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Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE


Line Rating: Its all about the Temperature! Ryan Bliss, P.E., S.E., M.ASCE Transmission Engineering, Electrical Consultants, Inc., 660 W. 700 South, Woods Cross, Utah 84087; PH (801) 292-9954; FAX (801) 292-9177; email: Ryan.Bliss@ecislc.com Introduction Line rating and uprating techniques have become very popular methods for evaluating and increasing the capacity of existing transmission lines. Highly accurate aerial LiDar surveys have enabled transmission engineers to precisely model wire attachment points and corresponding conductor sag. The utility industry has then used several methods of calculating, predicting and or measuring the conductor temperature and then calibrated it to the highly accurate survey data. The models of each transmission line are then used to evaluate the respective electrical capacity of each line and the results are used as a tool in determining the extent of uprating required. The line rating studies have resulted in many transmission uprating projects where significant capitol has been invested to increase the electrical capacity in each line. The line rating and uprating processes have leveraged technology to maximize capital investments; however, how accurate are the results? Are the results conservative? Are they too conservative? What is the margin of error? Is there a disconnect between the Operations system models and Engineerings models used for Line Rating Analysis? Planning and Operations department typically use the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Standard 738 calculation methods to predict operating temperatures on transmission lines per some set of operating criteria for a given season. This standard states in the introduction that because there is great diversity of weather conditions and operating circumstances for which conductor temperatures and/or thermal ratings must be calculated, the standard does not undertake to list actual temperature-current relationships for specific conductors or weather conditions. Is this standard applicable or helpful to Line Rating analysis? This paper will explore many of the methods used in line rating analysis, focusing on the methods of determining the calibrating conductor temperature. A comparison of each method will include a brief methodology and an error analysis of maximum possible error and probably error, positive and negative. The results of this comparative analysis will answer the questions of the importance of calibrating conductor temperature accuracy and the significance in line rating and uprating results. The inaccuracy of conductor temperature calibration can cause potential violations to be missed or can cause significant increase in project cost to achieve the same rating.

Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE


Observations of Current Industry Practices Ambient Temperature Method The simplest approach to calibrating the conductor temperature is using an ambient temperature that was measured and collected during the survey. At first glance, this appears to be a conservative method, because this should be the coldest theoretical temperature that the wire could be. There are a few questions that should be realized with this approach. I. II. Is calibrating with the coldest temperature always the most conservative? Where was this ambient temperature measured? (conductor elevation, under line, on some control point 5 ft off the ground shielded by trees)

III. How conservative is this approach? There are situations with multiple circuits on a single transmission line that the controlling condition of thermal ratings is the clearance to the other circuits on the transmission line. In this case and in the case of analyzing ratings to crossing circuits, using the coldest temperature is not being conservative and could be masking potential clearance deficiencies. Often the ambient temperature measurements that are recorded during a survey are five feet above the ground and surrounded by vegetation, near some control point used by the survey company that happens to be a significant distance from the transmission line. The ambient temperature is typically much cooler at the elevation of the conductors; also the wind can be dramatically different at the conductor as compared to the wind measured near the ground. These errors can cause both non-conservative and over-conservative conductor temperature calibrations and therefore inaccurate thermal ratings, resulting in the possibility and probability of clearance violations not discovered or much more capital than is really needed to restore the transmission lines capacity rating. The errors of this approach get dramatically worse if the line is heavily loaded electrically during the survey. This data is good to tabulate and evaluate but this method is not recommended for conductor temperature calibration. Predictive methods The need to calibrate conductor temperature with highly accurate aerial LiDar survey data has caused several predictive methods to be used in the attempt to be more accurate. I. IEEE The most common approach currently used to predict and calibrate the conductor temperature to the LiDar survey data is the use of IEEE Standard 738, calculations of steady state conductor temperature. There are many variables that make up these calculations, some of which are easy to collect and be very accurate, while others simply must be estimated with very little accuracy and can introduce significant error in calibration. One of the goals of

Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE


this study was to find the limits of potential error, which required in over 37 billion calculations to reach the following observations. The variations identified are the extreme limit of fluctuation, the actual amount of error in each case is expected to be less. The variables include: a. Date & Time The date and time variables are easy input variables to be very accurate. The 2006 update to the IEEE Standard 738 added sensitivity to the equations to account for small incremental adjustments to the suns angle to the wire and the resulting impact on the conductor. There is a period of time required to survey a transmission line, this time would introduce some error as many of the input variables could vary. The amount of this error is very difficult to predict and for the purposes of this paper will be assumed as minimal. b. Atmosphere The atmosphere variable where there are only two options, either clear or industrial. The atmosphere variable does not consider all the variations of sky conditions between clear and cloudy that would typically exist during a survey. The variation of results from this input variable can be as much as 15 degrees F. and highest variation occurs on low electrical loads. Some error from this input variable is likely to be included in the results from the IEEE calculations.

c. Latitude & Elevation The latitude and elevation input variables are also easy to be very accurate as they relate to geospatial location of the transmission line under evaluation. Each transmission line is different and that would cause some variation in the input variables, but if either latitude or elevation caused significant variation in the results of the IEEE calculations, each section of line could use the average latitude and elevation of the corresponding section. The amount of this error is assumed minimal for the purposes of this paper. d. Line Azimuth The azimuth of a transmission line is also an input variable that can be determined per section of line, although any type of running angles present in a section of line makes it difficult to determine since the azimuth varies. Once again minimal error is expected by small variations in an azimuth angle of a line; although, if the angle varies significantly, 15 to 20 degrees F. of variation occurs and it would be expected that some error would be included in the IEEE results for heavy and light loaded transmission lines. Wind Pressure The wind input variable is also a difficult variable to collect. Weather data is usually collected during the survey, but it is typically near a survey control point which could be some distance from the transmission line and the weather station is typically at an elevation near the ground and possible shielded by surrounding vegetation. The transmission conductor on the other hand is typically 25 50 feet above the ground, where the expected wind would be

Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE


greater. The variation results between a 0 foot per second wind and an 8 foot per second wind vary from 50 degrees F. on lightly loaded lines to 380 degrees F. on heavily loaded lines, it is expected that significant error would be included in the IEEE results. The amount of error expected would also increase as the load on the transmission line increases.

Figure 1 - This graph shows the thermal gain comparison between a "No Wind" condition and an "8 ft/s Wind" condition.

Figure 2 - The difference between the curves in Figure 1 is represented this graph to show the potential error that could exist between the two wind pressure values of "No Wind" and "8 ft/s".

Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE


e. Wind Conductor Angle The wind conductor angle is a very difficult input variable to determine, since wind direction is continually changing and the azimuth of each transmission line often changes frequently. The variation of results from the wind angle can vary from 20 degrees F at lightly loaded lines to 180 degrees F on heavily loaded lines, it is expected that significant error would be included in the IEEE results. It should also be mentioned that the IEEE equations can also completely break down under very light loaded conditions.

Figure 3 - Similar to the effect of Wind Pressure is the Wind Angle, this graph shows difference in thermal gain between a parallel wind and a perpendicular wind on the wire.

f. Electrical Load The electrical load is an input variable that is also very easy to be very accurate to collect and document from the system operators. The input variable of electrical load is the main cause of heat in transmission lines and the error of all other variables are impacted by the amount of electrical load. In operation logs it will be observed that the electrical load is not constant, therefore the greater the variation in the load the greater the potential error in IEEE calculations. IEEE calculations assume constant electrical flow. g. Emissivity & Solar Absorption - The emissivity and solar absorption input variables are also very difficult to determine and theoretically would vary on almost every conductor. Most utilities use set values used by their operations group in the line rating capacity criteria. The variation of results for emissivity varied from 15 degrees F. on a lightly loaded line to 400 degrees F. on a heavily loaded line. The amount of error is expected to be between 10 degrees F. for a lightly loaded line and 80 degrees F. for a heavily loaded line.

Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE


Figure 4 - This graph shows difference in thermal gain between the extreme values of Emissivity.

The variation results for solar absorption was much less and varied from 25 degrees F. on a lightly loaded line to 20 degrees F. on a heavily loaded line. The amount of error expected would be between 5 10 degrees F.

h. Conductor Thermal Coefficients The input variables associated with the thermal properties for each conductor type was assumed to be accurate for the purposes of this paper. The IEEE calculations are also only mathematical models that have limited accuracy even with accurate input variables. After a review of all the input variables it is concluded that the IEEE calculations for conductor temperature will include significant error. II. Infrared Infrared temperature sensors have over the last few years become effective at measuring relative surface temperatures and with calibrating the solar absorption and emissivity coefficients, absolute surface temperatures can be measured very accurately. The application of this technology is limited to relatively close distances so that there are several pixels of the sensor on the surface being measured; and when the background temperature is not drastically different than the desired surface. Although, this technology has

Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE


great application for finding hot spots in substations, transmission lines are typically too high to measure and the sky washes out the sensors ability to measure. The other difficulties would be to calibrate the solar absorption and emissivity coefficients which as discussed earlier can dramatically impact the predicted temperature. Direct Measurement method There are a few instruments that have been produced that can be mounted on a hotstick and safely measure the surface temperature of the conductor while energized or the resistance of the conductor, which then can produce the conductor temperature. I. Temperature Probe These instruments have proven to be accurate to less than one degree for the surface temperature of a conductor. There are three drawbacks for this method; first, instrument availability; second, utility operations practices for hotline clearances and third, there is an increase in cost to collect these measurements. The availability of these instruments has diminished due to lack of demand from the utility sector and therefore that are currently no known manufacture of a hotline temperature probe. Many utilities have adopted safety policies which prohibit any contact with a transmission line while circuit reclosures are in place therefore making it more difficult to get hotline clearances, especially on heavier loaded lines. Some utilities have reviewed the procedure of collecting a temperature reading and were able to get an exception to that type of policy and still collect temperature readings. The last concern of cost for the additional personnel, which is typically a very small percent of LiDar line rating project and easily offset by the value of the information collected, where the cost will be offset by the savings of being more accurate.

Figure 5 - AB Chance Temperature Probe making direct energized conductor surface temperature measurement.

Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE


II. Resistance Measurements Temperature and resistance are directly related. If the temperature of the conductor increases, the resistance will also increase at the same rate. It does not matter if the line is heated by the sun or cooled by wind. The correlation between temperature and resistance is relatively linear for the temperature range for this application. The temperature of ACSR can be different between the surface and the core of the conductor. The key temperature that determines sag is the cross-sectional temperature of the conductor. The resistance temperature correlation is this cross sectional temperature. In 1996 SensorLink Corporation invented a process to measure current and micro-ohm resistance on high voltage lines. (Up to 500 kV) They integrated this process into a live-line meter called the Ohmstik. The primary application for this meter is evaluating the reliability of in-service connectors. By adding a longer probe to their present Ohmstik, reliable resistance readings can be collected for the purpose of determining the cross-sectional temperature of conductors.

Figure 6 - Sensorlink's Ohmstik modified to make resistance readings over five feet instead of one foot to increase the accuracy of the instrument.

Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE


Conclusions Accuracy and Precision Typically, very small increments of temperature can make significant variations of the uprating work recommended from a line rating analysis. It is clear that there is no single solution for determining conductor temperature; the direct methods achieve the accuracy of collecting real world values but have limited availability of instruments and difficulty in collecting measurements in each section of a line; while the predictive methods of determining conductor calibrating temperature have significant variations from input variables that cannot be determined accurately and will contain significant error. The resistance method shows great promise and currently could be used to get very accurate and precise calibrating temperatures. The ideal meter still needs to be developed, one that can be hung on the conductor prior to survey and log temperature, resistance, electrical load and weather data for a period of time when a survey could be completed. The recommended line rating philosophy is to collect as much information as possible of both predictive and direct measurement techniques. Adding an error analysis to the IEEE calculation procedures would allow for the possible error limits to be identified for specific lines and compared to direct measurements, thus somewhat calibrating the IEEE calculations to real world direct measurements. The issue of conductor temperature calibration is not an issue of being conservative, it is an issue of be accurate and precise. A more appropriate place to be conservative would be in the clearance criteria requirements used for line rating evaluation and in uprating design engineering. The IEEE calculations are valuable information to consider but should not be used blindly or by themselves. The input variables for the IEEE calculations are also not repeatable, therefore there no precision. It is important to assemble as much information as possible for each section being rated; preferably some direct temperature readings to correlate and validate IEEE calculation conditions for some sections of data to determine accuracy and gain confidence in the calibrated conductor survey temperature. A philosophy of accuracy and precision ultimately will be the most cost effective on uprating projects and clearance compliant approach to line rating and uprating engineering. References: IEEE Standard for Calculating the Current-Temperature of Bare Overhead Conductors (738-2006), IEEE Power Engineering Society, Transmission and Distribution Committee.