Protection of Falling Conductors into Flammable Vegetation Faults

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Virginia Tech


Increasing modernization of the world has brought about a human component to natural disasters, which are exacerbated by the growing threat of climate change. The Western United States and Australia have witnessed some of the deadliest, costliest, and destructive wildfires in the recent past with downed electric power lines being a significant factor amongst the causes. The relationship between wildfires and powerlines is not a newly discovered phenomenon, however, utilities across the globe are struggling to find an optimal solution to this problem. While existing regulations allow utilities to schedule power shutdowns, they are often accompanied by massive financial losses and discomfort to consumers. Utilities also need to factor in the climatic conditions in the region of their service and the flammability of the vegetation surrounding their lines while making decisions pertaining to system planning, load shedding, and protection. This multi-faceted problem can be dealt with in multiple ways – one such technique involves detection of a falling line into sensitive vegetation before it encounters the earth. This approach essentially boils down the problem into detecting a single line open circuit fault. The open circuit is momentary and hence, speed is of the essence in such a protection scheme. In this thesis, detection of an open circuit is carried out in two different ways, viz., with and without communication support between the various elements of the system, with the latter technique being a novel proposal with the aim of achieving a secure protection scheme with minimal additional infrastructural requirements.



High Impedance Fault, Open Circuit Detection, Downed Conductor, Protection, Wildfire, Vegetation Faults