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2016 IEEE Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (CCECE)

Transmission line length, operating condition and

rating regime
Leanne Dawson, Andrew M. Knight
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Calgary
Calgary, Canada

Abstract—With an increased focus on renewable power

generation, dynamic line rating is being investigated as a way to II. BACKGROUND
connect the new intermittent generation to the grid without Presently, the current rating of a transmission line is static and
needing to build additional infrastructure. The number of
is calculated using worst case environmental conditions: high
transmission lines available for dynamic line rating depends on
the length of each transmission line. The St. Clair curve is ambient temperature, high solar radiation and low wind
typically used by industry to determine the length of transmission speed[2]. The typical worst-case values are 30-40°C for
lines that are thermally rated. This paper will extend this curve ambient temperature, 890-1100 W/m2 solar radiation and
by including reactive power in the calculations. This paper will 0.61-1.53 m/s crosswind[3]. Dynamic line rating is the real-
also demonstrate the effect that changing the capacity of the line time carrying capacity of a transmission line based on weather
due to dynamic line rating has on the length of transmission line conditions. The most important factors that influence DTLR
that is thermally rated. are the wind speed and wind direction in the region of the
transmission line. Use of dynamic line rating can potentially
Keywords—dynamic line rating, St. Clair curve, transmission
increase the current rating during favorable weather
line loadability
conditions, and can help prevent conductor aging when the
I. INTRODUCTION weather conditions exceed the predicted worst case scenario.
There has been a lot of research done into investigating the
According to the transmission line loadability curve, otherwise
resulting capacity increase using dynamic line rating. Not
known as the St. Clair curve[1], the maximum length of a
much has been done yet to investigate the practical
transmission line that is thermally limited is 80 km. Medium
implementation of dynamic line rating in a utility
to long lines are limited by the voltage quality limit (voltage
environment. Research has demonstrated that DTLR has the
drop constraint), which will be discussed later in this paper.
potential to increase the capacity of a transmission line under
This curve was developed assuming a lossless line, a power
favorable conditions by almost 200% in the winter and 100%
factor of unity and a constant thermal limit for any voltage
in the summer, with the majority of the time providing an
level. The St. Clair curve is widely accepted by industry as a
increase of 10-40%[4]. What the research did not consider was
guideline for estimating the maximum loading of a
how the increased capacity would impact the transmission line
transmission line. This is important because dynamic thermal
loadability. Traditionally, the St. Clair curve has been used to
line rating (DTLR) can only be used for lines that are
determine the practical line loadability. The St. Clair curve
thermally limited. This paper focuses mainly on short to
was originally derived from empirical data and practical
medium transmission lines with a voltage level of 69 kV or
knowledge[1]. Figure 1 was created using data from [1] to plot
138 kV. Higher voltage levels are not considered because, for
the St. Clair curve.
higher voltage levels, the thermal limit of the line itself is
generally much higher than the thermal limit imposed by the
Looking at Fig. 1, the maximum line length that is thermally
line terminating equipment or substation equipment. This
limited is 80 km. This means that lines over 80 km are limited
paper calculates the St. Clair curve and explains the reasoning
by other factors and would not be relevant for DTLR, which
behind the 80 km limit. Extending the work in the original St.
changes the thermal rating of a transmission line. Therefore,
Clair publication, this paper also investigates the different
DTLR is only applicable for short lines under 80 km. This
thermal limits depending on the voltage level. At lower
would apply for short transmission lines connecting new wind
voltage levels, the resistance per unit length is higher, so the
farms to the existing grid. Using dynamic line rating near wind
effect of resistance cannot be ignored. This paper investigates
farms is beneficial because the power only flows through the
the effect of including resistance and reactive power in the
line when the wind is blowing, which also cools the line,
calculations to form a new transmission line loadability curve.
allowing more power to flow.
Finally, this paper will consider the increased capacity of a
transmission line due to implementing DTLR and will find the
new length of transmission line that is thermally limited.

978-1-4673-8721-7/16/$31.00 ©2016 IEEE

ܸோ ‫ כܫ‬ൌ ܲ ൅ ݆ܳ
௉ି௝ொ ொ௑ ௉௑
ܸ௦ ൌ ܸோ ൅ ቀ ቁ ݆ܺ ൌ ቀܸோ ൅ ቁ ൅ ݆ ቀ ቁ (1)
௏ೃ ௏ೃ ௏ೃ

Calculating the magnitude:

ொ௑ ଶ ௉௑ ଶ
ܸ௦ ଶ ൌ ቀܸோ ൅ ቁ ൅ ቀ ቁ (2)
௏ೃ ௏ೃ

Assuming that the power factor is unity so there is no reactive

power flowing through the system:
ට௏ೞ మ ି௏ೃ మ
ܲൌ ܸோ (3)

Fig. 1: St. Clair Curve[1] The maximum power transferred is when dP/dVR is equal to
zero. From [5]:
The purpose of this paper is to extend the transmission line
loadability curves by considering different factors. The ௏ೞమ
original St. Clair curve assumed that the transmission line was ܲ௏̴௦௧௔௕̴௠௔௫ ൌ (4)
lossless and that there was no reactive power in the system.
This paper will combine the addition of resistance and reactive
power into the calculations to determine the impact on the Where PV_stab_max is the maximum power transferred using the
maximum length of transmission line which is thermally voltage stability limit criterion, Vs is the sending end voltage
limited. Increasing the capacity of a transmission line affects and X is the reactance of the line. The authors of [5] calculated
the thermal limit, which changes the maximum length for a that the maximum power transferred corresponds to when the
thermally limited line. This paper will also investigate the receiving end voltage is equal to approximately 70% of the
maximum length of a thermally limited transmission line after sending end voltage. Plotting P as a function of VR, using (3),
dynamic line rating has been implemented. Finding the assuming Vs is close to unity and the reactance is constant, is
maximum length of a transmission line that is thermally shown in Fig. 3.
limited will help future users of this technology to decide
which lines can be used for dynamic line rating.


The research described in [5] compares three different limits
imposed on transmission lines. These limits are the angular
stability limit, the voltage stability limit and the voltage
quality limit. The first step in calculating each limit is to
consider a simple system, shown in Fig. 2. The angle of the
receiving end voltage is taken as reference and set to zero.


R+jX P+jQ
VS ‫ ס‬į VR ‫ ס‬0 Fig. 3: Power Transferred as a function of Receiving End Voltage

Fig. 2: System Diagram To include a safety margin, the authors assumed that the
power transferred is 5% less than the maximum possible[5].
The first limit considered is the voltage stability limit. The
maximum voltage stability is calculated using the maximum ௏మ
ܲ௏̴௦௧௔௕ ൌ ͲǤͻͷ ‫ כ‬ೞ (5)
power transfer theory. The first step is to solve for the power ଶ௑
transferred in the system shown in Fig. 2. Assuming the line is Where PV_stab is the power transferred using the voltage
lossless: stability limit criterion, with a 5% safety margin.
The second limit considered is the angular stability limit. The
angular stability limit is based on the maximum transfer
capability of the system. The power transferred in this case is
represented by (6).

ܲ஺ௌ ൌ •‹ ߜ (6)

Where PAS is the power transferred using the angular stability

limit criterion and į is the angle corresponding to the sending
end voltage. The maximum power transferred corresponds to
an angle of 90°. In the original St. Clair curve, a safety margin
of 30% was used, corresponding to an angle of 44°. The same
margin will be used in this derivation.

The third limit considered is the voltage quality limit. The

voltage quality limit is calculated assuming a maximum
Fig. 4: Comparison of Line Loadability Limits
voltage drop of 10%, i.e. the receiving end voltage is 90% of
the sending end voltage. This is compared to the voltage
stability limit, which had a voltage drop of 30% before As shown in Fig. 4, the voltage quality limit is the
including the 5% safety margin. Using (3) and setting the constraining factor for longer lines. For 69 kV, the line is
receiving end voltage to 90% of the sending end voltage: thermally limited up to 87 km, similar to the St. Clair curve.
What is different from the St. Clair curve is that for 138 kV,
௏ೞమ ௏ೞమ the line is thermally limited up to 120 km. The St. Clair curve
ܲ௏ொ ൌ ൌ ͲǤ͹ͺͶ͸ ‫כ‬ (7) assumes a thermal limit of 3.0 pu of SIL[1] for all voltage
ଶǤହସଽ௑ ଶ௑
levels, whereas the thermal limit for 69 kV is 3.46 pu of SIL
Where PVQ is the power transferred using the voltage quality and the thermal limit for 138 kV is 2.50 pu of SIL. Since the
limit criterion. It is demonstrated in (7) that the voltage quality voltage quality limit is the lowest curve, this curve,
limit is 17% lower than the voltage stability limit (including determined from a 10% voltage drop, will be used in all future
the safety margin). The voltage stability limit represents a calculations.
voltage drop close to 30%, compared to 10% voltage drop for
the voltage quality limit. Therefore, as the voltage drop IV. RESISTANCE AND POWER FACTOR
decreases, the line loadability decreases, which concurs with A. Resistance
Fig. 3.
In the previous section, the transmission line was considered
lossless with a power factor of unity. For lower voltage levels,
Each limit is calculated using typical conductor data. The
the resistance per unit length is greater than that of higher
resistance was calculated for an AC transmission line at 75°C.
voltage levels. In this case, since we are focusing on lower
The thermal limit is calculated using a conductor temperature
voltage levels, resistance should be taken into account. The
of 75°C, ambient temperature of 40°C and a wind speed of 0.6
calculations are based on the methodology shown in [5].
m/s. SIL is the surge impedance loading. Table 1 presents the
Modifying (1) to include resistance:
data used in this derivation.
TABLE I. TYPICAL LINE DATA ܸ௦ ൌ ܸோ ൅ ቀ ቁ ሺܴ ൅ ݆ܺሻ
Voltage R X SIL Thermal
௉ோାொ௑ ௉௑ିொோ
(kV) (ȍ/km) (ȍ/km) (MW) Limit (MVA) ܸ௦ ൌ ቀܸோ ൅ ቁ ൅ ݆ ቀ ቁ (8)
௏ೃ ௏ೃ
[6] [7] [7] [8]
69 0.201 0.4808 13 45 Assuming that the power factor is unity at the receiving end of
138 0.172 0.4909 50 125 the line, so Q is set to zero:
Using the data in Table (1), it is possible to plot the power ௉ோ ௉௑
transfer limit, expressed as per unit SIL, as a function of line ܸ௦ ൌ ቀܸோ ൅ ቁ ൅ ݆ ቀ ቁ (9)
௏ೃ ௏ೃ
length. Fig. 4 plots the curves for each of the limits: voltage
stability limit, angular stability limit, voltage quality limit and In this case, the voltage quality limit is a function of voltage
thermal limit for each of 69 kV and 138 kV. level and line length. Fig. 5 shows the impact of resistance,
due to voltage rating, on the maximum length of a thermally
limited transmission line.
1) 69 kV System

Using the approach outlined above, calculations were

performed at four different power factors: 0.95, 0.9, 0.85 and
0.8. Fig. 6 shows the curve for each of the power factors
chosen, using the data from the voltage quality calculations,
taking into account both resistance and reactive power, for 69

Fig. 5: Impact of Resistance of Line Loadability

As shown in Fig. 5, the maximum length at which a

transmission line is thermally limited decreases when
resistance is considered. The maximum length is now 40 km
for 69 kV and 60 km for 138 kV. These are about half of the
length of the original case. This confirms the previous
assumption that resistance has a large effect on the loadability
of lower voltage lines. Fig. 6: Impact of Power Factor on Line Loadability for 69 kV

B. Power Factor and Reactive Power

As the power factor decreases, the maximum length also
decreases, but not as much as compared to adding resistance.
The results from the previous calculations can be further For a power factor of 0.8, the maximum length is 30 km. For a
refined by considering a power factor less than unity. Here, power factor of 0.95, the maximum length is almost the same,
methodology from [5] is extended to include reactive power. around 32 km, because the thermal limit changes along with
At the receiving end of the line, reactive power, Q, is now the voltage quality limit curve. Comparing this result to that of
non-zero and is related to the power transmitted. the previous section, it’s clear that including the resistance has
a much larger effect (87 km to 40 km) than including power
ܳ ൌ ܲ ‫ƒ– כ‬ሺ…‘•ିଵ ሺ‫݂݌‬ሻሻ (10) factor (40 km to 30 km).

Where pf is the power factor of the system at the receiving end 2) 138 kV System
of the line.
Using a similar approach for a 138 kV system, the results are
Substituting (10) back into (8): plotted in Fig. 7.
௉ோା௉௑௧௔௡ఏ ௉௑ି௉ோ௧௔௡ఏ
ܸ௦ ൌ ቀܸோ ൅ ቁ ൅ ݆ ቀ ቁ (11) At 138 kV, changing the power factor has a greater effect than
௏ೃ ௏ೃ
for the 69 kV case. For a power factor of 0.8, the maximum
According to [9], changing the power factor also changes the length is 45 km, a difference of 15 km from when the power
thermal limit. The thermal limit is given in MVA, but the SIL factor was considered to be unity. For a power factor of 0.95,
is given in MW, so the thermal limit has to be converted to the maximum length is 50 km, a difference of 5 km from the
active power. power factor of 0.8. Comparing this result to that of the
previous section, it’s clear that including the resistance has a
ܲ ൌ ܵ ‫݂݌ כ‬ (12) much larger effect (120 km to 60 km) than including power
factor (60 km to 45 km), similar to the case for the 69 kV
In the previous calculations, the power factor was equal to system. Table 2 summarizes the results of sections III and IV.
unity, so the active power was equal to the apparent power.
For this case, the active power is equal to the apparent power
divided by the power factor, so the thermal limit changes for
each power factor tested.
Thermal Limit

Power Transfer Limit (pu of SIL)

5 Increase=100%
VQ Limit-PF=0.8

0 50 100 150
Length of Transmission Line (km)

Fig. 7: Impact of Power Factor on Line Loadability for 138 kV Fig. 8: Impact of DTLR on Line Loadability for 69 kV


Thermal Limit
Thermal Limit Length (km) 4.5 Increase=25%

Voltage No Including Power Power 4

(kV) changes Line Factor = Factor =
Power Transfer Limit (pu of SIL)
Resistance 0.95 0.8 VQ Limit-PF=0.8

69 87 40 32 30 3

138 120 60 50 45 2.5


An aim of this paper is to determine the effect that DTLR has 1

on the maximum length of a transmission line. For this case, a 0.5

power factor of 0.8 was used for both 69 kV and 138 kV.
Previous research done for dynamic rating has shown that it 0
0 50 100 150
can produce a ratings increase of up to 100% during the Length of Transmission Line (km)

summer[4]. When the capacity of the transmission line Fig. 9: Impact of DTLR on Line Loadability for 138 kV
changes, this increased capacity becomes the new thermal
limit. As seen in Fig. 4, a higher thermal limit intersects with
the line loadability curve at a shorter length. Therefore, Table 3 summarizes the results from considering the impact of
increasing the capacity with dynamic line rating impacts the dynamic line rating.
length of transmission line that is thermally limited. The curve
for a power factor of 0.8 from the previous section is TABLE III. IMPACT OF DYNAMIC LINE RATING ON LINE
compared against four different capacity increases: 25%, 50%,
75% and 100% increase. Fig. 8 plots the results for 69 kV. Thermal Limit Length (km)
P.F. = Increase in Rating using DTLR
For 69 kV lines, any increase above 50% decreases the 0.8 25 % 50 % 75 % 100 %
maximum line length to less than 20 km. At a 25% increase, 69 30 25 20 18 16
the maximum line length is 25 km, a 5 km difference from the 138 45 36 30 26 23
length with no capacity increase.

Fig. 9 shows the results for 138 kV. For 138 kV lines, any These results demonstrate that in order to get the full capacity
increase above 50% decreases the maximum line length to less of a transmission line using dynamic line rating, the line must
than 30 km. At a 25% increase, the maximum line length is 36 be very short. To reduce the length of a transmission line,
km, 9 km less than with no capacity increase. additional substations can be built to break the line up into
further sections.
and are less expensive, but may require more substations to be
Thermal Limit
built, or building a higher capacity line that is more expensive
45 25% Increase but does not rely as much on dynamic line rating. Future work
50% Increase still needs to be done to determine the cost difference between
75% Increase
100% Increase
implementing dynamic line rating by adding a substation to
reduce the length of the line and building a new, higher
capacity transmission line. Another tradeoff is voltage drop. If
Voltage Drop (%)


the line length is not shortened, the voltage drop will increase
due to the increased capacity. Transmission facility operators
can use this information to implement DTLR at the cost of
15 shorter lines or higher voltage drop. Dynamic line rating is
also dependent on the weather conditions in the region of the
transmission line, specifically wind speed and direction. This
research can be used in conjunction with future research into
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
the optimal locations for implementing dynamic line rating.
Length (km)
Fig. 10: Impact of DTLR on Voltage Drop for 69 kV

Fig. 10 plots the voltage drop across the line for each of the [1] H. S. Clair, “Practical Concepts in Capability and
thermal rating increases shown in Figs. 8 and 9, at 69 kV. Fig. Performance of Transmission Lines,” IEEE Trans.
10 further demonstrates the inverse relationship between Power Appar. Syst., vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 1152–1157,
higher current rating and line length. To maintain a voltage 1953.
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alternative is to maintain the line length and accept a higher Filimonenkov, “Quantification of gains and risks of
voltage drop across the line. Future work will be done to static thermal rating based on typical meteorological
investigate the practicality of these results. year,” Int. J. Electr. Power Energy Syst., vol. 44, no.
VI. CONCLUSION 1, pp. 227–235, Jan. 2013.
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drop of 10%. Fig. 3 demonstrates that if the voltage drop is Filimonenkov, “Assessment of Seasonal Static
higher (up to 30%), the power transferred is also greater. To Thermal Ratings of Overhead Transmission
increase the maximum line length that is thermally limited, the Conductors,” in IEEE Power and Energy Society
allowed voltage drop can be increased. The opposite is true for General Meeting, 2011.
lower voltage drops (i.e. 5%). If the voltage drop is less, the [4] J. Gentle and K. S. Myers, “Concurrent Wind Cooling
maximum length decreases. Fig. 10 further emphasizes this in Power Transmission,” in Western Energy Policy
concept in that to achieve a higher current rating, either the Research Conference, 2012.
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increasing voltage drop to increase thermal rating. This paper loadability curve by including voltage stability
also investigates the impact of considering resistance and constrains,” in IEEE Electrical Power and Energy
reactive power on the transmission line loadability curves. For Conference, 2008.
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than reactive power. However, as the voltage level increases, Conductor , Steel Reinforced ),” vol. 58, no. 212. pp.
the effect of resistance lessens and reactive power plays a 1–12.
more significant role in the transmission line loadability
calculations. This paper also investigates the impact of [7] Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Electrical
changing the capacity of a transmission line on its loadability Transmission and Distribution Reference Book. 1964.
curve. Increasing the capacity shortens the length of line that
[8] W. O. B. Kennedy, “Transmission Lines Electricity ’s
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Highways,” presented at the Southern Alberta
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IAS/PES Chapter Meeting, Calgary, 2013.
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rating only provides an increase of 10-40%[4]. Therefore, the Iௗ: Analysis of Single Circuits,” IEEE Trans. Power
shorter the transmission line, the higher the capacity available Deliv., vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 29–37, 2014.
due to dynamic line rating. This represents a tradeoff. Building
shorter, lower capacity lines that rely on dynamic line rating