Performance of Medium Voltage Overhead Distribution Lines Against Lightning Discharges

TPLEPS HRO-CIGRÉ, 2007 CIGRÉ Zagreb Symposium, 2007, CIGRÉ Symposium on Transient Phenomena in Large Electric Power Systems, Zagreb, Croatia, 18 - 21 April 2007


The lightning discharges are one of the main causes of interruptions of medium voltage overhead distribution lines, being the reason of great concern for the utility companies. Its destructive effects frequently extends to equipments and connected installations, with the possibility to cause personal injuries and material damages, beyond economic losses, due to out of income and the possibility of indemnities, penalties and fines.
With the beginning of the deregulation of the electric energy supply, some actions were been taken by the utilities for the prevention and minimization of the damages associated to the lightning discharges. However, as the lightning discharges are random events, consequently, difficult to predict, the majority of these actions does not follow a study or a detailed analysis of the problem.
By this way, in the majority of the cases the actions were taken based on the knowledge of the engineer in charge, or based in rules defined without any effective evidence, by means of studies or by laboratory tests. As a result, many of them besides of presenting high cost are not effective.
Among others, the distribution network reliability depends directly on its exposition to the lightning discharges. To determine the exposition level of the line, the designer should know the number of discharges to the ground per unit of area per unit of time.
The aim of this paper is to present the results of the performance study of medium voltage overhead distribution lines against lightning discharges, in the way to define methodologies to reduce the system failures.
The results were obtained within the partnership among the High Voltage Laboratory of the Federal University of Itajubá, AES Sul Utility Company and the University of Bologna.
Direct discharges and induced surges were simulated into real networks to identify the major factor of influence for network failures. Then commentaries on the relative performance and comparisons of different construction configurations of overhead lines are presented.
Once that the atmospheric discharges phenomena are random, this work considers that the parameter generation of the discharges follows the statistical data proposed by Anderson and Eriksson. The Monte Carlo Method is used for the incidence distribution of the discharges and the Electro Geometrical Model for the interception point of the discharge.


The standard medium voltage distribution networks are subjected to the incidence of direct lightning discharges and induced surges. The majority of the damages to the distribution network are caused by direct discharges. However, they can be deviated by tall structures, such as towers, buildings, high constructions, and trees.
When the lightning strikes the network directly, they commonly cause permanent damages, because they are high intensity discharges with high growth rate. For this kind of damage, the network remains off until its repair.
Even when the lightning does not intercept the network, they induce surges that travel throughout the lines. These surges are able to cause many damages and interruptions to the distribution network. For that reason, this work presents the relations between induced surges and direct discharges.
The topology of the distribution network is the major factor of influence for analysis [1], and its density and distribution results in a greater or minor probability of incidence of direct lightning discharges.


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