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Overvoltage Protection on High-Frequency

Switching Transients in Large Offshore Wind Farms

Y.L. Xin, W.H. Tang∗ L. Luan, G.Y. Chen, H. Wu
School of Electric Power Engineering Electric Power Test Research Institute
South China University of Technology Guangzhou Power Supply Co. Ltd.
Guangzhou, China, 510640 Guangzhou, China, 510620
Email: Email:

Abstract—High-frequency switching overvolatges (SOV) are detailed models of system components in OWFs for studying
considered as a possible source causing component failures in and analysing these transients and overvoltages [1], [3].
existing offshore wind farms (OWFs). In order to study such over- Components such as transformers and electric machines
volatges in OWFs, the main OWF components, including vacuum
circuit breaker (VCB), submarine cables and transformers should behave differently at different frequency ranges. The dominant
be properly investigated. Firstly the parameters influencing VCB behavior is nonlinear and inductive, however capacitive at
behaviors are considered, such as current chopping, the withstand high frequencies [4]. Due to the skin effect, the resistance
capability of transient recovery voltage and the capability of high- of the cables increases when the frequency increases. For
frequency current interruption, to develop a detailed VCB model, VCBs, multiple prestrikes and reignitions occur in VCBs, so
which is capable of simulating multiple prestrikes and reignition in
VCBs. Subsequently, related system element models are improved it is necessary to take into account of the impact on OWF
based on existing models considering frequency characteristics. systems [4], [5]. However, main component models in existing
Finally, this paper presents the main results of high-frequency electromagnetic transient simulation tools are mostly suitable
switching overvolatges using various mitigation approaches, which for 50/60 Hz, which do not meet the requirements of high-
are generated due to the energization of wind turbines in OWFs. frequency switching transients. Therefore, the use of defined
The simulation results indicate the user-defined VCB model can
simulate prestrikes and the proposed protection methods are models is often necessary for typical components in OWFs.
effective for mitigating high-frequency switching overvoltages. The rest of this paper is organized as follows: the following
Index Terms—Switching Overvoltages; Vacuum Circuit section presents the modeling methodology and model valida-
Breaker; Offshore Wind Farm; Overvoltage Protection Methods. tion for the main components of OWFs. After that, Section III
describes the mitigation methods of SOVs. Section IV displays
the simulation results and discussions. Finally, conclusions are
I. I NTRODUCTION drawn in Section V.

The phenomena of switching transient is of great importance II. L AYOUTS AND C OMPONENT M ODELS OF O FFSHORE
in electric power systems in general, not least in OWFs. W IND FARM
Switching transients consist of both energization overvoltages
and de-energization ones. Since an OWF consists of a series of A. Typical Layout of Wind Farm
cable-transformer connections, such transmission systems are According to typical collector system topology types, an
very different from traditional onshore networks [1]. In OWFs, OWF can be grouped into four main classes: the radial design,
switching transients including energization and de-energization the single-sided ring design, the double-sided ring design and
of system elements are main reasons for overvoltages. The the star design [4]. Without the loss of generality, in this
aggregated overvoltages may exceed to the withstand level of research the radial topology is used as an example to illustrate
system components, when the travelling wave frequency of the basic configuration of a typical OWF and study the high-
energized cable equals to the dominant resonance frequency of frequency switching transients.
wind turbine transformers [1], [2]. The rise rate of overvoltages The investigated wind farm consists of 80 wind turbines,
du/dt is a crucial factor to be considered for transformer inter- which are arranged in a parallelogram, formed by 10 rows with
turn resonances, which may lead to high frequency overvolt- 8 wind turbines each. The terminal voltage of wind turbines
ages. The closing operation of a VCB during energization is about 690 V and raised to 33 kV by step-up transformers.
of wind farm networks can cause high-frequency transient The transformer is then connected to 10 feeders in radials
overvoltages, which have a negative influence on the insula- through submarine cables and Medium Voltage (MV) VCBs.
tion structure of cables, transformers and turbine generators. The feeders are further connected to a MV bus-bar via “root”
The repetitive impact on OWF systems without any remedial cables and VCBs. The bus-bar is then ended to a substation
action may cause premature ageing of the above mentioned transformer with 250 MVA power rating and 110/33 kV voltage
components, hence, it is essential to develop accurate and rating. This substation can be placed onshore or offshore. The

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connection of the wind farm transformer to the external grid is 6) In order to observe the high-frequency switching transients
overhead lines. The layout of the described wind farm is shown of wind turbine transformers, the VCB of the first wind
in Fig. 1. turbine is improved, and other VCBs are simulated using
the built-in model in PSCAD.
7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
Eight identical wind turbines transformers are connected in
$ row A. To reduce the simulation time, the complexity of the
wind farm model is reduced by equivalent models. All the wind
turbine generators are modeled as heavy loads connected on the
& low voltage side of wind turbine transformers. The heavy load
is modeled as a high resistance of 1 MΩ.

C. Modeling of Vacuum Circuit Breaker

( Due to outstanding and low maintenance requirements,
VCBs are widely used in OWFs to perform frequent switching
operations. Hence it is important to be able to accurately
represent this component. Recent researches show the impor-
tance of the representation of VCBs in simulations of wind
+ farms and the currently available models evidently do not
have sufficiently accuracies for this component to replicate
Fig. 1. Layout of a typical wind farm. switching overvoltages [4]. The different breaker properties that
are generally considered are [7]:
In Fig. 1, the length of cable between two wind turbines
• Random nature of the arcing time
is a 80 m within the same feeder, and the distance between
• Current chopping ability
feeder lines and bus is 5 km. The distance between rows is
• The characteristic recovery dielectric strength between
700 m, and the collecting transformer is 20 km off the grid,
which is simplified to a π circuit. In fact, the 8 feeders can be contacts
• The quenching capability of high frequency current at zero
divided into two outgoing lines connected by three winding
transformers in the above wind farm model, which can be crossing
regarded as two independent subsystems. Therefore, to reduce Taking account of the above properties, a detailed MV VCB
the calculation time and make simulations easier, the complete model is developed in PSCAD. Coordinated with the built-in
switching overvoltage simulation model of the above wind farm breaker model in PSCAD, the user-defined circuit breaker is
is simplified, the simplified model is shown in Fig. 2. controlled by a circuit logic program written in Fortran. Figure
3 shows the decision matrix of the circuit breaker (taking the
closing model for an example). The main input parameters of
the user-defined VCB model are summarized in TABLE I.
7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7


Parameter Description
Fig. 2. Layout of a simplified wind farm. topen [ms] Opening time of VCB
tclose [ms] Closing time of VCB
B. Modeling of Offshore Wind Farm Ichop [A] Chopping current
PSCAD/EMTDC [6] is used for modeling the components of A [kV/s] Rate of rise of the dielectric strength
the investigated offshore wind farm as illustrated in this section. Transient recovery voltage just before current
B [kV]
In this model, its components are modeled as described below: zero crossing
1) The external is equivalent to a 110 kV voltage source. The rate of rise of VCB high-frequency quen-
C [kA/s2 ]
2) The 20 km transmission is modeled as a π circuit. ching capability
3) The offshore substation transformer adopts a 33 kV/110 Quenching capability just before the contact
D [kA/s]
kV three-phase two-winding transformer. separation
4) Considering the influence of electromagnetic transients, The maximum dielectric strength that the VCB
the step-up transformer in the wind farm is improved based can withstand
on UMEC (unified magnetic equivalent circuit model)
rating as 690 V/33 kV in PSCAD. The developed VCB model is able to simulate more VCB
5) Only row A is modeled in details, the rows B, C and D properties, such as reignitions, restrikes and prestrikes. Thus,
are modeled as three-phase single cables, because they are the model of VCB is capable of producing overvoltages on the
connected in parallel. VCB and on other system components.

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W FORVH  $ %& '759OLP LW &RQVWDQWLQSXWGDWD 3) Noda: Frequency-dependent model. This algorithm models
frequency-dependent transmission lines and cables in the
,QWLDOL]DWLRQ phase domain.
4) Semlyen: Frequency-dependent simple fitted model. The
Semlyen model was one of the first frequency-dependent
line models. It may give inaccurate or unstable solutions
at high frequencies.
5) J-Marti: Frequency-dependent model (over na wide range
1R of frequencies) with a constant transformation matrix that
7,0( ! W FORVH
is suitable for simulating travelling wave phenomena of
long cables.
9GZ 759OLP LW  $ 7,0(  W FORVH  %
, TXFK & 7,0(  W FORVH  ' The most popular models are π, Bergeron and J-Marti, and
the J-Marti model is among the most suitable models for high
frequency studies, because it is based on long line distributed
%UN  parameters. As discussed in [1], it is known that above 10
kHz the J-Marti model consists best with real situations. The
frequency-dependent (phase) model in PSCAD is based on
1R the theory of the J-Marti model. The model is basically a
DEV 9E ! 9GZ
distributed RLC traveling wave model, which incorporates the
<HV frequency dependency of all parameters. This model represents
%UN  the frequency dependence of internal transformation matrices.
Therefore, in this research the frequency-dependency (phase)
_ , E u 3UHB , _ 
1R model is adopted to represent submarine cables.
, E  3UHB ,
, TXFK ! DEV In practice, the actual cables are more complex than the
model in PSCAD. In order to increase accuracies of simulation
results, it is necessary to determine cable parameters according
%UN  to the geometric parameters and material properties of the cable.
In this study, the cable model parameters are derived form the
Fig. 3. Flow chart of the close model for a VCB.
actual XLPE cable parameters provided by ABB [8].
E. Transformer
D. Modeling of Submarine Cables There are two different transformer models in PSCAD, in-
Due to the skin effect and the proximity effect, the resistance cluding the classical model and the UMEC model. The UMEC
of cables varies at different frequencies. Thus, in order to obtain model takes account of the magnetic coupling between different
accurate transient simulation results, it is necessary to utilize phases, however the classical model does not. Therefore, in this
a frequency dependent cable model. In the present research, research the UMEC model is adopted for simulating wind farm
there are two main approaches for representing transmission transformers. Considering the transformer stray capacitances
lines, the “π lumped parameter approach” for short and medium has a dominant effect at high frequencies, the authors improve
lines, and the “distributed parameters approach” for long lines the UMEC model by adding capacitances at terminals of
and accurate representations. Researchers developed various transformer according to the theory proposed by J.C. Das et al
models, such as the π model, the J-Marti model, the Bergeron in [9]. The improved model is simple but reasonably accurate
model [1], to represent cables. A user can select from a number for the high frequency transient analysis of transformers. A
of cable models, such as lumped or distributed parameters and capacitor is connected in parallel to the UMEC model, as shown
frequency-independent or frequency-dependent models. The in Fig. 4. Since the values of the stray capacitances are provided
cable model selection depends on a number of factors, such by a manufacturer, it is difficult to obtain accurate values.
as the cable length, the nature of the simulation (fault, surges, Therefore, referring to the typical values given in paper [9],
etc) and the desired accuracy of results. the approximate values of the stray capacitances are employed
in this work.
The follows are the various alternative cable models, which
1) Bergeron: Distributed parameter model including travel- The following paragraphs present the developed system
ling wave phenomena. However, it represents the line model in PSCAD and its simulation results. The switching
resistance as a lumped element. operations under this investigation are the closing operation
2) PI: Give the correct fundamental impedance, but cannot operation of a wind turbine in its power collection grid. These
accurately represent other frequencies unless many sec- operations are chosen because of the challenges of reproducing
tions are used. This model is suitable for very short lines. prestrikes in its connected VCBs, furthermore the switching

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&+/ T1 TRV curve (with user−defined VCB model and without any protection)



Overvolatge (kV)


Fig. 4. High-frequency model of step-up transformer with terminal stray
capacitances. −30
0.1195 0.12 0.1205 0.121 0.1215 0.122 0.1225
Time (s)

operations of wind turbine VCBs with energized submarine Fig. 6. The SOV of VW11 from 0.1195 s to 0.1225 s.
cables are the most common switching operations in any large
offshore wind farm.
on the application of apparatus protected. Traditionally, SOV
A. Normal closing without any protection
is limited through the adoption of PIR (Pre-insertion Resistor)
This case is simulated by closing the user-defined VCB at in the line circuit breakers. The installation of surge arresters
0.1185 seconds without any protection. The transient recovery is also used to mitigate SOV. Furthermore, in practice RC-
voltage (TRV) curves of in all the three phases are shown in Fig. filters with large values of the phase to ground capacitances are
5. For clarification purposes Fig. 5 is magnified, only displaying commonly used as a protective element. In recent research, D.
results between 0.1195 and 0.1225 seconds, as shown in Fig. Smugala et al. [11], [12] proposed a novel protection method
6. The results clearly indicate that the breaker has experienced against high-frequency transients. This method comprises of
multiple prestrikes, which lead to transient overvolatges at the a series impedance element (choke) installed upstream the
wind turbine transformer. The value of voltage rise to 1.6 pu protected device. The R-L choke of appropriately designed
(45 kV), which may have negative effect on the insulation of frequency characteristic allows one to significantly reduce the
transformers. And this overvoltage may propagate across other voltage wavefront rise time and, at the same time minimize its
system components and cause more serious faults. Therefore, in influence on the equipment under normal operating conditions.
order to reduce adverse effects, it is necessary to adopt effective
protection methods of SOV to protect system components.
T1 TRV curve comparison
T1 TRV curve (with user−defined VCB model and without any protection) 50
50 without any protection
A with RC protection
Overvolatge (kV)

Overvolatge (kV)

0.118 0.119 0.12 0.121 0.122 0.123 0.124 0.125
−30 Time (s)
0.12 0.125 0.13 0.135 0.14 0.145 0.15 0.155
Time (s)

Fig. 7. Comparison of SOV of VW11 with and without RC protection.

Fig. 5. The SOV of wind VW11 of row A with user-defined VCB.

The above figures present simulations of various mitigation

B. Simulation results of various protection methods methods. Figure 7 shows a comparison between without any
There are various protection methods against high transient protection and with RC protection. From Fig. 7, it is seen the
overvoltages and very fast transients, described in the literature amplitude of transformer terminal voltages is reduced to 1.02 pu
and widely used in practice [10] (e.g., surge capacitors, RC (28.5 kV), and the number of prestrikes are decreased. Figure 8
filters, pre-inserted resistors, or surge arresters). An employed is the waveform at transformer terminals during the closing-on
protection method depends on the character of the transient and operation of VCB. The overvoltage is reduced to 1.04 pu (29

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T1 TRV curve comparison IV. C ONCLUSION
without any protection
with surge capacitor
This research investigates the high-frequency switching tran-
sient overvolatges in OWFs. In order to accurately perform the
30 high frequency transient analysis in OWFs, some key com-
ponents models have been developed or improved. A detailed
Overvolatge (kV)

VCB model has been developed based on the ideal model
in PSCAD by considering the properties of current chopping
0 ability, the recovery dielectric strength between contacts and the
quenching capability of high frequency current at zero crossing.
The wind turbine transformer is also improved by adding
−20 terminal capacitances to the high and low voltage sides. The
energization of a wind turbine transformer is first simulated,
0.1195 0.12 0.1205 0.121 0.1215 0.122 0.1225 0.123 0.1235
Time (s) and the results shows high frequency oscillation and switching
overvoltages occurs in transformers. Therefore, several high-
Fig. 8. Comparison of SOV of VW11 with and without surge capacitor frequency protection methods have been adopted to mitigate
protection switching overvoltages. The results manifest the switching
overvoltages decrease when RC filters or surge capacitors are
T1 TRV curve comparison used. The R-L choke method damps the du/dt of overvoltages
without any protection but does not reduce the amplitude of overvoltages. Thus, in the
with choke protection
40 future more studies and experiments are required in order to
decrease the adverse effects of high-frequency SOV in OWFs.
Overvolatge (kV)


The project is supported by the National High Technology
Research and Development Program of China (863 Program)
(No. 2015AA050201) and the National Natural Science Foun-
−10 dation of China (No. 51477054).
0.1195 0.12 0.1205 0.121 0.1215 0.122 0.1225 0.123 0.1235
[1] M. Ghafourian, “Switching transients in large offshore wind farms,” 2015.
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“Switching overvoltages in offshore wind power grids,” Ph.D. disserta-
tion, Technical University of DenmarkDanmarks Tekniske Universitet,
T1 TRV curve comparison
50 Department of Electric Power EngineeringInstitut for Elteknik.
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40 in wind power plants,” in Power and Energy Engineering Conference
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Overvolatge (kV)

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Applications, 2008. PCIC Europe 2008. 5th. IEEE, 2008, pp. 1–7.
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[8] ABB, “XLPE cable systems-users guide,”
−20 without any protection [9] J. C. Das, “Surges transferred through transformers,” in Pulp and Paper
with choke protection Industry Technical Conference, 2002. Conference Record of the 2002
−30 Annual. IEEE, 2002, pp. 139–147.
0.1195 0.1195 0.1196 0.1196 0.1197 0.1198
Time (s) [10] D. McDermit, D. D. Shipp, T. J. Dionise, and V. Lorch, “Medium voltage
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0.1195 s to 0.1198 s 2012, pp. 1–11.
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shows the change of TRV is damped.

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