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Power Swing Detection, Blocking and Out of Step Relays- An Introduction

We have so far seen that power swings can be classified as either stable or unstable.
Basically, a relay which is expected to issue trip decision on fault should not pick up on a
swing (either stable or unstable). When a power swing is a consequence of stable
disturbance, unwanted line tripping can aggravate disturbance and lead to instability. n
the other hand, when the power swing is a consequence of disturbance, classified as
unstable, then interconnected operation of the syste! is si!ply not possible. "his i!plies
that the syste! has to be split into !ultiple islands each of which can have independent
existence i.e. each island can !aintain synchronis! of generators. #ow to achieve stable
operation in each island, generator load balance has to be ascertained. If an island has
excess generation, it should be shelved and si!ilarly if an island has excess load then
load shedding is required. $oad shedding is usually initiated by underfrequncy relays, as
excess load tends to pull the frequency down. %owever, to !ini!i&e the loss of service to
consu!ers, the boundary of islands has to be selected carefully. "o illustrate this point,
consider a si!ple two area syste! as shown in fig '.
#ow consequent to a disturbance, let the syste! be unstable and let the location of
electrical center be on line (B. )ecall that at the location of electrical center, voltage &ero
point is created when the two generators are out of step. (lternatively, *+ appears when
the power swing intersects the trans!ission line characteristics. "his i!plies that relays
located at the two ends of the trans!ission line, perceive the out of step condition as a
bolted three phase fault on the trans!ission line. +onsequently, relays '
R will
issue a trip decision, thereby islanding the syste!. #ow, the generator at ( (
pu P
---. . / =
) islands with a load of /.00pu and generator at B (
pu P
000 . / =
islands with a load of /.--pu. "he resulting loss of load is /.000pu in island B and loss of
generation in island ( is /.000pu. %owever, if we had islanded the syste! by tripping
line B+ then an ideal solution of &ero load or generation shedding would have been
achieved. "his suggests that during unstable swings, we should block the relays fro!
operation. +onsequently, !ore selective tripping can be initiated to achieve the desirable
islands. We now, arrive at a thu!b rule that under out of step conditions, distance relays
should be blocked fro! operation on swings.
$et us now re1look, the case of a stable power swing. "he resulting !ove!ent of
apparent i!pedance seen by relay on the ) 2 3 plane !ay encroach 0 ,
Z or Z
of a relay.
If the swing stays inside the &one for long enough ti!e, then the relay will issue a trip
co!!and. "his is also not desirable. %ence, even under stable swings, the distance relays
have to be blocked fro! tripping.
"o conclude this discussion, it is not desirable for distance relay to trip on power swing
whether the swing is stable or not. "his i!plies that distance relay should be equipped
with swing detection and blocking !echanis!. "his aspect is elaborated in this lecture.
4ower 5wing 6etection
"he basic idea in detecting power swing is that change in apparent i!pedance seen by
) ( Z
due to fault occurrence is instantaneous. In contrast, the change in Z due to
power swing is a slow process li!ited by inertia of electrical generators. "hus, this ti!e
discri!ination can be used to distinguish swings fro! faults.
ut 1 of 1 5tep Blocking )elays
Based upon the above principle, 7ig,-., shows out of step blocking sche!e with an
offset 8% unit.
"he out 2 of 2 step blocking unit is si!ilar to the !ho unit. It is a circle concentric to
!ho 2 tripping characteristic but it has a larger radius. In other words, the tripping
characteristic is e!bedded inside the blocking unit. "his ascertains that any power swing
which enters tripping will first enter the out 2 of 2 step blocking characteristic. 7or the
swing locus, shown in 7ig,-.,, this happens at point (. (fter a short while, it reaches the
tripping characteristics and enters tripping region at point B. If the transit ti!e, fro!
point ( to B is larger than a preset interval of the order of few cycles, the out of step
blocking unit will operate auxiliary relays to block tripping of phase relays. In case, only
blocking of reclosing is required, the blocking unit will restrain auto!atic reclosing
equip!ent. (n out of step blocking sche!e with an i!pedance can start relay having
si!ilar principle as described above is shown in 7ig ,-. 0.
ut 2 of 2 5tep "ripping )elay
ut 2 of 2 5tep tripping relay is required for controlled separation of the syste! into
!ultiple islands. ut of step condition is detected by out of step tripping relay which
detects presence of an unstable power swing. It then proceeds to either trip the local
breaker or issue a transfer trip signal to re!ote breaker to separate the syste! at a !ore
convenient point. (s shown in 7ig ,-.9 the basic sche!e consists of two !odified
reactance type units whose characteristics are set parallel to the syste! i!pedance
characteristic 5) with one on each side of line 5). +onsider an unstable swing 4: as
shown in fig,. It will cross the first unit at point 3 when it will pick up, and e!erge fro!
relay characteristic at
X . "he two crossing, indicate that swing has crossed the
i!pedance characteristic and hence is a loss of synchronis! condition, leading to an out
of step trip decision. "he sche!e will equally well pick up if swing !ove!ent was fro!
: top. "he sche!e would also pick up even if the unstable swing is behind the relay. 7or
exa!ple, a swing fro!
P to
. If the swing is far away fro! the line characteristic,
then currents involved are quite less. It is then associated with very low power reversals
which do not characteri&e unstable swings. "o prevent tripping on such condition, the out
of step relay is supervised by an overcurrent relay unit. If the current signal is below
preset value, it inhibits the tripping signal off out of step relay.
<uide lines for 5etting ut 2 of 2 5tep "ripping )elay
"he pri!ary question in setting the out of step relay discussed in previous section is to
free&e the location of the relays
L and
L . i.e. decide the perpendicular distance 83
and 83=. In general, this setting should be such that the swing locus will re!ain between
XX for at least a preset interval usually /.//>sec. "his ti!e is the operating ti!e of the
auxiliary relays which evaluates the sequence of events and deter!ines a loss of
synchronis! condition. ?sually, this represents what is achieved in actual syste! and
hence does not pose any series re@ection. (lso, the characteristics
L and
L should not
be set so far apart to pick up on load conditions. In other words, the angle subtended by 3
on ) and 5 should be larger than A/ and as !axi!u! loading condition will always
have below A/ . "he !axi!u! rate of slip can be esti!ated by carrying out transient
stability si!ulations.

+onsider the syste! shown in 7ig,-.>a. In case of the out of step condition, opti!u!
location to break the syste! into !ultiple islands is at bus1B. If during out of step
condition, the electrical center also appears in the line seg!ent B+, then the required
separation is achieved naturally. %owever, as we know the location of electrical center is
not fixed and it depends upon syste! conditions like
E E ,
, nu!ber of lines in service,
"hevenin=s i!pedances ' S
and , S
etc. #ow, if due to syste! conditions, the
electrical center location shifts to section +6, then uncontrolled syste! separation will
take place at cut 2 ,, where generation load balance is not obtained. %ence, it is desirable
to block distance relay operation in power swings and install an out of step tripping relay
at BB5+. "he respective power swings are shown in 7ig,-.>b. #ow, for this scenario, the
loss of synchronis! requiring a transfer trip signal to be generated to breakers at bus B.
In general, the point of best separation is not fixed and depending upon loading and
generating conditions. "hus, supervising control with syste! operator intervention !ay
be required to decide the islanding location. #ow the latest W(8 technology is
pro!oting !any new options on the syste! protection sche!e.
5etting of ut 2 of 2 5tep Blocking )elays
"he guidelines to set an out of step blocking relay is that with !axi!u! slip between
syste!s, it will take an i!pedance relay !ore than 9 cycles to traverse the distance fro!
out of step characteristic to !ho tripping curve. "he 9 cycle ti!e is the required pick up
ti!e of auxiliary relay which establishes blocking function. (s in case if setting out of
step tripping relays, precaution has to be taken that out of step blocking characteristic
does not encroach the load i!pedance point and establish incre!ent blocking of line
tripping relays. ?sually, blocking is applied only to &one' and &one, and not to &one0.
"his enables clearing of fault which !ay arise during power swing block condition. "he
blocking function setting for reclose blocking condition is also si!ilar to that described
for trip blocking setting. Blocking auto!atic reclosing is a !ust for out of step condition.
In case the 5B offset !ho characteristic encroaches into the load region, then it has to
be appropriately !odified. "his is achieved by using additional blinders, typically set at
',/ . 5eparation angle is as shown in 7ig,-.-.
When additional blinders as shown in 7ig,-.- are used, the 9 cycle travel ti!e fro! 5B
ele!ents has to be !onitored with respect to the blinder ele!ents. "o restrict the reach of
relays, instead of blinders and !ho relays, lens type characteristics as shown in 7ig ,-..
are also used. 8any of these functions like tripping, blocking and fault detection can be
easily integrated into a single nu!erical relay with a lot !ore flexibility to shape
characteristics of nu!erical relays and upco!ing W(8 technologies which use
synchroni&ed 486 provide !any new options in out of step relaying. %owever, these
develop!ents are beyond the scope of this course.
ut of 5tep 4rotection for <enerators
With large
of generators, it is also likely that electrical center !ay lie within the
generator. When such a situation is detected it is advisable to avoid the knee @erk reaction
of tripping the generator. ( !ore beneficial strategy would be to use transfer trip signal to
achieve generator function with load generator balancing.
8onitoring the +ircuit Breaker "ripping
"o avoid stress on the circuit breaker, it is advisable to delay +B trip until after the 'C/
point of separation is crossed over and the voltages are co!ing in phase. "ripping circuit
breaker close to out of step condition with separating phasors induces very large transient
voltages on circuit breaker which is not very advisable.