Hidden Failures in Protection Systems and its Impact on Power System Wide-area Disturbances

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Virginia Tech

This document explores Hidden Failures in protection systems, which have been identified as key contributors in the degradation of Power System wide-area disturbances. The Hidden Failure Modes in which the protection systems may fail to operate correctly and their consequences are identified in a theoretical approach. This theoretical side has its practical counterpart since a number of Hidden Failure Modes are found in real wide-area disturbances.

The original definition of Hidden Failure, which is a failure that remains undetected and is uncovered by another system event, is included as well as developments on Hidden Failure sequence of events and a methodology for Hidden Failure identification. This method is based on Protection Element Functionality Defects (PEFD), which are applicable to all the elements included in the protective chain. PEFD are classified in two main groups.

Primary and Back-up protection schemes applied for Generators, Buses, Transformers and Transmission Lines are analyzed. The abnormal Power System conditions that each Power System element may have are enumerated. A catalogue of the relays or relay systems, in charge of detecting and stopping the continuous presence of the abnormal conditions is developed. Relay families organize this catalogue. The relaying schemes for five Special Protection Systems are described. Thirty-three Hidden Failures Modes are included based on the relaying implementation for Primary protection, Back-up protection and Special Protection Systems. These Hidden Failures Modes are based on PEFD-A. Hidden Failures related to PEFD-B are included in a general fashion.

Wide-area disturbances based on NERC reports are analyzed and Hidden Failures are identified employing the developed methodology. The mechanisms in the disturbances are summarized and are applicable to Primary protection, Back-up protection and Special Protection Systems.

Regions of Vulnerability and Areas of Consequence definitions are included and are identified for a Power System wide-area disturbance. For some protection schemes the term Condition of Vulnerability was developed. Regions of Vulnerability and Areas of Consequence will bring the initial steps towards the problem solution. Further research directions are oriented towards the development of a computer-based tool to track the regions of vulnerability in real time.

Primary Protection, Blackouts, Back-up protection, Special Protection Schemes., Hidden Failures