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1

AbstractLightning discharges follow tortuous paths, so the


usual assumption of a vertical leader channel is not realistic. This
paper is aimed at exploring the influence that a non-vertical
channel of the stroke leader can have on the lightning flashover
rate of overhead transmission lines. The study is based on a
Monte Carlo procedure implemented in an electromagnetic
transients program, for which advanced models of the various
transmission line parts involved in calculations have been
developed.

Index Terms-- Overvoltages, Modeling, Monte Carlo Method,
Power System Lightning Effects, Statistics.
I. INTRODUCTION
lightning flash is a very complicated physical
phenomenon [1], [2], whose characterization can be of
paramount importance for a proper analysis and design of
overhead transmission lines. A vertical direction is generally
assumed for the stroke leader when it approaches earth;
however, a non-vertical direction is more realistic [3], [4]. It
is accepted that the assumption of a non-vertical direction can
increase the shielding failure flashover rate (SFFOR) [4], but
not much attention has been paid to the analysis of the effect
on the backflashover rate (BFOR).
The aim of this paper is to explore the effect that a stroke
angle distribution different from the vertical one can have on
the flashover rate. The study will be based on the Monte Carlo
procedure developed and implemented by the authors in an
electromagnetic transients program [5]. Modifications needed
to account for any stroke leader angle distribution have been
incorporated to the original procedure. Since not much work
has been published on the characterization of the stroke angle,
the statistical distribution will be estimated in this work as in
the papers by Armstrong, Whitehead and Brown [3], [4].
The paper has been organized as follows. Section II
includes a summary on the models used for representing the
transmission line in lightning overvoltage calculations,
including lightning characterization. The main features of the
Monte Carlo procedure are summarized in Section III. The
results derived from the application of the procedure to the


Juan A. Martinez is with the Departament dEnginyeria Elctrica,
Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.
Ferley Castro-Aranda is with the Grupo de Investigacin en Alta Tensin at
the Escuela de Ingeniera Elctrica y Electrnica, Universidad del Valle, Cali,
Colombia.

test line are summarized in Section IV. The effect that the
statistical distribution of the leader channel angle can have on
the flashover rate is analyzed is Section V.
II. MODELING FOR LIGHTNING OVERVOLTAGE CALCULATIONS
The models used to represent the different parts of the
transmission line involved in lightning overvoltage calcula-
tions are detailed in the following paragraphs.
1) The transmission line (shield wires and phase conductors)
is modeled by means of several spans at each side of the
point of impact. Each span is represented as a multi-phase
untransposed constant and distributed-parameter line
section, whose parameters are calculated at 500 kHz [6].
2) The line termination at each side of the above model,
needed to avoid reflections that could affect the simulated
overvoltages around the point of impact, is represented by
means of a long enough section, whose parameters are also
calculated at 500 kHz.
3) A tower is represented as an ideal single conductor
distributed-parameter line. This model can suffice for
single circuits with towers shorter than 50 meters [1].
4) Phase voltages at the instant at which the lightning stroke
impacts the line are included, and their values are deduced
by randomly determining a phase reference angle.
5) The representation of insulator strings relies on the
application of the leader progression model [1], [7] - [9],
which can be used to account for nonstandard lightning
voltages. According to this model, the flashover
mechanism consists of three steps: corona inception,
streamer propagation and leader propagation. When the
applied voltage exceeds the corona inception voltage,
streamers propagate along the insulator string; if the
voltage remains high enough, these streamers will become
a leader channel. A flashover occurs when the leader
crosses the gap between the cross-arm and the conductor.
Therefore, the total time to flashover can be expressed as
follows

l s c t
t t t t + + = (1)
where t
c
is the corona inception time, t
s
is the streamer
propagation time and t
l
is the leader propagation time.
Usually t
c
is neglected because it is very short in compari-
son to the other two times. According to [7], t
s
can be
calculated as follows

50
50
95 . 0 25 . 1 E E
E
t
s

= (2)
Influence of the Stroke Angle on the Flashover
Rate of an Overhead Transmission Line
Juan A. Martinez, Member, IEEE, and Ferley Castro-Aranda, Member, IEEE
A
1-4244-0493-2/06/$20.00 2006 IEEE.
2
where E
50
is the average gradient at the critical flashover
voltage and E is the maximum gradient in the gap before
breakdown. The leader propagation time, t
l
, can be obtai-
ned from the following equation

=
0
) (
) (
l l
E
l g
t V
t V k
dt
dl
(3)
where V(t) is the voltage across the gap, g is the gap length,
l is the leader length, E
l0
is the critical leader inception
gradient, and k
l
is a leader coefficient. The leader propaga-
tion stops if the gradient in the unbridged part of the gap
falls below E
l0
.
6) The footing impedance is represented as a non-linear
resistance whose value is approximated by the following
expression [6], [10]

g
T
I I
R
R
/ 1
0
+
= (4)
where R
0
is the footing resistance at low current and low
frequency, I is the stroke current through the resistance,
and I
g
is the limiting current to initiate sufficient soil
ionization, which is given by

2
0
0
2 R
E
I
g

= (5)
being the soil resistivity (ohm-m) and E
0
the soil
ionization gradient (400 kV/m) [11].
7) The lightning stroke is represented as a current source. A
concave waveform, with no discontinuity at t=0, is an
accurate representation of the wave front of a negative
return stroke. Several expressions have been proposed for
such a form, being the so-called Heidler model one of the
most widely used, see Fig. 1. It is given by

2
/
1
) (

t
n
n
p
e
k
k
I
t i

+
= (6)
where I
p
is the peak current, is a correction factor of the
peak current, n is the current steepness factor, k = t/
1
,
while
1
,
2
are time constants determining current rise and
decay time, respectively [12]. Main parameters used to
define this waveform in the present work are the peak
current magnitude, I
100
, the rise time, t
f
(= 1.67 (t
90
t
30
)),
and the tail time, t
h
, i.e. the time interval between the start
of the wave and the 50% of the peak current on tail.
kA
I
50
I
30
I
90
I
100
t
30
t
90
t
h
time

Fig. 1. Parameters of a return stroke Concave waveform.
Lightning stroke parameters are assumed independently
distributed, being their statistical behavior approximated by
a log-normal distribution, with the following probability
density function [2]

|
|

|
'
'
\
|
=
2
ln
ln
ln ln
5 . 0 exp
2
1
) (
x
m
x
x x
x
x p

(7)
where
lnx
is the standard deviation of lnx, and x
m
is the
median value of x.
III. MONTE CARLO PROCEDURE
The Monte Carlo method has been used by several authors
to analyze the lightning performance of transmission lines
[13] - [15]. The approach used in this paper has been
implemented in the ATP (Alternative Transients Program)
[5]. The following paragraphs summarize its most important
aspects.
a) The calculation of random values includes the parameters
of the lightning stroke (peak current, rise time, tail time,
and location of the leader channel), phase conductor
voltages, the footing resistance and the insulator strength.
b) The last step of a return stroke is determined by means of
the electrogeometric model, as suggested in IEEE Std.
1243 [16].
c) Overvoltage calculations are performed once the point of
impact has been determined. The only difference between
models for backflash and shielding failure simulations is
the node to which the current source that represents the
stroke must be connected. In this work two connecting
points (tower, midspan) have been considered for strokes
to either shield wires or phase conductors. Overvoltages
caused by nearby strokes to ground are not simulated,
since their effect can be neglected for transmission
insulation levels.
d) If a flashover occurs in an insulator string, the counter is
increased and the flashover rate updated.
e) The convergence of the Monte Carlo method is checked by
comparing the probability density function of all random
variables to their theoretical functions; the procedure is
stopped when they match within the specified error.
IV. TEST LINE
A. Line Configuration
Fig. 2 shows the tower design for the line tested in this
paper. It is a 400 kV line, with two conductors per phase and
two shield wires.
TABLE I
LINE CONDUCTOR CHARACTERISTICS

Type
Diameter
(mm)
Resistance
(/km)
Phase conductors CURLEW 31.63 0.05501
Shield wires 94S 12.60 0.642
3
22.5m
(10.5m)
26.1m
(14.1m)
31.25m
(21.25m)
10 m
10 m 10 m
17.2m
7.164m
5.1m
14.05
40 cm
1 2
A B C

Fig. 2. 400 kV line configuration
(Values within parenthesis are midspan heights).
B. Transmission Line and Lightning Parameters
A model of the test line was created using ATP capabilities
and following the guidelines summarized in Section II.
The line was represented by means of three 400-m spans
plus a 30-km section as line termination at each side of the
point of impact. The calculations will be made by assuming
that the line is over flat terrain.
The surge impedance of towers was calculated according
to the expression suggested by CIGRE [7]. A value of 134
was estimated for all towers.
The parameters used in the insulator equations were k
l
=
1.3E-6 m
2
/(V
2
s) and E
l0
= 570 (kV/m). The value of the
average gradient at the critical flashover voltage, E
50
, was
assumed to be the same that E
l0
. The striking distance of
insulator strings was 3.212 m.
Only negative polarity single stroke flashes will be
considered. A return stroke will be represented by a concave
waveform, see Fig. 1, with parameter n, to be specified in
equation (6), equal to 5.
The following probability distributions are assumed:
Stroke parameters are determined assuming a log-normal
distribution for all of them. Table II shows the values used
for each parameter. In addition, parameters are indepen-
dently distributed, i.e.
c
=0. Since unrealistic values of the
peak current magnitude can be generated using these
parameters, the distribution is truncated at 500 kA.
The phase conductor reference angle has a uniform
distribution, between 0 and 360 degrees.
Insulator string: a Weibull distribution is assumed for E
l0
.
The mean values were those mentioned above, while the
standard deviation for all parameters is 5%.
Footing resistance: normal distribution, R
m
=50 , =5 .
TABLE II
STATISTICAL PARAMETERS OF RETURN STROKES BASE CASE
Negative Polarity
Parameter
x
m

lnx

I
100
, kA 34.0 0.740
t
f
, s 2.0 0.494
t
h
, s 77.5 0.577
The footing resistance parameter, R
m
, is the mean value of
the resistance at low current and low frequency. The value of
the soil resistivity is 500 ohm-m.
The stroke location, before the application of the electro-
geometric model, is generated by assuming a vertical path and
a uniform ground distribution of the leader.
No flashovers other than those across insulator strings, e.g.
flashovers between conductors, have been considered.
C. Simulation Results
The convergence of the procedure is checked by comparing
the probability density function of all the generated random
values to their theoretical probability functions. In this work
the resulting and the theoretical distributions were compared
at 10, 30, 50, 70 and 90% of the cumulative distribution
functions. With the algorithm used for generation of random
values, more than 10000 runs are needed to match them
within an error margin of 10%; if the error margin is reduced
to about 5%, then more than 30000 runs are needed [5].
After 40000 runs, the flashover rate of the test line was
0.56 per 100 km-year. Fig. 3 shows the results derived with
the parameters detailed above for the base case. From these
results the following conclusions can be derived:
there is a range of peak current magnitudes for each type
of flashover and a range of values that cause no flashover
backflashovers are caused with peak current magnitudes
above 100 kA
no backflashovers were caused by strokes with a rise time
above 5 s.
The log-normal distribution used to characterize the statis-
tical variation of the peak current magnitude of a return stroke
can provide unrealistic values of this parameter; e.g. I
100
>
1200 kA. Although strokes with a peak current magnitude
above 500 kA have been recorded (Lyons et al. mention a
negative stroke with 957 kA [17]), they are very rare.
Therefore, all simulations were performed by truncating the
peak current magnitude at 500 kA. However, the flashover
rate is not very sensitive to this truncation limit. This
conclusion can be easily derived from Fig. 3a, as one can
observe that the flashover rate will hardly increase if peak
current magnitudes above 500 kA were allowed.
V. INFLUENCE OF THE STROKE ANGLE
The approach to earth of a lightning flash is not vertical; a
visual observation would suggest it is rather tortuous. Brown
and Whitehead proposed that the angle of the leader channel
was approached by a probability density function with the
following form [4]
4
0.0000
0.0004
0.0008
0.0012
0.0016
0.0020
140 220 300 380 460
Peak current magnitude (kA)
P
r
o
b
a
b
i
l
i
t
y

a) Strokes to shield wires
0.00000
0.00004
0.00008
0.00012
0.00016
0.00020
10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
Peak current magnit ude (kA)
P
r
o
b
a
b
i
l
i
t
y

b) Strokes to phase conductors
0.000
0.020
0.040
0.060
0.080
0.100
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Rise time (s)
P
r
o
b
a
b
i
l
i
t
y
With flashover
Without flashover

c) Rise time distribution of strokes to shield wires and towers
Fig. 3. Distribution of negative stroke currents that caused flashover.
( )

>
< <
<
=
2 / 0
2 / 2 / cos
2 / 0

p
m
m
(8)
where is the angle deviation from the vertical direction and
m is an exponent to be selected by the user.
Since the function p() must fulfill the following condition
1 cos
2
2
=

/
/
m
m
d K (9)
the coefficient K
m
can be calculated as follows

=
2
2
cos
1
/
/
m
m
d
K

(10)
Table III shows the values of K
m
for different values of m,
while Fig. 4 depicts the corresponding curve. It is easy to
deduce from these curves what kind of distribution
corresponds to each exponent. For instance, m = 0 means that
a uniform distribution is accepted, while the curve looks as a
gaussian bell curve for m > 2. An infinite exponent is a
particular case that assumes only the vertical direction ( = 0).
Note that the range of the stroke angle values decreases as the
exponent m increases. Brown and Whitehead suggested that m
= 2 could be a realistic approach.
TABLE III
PARAMETERS OF THE STROKE ANGLE DISTRIBUTION
M K
m

0 1/
1 1/2
2 2/
3 3/4
4 8/3
5 15/16
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
-90 -60 -30 0 30 60 90
Stroke angle (degrees)
P
r
o
b
a
b
i
l
i
t
y
m = 0
m = 5
m = 4
m = 3
m = 2
m = 1

Fig. 4. Probability density function of the stroke angle.
A horizontal direction ( = /2) has an additional
complication since the height above ground at which the lea-
der propagates must be specified. Note that the probability of
having a horizontal leader channel is not negligible only when
m = 0. A uniform distribution is a very crude approach;
however, horizontal strokes have been observed in nature, or
even impacting a transmission line. The general conclusion is
that (8), irrespectively of the value selected for exponent m, is
an estimation with some limitations.
The influence of the estimated probability density function
for the stroke angle was analyzed in [4], and some important
conclusions are well known. For instance, the SFFOR incre-
ases as m decreases, being the maximum variation with m = 0.
Fig. 5 shows the geometry for a non-vertical leader
channel. The point of impact of a stroke can be determined
using the following procedure: first, a ground location is
randomly determined using a uniform ground distribution (as
with vertical leader channels); next, the stroke angle is
randomly calculated using (8); finally, the electrogeometric
model, as per Fig. 5, is applied. It is easy to conclude that a
stroke with a vertical channel located at P1, see Fig. 5a, whose
striking distances were those shown in the figure, would not
impact the wire; but that could happen if the stroke angle was
positive (
1

2
), as in the figure. The stroke would not
reach the wire if the angle was negative.
However, if the ground location is just below the wire,
point P2 in Fig. 5b (for which a stroke with a vertical channel
would impact the wire), it is evident that the stroke will not
always reach the wire if the leader channel can be non-vertical
(e.g.
1
).
5
That is, on one hand there is an increase of the BFOR due
to strokes whose ground location is outside the shaded area;
on the other hand, the number of impacts to the wire is
decreased with strokes whose ground location is below the
area shaded by the wire.
Since the probability of having a stroke angle greater than

1
increases as the value of the factor m decreases, it is
evident that, for a given value of the peak current magnitude,
the probability of a stroke to the wire will decrease as the
value m decreases. In addition, the angle
1
decreases as the
peak current magnitude increases, see Appendix. Consequent-
ly, the BFOR diminishes as the value of m decreases.
Some care is needed when using this approach. All
previous calculations of the flashover rates were performed by
using an area of impacts to ground as that shown in Fig. 6
with d = 1 km [5]. For a peak current magnitude of 400 kA,
the striking distance is about 500 m. However, with a non-
vertical approach to earth, a stroke with a lower peak current
magnitude could theoretically impact the line even if the
distance to the line was longer than 500 m.
Strokes
to ground
Strokes
to wire
r
g
r
c
A B
P1

1
Strokes
to ground

2

a) The impact to ground is outside the shaded area
Strokes
to ground
Strokes
to wire
r
g
r
c
A B
P2

1
Strokes
to ground

1

b) The impact to ground is below the shaded area
Fig. 5. Geometry for a non-vertical leader channel.
d
Line span
Towers

Fig. 6. Area of impacts to ground.
0.00
0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
0.60
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Exponent m
F
l
a
s
h
o
v
e
r

r
a
t
e
d = 1 km
d = 2 km
vertical
channel
SFFOR
BFOR
Total
Total
BFOR
SFFOR

Fig. 7. Influence of the stroke angle.
Fig. 7 shows the flashover rate for different values of the
exponent m, with distance d as a parameter. The calculations
were performed using the values considered for the base case,
see Section IV.B, and assuming only single-stroke negative
flashes. These results were obtained by running the procedure
20000 times.
One can observe that the SFFOR is maximum when m = 0,
and decreases as m increases, but for m > 2, the differences
between rates derived with each m value were below 5%. As
for the BFOR, the trend is different and its value is minimum
with m = 0, and maximum when the leader channel is vertical.
The maximum value of the total flashover rate is obtained
when the leader channel was vertical, and it was about 25%
above the value derived with m = 0.
Some differences are observed when the area of stroke
impacts is varied. For m = 0, when the difference between the
total flashover rates is larger, it is about 15%.
The general conclusion is that the flashover rate decreases
with coefficient m, and is maximum when the vertical
direction is assumed for the stroke leader channel, although
the trends of the BFOR and the SFFOR are different with
respect to m, and the differences between flashover rates are
below 10% when the area of impacts is varied.
VI. CONCLUSION
The stroke angle is an issue to be considered in the
lightning analysis of overhead lines. The results presented in
this paper show that the assumption of a no-vertical path for
the stroke leader can affect the lightning flashover rate of
transmission lines. However, the model used in this paper is a
crude approach of the real behavior. So the conclusions
derived from this work should be used very carefully.
Although a more complete characterization of lightning
should be considered for more accurate results, e.g. including
correlation between stroke parameters [5], the main conclu-
sions would be very similar to those derived from this work:
the total flashover rate is affected by the approach used to
characterize the stroke angle, and the maximum flashover rate
is obtained when a vertical leader channel is assumed.
6
APPENDIX
Fig. A1 shows the geometry involved in the application of
the electrogeometric model. The situation depicted can
correspond to a shield wire when the peak current magnitude
of the return stroke is so high that the phase conductors are
completely shielded; i.e. the peak current magnitude is higher
than 80 kA, see Fig. 3. Both striking distances can be
calculated as follows

b
I A r = (A1)
where A and b are factors that depend of the selected model
and the distance to be calculated; i.e. to a wire or to ground.
r
g
r
c

h

Fig. A1. Application of the electrogeometric model.
From the figure one can obtain

g
g c
r
h r r
2 2
) (
tan

= (A2)
A very simple manipulation yields
( ) ( )
2 2
) ( 1 arctan I f k = (A3)
For a given value of the height h, k (=r
c
/r
g
) is a constant
and f(I) (= h/r
g
) a function of the peak current magnitude. For
the values of h and I that are of concern in this study, f(I) is a
function monotonously decreasing and lower than 1.
Therefore, the value of the angle decreases as the peak
current magnitude increases. However, for the range of values
of the peak current magnitude that can cause backflashover,
this angle will vary only a few degrees.
VII. REFERENCES
[1] A.R. Hileman, Insulation Coordination for Power Systems, Marcel
Dekker, 1999.
[2] IEEE TF on Parameters of Lightning Strokes, Parameters of lightning
strokes: A review, IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, vol. 20, no. 1, pp.
346-358, January 2005.
[3] H.R. Armstrong and E.R. Whitehead, Field and analytical studies of
transmission line shielding, IEEE Trans. on Power Apparatus and
Systems, vol. 87, no. 1, pp. 270-281, January 1968.
[4] G.W. Brown and E.R. Whitehead, Field and analytical studies of
transmission line shielding: Part II, IEEE Trans. on Power Apparatus
and Systems, vol. 88, no. 3, pp. 617-626, May 1969.
[5] J.A. Martinez and F. Castro-Aranda, Lightning performance analysis of
overhead transmission lines using the EMTP, , IEEE Trans. on Power
Delivery, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 2200-2210, July 2005.
[6] IEEE TF on Fast Front Transients (A. Imece, Chairman), Modeling
guidelines for fast transients, IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, vol. 11,
no. 1, pp. 493-506, January 1996.
[7] CIGRE WG 33-01, Guide to Procedures for Estimating the Lightning
Performance of Transmission Lines, CIGRE Brochure 63, 1991.
[8] A. Pigini et al., Performance of large air gaps under lightning
overvoltages: Experimental study and analysis of accuracy of
predetermination methods, IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, vol. 4, no. 2,
pp. 1379-1392, April 1989.
[9] I.M. Dudurych, T.J. Gallagher, J. Corbett and M. Val Escudero, EMTP
analysis of the lightning performance of a HV transmission line, IEE
Proc.-Gener. Transm. Distrib., vol. 150, no. 4, pp. 501-506, July 2003.
[10] IEC 60071-2, Insulation Co-ordination, Part 2: Application Guide,
1996.
[11] A.M. Mousa, The soil ionization gradient associated with discharge of
high currents into concentrated electrodes, IEEE Trans. on Power
Delivery, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 1669-1677, July 1994.
[12] F. Heidler, J.M. Cvetic and B.V. Stanic, Calculation of lightning current
parameters, IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 399-404,
April 1999.
[13] J.G. Anderson, Monte Carlo computer calculation of transmission-line
lightning performance, AIEE Trans., vol. 80, pp. 414-420, August 1961.
[14] J.R. Currie, L.A. Choy and M. Darveniza, MonteCarlo determination of
the frequency of lightning strokes and shielding failures on transmis-sion
lines, IEEE Trans. PAS, vol. 90, no. 9, pp. 2305-2312, Sept. 1971.
[15] M. Darveniza et al., Modelling for lightning performance calculations,
IEEE Trans. PAS, vol. 98, no. 6, pp. 1900-1980, Nov./Dec. 1979.
[16] IEEE Std. 1243-1997, IEEE Guide for improving the lightning
performance of transmission lines, 1997.
[17] W.A. Lyons, M. Uliasz and T.E. Nelson, Large peak current cloud-to-
ground lightning flashes during the summer months in the contiguous
United States, Mont. Weather Rev., vol. 126, pp. 2217-2233, 1998.
VIII. BIOGRAPHIES
Juan A. Martinez was born in Barcelona (Spain). He is Profesor Titular at the
Departament d'Enginyeria Elctrica of the Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya. His
teaching and research interests include Transmission and Distribution, Power System
Analysis and EMTP applications.
Ferley Castro-Aranda was born in Tulu (Colombia). He is Profesor Asociado
at the Universidad del Valle (Cali, Colombia). His research interests are focused
on the areas of Insulation Coordination and System Modeling for Transient
Analysis using EMTP.