You are on page 1of 7

IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, Vol. 10, No.

4, October 1995


Optical Ground Wire for Hydro-Quebec's Telecommunication Network

K. Yoshida
Phillips-FITEL ,Canada

E. Ghannoum, Fellow, IEEE,J.P. Chouteau,

M.Miron, S. Yaacoub
Hydro-Quebec,Montreal, Canada
Ab#&An extensive telecommunication network of
6OOO km d Optical G r o d Wire (OPGW)is currently
planned by HydrdJui%ec lor progressive installation
from 1992 to u)o4. By 1994, about 1600 km of OPGW
have already been purchased and installed mostly on
new 735 kV Unes This document provides information
relative to the OPGW selection, characteristics, design,
fabrication, and testing. Other sections are devoted to
the installation experience, description of current and
future R&D OPGW projects, and Authors' biography.

For the coming generation of Hydro-Quebec's

telecommunication network, an extensive system of
about 6OOO km of optical ground wire (OPGW) was
decided early 1990. This system would be installed in
stages Erom 1992 until 2004 and would serve on a
long term as the main telecommunication network,
with analog microwave radio and other existing
systems being phased-out to a backup status, or
In order to install this impomt network of
OPGW, extensive studies were undertaken within
Hydro-Qu6bec in order to specify OPGW technical
requirements, and qualify manufacturers and
proposed designs.
This paper provides details on Hydro-Qu6bec's
OPGW network and presents the qualification process
and type testing. Additional details are given on the
fabrication and installation experience of the first
1600 km of OPGW.
95 WM 094-3 PWRD A paper recommended and approved
by the IEEE Power System Communications Committee of
the IEEE Power Endneering Society for presentation
at the 1995 IEEE/F%S Winter Meeting, January 29, to
February 2, 1995, New Pork, NY. Manuscript submitted
July 28, 19%; made available for printing


Until 1990, Hydro-Quebec's telecommunication

network consisted of a combination of microwave
radio and powerline carrier systems for the protection
and control of the electrical network.
This system has been reviewed in the late 80's for
the following reasons:

- Saturation of radio frequency bands,

- Increasing demand for data transmission,




- Phase-out of analog telecommunication
equipment and their replacement by digital
- New electrical system protection criteria which
requires an increased reliability of the
telecommunication network.
After studying suitable altemtives, optical fibres
technology appeared to be the most approprhte one
because of its high bandwidth capacity (in hundreds
of Gigabits), its immunity to electric and
electromagnetic fields, and its long distance
capabilities (low attenuation of the optical

By 1990, Hydro-Quebec's OPGW experience was

limited to short links intended to get acquainted with
this technology. These consisted of a total of 34 km
of OPGW on 230 kV and 120 kV lines.
Early 1990, Hydro-Quebec selected the single mode
dispersion shifted fibre (DSF) for future links
considering its low attenuation of about 0,21 to 025
dB/km and its low dispersion of 3 ps/ at a
wavelength of 1550 nm.

These characteristics allowed distances of about 100

km without repeaters or optical amplifiers. For longer
distances up to 300 km, Erbium doped fiber
amplifiers will be used, thus eliminating the need to

0885-8977/95/$04.00 0 1995 IEEE


convert back and forth betwem optical and elecvical

signals as with cucrent repeater technology.

As of July 1994, Hydro-Qu6bec's planned OPGW

network is detailed in Table 1, and outlined in Fig. 1.

Typical mean amuation of a 100 Inn OPGW link

averages 0.24 d B h . 'Ibis includes fiber, splices, and
end m~ectorlosses. For design purposes, about
1OdB loss margin is provided for temperature and
wavelength variation, system ageing, and

Table 1
Yearly OPGW construction (1994 planning)

In the initial network ~ g u r a r i o OPGW

containing 12 fibres was used in the Northern part of
Quebec, and 16 fibres in the South. Optical fibres
at 600 MWs and secondary circuits at 150 Mws and
50 MWs.

Because of the ever evolving optical transmission

technology and the highex reliability required for the
protection and control of the electrical network, the
number of fibers in the OPGW for future links is
beiig increased to around 30 fibres.


* OPGW already installed and under completion

** Includes installation on existing and new lines

Fig. 1. Hydro-Qu6bec's OPGW network


Table 1 includes OPGW projects approved or being

studied. Some projects previously planned in 1991 for
installation on existing lines were cancelled due to
postponement of overhead line construction or difficulties in
obtaining long shutdown periods. In addition to OPGW, the
telecommunication network also includes several hundred
kilometers of Polyethylene aeriaVunderground fibre optic
cables used for secondary circuits.


It is not the intent of this paper to cover general
information about OPGW, since this subject has been
thoroughly covered in recent years in many technical papers.
Nevertheless, it is felt appropriate to review some important
aspects in order to allow the readers to fully appreciate the
problems faced by Hydro-Quebec in selecting an appropriate
OPGW design.
In an OPGW, optical fibres are usually housed in a central
tube, and are laid with a variable surplus length of fibrs
compared to length of metallic wires. OPGWs are classified
as loose buffer or tight buffer types depending on the
"tightness" of the buffer around the fibers. The surplus length
of fibers is typically in the range of 0,8 to 1%for loose buffer
OPGW and 0 to 0.5% for tight buffer OPGW.
The attenuation and long term performance of fibres are
affected by mechanical stresses, short circuit currents, and
tempemture, all of them being quite severe in HydroQukbec's system: Heavy loadin of 45 mm of radial ice,
extreme low temperature of -50 C, and short circuit currents
of 20 to 50 kA rms for 0.25 s.

During the initiation of this project, it was obvious to

Hydro-Qu6bec's engineers that the severity of the above
conditions required special studies and review during the
selection of the OPGW type in order to guarantee the cable's
long term reliability.
Furthermore, it was also recognized in 1990 that OPGW
international service experience in general, and in particular
under severe conditions similar to those of Hydro-Quebec,
was scarce and could not therefore be fully relied upon.
In 1990, the decision to go ahead with an extensive OPGW
network was given the green light in Hydro-Quebec. The size
of the OPGW network, its expected high reliability, and the
importance of capital investment, dictated a particular
approach for this project.

Based upon the above mentioned considerations, a special

Task Force consisting of experts from the overhead line and
telecommunication departments was created in 1990 to
address all technical issues. Representatives from the
Purchasing department were also involved in the process in
order to secure supply of such large orders of OPGW.
At that time, various options were assessed and ranged
from specifying a unique OPGW design and dealiig with
only one manufacturer, to open tenders with only technical
performance requirements.
The OPGW selection process involved two steps: the fmt
was the qualification of potential suppliers and the second
was the issue of tenders to qualified suppliers.
In order to qualify suppliers, questionnaires were issued in
mid 1990 to known suppliers of OPGW. These were
followed by technical meetings between each supplier and
the Task Force. Following these meetings and an internal
review, eight suppliers were qualified and were notifhi that
they would be invited to bid on the fmt contract of OPGW
consisting of 1570 km.
The next step for the technical Task Force was to decide
on whether to issue a performance or a detailed design
specification. One of the most difficult choices was to decide
whether a loose buffer or a tight buffer design would be more
appropriate for the severe conditions and climate in Northern
Quebec. After long debates and review of technical data and
available experience, the Task Force decided to allow both
OPGW types, but imposed the following requirements:

- Different proof fibre elongations for each OPGW type

(1% for the loose buffer type and 1,2 % for the tight
buffer type).
- Maximum allowable fibre elongation for tight buffer
type is 0,4%, and 0% for the loose buffer type.
- No permanent attenuation is allowed during testing.
- Airtight aluminum tube.
- A minimum of two metallic wire layers, the external one
using aluminum alloy type' A2 and the inside layer, class
20 aluminum-clad steel wires. The requirement for an
external layer of aluminum alloy was intended to divert
short circuit currents to the outside of the OPGW, thus
reducing the temperature rise of the optical unit and
fibres, compared to solutions of all aluminum clad steel
- Maximum outside diameter of 24 mm.
- Fibre capacity = 30 (initially 16).

I ) Designation according to IEC 1089, equivalent to 6101-TS1


Table 2
OPCW requirements



Eacb pequmed manufhulmr was mvited to design an

OPGW in campwith the spedfidioos and perform a
&of type testsonan 0PGWp"type.

Actual OFGW diameter (mm)

- symmetricalcurrent * &A)
- Duration (s)
- Energy M2.S)

to 6 5 0 c.

V Cycling: TWO

cyCreS firom -500


- Sheave test: Simulation of 70 passages through

striogmg block, 35 m eacb direction with a W a n g l e and
an OPGW teasion d#WbRTS.
- Cornpression ia chmp: 4
Where ~ d U c t o Tis
pulledat 1,l timesthe maxi" tension in a 30Oclamp.
- 96 hour tension: Whea tbe OPGW is subjected to 1,l
times the maximum ice loaded tension during 96 hours,
the fibre elongation shall not exceed 0.4% (for the tight
buffer d e s i ) and shall be nilfor tbe loose buffer design.
- Aeolian vilxatiaa 100millioncyclesatafrequeacyof
about 40 Hz md an amplitude of In the diameter (=
8 mm). Tbe OPGW tension is set at 25% of RTS.
- Short-circuit followed by tensile test: 10 impulses, ea&
of 313 kA during 425 s (equivalent energy of 300
k ~ 2 . s )followed
by a tensile test to 1,1 times the
maximum ice loaded tension.
Derails on some test parameters and OFGW requirements
me given in Table 2 for three OPGW sizes. The last one,
identified as "C" is the one discussed m this paper and
installed on the fvst 16ookm of OPGW network. The two
other sizes rrre currently bemg type tested and will be used
for replace" of existing ground wire.
For all tests suspensioa and tension fittings,identical to the
ones tobe provided forthe projects were to be used.
During testing, initial apprehensions ofthe Task Force did
materialize, and sane designs failed type testing. These
failures were due to excessive defamation of the cenml
tube, elongation of fibres beyond the specified limit,teasion
clamp slippage, etc.
At the end of the type testing pmce~~.
only two O E W s
were qualitied: Tbe first was a design by Furukawa Electric
Canpany from Japan who poposed a tight buffer design and
the second one from PhillipS-BICC (U.K.)who qualified a
loose buffer design. In both cases. the manufacturers used
preformed suspeasion and tension systems.






4 0 4 0
















slip strength of suspension




fora ruling span of 450 m


Fault current test parameters:

Tbe mo6t i a q " t tests weze:


Maximum OPGW tension (for all cables) not to exceed:

a) 75% of the rated tensile strength (RTS);
b) 100 % of the tensile limit for vibrations (TLV),
unloadedat -35


The original specification of this OFGW called for m

. However, testing has shown that this OFGW can
withstand an energy of 750 kA2.s, mainly due to its outer
layer of aluminum alloy.
** Test not required for these OFGWs

During bidding process, Furukawa Electric and PhillipsBICC decided to join forces and Qeated a new company,
called Phillips-FlTJX,with a new OFGW manufacturing
facility in Rimouski Quebec. This plant curtently
manufactlnes the tight buffer design selected for the first
order of 1600 km of Hydro-Qu6bec's OPGW network. A
of this OPGW is given in Fig. 2.


Continuous quality control and monitoring is required in

order to guarantee the final performance of the product.

Fiber Unit.
Optical Unit

The first stage of fabrication is fibre treatment and

stranding which takes place in a clean room which is kept
dust free and air ftltered. Special controls prevent the ingress
of dust with incoming materials and circulation of the
personnel. During fibre stranding, a very precise tension
control system is used (fibre tension in the order of grams).

Aluminum dad
Steel wm


Alloy win

Fig.2. Cross-section of the OPGW selected by HydroQuebec

The second stage is fabrication of the optical tube. A flat

aluminium tape is formed and welded with tig method. At the
same time, the aluminium grooved spacer, complete with
fibre strands in its grooves, is inserted in the tube.

Although the design shown in Fig. 2 was chosen for the

majority of projects, a 200 km OPGW link was equipped
with a loose buffer design that succeeded type testing. This
was justified by the need to acquire long term performance
data on real installations with two different designs.

By applying a suitable pressurized inea gas, the inner tube

surface can be smoothly welded, thus preventing localized
pressure on the fibres. Thii guarantees water and air tightness
of tube through the whole cable length of about 6 km.


Table 3
OPGW characteristics

'Ibe large diameter (= 23 mm) of the OPGW selected for

the first 1600 km was mainly due to the high short-circuit
currents in addition to severe ice loading requirements. Since
this OPGW was to be installed on new lines, it was relatively
easy to modify standard towers to withstand additional loads
due to the OPGW size. However, for installation on existing
lines, it appeared that this large size OPGW would require
Significant modifications to existing towers, hence a longer
period of forced outage. Furthermore the short circuit
requirements on many existing lines are not as severe, except
for a few kilometers near substations. Thus, it was decided to
develop new OPGW designs that are more appropriate for
replacement of existing steel ground wires.
Table 3 provides details on these OPGWs, including the
one used (22.9 mm diameter) for the first contract of 1600
km. Note that a l l three OFGW designs (A, B, and C) share
the same optical unit and tube.
For some exisiting 315 kV transmission lines, it is
extremely difficult to install an OPGW due the necessity of
reiforcing tower peaks and the unavailability of sufficient
shutdown peirods. In these cases, a wrapped around cable
technology and self-supported dielectric cable are being
studied, and will mainly be considered for secondary
telecommunication networks.

OPGW fabrication is a complex process because of the

large number of components and operations involved.


Outside diameter (mm)




cross* sectional areas ( m m 3

-SA wires
- Alloy wires




- Total








- Al. tube (mm)
- number of spacer grooves
- SA wires (number/mm)
- Alloy wires (number/mm)

I ~ o t afiber
l capacity

1 1/2,5 0/2,85 8/4,1
17/23 .4/3,37 14/4,1





R.T.S. 0


17 1

Elasticity modulus (GPa)




DC Resistance at 20 OC (Man) 0,260 0,194


* designation of aluminumclad steel wires according to

IEC 1232


b) diction model
c) Evolution of tube tightness with time
US ofhigh Stress/eiar@iOn fibres Such as t i h u m and
- Simulation of alternative shoat circuit tests requiring less




Installati00of an OPGW is differeat fin#n an onlinary steel

grouod wire. Numerous precautions are required during
installation in order to prevent permanent damage that may
a f f e a its f u t m opticalperfonnaoce.


Wire Stranding
Hydro-Quebecs collsQuctton spe4sauions were wlitten

dean room




Fig. 3. OPGW Fabrication Fmxss


Afm fabricatioa of tbe first OFGW e,

a jomt R & D
cooperation was concluded between Hydm-Qu6bec and
PhillipS-Fitel. Some of the potential projects are outlined

so as to control ocmmnce of the above phenomenon and to

limit their effeas. Some laboratory testing were also
performed m order to validate a few requirements such as:
cable toque, tension stringing, sometimes at very low
temperatures,continuous stringing through an angle tower,
etc. The following clauses summarize how each of the
potential problems was controued during construction:
Prevention of OPGW rotation:
- Adding counterweights on running board and


- Use of special double groovsd pulleys

-EffeUsOf replacinssilicon @fibres

by W cured

- Use of tensioner with double capstan


- Development ofaltematve OFGW suspension hardware2

- Inaeasef i b count to40fibres per oPGw2
- Improve type testing procedures2
- use of OPGW for :
Monitoring tempera~lreof cables andjunctioos2
Line fault locator
Fibre fault locator
- Measurement of exact f- elongationin OPGW2
- D e v e l q e n t and
of grooved spacer in Quebec2
- New OPGW design and &masing short circuit withstand
with use of either:
a) Stainless steel tube
b) Campact (trapezoidal) wires
- Ageing of OPGW
a) Develop testing procedures

2) Projects currently under development

Prevention and reduction of OFGW bending and

- No sharp angles allowed (min. bending diameter of 1m)
- Sheave diamem 25 times OPGW diameter
- Special line and Stringing hardware
- Controlled proceduresduring transfer to clamp
- Maximum number of passages through pulleys was
controued by specifying a maximum length of OPGW of
5200 m.
- Control of bolt toque of vibration dampers
- Limiting line angles to 30 defor continuous
Conml of stringing tension:
- Hydraulic tensioner and puller equipped with tension
- Limiting the Sainging speed to 0.5 m/s



Prevention of fibre contamination:

- capping ends OfOPGW during handling
- Conaeaioo to junction boxes shortly after sagging and

Euos G l u " was bom in Aleppo, Syria in 1946 and obtained

his civil engineering degree in 1968 from the University of Aleppo,

The above procedures required close cooperation with the

construction conEractors as well as continuous monitoring of
these activities. Fibre attenuation measurements were taken
by Hydro-Qu&eds crews on reception of OPGW to the site,
after clamping, during splicing, and fmally after completion
of works.

Syria. He obtained a Master's degree in applied sciences from the

University of Sherbrooke, Canada, and joined Hydro-Quebec in
1971. He worked in various areas related to transmission lines,
namely in projects, design, standards and research. Mr. Ghannoum
lectures a M u a t e level course at the &le Polytechnique de
Montr6d and is the International Chairman of IECYI'C7. He is also
very active in IEEE and CIGRfi.


'Ihis paper described design, type testing, fabrication and

construction of the tirst large scale installation (1600 km) of
OPGW in Hydro-Qu&ec's network.
The importance of the Hydro-Qu6bec's OPGW network,
and extreme operating conditions encountered in Quebec
such as loadings of 45 mm of radial ice, large short-circuit
currents, and very low temperatures of -50 OC, required
extensive studies, testing, and validation of the proposed
The successful design was subsequently manufactured in
Quebec by Phillips-Fitel and subsequent installation of about
1600 km of OPGW (mostly on 735 kV lines) did not cause
any problems.
The future Hydro-Qut5bec's telecommunication network
will consist of about 6OOO km of OPGW,which will provide
the Utility with a state of the art telecommunication system
that will allow it to cope efficiently with its needs during the
next decades.

J. P. Chouteau was born in Lima, Peru in 1954. He received his E.

Sc. in civil engineering from the &le Polytechnique de M o n W
and, in 1980, his Masta's degree in soil mechanics. From 1977 to
1989, he worked with a consulting firm specialized in transmission
lines. In 1989, he joined Hydro-Qu6bec's transmission line design
department and is currently responsible for OPGW projects.

Micbel Miron was born in Montreal in 1949. He obtained his B. Sc.

in Electrical Engineering from the h o l e Polytechnique de Montrt5al.
In 1973, he joined Hydro-Quebec and worked as a
telecommunication Engineer both in projects and standads.

S. Jean Yaacoub was born in Shweir, Lebanon in 1958. He

graduated in 1984 as a civil Engineer from the &le Polytectdque
de Montreal, and received his Master's degree in Civil Engineering
from the same University in 1985. He joined Hydro-Qdbec in 1985
and worked in various projects related to transmission line design.
Kojl Yoshida was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1946. In 1969 he
received his engineering degree from Yokohama National
University. In 1969 he joined Furulrawa Electric Co. Ltd. and
worked in a wide range of technologies related to overhead
transmission line conductors. In 1992, he was transferred to P h i p s Fitel Inc. where he is currently in charge of OPGW technology.