LIGHTNING PROTECTION OF SUBSTATION DESIGN PROBLEM BASIC INFORMATION AND TUTORIALS



Substation design involves more than installing apparatus, protective devices, and equipment. The significant monetary investment and required reliable continuous operation of the facility requires detailed attention to preventing surges (transients) from entering the substation facility.

These surges can be switching surges, lightning surges on connected transmission lines, or direct strokes to the substation facility. The origin and mechanics of these surges, including lightning, are discussed in detail in Chapter 10 of The Electric Power Engineering Handbook (CRC Press, 2001).

This article focuses on the design process for providing effective shielding (that which permits lightning strokes no greater than those of critical amplitude [less design margin] to reach phase conductors [IEEE Std. 998-1996]) against direct lightning stroke in substations.

The Design Problem
The engineer who seeks to design a direct stroke shielding system for a substation or facility must contend with several elusive factors inherent in lightning phenomena, namely:

• The unpredictable, probabilistic nature of lightning
• The lack of data due to the infrequency of lightning strokes in substations
• The complexity and economics involved in analyzing a system in detail

There is no known method of providing 100% shielding short of enclosing the equipment in a solid metallic enclosure. The uncertainty, complexity, and cost of performing a detailed analysis of a shielding system has historically resulted in simple rules of thumb being utilized in the design of lower voltage facilities. Extra high voltage (EHV) facilities, with their critical and more costly equipment components, usually justify a more sophisticated study to establish the risk vs. cost benefit.

Because of the above factors, it is suggested that a four-step approach be utilized in the design of a protection system:

1. Evaluate the importance and value of the facility being protected.

2. Investigate the severity and frequency of thunderstorms in the area of the substation facility and the exposure of the substation.

3. Select an appropriate design method consistent with the above evaluation and then lay out an appropriate system of protection.

4. Evaluate the effectiveness and cost of the resulting design.

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