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A thermal power plant is any installation that generates power by converting the chemical

energy contained in the fuel that runs the plant into electrical energy.
In Cameroon, the major thermal plants run on:

 Natural gas e.g. the thermal power plant at Kribi;

 Heavy fuel oils e.g. the thermal power plants at Dibamba and Limbe;
 Light fuel oils e.g. the thermal power plant at Ahala and those of the Emergency
Thermal Programme (PTU);

Most of these plants are grid-connected and thus influence rural electrification via the
extension of the grid into rural areas. However, ENEO has also constructed certain isolated
thermal plants to electrify certain areas where extension of the electrical grid is not cost-
I.3.2. Operating principle of a thermal power plant

Figure 1 illustrates the general flow diagram in thermal power plants.

Figure 1: Basic components of a thermal generating unit

In a thermal power plant, the fuel is burnt to produce high temperature and high
pressure steam in a boiler. The steam is passed through a steam turbine to produce rotational
motion in the turbine. The generator, mechanically coupled to the turbine thus produces
electricity. As such, chemical energy stored in the fuel after a couple of transformations
produces electrical energy at the generator terminals as depicted in Figure 1 above. The
proximity of a generating unit to the fuel and water sources will be most economical as the
cost of transporting coal gets reduced.
I.3.3. Characteristic parameters of thermal power plants

 Power generated
The power generated depends on the global efficiency of the installation which in
turn predominantly depends on the efficiency of the turbine and the generator. It is
measured in kilowatts (kW) or megawatts (MW).

 Nature of the electricity generated

It is AC in nature and depends solely on the generator characteristics. The key

parameters are:
-The voltage, measured in volts (V) or kilovolts (kV);
-The frequency, measured in hertz (Hz).
I.3.4. Classification of thermal power plants

Thermal power plants are generally classified according to the nature of the fuel that
runs the plant. This can be natural gas, HFO, LFO, coal and biomass (like bagass,).
I.4. Summary and perspectives of production methods for rural electrification

As such, we realize that there are many production methods for rural electrification in
Cameroon. It is essential to identify the pros and cons of each production method.
Table Adv and Disadv of each method


Difference between transmission and distribution of electricity from a source

II.1. Transmission of Electricity for Rural Areas

The huge amount of power generated in a power station is to be transported over a

long distance to load centres to cater power to consumers with the help of transmission lines
and transmission towers.
Talk about HTB/HTA/BT = HV/MV/LV
There are many technologies for transmitting electricity. These include:
II.1.1. SWER (Single Wire Earth Return)

The SWER system is basically a single phase distribution system at MV using the
earth as the return conductor i.e. the neutral side of the connected loads is joined to earth.
There is no continuous conductor between the source and the load neutrals. The neutral
current flows, via the electrodes into the mass of the earth.
A single wire is run from one of the MV (30kV or 15kV in Cameroon) phase
conductor to the substation or transformers supplying the load. At least three metal rods are
driven 2 or 3 meters into the ground to provide the earth connection.
The main target of the SWER system is to power relatively small loads over long
distances at the least cost possible.
There are two basic types of SWER systems in use:

i. Using an isolating transformer at the tap-off from the main supply line (See
Error! Reference source not found. below)

Figure 2: SWER system using an isolating transformer

ii. Tapped directly from the main supply line, “direct SWER” (See Error!
Reference source not found. below)

Figure 3: Direct SWER system

When an insulating transformer is used, it is possible to select a different voltage for
the SWER network from that of the main system. If no insulating transformer is used, the
SWER network voltage is the same as the phase voltage of the supply system, namely
17.3kV for a 30kV system.

Technical considerations: SWER with isolating transformer vs direct SWER

The advantages of the SWER system with isolating transformer over the direct SWER
system are:
 It has the ability to limit earth fault currents to the area of the SWER system. The earth
return current will flow back to the earthed terminal of the isolating transformer and the
rest of the network is unaffected;
 It enables the use of sensitive earth fault protection schemes on the feeders emanating
from the supply substation.

The advantages of the direct SWER system over the SWER system with an isolating
transformer are:
 There is no limitation of loads on any SWER feeder;
 It is cheaper given the omission of an isolating transformer.

As such, we can conclude based on their pros and cons that the SWER system with
an isolating transformer is better than the direct SWER system due to its safety but is
however more expensive and limits the load to a certain ceiling value.
Earthing System
During normal operation of the SWER line, a MV load current flows through the earth
from each of the distribution transformers back to the isolating transformer (or the source
transformer in a direct SWER). This will cause a ‘continuous’ earth potential rise (EPR) at
each of the earthing systems. In the case of an earth fault on the SWER conductor, the fault
current flows to the earth at the point of contact and returns to the earthing system of the
isolating transformer. This will cause an ‘intermittent’ or ‘fault duration’ EPR. The
corresponding human hazard voltage limits will be considerably higher than for the
continuous EPR.
Figure 4 illustrates a design, which can used as a general solution to earth transformers
in the SWER system.
Figure 4: Schematic design of earthing in the SWER system

Advantages and Limitations / Constraints of the SWER system

Table 1: Advantages and Limitations of the SWER system [19]

 The system reduces the number of conductors and  Problem of balancing the phases of the
insulators by more than half of those required in a network;
3-phase system (substantial cost savings);  It is limited to areas where the earth’s
 It allows for the use of shorter and lighter poles resistivity is within a 1kW/m limit;
which facilitates construction in remote areas;  The voltage drops as load increases more than
 Reduction of the risks for a fire outbreak, which are in a conventional 3-phase system;
generally linked to phase-to-phase contacts;  Besides the cable/transformer limits, the
 Can be upgraded with the introduction of additional power to be transferred is limited by the
isolation transformers as the loading increases; magnitude of the current on the earthing
 Maintenance costs are substantially reduced due to system;
fewer components in the system;  The interference with telephone lines due to
 SWER span lengths are generally longer implying EPR makes it mandatory to have large
that a downed cable will result in a longer length in distances between SWER lines and
contact with the ground. communication lines.
II.1.2. SWS (Shield Wire System)

The SWS is characterized by the use of the shield wire of transmission lines to
transport MV power along the transmission route to a convenient location and then extending
the supply from there, by normal pole lines up to the supply area. For this purpose, the shield
wires (which are normally grounded) need to be insulated up to the MV level. The SWS
allows electricity to be made available at MV to communities located along HV transmission
lines, with an installation cost as low as 10-15% of independent MV lines on the same right-
SWS can be used in the following configurations:
 With a single insulated shield wire with earth return providing a single phase MV;
 With two shield wires used providing a two wire single phase MV; or
 With two shield wires used with earth return providing the third phase.

If the HV line is protected by one shield wire, only a single phase earth-return SWS
can be realised. This arrangement is shown in below.