHOLD LIMITS
The reference targets are obviously deduced from international guidelines or regulations (IEC, IEEE,
CIGRE, etc.) or, in the absence of a suitable standard, deduced from statistical computations based on
utilitys database (furans, SFRA, etc.). The most commonly used statistical approach is the calculation
of 90-95th percentile as a maximum limit for acceptability.

For example in the following tables and figures are shown and compared the DGA criteria of the
Normalizations Bodies and from TERNAs analytical database.

H2
CH4
CO
CO2
C2H4
C2H6
C2H2

TABLE II IEC AND IEEE VALUES IN PPM .


IEC
IEEE Std C.57.104
60599
Typical
Level
Level
Level 1
Level 4
(90%)
2
3
150
100
700
1800
>1800
110
120
400
1000
>1000
900
350
570
1400
>1400
13000
2500
4000
10000
>10000
280
50
100
200
>200
90
65
100
150
>150
50
35
50
80
>80

TABLE III CIGRE VALUES IN PPM . PF= PRE -FAILURE


CIGRE Brochure 443 [5]
Level
Level
Typical
Level 4
PF
2
3
H2
100
180
254
403
725
CH4
80
129
170
248
400
CO
500
766
983
1372
2100
CO2
8900
14885
20084
29980
50000
C2H4
170
270
352
505
800
C2H6
55
126
205
393
900
C2H2
3
13
32
102
450

Pre-failure (PF) concept was first defined and employed in CIGRE Brochure 296 [6], it defines the
dissolved gases concentrations detected just before a failure event (tripping-out, Buchholz, tank
rupture, fire or explosion).
TABLE IV PERCENTILES VALUES IN PPM FROM TERNAS DATABASE
TERNA last analysis (434 cases)
90th
95th
97th
99th
H2
74
121
176
487
CH4
188
262
344
709
CO
701
891
1088
1647
CO2
3204
8019
9134
13066
C2H4
95
194
357
1300
C2H6
251
324
393
507
C2H2
4
18
41
215
TERNA all analysis (5908 cases)
90th
95th
97th
99th
H2
104
207
321
654
CH4
210
328
558
1251
CO
631
846
1013
1288
CO2
5791
7262
8137
10979
C2H4
179
419
848
1914
C2H6
231
320
387
538
C2H2
9
48
86
196

In Figure 5, the evidences coming from TERNAs database are compared with CIGRE limits, a
general good match was observed since the curves substantially overlap. Regardless the present work
it was decided to prioritize the CIGRE thresholds for prudential purposes.

Figure 5 Terna vs CIGRE DGA limits

EXAMPLE OF HI CALCULATION
Since the test parameters are expressed in different units (kV, ppm, %, etc.) they must be converted
into a non-dimensional number (rank).
As an example, starting from water content in oil of 18 mg/Kg (ppm) will be generated a rank of 0.15.

TABLE V MATRIX FOR WATER CONVERSION


IEC 60422, for
True or
Weight
>170 kV
False
Good < 15
0
No
Water =
Fair 15 -20
0.15
Yes
18 mg/Kg
Poor > 20
0.3
No
Weighted rank for water content =

Test

Rank
0
0.15
0
0.15

The same approach was applied for all the considered parameters for oil evaluation.

HI oil = Weighted rank test 1 + Weighted rank test 2 + ... test n


And then also for all the other categories the same approach was adopted.

HI =

HI dielectric + HI thermal + HI mechanical + HI oil


max

Where max=14, so HI will be finally expressed in per units (p.u.) and in conclusion the higher HI will
be associated with transformers with a low level of reliability.
0,50

5
4
3

DIE

TERM

MEC

OLIO>
0,25

PFO3

PFO2

0,00

PFO1

PFO3

PFO2

PFO1

Figure 6 HI (max 14) on the left side and unitary HI (p.u.) on the right side, of 3 transformers

In Figure 6 are shown the HI of 3 different transmission transformers, on the left side HI is segregated
into the 4 parameters and on left the unitary HI is displayed.
PF03 is the unit in the wrong status with the higher relative risky condition.

HI APPLICATION
The scoring system, ordered by decreasing HI, for the entire population (about 700 units) of TERNAs
power transformers is displayed in Figure 7.
Transformers with lower HI that fall in right side of the graph can be considered as a safe unit.

HI

0,50

0,25

0,00
1

51

101 151 201 251 301 351 401 451 501 551 601 651 701
Trafo #

Figure 7 TERNAs transformers ordered by decreasing HI.

In order to verify the long term maintenance and replacement plans, Figure 8 shows HI as function of
time in service.
It is evident how HI is completely independent of transformer age as demonstrated by the extremely
low Pearsons correlation coefficient (R2 = 0.0003). As a matter of fact some young transformers
present high HI and on the contrary some other, very old transformers have a diametrically opposed
HI.

HI

0,50

0,25
R2 = 0,0003

0,00
0

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

Age (years)

Figure 8 TERNAs transformers ordered by age

This demonstrates how the transformers service age is not at all the key parameter for planning the
maintenance and replacement activities for a large transformer fleet.
Finally, each transformer is classified in four ranges of HI which represents the failure probability.
The four classes express the different level of remaining strength in terms of electrical, thermal,
mechanical and oil condition, as displayed in the table VI and Figure 9.
TABLE VI HIS RANGES
HI
Condition
Colour
Very Good
Green
0 0.10
Good
Pale Blue
0.10 0.20
Fair
Yellow
0.20 0.30
> 0.30
Poor
Red

Transformers classified in very good and good condition can be managed following the common
and standard maintenance practices, transformers classified as fair need an increase of analysis
frequency or a deeper investigation. Finally transformers with HI > 0.30 (poor) should be considered
in critical condition and they require a replacement priority.

Of course some maintenance actions such as oil reclamation, dehumidification, etc. can partially
reverse the HI value and move the transformer into a lower class of risk.

400
350

304

nof cases

300
250

217

200
150
102
100
42

50

31

13

0,25 0,30

0,30 0,35

0,35 0,40

>0,40

0
< 0,05

0,05 0,10

0,10 0,15

0,15 0, 20

0,20 0,25
HI

Figure 9 TERNAs transformers grouped by HI classes


.

CONCLUSIONS
The composite HI that merges electrical, thermal, and mechanical and oil deficits is very useful for
representing the real condition of every single transformer and creates a pragmatic tool for the
maintenance and replacement strategies based on condition.
The same HI can be useful employed on the evaluation of the risk damage when associated with
appropriate knowledge of the event magnitude in case of serious fault of transformer.
The HI moves from age oriented maintenance to aging oriented maintenance.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
[1]
[2]

[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]

IEC 60422: Supervision and maintenance guide for mineral insulating oils in electrical
equipment.
EPRI Report # 1001938: Extending the useful life of power transformers is the single most
important strategy for increasing life power transmission and distribution infrastructures,
starting with generator step-up transformers (GSU) at power plant itself.
A. Bossi et al. An International Survey on Failures in Large Power Transformers in Service
Final Report Electra N 88, pp. 22-48, 1983.
CIGRE A2.37 Transformer Reliability Survey: Interim Report Electra N 261 - April 2012.
CIGRE Brochure 443: DGA in Non-Mineral Oils and Load Tap Changers and Improved DGA
Diagnosis Criteria.
CIGRE Brochure 296 Recent Developments in DGA Interpretation.