Life assessment and life extension of high voltage equipment in transmission substations.
In order to sustain transmission grid availability and reliability it is imperative that the condition of vital and costly high voltage equipment is ascertained on a continuous or regular basis. It is necessary to establish the effective diagnostic tools or surveillance devices that can be used to assess equipment condition. Emphasis has been placed on refining well-established and more novel but developing condition assessment techniques. It is important to note that condition assessment of equipment also allows the opportunity to predict failure. Based on a complete and systematic assessment, the failure of defective equipment may be evident or predicted in time, thus preventing a forced outage and loss of valuable 'system minutes'. It has also become necessary to extend the life of existing equipment since most of them are reaching the end of their useful life. Replacement strategies have proven to be ineffective due to financial and resource constraints experienced by utilities. Life extension is the work required to keep equipment operating economically beyond its anticipated life, with optimum availability, efficiency and safety. One of its principal components is condition assessment, with the possibility of predicting remnant life. As a result, refurbishment projects are then raised. Refurbishment by replacement, uprating, modifications or change of design of certain key components to extend the life usually requires a substantial amount of capital to be invested. These projects must be economically justified. This thesis focuses on establishing condition assessment techniques for major power equipment such as power transformers. Assessment techniques for instrument transformers and circuit breakers are included, since these are commonly replaced or modified under refurbishment projects. An experimental investigation was carried out to determine the effectiveness of integrating data of two diagnostic techniques i.e. dissolved gas analysis (on-line) and acoustic detection of partial discharges. It was found that there is a correlation between data obtained from an acoustic detection system and an on-line single gas (Hydrogen) analyser. By integrating the data of both on-line monitoring systems, the diagnostic process is further enhanced. In addition, the location of a fixed discharge source was verified by using an acoustic detection system. Further, the sensitivity of the acoustic technique to partial discharge inception voltage, relative to the established electrical detection technique was determined for the experimental arrangement used. The results obtained indicated that this is an effective technique for the evaluation of activity within a transformer structure.