On April 23, 2022, the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) Brac University Student Branch Chapter hosted a webinar on “Power System Protection in the Distribution Sector” The webinar was conducted by Md. Ariful Islam, Assistant Engineer, SPS, DPDC. Sometimes, there might be a faulty section in the electrical power system. The objective of power system protection is to isolate this faulty section from the rest of the live system so that the rest of the system can function accordingly and properly without causing any damage due to fault current.

The speaker started by explaining the required amount of power needed in our daily lives in Bangladesh. We learned about the generation capacity, peak demand, and maximum generation of power in our country. A blackout in 2014 resulted in people not having proper access to electricity all across Bangladesh, which caused inconvenience to about 100 million Bangladeshis. The national grid lost around 445MW of power and it took about 10 hours to get everything back on track. Therefore, it is one of the most important parts of our daily lives. Without the proper supply and generation of electricity, our daily lives would almost become futile. Hence, power system protection is a salient factor in everyone’s lives.

With that being said, we learned when to identify a fault in the electric power system. There are primarily three reasons why a fault can occur.

  • Abnormal flow of electric current due to short circuit
  • Sudden overshoot or dip in voltage
  • Sudden overshoot or dip in the system frequency.

There might be some other issues that can lead to a faulty current in the system, such as natural lightning faults or anomalies in the pole design, overhead cables, etc. Therefore, we need to ensure that we can keep the fault isolated from the system so that the healthy portion of the system still works and provides us with electricity. We also got to learn the different types of faults that cause the system to malfunction. Firstly, overhead line faults are of six different types, which are phase-to-phase faults, three-phase faults, single-phase earth faults, three-phase earth faults, open circuit faults, and cross-country faults. Next, we learned about the fault in the frequency whether the majority of the fault, if it occurs, happens due to a single line to the ground fault, which covers about 85% of the fault. The rest of the faults are line-to-line, double-line to ground faults. In the case of faults in transformers, its usually winding faults, core faults, tap changer faults, transformer accessories faults, and sustained or uncleared external faults, where the majority are the winding and terminal faults.

There are three main reasons why we find fault.

  • It is not economical to have a fault-free system.
  • Aging of insulation and contacts
  • Geological impacts like weather and lightning

This brings us to our next point, which is why do we need protection?

We need protection for the following reasons:

  • To detect anomalies by isolating that faulty part within the shortest period
  • To prevent injury to personnel,
  • To prevent damage to the equipment,
  • To enable continuous service in the network’s undamaged portion

Afterward, our speaker showed us a protective relay used in the protection system, its construction, and how it works. This allowed us to relate to the information he provided us. Furthermore, we learned about the protection items such as those at station level, bay level, and process levels. We also got to know about the protection relief device (PRD) operation.

Overall, we got to experience and gain knowledge that was fairly new to the audience, and we are hopeful that our audience could gain some important information on power system protection and the identification of faults.