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Compressed SF6 gas used in MV and HV switchgears as an insulating medium

has led to the development of compact gas-insulated substation (CIS) technology


(figure 1). GIS , having many advantages over often used and conventional airinsulated substations (AIS) , have been receiving wide application.
However, this alternate technology has inevitably lead to a different set of problems
to resolve. in the case of substation earthing, we can discern three major aspects
of the GIS substation design which need a different approach to those used in AIS.
1. The use of a 10 times better insulating gas makes it possible to design a
much more compact substation. This also means a significant reduction in
the grounded area of the substation.
2. This compact design means the phase conductors are much closer than in
AIS and with metal enclosures, for gas containment, electromagnetically
induced currents appear in the earthing system.
3. Compressed SF6 gas insulation facilitates small dielectric clearances in the
GIS. As a result breakdown occurs rapidly in the nanosecond range. The
rapid collapse of voltage results in the generation of very fast travelling
wave transients which propagate throughout the CIS. The coupling of these
transients with the earthing system provokes a transient ground potential rise
(TGPR).

Figure 1 - GIS double bus-bar


section view
Explanation:

CB: Circuit Breaker


D: Disconnectors
ME: Metal Enclosure
BB: BusBars
CT: Current Transfomers
VT: Voltage Transformers
S: Steel structures
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Reduced ground area


The area occupied by a GIS substation is typically only 10-25% of that of the
equivalent air insulated instal lation.
Normally, with an AIS, a single uninsulated copper loop laid around the perimeter of
the site with cross connections to pick up the individual items of equipment, will
provide a sufficiently low resistance electrode. However, the smaller area occupied
by a CIS means that the size of the main earth loop will be smaller and therefore
the total amount of conducting path will also be smaller.
The possible solutions to reduce the earth electrode resistance are (1):

High density grid: frequent and short connections from the switchgear

elements to the earth grid. This reduces the TGPR in the GIS and contributes
to reduce the total earth electrode resistance, but not in direct proportion to
the additional length.
Connection to the reinforced concrete mat: connecting the reinforcing

steel mesh and structural steel to the earth grid will reduce the total earth
electrode resistance. However this is complicated and it has to be done in a
way that avoids problems of overheating and damage of the reinforced
structure due to excessive circulating currents.
Use of deep driven ground rods: If, after the above methods have been
applied, the earth electrode resistance is still high, then the use of dee!p
driven ground rods will be required.

Induced currents

Gas Insulated Substations have a grounded outer sheath enclosing the high
voltage inner conductor, unlike conventional equipment whose closest ground is the
earths surface. At the same time the phase separation is muc:h smaller.
Depending on the current circulating through the bus-bars there will be a significant
electromagnetic field surrounding the enclosures (figure 2). Thle alternating
variation of this magnetic field induces currents in the grounded enclosure and
other metallic parts in the substation such as steel structures, inter-phase enclosure
connections and ground connections (i.e. earth shunt connections) etc. (2,4,5).
The induced currents in the enclosure can reach 90% of the value of the primary
busbar current and they circulate in opposite direction which reduces the total
magnetic field outside thle enclosure.

Figure 2 - Magnetic flux density


distribution around the three phase enclosures in a GIS bus-duct
Measurements have been performed in a Reyrolle 420 kV substation using a
portable current transformer (CT). This consisted of a 0.5m diameter, flexible
Rogowski coil, an integrator and a digital voltmeter. The accuracy of the
measurement system was first checked in the laboratory which showed less than
5% error wich was considered to be adequate for the proposed measurements.
The Rogowski coil was wrapped around various earthing connections in the GIS,
e.g. grounded chambers, earth straps, inter-phase shunts, steel supports, ladders
etc. The results confirmed a high percentage of current circulating through the
enclosure (in the range from 50 to 85% of the 2000 A of the primary current).
It was also found that a high level of circulating current (up to a 50%) was present
in the inter-phase copper earth straps which shunt the individual phase enclosures.

Fast Transients Overvoltages and TGPR


At the beginning of the GIS technology, the grounding design was based in the
classical approach of limiting the power frequency enclosure potentials to safe
levels based on the maximum expected fault-current conditions.
In contrast to these relatively low potentials, arcing between the grounded
enclosures and other grounded components which are indicative of much higher
potentials, were routinely observed during breakdown in HV tests or during normal
disconnector operation. An exhaustive research was done to understand the
mechanism of this particular TGPR in CIS.