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Analysis of a Real Blackout Event and a Practical Method to Prevent

Mal-Operation of Distance Relay under Power Swing


Narong Tantichayakorn, Provincial Electricity Authority, +66 0952483212, narong.tan@ pea.co.th
Yin Liangfang, Beijing SIFANG Automation Co., Ltd., +86 18600661299, yinliangfang@sf-auto.com
Zhao Zhihong, Beijing SIFANG Automation Co., Ltd., +86 13911366285, zhaozhihong@sf-auto.com
Du Zhaoqiang, Beijing SIFANG Automation Co., Ltd., +86 13910669322, duzhaoqiang@sf-auto.com
Xiong Jun, Beijing SIFANG Automation Co., Ltd., +86 18601162667, xiongjun@sf-auto.com

ABSTRACT
This paper introduced a power system blackout event that involved five 115kV substations and
two power plants in Thailand this year. The whole event started from one 115kV transmission line
ground fault and the circuit breaker failure, after that the fault evolved to three phase fault and also
brought system power swing with a long period. Several mal-operation of distance relay happened in
other adjacent substations during the power swing procedure. Finally, the generators in the two power
plants have been cut off cause of the lower system frequency.
Through the fault analysis based on the waveform records and settings from relevant relay
protections, it can be find out that the distance zone1 mal-operation occurred as a result of a
long-periodic power swing. Traditional method normally focuses on discriminating the power swing
and then block the distance relay, but its difficult to distinguish power swing from a real internal fault
when the power swing periodic under an extremely situation, such as too long or too short.
There is another practical method can solve this problem properly: change the focus to detecting
internal faults instead of discriminating the power swing. The relay does not distinguish power swing,
but block zone 1 after a very short time (like several cycles) from the relay start up and coordinate with
some other criteria. After disabling of the distance function, the relay will keep detecting internal faults
via the significant features, for instance, the ratio of negative and positive sequence current to check the
internal asymmetric fault, the rate of measured resistance change to check the internal symmetric fault.
In case of the internal fault has been detected, the relay will release the blocking signal and allow
distance zone 1 to operate.
This method can solve the unwanted operation of distance relay effectively and prevent the
blackout events in the power system, meanwhile, also reduce the outage time and save cost, the
algorithm analysis, logic and real data simulation also have been presented in this paper.
[Key Word]
DISTANCE RELAY, POWER SWING, BLACKOUT, MAL-OPERATION
1.

INTRODUCTION

The magnitude of current and voltage will be variable periodically during power swing, current
increasing accompany with voltage decreasing, even there is no any internal fault happens, the
trajectory of measured impedance might move into the operation zone of distance relay. Therefore, the
distance relay designer needs to consider how to prevent the mal-operation under power swing
situation, but its contradictory with fast operation requirement when internal fault occurs under power
swing condition.
Experimental results of power swing show that it is not possible for impedance vector to come
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into the first distance zone in 150ms after current sudden-change startup operation. Therefore, power
swing blocking logic has been designed such that in 150ms after current sudden-change startup, power
swing blocking will not happen and distance protection can trip in this duration if required conditions
have been fulfilled.
Through this significant feature as mentioned above, distance relay can adopt block first then
determine to unblock or not method to solve the problem. Once system disturbance occurs, distance
relay will be initiated by dedicated startup elements. During 150ms from the relays startup has been
initiated, the distance relays will detect and clear the internal faults immediately without power swing
detection. After 150ms from the relay startup without any fault, the assigned operating zone will be
blocked automatically as long as the required conditions are met, whenever the power swing happens
or not. During the operating zones are blocked, the asymmetric fault detection element and three phase
fault detection element are put into use. Once the fault is detected, the operating zone will be unblocked
to clear the internal fault. The details will be described in the following sections.
1.1 INTRODUCTION OF BLACKOUT EVENT
Figure 1 is the system single line diagram, there are seven 115kV substations have been involved
from A to G station. At the beginning, a phase to ground fault (BN) happened at one 115kV
transmission line of substation A, zone I of distance relay in this substation operated immediately, but
the circuit breaker is failed to open. Therefore, after 195ms from fault initial, the fault evolved to three
phase fault (ABC) and continued for 530ms, which means the whole fault time is 725ms. Unfortunately,
during this period, the zone1 of distance relay 234 and 5 operated incorrectly almost at same time.
These operations are all unwanted and trip 4 circuit breakers which marked by white color in the figure,
by contrast, the black color means circuit breaker keep closed.
3PH= 31.2kA
SLG =29kA

Figure 1 System Single Line Diagram


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Figure 2 is the waveform records of distance relay 1 and the whole fault process can be observed
clearly.

Figure 2 Waveform Records of Distance Relay 1


Figure 3 is the waveform records of distance relay 4 and that indicates there was a power swing
happening in the system when the fault evolved to three phase fault.

Figure 3 Waveform Records of Distance Relay 4


After circuit breaker 234 and 5 have been opened by the distance relay respectively, connection
between substations has been lost. The system power frequency and voltage level cannot be maintained,
finally caused the whole system into blackout situation. Field check shows there was only one fault
point at transmission line 1 of substation A, as a consequence, the mal-operation of distance relay 23
4 and 5 is the main reason of this blackout accident.

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1.2 POWER SWING BLOCKING/UNBLOCKING METHOD


To ensure the correct operation of the protection logic and avoiding IED mal-operation in power
swings conditions, power swing blocking function has been integrated in with IED. The main purpose
of the PSB function is to differentiate between faults and power swings and block distance. However,
faults that occur during a power swing must be detected and cleared with a high degree of selectivity
and dependability. Power swing blocking happens if one of the following conditions remains for 30ms.
All phase currents are bigger than the unstable current setting for power swing block of I_PSB,
and the sudden-change current elements have not operated.
All phase-to-phase impedances loops enter into the largest zone of distance relay, and the
sudden-change current elements have not operated.
As mentioned, if any of the above conditions has been valid for 30ms, power swing startup will
operate and protection program is switched to power swing blocking routine. It should be noted that
I_PSB should be set larger than maximum load current in the protected feeder.
The Operation of sudden-change current indicates a fault occurred in the power system network.
In short circuit conditions, the measured impedance jumps instantaneously from load impedance area
to the fault detection zones. On the other hand, power swings have a slow behavior. So, lack of
operation of current sudden-change element beside high measured current and/or low calculated
impedance indicates that power swing happened in the system. Therefore above condition has been
used to initiate power swing startup element.
In addition, experimental results of power swing show that it is not possible for impedance vector
to come into the first distance zone in 150ms after current sudden-change startup operation. Therefore,
power swing blocking logic has been designed such that in 150ms after current sudden-change startup,
power swing blocking will not happen and distance protection can trip in this duration if required
conditions fulfill.
1Asymmetric faults detection element
Power swing is generally a three phase system and some degree of symmetric behavior is
considered in this condition. Therefore, zero and negative sequence current can distinguish fault from
power swing. The criterion is described as following:
|I0|>m1|I1| or I 2>m2|I 1|

Equation 1

Factors m1 and m2 ensure that power swing can be reliability differentiated from internal
asymmetric faults. When only power swing occurs in the network, zero and negative sequences will be
close to zero and it is not possible for the above equations to be fulfilled. When both power swing and
external asymmetric fault occur, the zero and negative sequences, which will be seen by IED, are not so
considerable to satisfy above equations. But in the case of power swing and internal asymmetric fault
happening at the same time, zero and negative sequence of the measured current will be large enough
to detect the fault in the power swing durations.
Therefore, mal-operation of the protection IED will be prevented by checking above criteria.
2Three phase fault detection element
During power swing, measuring resistance or impedance at the IED location will change
continuously with time. Changing rate will be affected by the inertia of the system and impedances
between different generators. In addition, this rate is also characterized by swing period and the
machine angle, . Figure shows a typical trajectory of measuring resistance in the power swing
duration. Rf indicates normal load resistance component and Tz power swing period. During power
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swing, whether the trajectory of measuring impedance is a line or a circular arc on R-X plane depends
on the voltage ratios between machines in an equivalent two machine system.

(a) Resistance (Rm) trajectory in normal and power swing condition


(b) Impedance trajectory on R-X plane in power swing condition
Figure 4 Trajectory of the measuring impedance during power swing
When a three phase fault occurs on the protected line, resistance component of measuring
impedance maybe changes due to short circuit arc. Analysis shows that arc resistance rating in three
phase fault is far less than that of resistance changing corresponding to the possibly largest swing
period. Figure 5 illustrates measured resistance trajectory in normal and three phase fault conditions.
In this figure RK indicates resistance in three phase short circuit. Unlike power swing conditions,
resistance variation after three phase fault is negligible.

Figure 5 measuring resistance trajectory in normal and three phase faults


Therefore, power system is determined to be in power swing condition if its measuring resistance
continuously changing in a monotony manner. Conversely, three phase short circuit will be determined
if resistance variations seem to be a small constant.
To determine the resistance variation threshold value, worst case condition is considered. This will
happen when the difference between internal angles of generators is 180(in an equivalent two
machine system) and power system has maximum power swing period TZMAX. This condition has
been shown in Figure 6.

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Figure 6 Trajectory of the measuring resistance with =180o and TZMAX


Therefore, a minimum resistance variation Rmin(180,TZMAX,) is obtained by introducing a
measuring window time equal to . In this way, for any swing period, the following relation will be
valid for measured resistance variation:
R Rmin(180,TZMAX, )

Equation 2

Considering measuring error and margin coefficient, above criterion should be changed to:
R KRmin(180,TZMAX, )

Equation 3

Where K is less than 1.


Considering above processes, fault detection criteria in power swing condition will be as
following:
If resistance variation follows: R < Rmin(180o,TZMAX, ), it is concluded that three phase short
has occurred during the power swing.
If resistance variation follows: R Rmin(180o,TZMAX, ), it is concluded power swing condition
without three phase fault has happened.
2.

ANALYSIS

Assume all the distance relays have been adopted block first then determine to unblock or not
method, which means zone I of distance relay 234 and 5 will be blocked after the first 150ms and
can operate only when the unblocking element meet the internal fault conditions.
Operation of distance relay zone I should fulfill criterions as below:
1)

Measured fault current should be over precise work current 0.1*In, the In is the rated value
of CT secondary current.

2)

Fault detection is positive.

3)

Calculated impedance should be in the operation area of distance zone I.

4)

Power swing blocking/unblocking function is enabled.

The analysis is focused on distance zones 1, which is based on the figure 1 system single line
diagram and figure 2 waveform records of relay 1.
At the time of BN fault just happened, there was a system disturbance and can make distance
relay 234 and 5 startup, because this is an external fault of them, distance zone I will not operate
immediately. But only the distance relay 1 can operate in a very short time (normally less than 30ms).
After relay startup for 150ms, distance zone I will be blocked because of the power swing
blocking/unblocking function is enabled.
When the timeline is at 195ms from distance relay startup, the fault evolved to three phase fault
which is belonging to symmetric fault type. The distance zone I through sudden change current (BN to
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ABC fault) to judge the fault direction, at the first short period (no less than 150ms) of three phase fault,
the direction is still negative because the fault is still external attributes and power swing need time to
initiate. Thus, the distance zone 1 of relay 234 and 5 will not operate. But after that, with the power
swing evolving, voltage decreasing accompany with current increasing periodically, measured
impedance will move into operation area of distance zone I. By reason of blocking after 150ms method,
the distance relay 234 and 5 will not trigger an unwanted operation.
Based on waveform data analysis of distance relay 234 and 5, the symmetric fault detection
element cannot unblock distance zone I, because the change ratio of measured resistance indicates there
is a power swing but not an internal fault. For example, the calculation and data analysis of distance
relay 4 are shown as below:
3
2

Rab

Rbc

-1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Rca

-2
Figure 7 Measured Phase to Phase Resistance Rab, Rbc, Rca
At the T2 time point of figure 3the measured resistance Rab is 1.15, Rbc is -0.19Rca is
-1.01. The duration between T1 and T2 is 50ms, the change of measured resistance during this 50ms
can be calculated and the result is: Rab = 1.4Rbc = 2.78Rca = 1.96. This means
measured resistance has a significant change, therefore there is a power swing rather than an internal
fault and the distance zone I will be not unblocked by the symmetric unblocking element.
3.

CONCLUSION

The distance relay which has power swing blocking/unblocking function doesnt need to detect
the power swing really happen or not. After 150ms from system disturbance start, distance relay will be
blocked whether the power swing is exiting or not. When the distance relay has been into blocking
situation, it needs unblocking element to allow the operation command, also with some other auxiliary
judgment criteria, this method can prevent mal-operation of distance relay under power swing
condition effectively. On the other hand, based on the reliable asymmetric and symmetric internal fault
detection element, the internal faults under power swing condition can be distinguished by the distance
relay and send operation command correctly. The calculation and simulation result indicate that if the
distance relays adopted blocking/unblocking method, distance relay 234 and 5 will be blocked and
prevent system black out accident.
4.

REFERENCE

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About the Author
Narong Tantichayakorn (1959-)Male, Director, Substation and Power System Maintenance
Department ,engages in O&M of switchgears, power transformers and protection relays.
Yin Liangfang (1982-)Male, master degree, senior engineer, engages in R&D of power system
protection relay.
Zhao Zhihong (1967-)Male, senior engineer, engages in R&D of power system protection relay.
Du Zhaoqiang (1975-)Male, master degree, senior engineer, engages in R&D of power system
protection relay.
Xiong Jun (1975-)Male, master degree, senior engineer, engages in R&D of power system protection
relay.

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