FBG-based fibre-optic current sensors for power systems protection : laboratory evaluation

Orr, P. and Niewczas, Pawel and Dysko, Adam and Booth, Campbell (2009) FBG-based fibre-optic current sensors for power systems protection : laboratory evaluation. In: The 44th International Universities' Power Engineering Conference, 2009-09-01 - 2009-09-04.

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Conventional differential current unit protection schemes rely on a pair of electronic protection relays that measure current phasors separately at the boundaries of the protected zone. The scheme requires a separate, often optical, communications channel for the sharing of measurement information to enable the timely identification of and reaction to internal faults. The high voltage environment that the transducers must operate in poses a number of engineering problems stemming from the need for electrical isolation and requirement for transformation of high primary system current magnitudes. Additionally, when either the number of relays or distance between relays is increased, timing problems can arise due to the limited bandwidth, speed and changeable latencies of the communication channels and the increased computation requirements. Fibre-optical sensor systems are maturing as a technology and offer a number of advantages over conventional electronic sensor regimes, including the possession of inherent electrical isolation, chemical inertness, immunity to electromagnetic interference, and their small size and serial multiplexing capability. Fibre sensor systems are therefore experiencing increased uptake in industries that operate in harsh environments, such as oil and gas, or where specific requirements such as large step-out distances or resistance to radiation prohibit the use of electronic sensors. The Advanced Sensors Team within the Institute for Energy and Environment has developed fibre-optic point sensors for voltage and electrical current, based on fibre Bragg grating (FBG) technology, that have been applied successfully to power systems diagnostics. With the photonic systems capability to interrogate up to 100 km from source at kHz sample rates with up to 30 sensors in series, it is possible and highly desirable to adapt this technology for use in power systems protection, where immediate applications in unit and distance protection are clear. In this paper, the application of the FBG-based hybrid current sensor system to power systems protection is presented for the first time. Experimental tests of the response of an optical unit protection system to a range of internal and external fault scenarios are also reported. Secondary current inputs to the system are modelled using ATP and injected into the prototype test system via an APTS3 (Advanced Protection Testing System) unit. Fibre sensors, separated optically by 24 km of fibre, provide all measurement information via a single interrogation system situated at one end of the protected zone. Experimental results confirm high performance of the optical unit protection both in terms of sensitivity to internal faults and stability under external fault conditions. Therefore, the systems ability to overcome problems experienced in electronic relaying systems using conventional current sensing technologies is demonstrated. No separate communications channel is required in this configuration, with fault algorithms being deployed only at one location that need not be close to the protected zone. The fibre-optic current sensor systems capacity for long-distance interrogation and high sensor count qualify it for further applications in more complex protection schemes, or over larger distances, where a single fibre could form the basis of highly novel distributed protection schemes. This potential will also be discussed in detail in the paper.