An in-depth study into the various factors contributing to the unexplained line faults on a large high voltage network.
The Eskom Transmission Network experiences an exceptionally high number of line faults, the cause of which, may not be correctly identified. This thesis analyses a number of all the possible factors responsible for causing these faults. The objective is to assign probable causes of these faults and that the correct preventative or corrective measures may be planned. The percentage of unexplained line faults is estimated to be 35 % of the total system faults. It is important for the Transmission Group of Eskom to minimise the number of faults. Major efforts to minimise identified faults such as bird streamers, veld fires, sugar cane fIfes, lightning and a hypothesised light pollution, light wetting mechanism has been undertaken by the transmission grid authority. This thesis presents an analysis of the statistical data of the unknown faults (unknown faults is defined as lines that trip due to a reason which could not be identified) that has been undertaken. This analysis takes into account a number of categories of causes of line faults. The period, for which the performance of the lines was analysed for was the years inclusive of 1993 to 1997. The investigation has focused on the identification of the under-performing lines of the main Transmission Network. The identified poorly performing lines have been compared with each other from the perspective ofthe following variables: • Region • Voltage (System Voltage) • Climatic Data Line faults - Time ofDay analysis • Line Faults - Time of Year analysis. The analysis indicates that the majority of unexplained flashovers occur between 22 :00 and 07:00 the following morning (Britten et al, 1999). Almost all of the under performing lines in South Africa fall in the sub-tropical/humid climatic area. All the lines studied are insulated with standard glass disc insulators. The analysis indicated that most of the unexplained line faults occur during the months when the seasons change, e.g. from autumn to winter. The analysis further indicates that most unexplained line faults occurred during the months of April to May and August to September. Of note is that during the period of this investigation bird guarding was performed on some lines. Installing bird guards may reduce those line faults that are caused by bird streamers. However, the bird pollution (deposited on glass disc insulators) that is not washed off at the same time as the bird guard installation may cause the line to trip due to the combination of the pollution and wetting resulting in a pollution type flashover. This is a possible cause of some unexplained line faults that occur from April to May. Bird streamers are also identified as the most probable cause of the unexplained faults which occur during the late evening periods (22:00 - 00:00). Pollution (with wetting) during the early morning periods may result in faults for the period 00:00 to 02:00. Line faults in the early morning periods (04:00 - 7:00) could be due to bird streamers or pollution and wetting, depending on the time of year in which the faults occurs.
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