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2010 Asia-Pacific International Symposium on Electromagnetic Compatibility, April 12 - 16, 2010, Beijing, China

Influence of Earthing Resistance on the Performance

of Distribution Line Lightning Arrester
N.A. Abd. Rahman#1, N. Abdullah*2, M.F. Ariffin#3
TNB Research Sdn. Bhd.
No. 1, Lorong Air Itam
Kawasan Institusi Penyelidikan, Kajang
43000 Selangor, Malaysia
Tenaga Nasional Berhad,
11 Floor, Wisma TNB, No. 19
Jalan Timur, Petaling Jaya
46200 Selangor, Malaysia

The line lightning performance of the 33kV distribution line
Tanjung Batu - Rompin gives very bad performance during
lightning. The lines have bad performance although they were
equipped with the line lightning arrester to limit the overvoltages
on the phase conductors when lightning strikes the line. There
are several cases where the surge arresters were broken and
exploded. In this study, the effect of earthing resistance on the
surge arrester was studied and simulated using ATP-EMTP to
determine the performance of the line lightning arrester in
limiting the lightning voltages on the phase conductor.

Lightning is the major cause of the 33kV Tanjung Batu
Rompin (TJBU RMPN) breakdown occurrences. The line is
approximately 55km long running through the rural area of
Pahang, located at East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. From Fig. 1 Ground strokes density for TJBU-RMPN line traverse
the record, the total number of breakdown from the year 2002
to 2006 is 64 breakdowns. The line breakdown due to
lightning is 30 which is about 47% from the total number of II. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF 33KV TANJUNG BATU ROMPIN
line breakdown. DISTRIBUTION LINE
The 33kV Tanjung Batu Rompin line length is
Based on Lightning Detection System Lab (LDS), TNB
approximately 55km. The line has 413 poles which the
Research Sdn. Bhd. (TNBR) records from January 2004 to
average span length of 150m. The measured soil resistivity
September 2008 indicate that the average ground stroke
along the line is varies between 10 to 600 .m. A total of 22
densities of the area on which the line route range from 13
MOV line surge arresters have been installed on the line. The
15 strokes/km2/year.
phase conductors are single conductor of 150mm2 Silmalec.
This line has no shield wires installed, thus no dedicated
earthing system installed at every pole. The Basic Insulation
Level (BIL) of the line is 170kV.

978-1-4244-5623-9/10/$26.00 2010 IEEE 1538


Voltage (kV)
104 112 120 132 156 202
Current (kA)

Fig. 4 Voltage Current Characteristics of MOV Surge Arrester

Fig. 2 Surge Arresters Installed on the Pole
Figure 2 shows the voltage on Phase A when lightning
A total of seven poles which are located approximately in strikes the conductor. The maximum overvoltages on the line
the middle of the 33kV Tanjung Batu-Rompin line are is about 4.8 MV which exceeds the line BIL of 170kV.
selected and modelled in the ATP-EMTP. The phase
conductors at both ends are terminated by a 450 ohm
resistance which represents the surge impedance of the
conductors for the remaining part of the circuit.

In this simulation, we study the case in which lightning

strikes Phase A (outer phase) in the mid-span between Pole
No.4 and No.5, where lightning surge arresters are installed at
the phases of Pole No. 4. It is expected that Phases A and C
are more susceptible to lightning strikes, as compared to Phase
B (middle phase). For unshielded horizontal circuits, both
outer phase wires will be more exposed to direct lightning
strikes, which would provide the middle phase with some
degree of shielding from direct strikes. Protecting the outer
Fig. 5 Overvoltages on Phase A when 21kA lightning strikes the phase
phases of a flat horizontal circuit with surge arresters could be conductor
an effective means for improving line overall lightning
For the purpose of determining the importance of pole
earthing, 10kA and 15kA lightning surge currents are used.
Table 1 below shows the overvoltages on Phase A conductor
when a 10kA lightning strikes the conductor. The maximum
overvoltages for lightning surge current of 10kA and 15kA are
about 2.29MV and 3.43MV respectively, which exceed the
line BIL of 170kV. Surge arresters are recommended to be
installed to prevent the current surges from flowing to the
network by diverting them harmlessly to the ground. They
would also limit the overvoltages to the lowest possible level.
Fig. 3 Modelling of Seven Distribution Poles in ATP EMTP
The lightning surge modelled in this simulation is STRIKE THE PHASE CONDUCTOR
characterised by 8/20s, Heidler current waveform, with a
peak magnitude 21kA which is the mean value of lightning Overvoltages (MV)
Lightning Surge Lightning Surge
current at the traverse of Tanjung Batu Rompin line for the
= 10kA = 15kA
year 2007. Without
2.29 3.43
The line surge arrester currently installed is a gapless metal
oxide varistor. The rated voltage is 29kV and the MCOV
(Maximum Continuous Operating Voltage) is 36kV.

However, to install the surge arresters, earthing resistance magnitude when the line surge arrester has good grounding
must be maintained at low or recommended value to ensure an system which near to 0 and 20.
optimized lightning surge operation. Table 2 below shows the
overvoltages on Phase A conductor when 10kA and 15kA TABLE III
currents of lightning strike the conductor with different values LINE OVERVOLTAGES WHEN ARRESTERS GROUNDED WITH DIRECT GROUND
of pole earthing. AND 20 EARTHING RESISTANCE

TABLE II Lightning
Direct Ground (0 ) 20
10 130 295
Overvoltages (kV) 11 133 314
Pole Earth 12 136 333
Lightning Surge = Lightning Surge =
Resistance () 13 139 352
10kA 15kA
0 131 144 14 142 372
1 140 158 15 144 391
5 176 213 16 146 410
10 219 277
15 258 336
20 290 391
Line Lightning Overvoltages
30 360 487
40 416 571 600
50 465 644 500

Overvoltages (kV)
100 661 935 400
200 875 1251 20 ohm
~ 0 ohm
Table 2 shows the overvoltages on the phase conductor 0
when surge arresters are grounded with different earthing 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
resistance values. The overvoltage on the line exceeds the line Lightning Current
BIL even when the earthing resistance is only 5 . Therefore,
it is crucial to have low earthing resistance since it will affect Fig. 7 Lightning Current vs Line Overvoltages
the surge arrester operation effectiveness in limiting the line
The higher the magnitude of the lightning current that
strikes the phase conductor, the higher lightning overvoltages
Line Lightning Overvoltages
on the line would be occurred on the line. Also, the higher the
1400 earth resistance of the arrester, the higher the line lightning
1200 overvoltages would be.
Overvoltages (kV)

800 10kA
600 15 kA
However, it can be seen in Figure 3 that, when line surge
400 arrester has very good earthing system which the earth
200 resistance value is 0, the increment of the line overvoltages
0 1 5 10 15 20 30 40 50 100 200
value at different lightning current magnitude are negligible.
Earth Resistance (ohm)
The performance of line surge arrester is the best when it is
grounded with a very low earth resistance.
Fig. 6 Earth Resistances vs Line Overvoltages

From the Figure 3, it shows that at low earth resistance When the surge arrester is installed on the line, it will limit
value, the overvoltages on the phase conductor at different the lightning overvoltage magnitude to about 95%. However,
value of lightning current shows not much different. The the effectiveness of the surge arrester will decrease when the
performance of the line surge arrester in limiting the resistance of the surge arrester to the earth increases. With an
overvoltages will decrease to about 5 % of every 5 ohm increase of every 5 ohm, the performance of surge arrester to
increase. limit the lightning overvoltages decreases by about 5%. These
results show that the effectiveness of line surge arresters is
The overvoltages on the line were analyzed with different affected by the earth resistance. To ensure the line surge
value of lightning magnitude. Table 3 shows the overvoltages arrester is operated at the best performance, regardless the
at the phase conductor at various magnitude of lightning lightning magnitude that will hit the line, earth resistance must

be kept very low since the performance of the line surge REFERENCES
arrester is dependable on its earthing system value. [1] IEEE Std. 1243 1997, IEEE Guide for Improving the Lightning
Performance of Transmission Lines
[2] A.P. Sakis Meliopoulus, John Kennedy, Statistical Lightning
ACKNOWLEDGMENT Performance Evaluation of Overhead Distribution Lines, IEEE, 2000
[3] F.P. Dwalibi, W. Ruan, S. Fortin And J. Ma, Computation of Power
An acknowledgement is made to all relevant people who Line Structure Surge Impedances Using the Electromagnetic Field
have contributed towards the success of this study. The author Method, IEEE 2001
also would like to thank the Management of TNBR and [4] F.P. Dwalibi & P. Hotte, Distribution Line Safety Grounding:
Parametric Analysis, IEEE1998
TNBD for providing the support for this study. Thanks also [5] F.P. Dwalibi, W. Ruan, S. Fortin, J. Ma & W.K. Daily, Computation
TNBR research team members who have worked very hard to of Power Line Structure Surge Impedances Using the Electromagnetic
complete this project. Field Method, IEEE 2001