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Shielding in High voltage lines

Shielding is a method of lightning protection used in High voltage Transmission


lines.
strikes.

Overhead transmission lines are particularly vulnerable to lightning


A lightning strike can cause disruption, damage to transmission

equipment and generate transients which may damage substation equipment


such

as

transformers.

This

may

result

in

considerable

downtime.

Shielding involves running a grounded wire above the line conductors. The wire
shields the line conductors. Lightning which reaches the shielding wire are
discharged to the ground. This method of shielding minimizes lightning strikes
on the power lines to a large extent, though, it does not eliminate the threat
completely.

As the shield wire may carry extremely high voltage in the event of a lightning
strike, the shield wire is guided down the tower maintaining adequate clearance

with the line conductors. The shield wire is then connected to a dedicated earth
pit. The earthing resistance of the earth pit needs to be extremely low to enable
the lightning charge to quickly get discharged to the earth. Otherwise, this may
result

in

backflashovers

(see Article)

Shield wires are used only in high voltage lines as the small clearances in low
voltage lines may result in backflashovers during lightning strikes.

A comparison of Overhead and Underground Transmission


Electric Power needs to be carried over long distances from the point of
generation to the point of consumption. This Transmission is done either through
overhead lines or underground cables. Each of these two methods of
transmission
has
its
own
advantages
and
disadvantages.

Overhead Transmission lines are cheaper as the


insulation cost is lesser and the conductor material cost is lesser too. They also
have
better
heat
dissipation.
However, they have significant disadvantages. Overhead lines are vulnerable to
lightning strikes which can cause interruption. Overhead lines use bare
conductors and can cause damage if they break. They are considered to be
unsightly as they mar the scenery of the landscape. The maintenance cost of
overhead lines is more and the voltage drop in overhead lines is more.

Underground transmission due to cables is costlier than overhead transmission


as the ground needs to be excavated. This can be difficult when passing though
geographic obstructions such as hills, marshes and rivers. Special trenches
need to be constructed when passing through loose soil. Besides, heat
dissipation in underground cables is an issue. Hence, the conductors have to be
thicker. The insulation required for the cables is expensive. Hence, it is difficult
to use underground cables for voltages at HV levels (> 33 kV).
Underground cables may have to be rerouted to accommodate other
underground structures such as pipelines, sewage lines, etc. It is necessary
that the routes of underground lines are clearly marked with sign boards to

prevent accidents when excavations are carried out for other reasons at a later
date.