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Paper accepted for presentation at 2003 IEEE Bologna PowerTech Conference, June 23-26, Bologna, Italy

A Review of Islanding Detection Methods for

Distributed Resources
T.Funabashi, Senior Member, IEEE, and K.Koyanagi, Member, IEEE, and R.Yokoyama, Member,

frequency and undedover voltage relays. The most widely

Abslrac-Islanding detection methods for distributed recognized active methods are the Reactive Export Error
resources are reviewed. Special emphasis is put on some of the Detector (REED) [5],[6] and the system fault level monitor 161.
detecting systems based on "active methods" which have been In this paper, special emphasis is put on the active methods
developed in Japan for rotating machine type distributed
generations. Then, reduction of the islanding detection sensitivity
that have been developed in Japan for rotating type distributed
with multiple distributed generations is discussed. Finslly, a new generations [23]-[26]. Then, reduction of the islanding
concept of an islanded operation is introduced. detection sensitivity with multiple distributed generations is
also discussed. Finally, a new concept is discussed on an
Index Term-Distributed generation, distributed resources, islanded operation that is fully using power electronics
distribution system, islanding detection, islanded operation, devices and information technologies.
power quality
In this chapter, brief introduction to the islanding detection
D ISTRIBUTED generations have been broadly used and
are expected to be an important element in the future
electric power systems [I]. These generation systems
is provided. Then, islanding detection methods developed so
far are reviewed briefly, with special emphasis on five
"active" methods developed and made in use in Japan.
have characteristics which are different from those of
conventional large capacity fossil and nuclear generation A. What is an Islanded Operation?
systems. Distributed generations are relatively small and many A fault occurring in the power distribution system is
of them make use of renewable energy such as a wind power generally cleared by the protective relay that is located closest
or a hydraulic power. And, when the distributed generation to the faulty spot. As a result, a distributed generation tries to
systems are operated in parallel with utility power systems, supply its power to part of the distribution system that has
especially with reverse power flow, the power quality been separated from the utility's power system. In most cases,
problems become significant. Power quality problems include this distributed generation assumes an overloaded condition,
frequency deviation, voltage fluctuation, harmonics and where its voltage and frequency are lowered and it is finally
reliability of the power system. In addition, most important led to stoppage. However, though this is a rare case, a
problem is an islanding protection. generator (or a group of generators) connected to this islanded
When a distributed generation system with some loads is system is provided with a capacity that is large enough to feed
disconnected from the utility power system, the distributed power to all the loads accommodated in the islanded system.
generation is going to supply the loads and, although this is When the loads are fed power only from the distributed
rare, continue an islanded operation of power system. The generations even after the power supply is suspended from the
islanded operation should be avoided because of safety power company, such a situation is called an "islanded
reasons for maintenance man and power quality reasons of operation" or "islanding".
distributed lines. To solve these problems, islanding detectors B. Hazardfrom an Islanded Operation
are used to detect an islanded operation and trip the circuit
If a condition of islanded operation is continued, there can
breaker between the power system and the distributed
be concern ahout physical injury because of the inspection and
generation [2],[3]. By this time, many methods for the
restoration personnel or the public coming in contact with the
islanding protection have been proposed [4-221. These
live parts. In addition, when the power is supplied from the
techniques can be devided into two categories; passive and
distributed generations, the quality of the fed power may be
active methods. The passive systems include undedover
lowered as compared with the cases when the power is fed
T. Funabashi is with Meidensha Cornration. 36-2. Nihonbashi- from the power company. It is often considered that the
hakozakicho, Chueku, Tokyo, 103-8515 jAPAN. (e-mil habashi- lowered quality may affect the loads adversely. At the power company, programs have been established so that the relevant
K. Koyanagi is with TEF'CO Systems Corporation, 19-15, Shinbashi b-
circuit breaker or a switch is automatically closed at the
chame. Minato-ku. 105-0004 Tokvo. ~. JAPAN (e-mail kovanaei- ~- substation affer the lapse of the predetermined time period, in
R. Yokoyama is with Tokyo Metropolitan University, 1-1, Minmi+sawa, order t o achieve prompt restoration from a service intermption.
Hachioji-shi, 1926397 Tokyo, JAPAN (e-mail:

0-7803-7967-51031$17.0002003 E E E
However, if the above-mentioned islanded operation is operation occurs, a data signal is transferred and the relevant
continued longer, a condition of asynchronous closure is circuit breaker in interconnection is tripped.
assumed and the fault may be evolved further. This results in a
D. Passive and Active Methods
further delay in the restoration from the failure. For the
reasons described above, the distributed generations and the If a unit with the function of detecting an islanded
protktive devices applied to the connecting point of their operation is installed on the distributed generation side and the
occurrence of islanded operation can be exactly detected on
system are required to trip the circuit breaker located at this
this side, it is then possible to omit the transfer trip system and
connecting point, by sensing such a condition when the power
the SCADA equipment to enable economic structuring of a
supply 60m the system is lost. This function is referred to as distributed power system. Such a self-end detection type
the "islanding detection" or "loss-of-mains protection." (using information on the distributed generation side only) of
C. Conventional Techniquesfor Islanding Defecfion the islanding detection system can be roughly categorized into
As one of the meaSuTeSto be taken for the detection of a passive system and an active system. Table I shows the
features of the passive and active methods.
islanded operation, variations in the voltage and frequency are
detected at the time of modal transition to islanded operation,
When a variation signal is sensed, the circuit breaker at the PASSIVE AND ACTlVE METHODS
interconnecting point is tripped. This is a well-known practice

detect the occurrence of islanded operation by monitoring a Principle 1 Monitor changes in I Aoply disturbances
change in the system's frequency or voltage. -If there is Ay voltage, tiequency, frakdistrihuted
change in the generator load at the time of separation 6om the
system, the frequency and voltage of the generator are
changed to produce a new energy balance.
In most cases when small-capacity generators are used, this Possible, such as
method is often used to detect the occurrence of islanded
operation. In this case, however, detection is impossible to
cany out unless the load change at the time of separation 60m '1 system
the system exceeds the range of compensation to be In the Passive system, Various values are always
accomplished by the generator control system. If there is a supervised, such as variations in voltage, fiWenCY, harmonic
good balance beheen the generator output and the load in the distottion, etc., measured at the interconnection point of a
islanded system as described above, variations in voltage and distibuted generation. When the state of islanded operation
frequency are generally small even though the condition of O C C ~ S , these values are greatly changed from the regular
islanded operation is assumed. Therefore, it is impossible for values observed during interconnection with the utility's
these relays to prevent the islanded operation. power system. Utilizing this fact, the occurrence of an
In the case of interconnection for "reverse power flow not islanded operation is detected. The passive system offers an
present," it is possible to prevent the occurrence of islanded outstanding feature that highly sensitive and high-speed
operation by means of the "reverse power relays" that have detection is possible. A disadvantage is that a misoperation
long been used. These relays can not detect the islanded Can Occur if there is a sudden load change. In addition,
operation when the power flow is directed 60m the distributed detection is impossible unless the load change at the time of
generation to the distribution system side. the system separation exceeds the compensation range that is
The transfer trip system is available. This system is assured by the generator conh-ol System.
applicable to the distributed generations in the case of The ROCOF relay [21,[41 is generally accepted as the
interconnection "with reverse power flow." This system standard method for islanding protection of the distributed
transfers a signal to a circuit breaker to hip it on the System. These relays monitor the voltage waveform, and
distributed generation side. Actually, the data transferred are operate when the rate-of-change of frequency exceeds a
the output signal for circuit breaker tipping, sent from the setting and duration exceeds a time delay setting. COROCOF
power distribution substation. Since this system calls for a relay 1161 is the new -e. In Principles, it compares the rate-
data transmission path, the price of the entire equipment is of-change of frequency at the generator with that of the rest of
inevitably raised and this is a disadvantage for this system. the System. The Phase displacement monitor [21,[41 operates
There are some more disadvantages such that it is impossible when there are changes in the phase displacement in the
to detect the islanded operation due to a fault in the higher system voltage waveform. These phase displacements are
system, and that the system is not applicable to any service direct results of changes in the System 6equenV. In the power
interruption that occurs in the part of the power distribution fluctuation method [8]-[1 I], changes in the power output &om
lime. the generator are used. Under normal conditions, the transfer
The SCADA system is also available. This system is function reflects the characteristic of both the distributed
applicable even in the case of a failure caused in the higher generation and the utility System. With islanding operation,
power system. This system is used to supervise the ON-OFF the transfer function reflects the distributed generation only.
status of all circuit breakers that are liable to assume the Dr. Salman proposed many Passive methods [12]-[151,
conditions of islanded operation. Therefore, when islanded including the method for monitoring power factor in addition
to the rate-of-change of frequency, and that is called the
elliptical trajectory (EET) techniques. The basic principle of TABLE 11
EET is that the changes in current and voltage introduced by APPL'CAENLITY OF ACT'VE
the fault occurred on a transmission line &e related by
elliptical trajectory.
If the islanded operation detector makes a misoperation,
the circuit breaker at the interconnectionpoint is tripped and it
takes plenty of time till restoration. For this reason, careful
consideration is needed for the operation setting of islanding
detector. In a distributed generation where an inverter or
power conditioner is used, flexible operation is possible with
the passive system. In such a case, the inverter may be stopped
when an islanded operation is sensed. If a misoperation takes
place, the auto-reset function of inverters may be used.
2) Active System
In the case of the active system, the status of islanded
operation can be detected even under the perfect equilibrium
state, which cannot be sensed by the passive system. In this
case, an external turbulence is always given fiom the
distributed generation to the utility's power system so that the
voltage and kquency are assuredly changed when the
condition of islanded operation is assumed.
In contrast to the passive system, the active system
requires time to give an external turbulence and to detect
kequency changes, etc. due to the external turbulence. As a
result, the detection time tends to be prolonged. Theoretically,
however, there is an advantage of fieedom from a dead zone.
In conclusion fiom the above, it is recommended to use a
combination of both passive and active systems to ensure the
perfect prevention of an islanded operation. The REED relay
makes the distributed generator control system generate a
level of reactive power flow at the relaying point [2],[5],[6]. Fig.1 A power system wiih disiributed
This power flow can only be maintained only when the utility
source is interconnected with the distributed generation. If the QC mode frequency shift method [21] is also one of active
level of reactive power flow is not maintained at the setting methods for synchronous generators. It also applies
value, islanding is detected. fluctuation signal to an automatic voltage regulator, but in this
System fault level monitor uses measurements of power method a signal does not have a constant fiequency, but a
system source impedance. This is measured from the short frequency that is related to the power system kequency
circuit current and the supply voltage reduction monitored fluctuation. The method also detects an islanded operation by
when a shunt inductor is briefly connected across the supply watching a power fiequency fluctuation.
voltage using thyristor switch 161. Reactive power compensation method is making reactive
In radio fiequency signal method, the radio signal is power fluctuation by reactive power compensator rather than
injected into the system and monitored by a receiver tuned to voltage regulator signal. So, it is applicable to induction
separate the superimposed signal fiom the power system machine type distributed resources.
wave[7]. Load fluctuation method is a method to insert some load
3) Five active methods developed in Japan such as resistor to the point of common coupling. The
Table I1 shows the relationship between the typical active impedance seen fiom the distributed resources side changes
detection systems and the applicable power generating when the islanded operation starts. Load fluctuation islanding
facilities. (In this table, rotating machines are categorized into relay detects the islanding by monitoring the impedance. This
synchronous generators and induction generators.) method is applicable to rotating machine type distributed
Reactive power fluctuation method [18]-[20] is a typical resources.
active type method, which is applicable to synchronous Inter-harmonics is a non-integer harmonics. Inter-
machine and inverter interfaced DC sources type distributed harmonics injection method is always injecting the non-
resources, but is not applicable to induction machine integer harmonics to the power system. The response of the
interfaced distributed resources. As shown in Fig.1, small power system to the inter-harmonics will change when the
fluctuation signals are periodically applied to automatic islanded operation of the distributed resources starts [22].
voltage regulator of synchronous generators. Islanding relay
detects frequency deviation which becomes significant when
the system moves to the islanded situation.
111. ISLANDING DETECTION OF MLnTIPLE combinations of the active systems, no interference may occur
DISTRBUTED GENERATIONS theoretically. However, if the same systems are combined or
A big challenge in islanding detection is an the ratio of generator capacities is almost unity, it is necessary
assessment for the c a e with multiple distributed resouTces in to P . Y. .attention to the possible reduction of the detecting
the same distribution line 1231-1261. In this chapter, problems sensitivity.
of the islanding detection sensitivity reduction are discussed The descriptions below indicate the possible problems
for the case with multiple rotating-type dishibuted generations. caused by the combination of generations in a case where
multiple generations are mixed in the same system.
A. Classification of Active Method 1) Generator capacity ratio
The active islanding detection system developed in Japan, When two distributed generations with different capacities
to be applied to the distributed generations of the rotating are connected to the same power system, the behavior of an
machine system, can he classified according to the turbulence islanded operation tends to he dominated by that of the
signals and the detected signals, as specified in Table 111. generator that has the larger capacity. This tendency is
intensified, as the ratio of capacities becomes larger.
TABLE Ill 2) Generator without reverse power flow
CLASSIFICATIONOF ACTIVE ISLANDING DETECTION METHODS When a generator without a reverse power flow and the
Method Twbulence signal Detection signal
- other generator with a reverse power flow are mixed in the
- same system, the reverse power relay are used for the
(I) Reactive power AVR voltage setting Frequency
fluchlation deviation generator without a reverse power flow and the active
(2) QC-mode frequency AVR voltlge setting Rate of frequency islanding detector is applied to the generator with a reverse
shiR change . power flow. In this case, the generator without a reverse
(3) Reactive power SVC Reactive power Frequency power flow restrains the active fluctuation irrespective of the
compensation deviation
principle of detection used for the active system. Since the
1 (4) Load fluctuation Load insertion Current dividing
ratio difference in impedance is decreased between a grid
(5) Inter-harmonics Inter-harmonic current Susceptance interconnection and an islanded operation, there is some
injectron 1 l",ectlo" I I concern about the reduction of the detecting sensitivity. This
tendency becomes more eminent, as the capacity of the
The detecting systems of (1) to (3) in the Table I11 utilize generator without a reverse power flow is greater.
the frequency sway in the generator, caused in compliance For an active system, like the Reactive power fluctuation
with the active turbulence in the state of an islanded operation. system, where the islanded operation is sensed in terms of
The detecting systems of (4) and ( 5 ) examine the difference in frequency, the frequency maintaining capability is raised by
impedance between interconnection with the commercial the effect of the synchronizing force of the generator without a
power system and an islanded operation. reverse power flow. Therefore. the frequency ~. variation is
decreased during the islanded operation.
B. Pending in Multiple Generations lnterconnection
In regard to the interhannonic injection system, there has
As described previously, the active islanded operation been a report that the detected susceptance value is not
detecting system always gives a turbulence fiom the influenced if the capacity of the generator with a reverse
distributed generation to the utility's power system in order to power flow is smaller than or equals to the capacity of
change voltage or frequency when the state of islanded generators without a reverse power flow. This report indicates
operation is assumed. If multiple dishibuted generations are that the reduction of the detecting sensitivity caused by the
installed in the same commercial power system, there is generators without a reverse power flow is not a problem.
concern about the reduction of islanded operation detecting If there is a generator without a reverse power flow in
sensitivity and an increase in the influence upon the utility's utilizing the load fluctuation system, the currents on the
power system when an active system is used. There are a utility's system side contain those from the bus line and those
variety of combinations of multiple distributed generations to from the generator without a reverse power flow. Therefore,
be installed in the same power system, according to the type of compared with the interconnection of a single generator unit,
generation, the presence of reverse power flow, the principle the reduction of the detecting sensitivity turns out to be a
of active system, the generator capacity ratio, etc. According greater problem.
to each combination, it is necesswy to evaluate the detecting 3) Interference among the same active systems
sensitivity and the degree of influence upon the utility system In the Reactive power fluctuation system, the detecting
in order to establish the effective countermeasures and defme sensitivity becomes lowest if the AVR voltage setting
variation is made at the same frequency in the reverse phase.
the limits of applications.
Therefore, if multiple generators with almost the same
C. Reduction of the Detecting Sensitivity due to Mutual characteristics are installed in the same power system and the
Interference active signals can be synchronized there, it is preferable to
In regard to the reduction of the detecting sensitivity due make the AVR voltage setting variation at the same frequency
to mutual interference in the active system, the degree of in the same phase. If multiple generators belonging to
influence can differ according to the combination of the different owners are connected to the same power system and
systems and the ratio of generator capacities. For some it is difficult to synchronize the active signals, the above-
mentioned setting should be made independentlyof each other the former system. Accordingly, the reduction of the
to cope with the frequency variation. sensitivity is hardly caused by mutual interference.
The same thing can be said if the generator characteristics For the same reasons as the interconnection with a
are mutually different and the effect of synchronization is generator without a reverse power flow as stated in 2) above,
canceled for the AVR voltage setting variation. The authors the combination of the load fluctuation system and any other
has established an analytical program that assures the efficient system can give rise to deterioration in the detecting
accomplishment of performance verification for the Reactive sensitivity in the load fluctuation system.
power fluctuation system under the condition of the
interconnection of multiple generators. This program is useful IV. AUTONOMOUS DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS USING
for the evaluation of the application to the islanded operation POWER ELECTRONICS DEVICES AND INFORMATION
detector unit and the decision of setting values. TECHNOLOGIES
It is generally believed that the Reactive power
compensation system shows a similar tendency as that of the Islanding detection relays are not a completed technology
Reactive power fluctuation system. and has some challenges are exist in addition to the problems
Unlike the Reactive power fluctuation system, the QC- written in the previous chapter. To overcome these challenges,
mode frequency shift system is capable of automatic various kind of new detection methods and simulation
synchronization because the variation in the AVR voltage methods have been investigated [27]-[32]. Various islanding
setting value is determined based on the measured frequency detection methods have been proposed 6om the point of view
changing rate. Accordingly, the reduction of the sensitivity is that islanding operation must be stopped. However, many new
hardly caused by mutual interference. concepts of an autonomous distribution system were also
In the load fluchlation system, some effective measures proposed.
can be taken, such that loads are inserted among different New technologies are investigated such as power flow
phases, the load insertion intervals are kept unchanged but the control and output stabilizing control using power electronics
insertion timing is shifted, or the load insertion intervals are devices, loop type distribution system rather than radial, a
changed. However, for the same reason as in the case of hybrid system with power electronics devices, integrated
generators without a reverse power flow, reduction of the protection and control system, and interactive information
sensitivity can occur if there are multiple generators in the exchange between customers and resources. In such a new
same power system. system, interface between the distributed resources and power
In the interharmonic injection system, it is necessary to distribution system will be highly improved and output
change the order of the injected harmonics for each generator. controllability will be improved and as a result power qualities
However, since this system measures harmonic currents and in the distribution system will be highly improved.
voltages of the injection order, it is necessary to use the An example is shown here. On-line information is
handpass filter that has the same passband 6equency as that of exchanged between the distributed generations in attempt to
the injected harmonics. In addition, each setting of harmonics have an autonomous operation of the distribution system
order is required to be different from each other so that the dominated by the distributed generators [33]. The flexibility of
injected harmonics of a generator does not affect the result of the distribution system isolated from the higher voltage system
measurement for the other generator. i s improved by the on-line information exchange.
4) Inferferenceamong diferenf active sysfems
In a case where different systems are used, the behavior of V. CONCLUSIONS
the generator with the larger capacity becomes dominant in Five active methods featured in this paper are in practical
regard to the behavior of the islanded operation if the operation in the real power systems in Japan. However, they
generator capacities are greatly different from each other. are not a completely established technology and there are
This is due to the reasons of I ) described previously. some challenges, such as islanding detection for the power
Therefore, concern about the interference among the active system connected with multiple distributed generators. In the
systems becomes greater if the generator capacities are similar future, a new concept of an islanded operation will be
to each other. introduced. That is to be a secure, reliable and stable isolated
In the Reactive power fluctuation system, the QC-mode system by using a information technologies and power
frequency shift system, and the Reactive power compensation electronics devices.
system, fluctuations are positively given to the generator and
detection i s based on the ffequency. In the load fluctuation VI. REFERENCES
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pp. 103-106 Tashihisa Funsbashi (M’1990, S M 1996) was
[IS] S.K.Salman, D.J.King and G.Weller, “Detection of Loss of Mains born in Aichi, Japan. He received B.S degree from
Based on Using Rate of Change of Voltage and Changes in Power Nagoya University, Aichi, Japan in 1975 and Doctor
Factor”, UPEC2000(Universities Power Engineering Conference), degree 60m Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan in
Belfast 2000 2000. He joined Meideusha Corporation in 1975 and
[I61 C.G.Bright, “COR0COF:Camparison of Rate of Change of Frequency has engaged in research on power system analysis.
Protection. A Solution to the Detection of Lass of Mains”, Currently, he is Senior Engineer of the Power
DPSP2OOI(International Conference on Developments in Power Systems Engineering Division. He is a Chartered
System Protection), 2001, pp.70-73 Engineer in UK, a senior member of IEEE, a
1171 T.lshikawa and Y.lwai, “Outline of Islanding IXtection Technology”, member of IEE and IEE Japan.
T.IEE Jarran, Vol.116-B. Na.5, 1996, pp.521-524 (in Japanese)
[I81 Motohashi, et. al., “Islanding detection device for synchronous Kaoru Koyanagi has received B.S degree in
generators wnnected with dismbution lines (reactive power fluchlation
applied physics from Tokyo University of
method)” Proc. IEE Japan Vol.ll9-B, No.1, 1999 (in Japanese)
Education in 1971 and Ph.D. degree in electrical
1\91 Motohashi, et. al., “Test results of islamding detection device using engineering from Tokyo Metropolitan University
real time digital simdator”. Proc. IEE Japan annual meeting,
in 2000. From 1971 to 1996, he was with Toshiba
No.1550, 1996 (in Japanese) Corp. working on power system analytical
[ZO] Motohashi, et. al., “Study on islanding detection device for engineering. He has been involved in various
synchronous generators wnnected with diseibution lines wnsidering a aspects of power system stability analysis and
counter measure to voltage fluctuations”, hoc. IEE Japan Workshop on
design of control systems. He is currently with
Power Engineering and Power systems engineering, PE-97-36, 1995 (in
TEPCO System Corporation and involved with
software development in power system
[21] T.Kato, et. al., “A Navel Islanding Protection System for engineering.He is amemberoflEE ofJapan3‘EE and IEEE’
Synchronous Generators”, TJEE Japan, Vol.l2O-B, No.8/9, 2000,
pp. 1182-1 193 (in Japanese)
Ryuichi Yokoyams has received the degrees of
Nishijimq et. al., “Islanding detection with inter-harmonics injection”,
B.S.,M.S.,andPh.D. inelectrical engineeringfrom
Proc. IEE Japan annual meeting, 6-304.2000 (in Japanese)
Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, in 1968, 1970,
Matohashi, et. al., “Application of synchronous generator with and 1973 respectively. Since 1978 he has been
islanding deteotion to multi-machines power system (Reactive power
working for the Faculty of Technology of Tokyo
fluctuation method)” Proc. IEE Japan Workshop on Power Engineering
Metropolitan University, and is currently a
and Power systems engineering, PE-98-117, 1998 (in Japanese)
professor of Electrical Engineering.
[241 O.Tsukamoto, H.lshii, T.Okayaru and K.Yamsguchi, “Detection of His field of interests include wntrol and
Islanding of Multiple Dispersed Rotating Generators Using Conelation
. ~ .
Techniaue”. 1CEE98 llnternational Conference on Electrical
Engineering), 1998, pp.508-51 I
optimization of large-scale systems and application
of arlificial intelligence to power systems.
T.Kai and H.Kanedq “Study on performance of islanding detection , ”’et He is a member of the Society of lnsrmment and
Control Engineers (SICE) of Japan, the IEE of
device for multiple synchronous generators by using MATLAB”, Proc. ..:. Japan, CERE., and IEEE.
IEE Japan Workshop on Power Engineering and Power systems
engineering, PE-99.140, 1999 (in Japanese)