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Computational handbook for

power line engineers
Methodology for design of non-standard
transmission line supports




The high voltage power network in Sweden consists mainly of overhead power lines, that
is conductors suspended in the air by supports. Ideally when projecting a power line, all
supports should be placed equidistantly and the conductors should be suspended at equal
height. When this is not applied, the support placement may have consequences, such as
uplifting forces in a support, which should be avoided. The objective of this thesis was to
investigate both what inuences the support placement, and what consequences that may
come out of it.
This was investigated using mainly analytical calculations on poles and conductors, but
was also implemented on a specic case. When solving the case, support placement and
FEM software were also used and compared with the analytical calculations.
It was found that the support placement is inuenced by both environmental factors; such
as terrain, obstacles and solidity of the ground, as well as how long spans that are possible
to construct. The span length is the distance between two nearby supports and is limited
by sag, that is the deection of the conductors, and the strength of the supports.
The sag is dependent on the tension in the conductor, which is dependent on wind and
ice loads, temperature and creep; a permanent elongation that for certain materials occur
over time even if the load is constant. Since the sag will increase over time, and especially
at high temperatures, the distance between the conductors and the ground will decrease.
This extra deection must be accounted for when designing the power line and determining
the span length.
When it comes to support designing, both bending and buckling should be accounted for.
The greatest loads the supports are inuenced by are transferred from the conductors,
and therefore are dependent of the span length. An analysis of buckling and bending as
function of span length was therefore conducted on non-guyed timber pole supports. It was
concluded that bending stresses; due to wind loads on the support and especially on the
conductors, are usually the critical aspect when designing standard power line supports.


Sveriges högspänningskraftledningar består till största delen av luftledning, det vill säga
linor upphängda i stolpar. Vid projektering av en kraftledning är det fördelaktigt att plac-
era alla stolpar med lika avstånd mellan varandra och hänga upp alla linor på samma höjd.
När detta inte kan tillämpas kan stolpplaceringen få konsekvenser, till exempel lyftkrafter
i en stolpe, vilka bör undvikas. Syftet med detta examensarbete var att undersöka vad
som påverkar stolpplaceringen samt vilka konsekvenser den kan ge upphov till.
Detta undersöktes först med analytiska beräkningar på stolpar och linor, och implementer-
ades sedan på ett verkligt exempelfall. Vid implementeringen användes även stolpplacer-
ingsprogram och FEM, vilket jämfördes med de analytiska beräkningarna.
Stolpplaceringen beror till stor del på omgivningen; bland annat terräng, hinder och
markens bärighet, men också på hur långa spann som är möjliga att bygga. Spannlängden
är avståndet mellan två kraftledningsstolpar och är beroende av linans nedhängning samt
stolparnas hållfasthet.
Nedhängningen är beroende av dragkraften i linan, vilken i sin tur är beroende av is- och
vindlast, temperatur och krypning, vilket är en permanent töjning som för vissa material
uppstås under en längre tid trots att lasten inte förändras. Eftersom linans nedhängning
kommer att öka med tiden, speciellt vid högre temperatur, kommer avståndet mellan linan
och marken att minska. Denna minskning av avstånd måste tas hänsyn till vid projektering
av kraftledningar, och speciellt vid bestämning av spannlängd.
Vid dimensionering av stolpar behöver hänsyn tas till både böjning och knäckning. De
största lasterna som verkar på stolparna är lasterna som överförs från linorna, och är
därför beroende av spannlängden. Med anledning av detta gjordes en analys av böjning
och knäckning av ostagade trästolpar som funktion av spannlängd. Den slutsats som
kunde dras från detta var att böjspänningar uppkomna av vindlaster på stolpar och linor
är nästan alltid den kritiska aspekten vid dimensionering av vanliga trästolpar.


I would like to express my very great appreciation to Lisa Svanholm, my supervisor at

Nektab, for always asking the right questions and providing helpful feedback. I would also
like to thank Stefan Thiel, my second supervisor at Nektab, for sharing of his technical
expertise and experience with power line projects. My grateful thanks are also extended
to Sören Östlund, my supervisor at KTH, for providing me support and guidance during
this master thesis work.


Nomenclature vi

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Objective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
2 Theoretical background 3

2.1 Loads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2.2 Sag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
2.2.1 Ruling span . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.2.2 Slack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.3 Height dierence consequences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2.3.1 Uplifting forces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2.3.2 Insulator swing-out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2.4 Strength of timber poles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
2.4.1 Bending . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
2.4.2 Buckling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
2.4.3 Safety factor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
3 Implementation: Power line crossing the Göta Canal 15

3.1 Identifying limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

3.2 Support placement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
3.3 Evaluation of support placement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
3.4 Uplift solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
3.4.1 Solution alternative 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
3.4.2 Solution alternative 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
3.4.3 Solution alternative 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
3.5 Support designing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
3.5.1 Solution alternative 2 - suspension supports with counter weights . . 23
3.5.2 Solution alternative 3 - tension supports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
4 Discussion 29

5 Conclusions 31

6 Further work 32

7 References 33


Clearance A safety distance to the ground or another area or object, which

should be kept for all load cases.
Conductors The wires which transfer the current.
Distribution network The local power network.
Guy A wire attached to the ground and the support in order to
strengthen the support.
Insulator An object, usually a chain of plates made of glass, porcelain
or composite, which isolates the conductors from the support
Overhead lines Power lines in the air, not buried in the ground.
Projection The process in a power line project where computations on
conductors, supports, foundations and magnetic elds are con-
Sag The deection of the conductor.
Span The distance between two transmission line supports.
Strut mount Where the guy wires are attached to the pole.
Supports The structures that the overhead power lines are attached to.
Suspension support A support where the conductor is not xed, only suspended.
Tension support A support where the conductor is xed and pre-tensioned.
Transmission network The high voltage networks; the national grid and the regional
power network.

1 Introduction

Sweden's power line industry has its roots in the 19 century, and has since then developed

into a nation wide power network with 555,000 km of power lines with connections abroad.
Most of the transmission supports in use today were built many decades ago and are
approaching their end of service date. Renewing the existing supports and expanding
the power network will cost several billion Swedish kronor the upcoming years, and this
raises a demand for nding a more eective method when designing the supports. An
eective method will save costs both by minimizing the work hours and avoiding oversized
constructions without compromising safety.
The power network can be divided into three dierent levels; the national grid, the regional
network and the local network. The national grid, which is the backbone of the Swedish
power network (Figure 1), is owned by the Swedish state through the company Svenska
Kraftnät. The grid consists of power lines with voltages of 220 kV and 400 kV respectively,
and is used to transport power to the regional network all over Sweden. The regional
network has a voltage of 40-130 kV and is mostly owned by three major power companies;
E.ON Elnät Sverige AB, Vattenfall Eldistribution AB and Ellevio AB. It transports power
to larger industries and local networks, which distributes electricity to smaller industries
and all households in Sweden. The local network has voltages up to 20 kV.

Figure 1: Map of the national grid.[1]

Only the national grid and the regional network will be considered in this thesis since the
projection of those kinds of power lines has more mechanical and less electrical aspects
than projection of distribution power lines. Overhead power lines is the alternative mostly
used when dealing with these high voltage alternating current networks. One of the major
reasons why ground cables usually are not used is that substantial phase shifts between
current and voltage quickly arises when the cable is buried in the ground. A consequence

of this is that great amounts of electricity become useless after short distances. Other
advantages with overhead lines are that they have twice as long life length before they
need to be replaced, they are much easier to troubleshoot and repair in case an error arises
and they are much cheaper to build. [2]

All high voltage power line spans need an individual investigation, but some are more
dicult to nd a solution to than others; these are called non-standard spans. Non-
standard spans usually means that there is some kind of obstacle which makes it necessary
to make the span longer or higher than usual, or that the power line can not go straight
and one or several angle points have to be introduced. For this thesis, the denition of a
non-standard span has been chosen as when a support either has to be modied or replaced
by another support type, as a result of non-standard complications. Even if there are only
a small amount of non-standard spans in a power line project, these spans usually requires
a majority of the projection time since their design is complex.
Nektab is a consulting company in the power line business. Since the projection of these
non-standard spans are complex, Nektab requested a computational handbook in order
to nd a good projection method and speed up the projection process, and this will be
investigated in this master thesis report.

1.1 Objective

The objective of this master thesis is to investigate what inuences the support placement
of transmission lines, as well as what consequences non-standard spans can have and how
to identify them.

2 Theoretical background

When projecting a power line, some parameters are specied by the client. This usually
includes the start and end point, the path of the power line and the type of supports and
conductor. A lot of data such as the material properties of the conductor are therefore
already given, what is to be decided is mostly the placement of the supports and support
modications, if needed, due to loads transferred from the conductors.
There are two length dimensions used when calculating the loads on the conductors. The
dimensions are wind span, a , and weight span, a . The wind span, or horizontal loading
length, is the dimension used for horizontal loads such as wind. The wind load on the
h v

conductors is assumed to be transferred equally to the adjacent supports, and therefore

the wind span is dened as the mean value of the span length before and after the support,
see Figure 2. [9]

Figure 2: Denition of wind span, ah .

The weight span, or vertically loading length, is the dimension used when calculating
vertical loads such as dead weight of the conductor and ice loads. A support is assumed to
be inuenced by vertical loads acting on the section of adjacent spans which weigh it down,
and therefore is the weight span dened as the distance between the lowest line point in
the span before the support and the lowest line point in the span after the support, see
Figure 3. Since the sag, which is the deection of the conductor, changes for dierent

load cases, so does the weight span.

Figure 3: Denition of weight span, av .

2.1 Loads

The highest loads acting on the conductors are dead weight, ice load, wind load and
temperature load. The dead weight transferred to the support, G [N], can be calculated
according to

G =g g a ,
c e v (1)
where g [m/s ] is the gravitational constant, g [kg/m] is the self weight of the conductor

per meter and the weight span a is given in meters. If the conductor is covered in ice, the

vertical load will increase. The thickness of the ice layer might vary for dierent regions,

but the ice load transferred to the support at normal wind conditions, Q [N], can usually
be calculated as

Q =I a ,
I v (2)
where the weight span a is given in meters and the ice load per meter conductor, I [N/m],
is given by

I = 9.2 + 5.1 10 d, −4
where d [m] is the diameter of the conductor.
The wind load on the conductor transferred to the support, Q [N], can be calculated as wc

Q = q G G C d a cos φ
wc h q c c h
where q [N/m ] is the dynamic wind pressure, d [m] is the diameter of the conductor, a

[m] is the wind span and φ is the angle of incidence of the wind. The rest of the parameters
h h

are design factors which, according to the Swedish standard, should be chosen as G = 1.0,
G = 0.5 and C = 1.0 for normal circumstances. When calculating the wind load with

ice coating the diameter d should be replaced by

c c

d = d + 0.036.
ice (5)
The dynamic wind pressure is given by where h is the conductor's height above the

For normal wind: h ≤ 25 m q = 500 N/m 2

h > 25 m q = 500 + 6 (h − 25) N/m


For high wind: h ≤ 10 m q = 800 N/m 2

h > 10 m q = 800 + 6 (h − 10) N/m ,


ground. The wind load per meter on timber poles, Q [N/m ], should be calculated


Qwpol = 0.16 qh . (6)

When calculating the total load transferred to the support, E [N], the following equation
should be used

E =
γ G +ΨG
K γ Q , Q (7)

where G denotes permanent loads, such as dead weight, and Q denotes variable loads,
such as ice and wind loads. The permanent loads are usually multiplied with a unit factor
K nK

since the dead weight of supports and equipment are assumed not to change. The variable
loads are usually multiplied with factors greater than one since they vary with weather
and might be both higher and lower than the values used when calculating wind and ice
loads. The factors Ψ = 1.0, γ = 1.0 and γ = 1.3 should be used for ultimate limit
state calculations. Ultimate limit state is when the overhead power line no longer satises

the design performance and is usually associated with structural failure due to excessive
deformation, loss of stability, buckling, etcetera. [3]

2.2 Sag

The span length, which is the distance between the supports, is determined by the maxi-
mum allowed sag and the strength of the supports. The vertical deection of a conductor,
y [m], can be estimated according to [7]

T wS w S
y(z) = − cosh − cosh −z ,
w 2T T 2

where T [N] is the horizontal tension component in the conductor, which is assumed to be
uniform along the conductor. The weight of the conductor per unit length is denoted by
w [N/m], S [m] is the span length and z [m] is the position along the conductor where the
sag is calculated. For highly tensioned wires, which a conductor is assumed to be since it
is pre-tensioned, Equation (8) can be simplied as
w  2

y(z) ≈ z − zS .

The sag at the middle of the span can then be estimated as

S wS 2
D=y ≈− .
2 8T

A comparison between Equations 8 and 9 is plotted in Figure 4. The comparison was

made with a standard conductor for the regional network with span a length of 150 m.
The conductor type was a 593 mm Al59 conductor, that is a aluminum alloy conductor

with a cross sectional area of 593 mm . No wind or ice loads where added, only pre-tension

at 0 C. The pre-tension, U [N/mm ], was varied between 1-50 N/mm . The deection de-
◦ 2 2

noted by y (continuous line) was calculated using the cosine hyperbolic expression whereas
the deection denoted D (noncontinuous line) was calculated using the parabolic approx-
imation. The pre-tension in the conductor is denoted by U . The dierence between the
two solutions in Figure 4 is plotted in percent in Figure 5.
From the graphs can be concluded that, depending on the accuracy of the calculations,
a 593 mm AL59 conductor pre-tensioned to 10 N/mm or more can be considered to be
2 2

a highly tensioned wire. Since conductors usually are pre-tensioned to 45 N/mm , the 2

approximation is applicable.
Figure 4: Vertical deection using Equation (8) versus simple parabolic approximation. A 593 mm2 Al59
conductor with span length 150 m was used, with no loading at 0◦ C only dierent pre-tension.

2.2.1 Ruling span

The length dimension used when calculating sag is ruling span, which is dened as
S 3
an = P k,

where S [m] is the span length for span k = 1, 2, 3, .., n. The ruling span does not include
all spans for one power line, but all spans between two tension supports, that is supports

with tension insulators. A power line consists mostly of suspension supports, that is
supports with suspension insulators, in which the conductors are not xed only suspended,
see Figure 6 for visual explanation.

2.2.2 Slack

The elongation of the conductor depends on the tension in the conductor, which varies with
wind, ice and temperature loads, as well as creep. Creep is a permanent elongation which,
for certain materials, can arise over time even if the load is constant. When mounting the
power line, sag calculations can be made assuming that the only tension in the conductor
is the pre-tension. This is however not valid otherwise, various loads and permanent
elongation will soon aect the sag. The elongation of the conductor is mainly inuenced
by three strain components; thermal strain, elastic strain and long-time creep strain, as
shown in Figure 7. The thermal strain varies with temperature changes in the air, but it
is also caused by the rise in temperature due to the current in the conductor. The elastic
strain varies with wind and ice loads. The long-time creep strain is a permanent elongation
Figure 5: Dierences between the deections plotted in Figure 4.

which will only get larger with time, and occurs due to self weight of the conductor and
ice loads.
This elongation, or the length dierence compared to the original conductor length, is
called slack. Slack does not aect the span length, S [m], only the line length, L [m]. Slack
is dened as
Slack = L − S. (12)
Assuming that all sag components come from slack, the sag calculation can be simplied

3S(L − S)
Dslack = .

2.3 Height dierence consequences

When placing supports, it is favorable to suspend the conductors at as equal height as

possible. Sometimes however, for example when crossing a railway or river, one support
has to be higher than the others. In some cases, height dierences in the power line comes
from height dierences in the terrain. Regardless of the reason, the height dierence may
cause problems with nearby supports.
Figure 6: Example of tension support (strain structure) to the left and suspension suspension (suspension
structure) to the right.[4]

2.3.1 Uplifting forces

One of the consequences can be uplifting forces. Uplift means that the conductors push
the suspension insulators upwards instead of hanging in the insulator hooks with all forces
acting downwards or horizontally, as they should, see Figure 8.
The uplifting force, L [kg/phase], can be calculated according to

L =q aF , e v−40 (14)
where q [kg/m] is the dead weight of the conductor and a [m] is the weight span at
-40 C. The weight span at minimum temperature is used since that is when the conductor
e v−40

deects the least. The weight span at -40 C can be calculated according to

a =a +
h (a − a ),
v h (15)
where b [m] is the sag at maximum temperature after nal stage of creep and b [m]
is the sag at -40 C. A negative L means that there are uplifting forces. Whether uplifting
max −40

forces occur or not is decided by the quota . See Figure 9 for uplifting forces for normal

ruling spans for regional power lines. Negative uplift forces means that uplift occurs. What

can be observed in the graph is that the ratio when uplift occurs is dependent on the ruling
span, but how big the uplift is, is determined by the wind span. From the graph can it be
concluded that uplift can arise when ≤ 0.8. av

2.3.2 Insulator swing-out

Another consequence of height dierences between supports is that the swing-out angle of
the insulators on the low supports may become too large, see Figure 10. This occurs since
Figure 7: Elongation of the conductor causing slack.[4]

Figure 8: Normal suspension insulator to the left, suspension insulator subjected to uplift to the right.

the weight of the conductors does not hold them down. The swing-out angle, α [ ], can be ◦

estimated as [6]

α = arctan
qH ah + Qins
qV av + Wins
, (16)

where q [N/m] is horizontal loads (wind load) per meter conductor, Q [N] is the wind
load on the insulator set, q [N/m] is vertical loads (dead weight and ice load) per meter
H ins

conductor and W [N] is the weight of the insulator set including counter weights if any.

Which loads and a that should be used is determined by which load cases to investigate.

The swing-out angle should preferable not be greater than 30 , and denitely not larger

than 45 .

Figure 9: Uplifting forces as function of the quota av
. Negative uplift forces means that uplift occurs.

2.4 Strength of timber poles

The span length depends both on the sag and the strength of the supports. Supports
for the national grid are usually made of steel frameworks, which can be manufactured
to withstand the stresses they are subjected to. Supports for the regional network are
often made of two timber poles and a beam, which makes the supports limited by the
wood properties. Pinewood (Pinus Sylvetris) is the wood used for timber poles in Sweden.
According to Swedish standard, these are the design values of resistance in ultimate limit
state: The modulus of elasticity is the material property which should be used when

Maximum bending stress: 27.3 MPa

Maximum shearing stress: 2.4 MPa
Maximum compression without risk of buckling
perpendicular to bers: 3.6 MPa
along bers: 13.2 MPa
Modulus of elasticity in bending: 10000 MPa
Modulus of elasticity for Euler-buckling: 4760 MPa

designing timber poles. Which modulus of elasticity that should be used depends on if it
is bending or buckling calculations.
Figure 10: Insulator swing-out.

2.4.1 Bending

The most critical stress that the poles are subjected to is bending stress, but also Euler
buckling has to be accounted for. The maximum bending stress, |σ(x)| [Pa], can be
estimated according to

|σ(x)| =
|M (x)|
W (x)
where M (x) [Nm] is the bending moment in the pole and W (x) [m ] is the elastic bending

resistance, which is given by


πd(x) 3
W (x) =
b ,
where d(x) [m] is the diameter of the pole where the moment is calculated. The greatest
moment forces in the pole occurs at the ground surface for non-guyed structures and at the
strut mount for guyed structures, see marked areas in Figure 11. The bending arise from

Figure 11: Two-legged suspension supports; non-guyed to the left and guyed to the right. The circles
mark where the greatest moment forces occur.

wind loads on the conductors as well as wind loads on the support. The bending moment
at the ground surface, M [Nm], for a non-guyed two-legged structure can be estimated as

M = Q j
d +d
2 j
γ +Q
Q lγ ,
wci c Q (19)
where Q [N/m ] is the wind load on the pole, l [m] is the length of the pole above

ground in accordance with Figure 11, d [m] is the pole diameter at the ground surface, d

[m] is the pole diameter at the top, Q [N] is the wind load on ice coated conductors, l
j t

[m] is the distance between the ground and the beam where the forces from the conductors
wci c

are applied and γ = 1.3 is the design factor for variable loads.

General bending calculations of non-guyed timber pole supports are shown in Figure 12.
The graph shows how bending stress in the poles varies with wind span for dierent pole
thicknesses. The graph also shows maximum allowed bending stress, which makes it possi-
ble to observe maximum span length for dierent pole thicknesses, when using non-guyed
timber supports.

Figure 12: Bending stress in 16 m long timber poles as function of wind span.

From the graph can it be observed that the span length between non-guyed timber pole
supports is limited to 100-180 m, depending on pole thickness, due to high bending stresses.
2.4.2 Buckling

The buckling load, P [N], can be estimated according to Euler's buckling cases, see Figure
13. Euler 1 is used for non-guyed structures and Euler 3 is used for guyed structures. The

Figure 13: Euler buckling, case 1-3.

buckling load according to Euler 1 is given by

Pk,1 =
π 2 EI
, (20)
where E [Pa] is the wood's elasticity modulus along the bers, I [m ] is the area moment

of inertia and l [m] is the length of the pole from the ground to where the load is applied.
The area moment of inertia can be calculated according to
πdt 4
, (21)
where d [m] is the diameter at the top of the pole, which is the smallest dimension of the
pole since it is cone shaped. The buckling load for Euler 3 is given by

Pk,3 =
2.05π 2 EI
, (22)
where l [m] is the length of the pole from the ground to the strut mount.
General buckling calculations of non-guyed timber pole supports are shown in Figure 14.
The graph shows the maximum vertical loads dierent pole thicknesses can withstand.
The solid line in the graph shows an approximation of the load they would be inuenced
by from conductors and equipment, as function of weight span.
From the graph can it be observed that the span length between non-guyed timber pole
supports is not limited by buckling for span lengths shorter than 240 m, except for the
thinnest poles.
Figure 14: Buckling in 16 m long timber poles.

2.4.3 Safety factor

All equations above assumes a perfectly straight pole, but timber usually has an initial
crookedness. According to Swedish standard, this initial crookedness does not have to be
accounted for as long as a straight line can be drawn from the bottom to the top of the
pole and always be inside the pole. As compensation, a safety factor of 1.5 have been
used against bending and a safety factor of 2.1 against buckling. These safety factors were
chosen since 1.5 is the design factor for timber poles according to Swedish standard, and
2.1 is the safety factor against buckling used by Svensk energi in their timber pole design

3 Implementation: Power line crossing the Göta Canal

A 130 kV power line reaching from Gullspång to Käckestad shall be replaced. The power
line crosses the Göta Canal, which makes the crossing span a non-standard span, and
therefore the crossing and nearby spans will be investigated. The following data are given:
Minimum temperature: -40 C ◦

Maximum temperature: +50 C ◦

Highest system voltage: 145 kV

Conductor: 3x593 mm Al592

Support type: Double pole

Support material: Timber (preferred, but only up to 18 m), steel
When designing the new power line there are three xed points; the canal tower, the support
before the section and the support after the section. The last two can be denominated as
point A and point B, see Figure 15. The xed points can be summarized as: Between
Point Distance from point A [m]
Point A 0
Canal tower 613
Point B 1156

Figure 15: Assembled map model displaying the xed points and the path of the power line.

these points a suitable number of supports should be chosen and placed. Loads acting
on the supports and eects from height dierences etcetera should be accounted for. The
problem does not include calculations on the canal tower or all line equipment, only the
timber poles. According to the problem description, both steel and composite supports are
possible alternatives. In order to limit this thesis, the support type is delimited to only
timber pole supports, except for the canal tower.

3.1 Identifying limitations

The rst step solving this problem is to identify the limitations; except for the xed points
and the timber poles. The geographical limitations can be identied from Figure 16 where
several areas of interest are marked, see Table 1 for explanations.

Figure 16: Assembled map model including areas of interest.

The greatest limitation mentioned above is the crossing with the Göta canal, which has
a sail less height of 22 m. According to Swedish standard, a power line with 145 kV as
its highest system voltage has to have a minimum clearance of 1.5 m above the sail less
height. This means that the conductors has to have a minimum clearance of 23.5 m above
the water during maximum sag. [3]

For a power line of this voltage, the clearance between the conductors and the ground
should be at least 7.63 m during maximum sag, according to Swedish standard. [3]

Table 1: Areas of interest from the assembled map model shown in Figure 16.

Area of interest Indication in Meaning

map model
Shoreline ------ Placement of supports within the shoreline should
be avoided.
Underground cable - - - - - - , (K) Supports can not be placed on the crossing cable.
Parallel power line - - - - - - A clearance between two power lines is needed.
Car road  The power may cross the road but has to keep
a certain vertical clearance. Supports can not be
placed on top of the road or right next to it.
Crossing with the  The power line has to keep certain distance to the
Göta canal water, and since the Göta canal is a fairway the
sail less height has to be accounted for.
River, stream  Supports can not be placed in rivers or streams,
and placement close nearby should be avoided
since the ground there may be less rm.

3.2 Support placement

An appropriate distance between the supports should be chosen, the so called span length.
In order to avoid using unnecessary many supports, which are expensive, a long span length
is desirable. However, a long span length means greater loads on the supports and larger
As starting point for suitable span length, allowed maximum sag was chosen. The following
basic assumptions were made, which concluded in an allowed sag of 3.87 m, see Figure 17
for the calculation principle.
Pole length 17 m
Burial deep 2m
Support top height 0.5 m
Insulator length 2m
Average terrain variance 1 m
Minimum ground clearance 7.63 m

The load case which causes the largest sag is maximum temperature after nal stage of
creep, that is how much the conductor is estimated to be elongated due to creep during
its life length of 50 years before being replaced. The maximum temperature is given as
Figure 17: Principle for calculation of allowed sag.

50 C, whereof 15 C is assumed to be heat from the air and 35 C is assumed to be heating

◦ ◦ ◦

from the current in the conductor. A 593 mm Al59 conductor has properties according

to Table 2.

Table 2: Material properties of 593 mm2 Al59 conductor.

Property Denotation and value

Modulus of elasticity,
Initial (before creep): E = 53 GPa
Final (after creep): E = 60 GPa

Thermal expansion coecient: α = 23 10 [1/ C] −6 ◦

Creep elongation:  = 0.4 10 c


Using Equation (13), sag based on slack as function of span length, the graph in Figure 18
is obtained.
Using the gure, 150 m was found to be a suitable span length. Using this, supports were
placed with this distance in a pole placement program called ICEtow. ICEtow reads in

the assembled map model and terrain data for the power line path, and creates a ground
prole. Poles can then be placed at a chosen distance and with a chosen height. ICEtow
then calculates and draws the maximum sag of the conductor, as well as weight span, wind
span and other useful parameters.
After the rst placement, the positions were altered to avoid supports too close to roads
and to take advantage of the height dierences in the terrain. See Figure 19 for the pole
placement after modications. The upper half of the gure shows the terrain prole, the
supports and the conductor. The lower half of the gure shows the areas of interest from
Figure 18: Calculated sag for dierent span lengths.

The placement shown in Figure 19 is summarized in Table 3. The span length between
support 5 and point B is 149 m.

3.3 Evaluation of support placement

Since there is a big height dierence between the canal tower and surrounding supports,
supports 2 and 4 are at risk of being uplifted. Equation (14) was used to calculate the
uplift. The sag for maximum and minimum temperature was calculated in a program called
HoF. HoF is a simple calculation program which uses ruling span and type of conductor

as input and gives tension and sag for dierent load cases as output. The uplifting force
could then be calculated to +10 kg/phase for support 2 and -150 kg/phase for support
4. This means that there are uplifting forces in support 4 but not in support 2, even if
it is very close to getting uplifted since the uplifting forces is close to 0, that is the limit
between uplift and no uplift.
Another consequence of the height dierence between the supports is that the insulators
on support 2 and 4 may get too big swing-out angles since the conductors do not hold
them down, but before looking into that problem, solutions to the uplift-problem should
be investigated.
Figure 19: Preliminary support placement in ICEtow.

3.4 Uplift solutions

There are three dierent alternatives when solving an uplift problem. Alternative 1 is to
move the support or make it higher until the uplift disappears. This is the cheapest and best
alternative, if it is possible to solve the problem this way. Alternative 2 is to add counter
weights at the end of the insulators. This alternative weighs the insulators down but also
introduces vibration-sensitive supports into the power line. Alternative 3 is to change the
suspension insulators to tension insulators. This alternative is an expensive option, but
a too great swing-out angle is no longer an issue since the insulator is pre-tensioned in a
horizontal position.

3.4.1 Solution alternative 1

The problem was approached by trying to use alternative 1, moving or changing the height
of the supports. Since timber poles usually are not made longer than 18 m, moving a
support was the only option. Support 4 was moved in ICEtow, and since it was placed so
close to support 5 that support was removed. The resulting placement is shown in Figure
20. The span between the canal tower and support 4 is around 350 m, which makes the
bending stress in the support too big due to wind loads on the conductors.
Table 3: Preliminary support table.

Support Previous Support height ah Burial

av Notes
span length (m) (m) (m) (m) deep (m)
1 198 16 175 171 2.1
2 151 17 208 134 2.1
3 264 36 + top 256 438 Canal tower
4 248 16 199 93 2.0
5 149 16 149 144 2.0

3.4.2 Solution alternative 2

The second alternative, counterweights, was investigated. Support 2 was not subjected to
uplift, but since the quota was small that it was found appropriate to move the support

further away from the canal tower, see Figure 21. The new placement altered the weight

and wind spans, which resulted in uplifting forces of 180 kg/phase for support 4. A counter
weight of 200 kg/phase was added to support 4. When investigating the swing-out angles
of the insulators with counter weights, the swing-out angle at minimum temperature and
wind was 43 for support 4. When using counter weights, it is important that the swing-

out angle never exceeds 45 . Since the safety factor in this case is almost non-existent, a

heavier counter weight is recommended. Counter weights are manufactured up to 450 kg

but it is usually not recommended to use counter weights heavier than 200 kg/phase due
to the vibration sensitivity they introduce into the system. [10]

3.4.3 Solution alternative 3

The third solution alternative, tension supports, was investigated. Two options were pos-
sible; either to change both support 2 and 4 to tension supports or to only change support
4. If only support 4 is changed to a tension support, support 2 has to be moved in order
to avoid too big swing-out angles.

3.5 Support designing

The supports have to be designed with respect to both buckling and bending. Using
Equations (20) and (21), the minimum top diameter, with respect to buckling, of the poles
on a non-guyed structure can be estimated as

16 P l 2 4
d = t 3
π E

Figure 20: Support placement in ICEtow when trying to solve the uplift-problem by moving support 4.

The minimum top diameter was calculated for all supports. The buckling load, P [N],
was calculated including dead weight of and ice load on conductors, weight of beam and

insulators, one third of the weight of the timber pole, counter weights if any and the weight
of a lines man with a weight of 1000 N. The lines man is accounted for in case the support
should need maintenance by a person climbing the support. A safety factor of 2.1 against
buckling was used, but even so the minimum top diameter never exceeded 17 cm. The top
diameter of a 17 m high pole is usually greater than 18 cm, which means that the buckling
load is not the critical load when designing the supports.
The minimum pole diameter at the ground surface, d [m], can be calculated by transposing
Equation (19) according to

32 M
J 3
d =j ,
f πmd

where f = 27.3 MPa is the maximum bending resistance and M [Nm] is the bending
moment calculated as
md J

M =lH + H ,
V (25)
where l [m] is the pole length above ground, H [N] is the wind load transferred from the
conductors and H [N] is the wind load on the pole. The loads can be calculated according


H = 1.5 Q
F γ
wci Q (26)
Figure 21: Support placement in ICEtow when trying to solve the uplift-problem by moving support 2
and adding counter weights on support 4.

HV = Qwpol l γQ , (27)
where Q [N] is the wind load on ice covered conductors, Q [N/m] is the wind load
on the pole per meter pole and γ = 1.3 is the design factor for variable loads.
wci wpol

3.5.1 Solution alternative 2 - suspension supports with counter weights

The minimum pole diameter at the ground surface was calculated according to Equation
(24) with a safety factor of 1.5, see Table 4.
Table 4: Minimum allowed pole diameter at the ground surface, safety factor 1.5.

Support 1 2 4 5
Minimum d [cm] 33.6 35.9 34.2 32.4

Based on this calculation, poles of type S were assumed, that is 36 cm as pole diameter at
the ground surface and 23 cm as top diameter for 17 m long poles and 35 cm respectively
22.5 cm diameter for 16 m long poles. The strength of the supports where investigated.
A simple analytical calculation was made, where only wind loads on conductors and poles
were considered. A pole was assumed to be inuenced by the loads from 1.5 conductors
and the wind load on the pole was assumed to be an evenly distributed pressure on a at
surface as wide as the pole. No consideration to the eect of an assembled structure was
made, that is the support was simplied to be two individual poles with no link in-between
The analytical solution was then compared with a FEM analysis using the program Ansys
Workbench. The analysis was conducted in the Static Structural module with a simple

FEM model; two poles with pinewood properties and a beam with three idealized insulators
between them. The beam was mounted to the poles with a bounded connection. The wind
pressure on the poles and the forces applied at the bottom of the insulators were calculated
according to Chapter 2.1. The poles were xed supported at the bottom, which corresponds
to the burial deep of the support. The setup with boundary conditions is shown in Figure

Figure 22: FEM model and boundary conditions used in Ansys Workbench.

All loads were calculated according to Chapter 2.1. Assuming non-guyed supports and
ice coated conductors, the bending stress in the supports at the ground surface where
calculated according to Table 5. The maximum calculated bending stress in the poles is
specied both in MPa and percentage of maximum allowed bending stress in the table. The
percentage is calculated with a safety factor of 1.5 with respect to the maximum allowed
bending stress of 27.3 MPa.
The stress distribution in the support is shown in Figure 23. The largest stresses in the
Table 5: Maximum bending stress in the poles, calculated with a rst order analytical solution and with

Support 1 2 4 5
Analytical Bending stress (MPa) 18.5 23.2 21.8 16.3
solution Bending stress (%) 102 128 120 90
FEM Bending stress (MPa) 17.7 21.4 21.3 15.6
solution Bending stress (%) 97 118 117 86
Dierence in solutions (%) 4 8 2 4

poles occur where the beam is attached to the poles. Since the beam is connected with a
bonded contact, unrealistic high shear, normal and bending stresses occurs in the contact
region due to how the support is modeled and where the forces are applied. The contact
regions between the beam and the poles are small since not that many elements on the
curved surfaces (the poles) are in contact with the at surface (the beam). This causes
large normal stresses since they are dependent on the force in relation to the area where
the force is applied. How the force is transferred to the poles are not realistic either; in
reality the forces will be applied on all sides of the poles and not just on one side of the
poles, which also makes the stresses too large in the contact area.
This local stress maximum can be neglected when investigating the stresses in the pole,
and therefore only a relevant section of the pole has been selected for the stress analysis,
see the subgure to the right in Figure 23.

Figure 23: FEM model with equivalent von Mises stress distribution to the left and maximum principal
stress in relevant section of pole to the right.

Since support 1, 2 and 4 exceeds 95% of the maximum bending resistance, these supports
should be strengthened with guy wires, that is if this solution alternative should be chosen.
Suspension supports are usually guyed according to Figure 24 with 30 ≤ α ≤ 45 and◦ ◦

γ ≈ 26.6 (slope 1 horizontal, 2 vertical).

◦ [10]

Figure 24: Drawing of guyed suspension support, top view to the left and front view to the right. The
support has three guy wires per pole; two guys on the outside of the support, directed with an angle α
from the beam, and one guy wire directed almost straight towards the other pole.

For guyed structures, the bending moment at the guy mount is usually the most critical.
Since the bending moment becomes greater the further away from the beam that the guy
wires are mounted it is desirable to mount the guy wires as close to the beam as possible,
but it is also important that the conductors can not touch the guy wires at any load case.
According to Swedish standard, a 145 kV conductor has to have a clearance of at least
0.6 m to an earthed guy wire. Calculating maximum swing-out of the insulators, the

minimum distance y [m] can be estimated according to Figure 25.

The minimum diameter at the stay mount can then be calculated according to [9]

32 MS

ds = ,
fmd π

where the bending moment at distance s, M [Nm], is calculated according to


MS = y HF + ,

with H and H according to Equations (26) and (27). Using these equations, guyed
suspension supports of type S were found to be sucient for support 1, 2 and 4.

3.5.2 Solution alternative 3 - tension supports

Tension supports need to be able to withstand loading from both sides of the support as
well as one-sided line loads, since the conductors are mounted and pre-tensioned on one
side at a time. Tension supports are usually constructed according to Figure 26.
Figure 25: Calculated maximum insulator swing-out with and without safety distance to guy wires.

The minimum thickness of the poles are calculated similarly to the poles in the guyed
suspension support in Chapter 3.5.1, but in this case the design loads are not the wind
loads but the maximum tensile loads from the conductors. In addition to being able to
withstand tensile loads from both one side and both sides of the support, the support
should also be able to withstand a reduction of conductor tension of 60% in one of the
conductors. The minimum diameter at the stay mount can be calculated according to
Equation (28), where the bending moment at distance s, M [Nm], is calculated according

M =y H .
S F (30)
The horizontal force, H [N], can be calculated according to

H = R (T γ + (T − T ) γ ),
F A 0 G ice 0 Q (31)
where R = 1.8 is a factor to account for the reduction in conductor tension of 60%, T
[N] is the initial tension in the conductor at 0 C, T [N] is the tension at 0 C, ice load
A 0
◦ ◦

and no wind, γ = 1.0 is the design factor for permanent loads and γ = 1.3 is the design

factor for variable loads. Using these equations, the minimum diameter at the stay mount,

d , was calculated to be 16-23 cm depending on the distance between the guy wires and
the beam, which was assumed to be 0.1-0.3 m. Using poles of type S with a top diameter

of 23 cm, this is not a problem.

The supports also needs to be designed against buckling. Euler 3 is used for guyed struc-
tures, wherefore the pole diameter is given by

2P s 2 4
d =
s 3
π E

Figure 26: Drawing of tension support, top view to the left and front view to the right.

The buckling load, P [N], is given by


Pk,3 = 0.5 RT γG + MT γQ +
γG + LT + VS ,

where R [N] is the weight of the beam, M = 1000 N is the weight of a linesman working
on the support, Q [N] is the weight of one pole, L [N] is the load from the conductors

and V [N] is the vertical tension load from the guy wires. The load from the conductors

is given by

L = R a (q γ + q γ ),
T A v e G io Q (34)
where R = 1.8 is a factor to account for the conductor tension reduction of 60%, a [m]
is the weight span, q [N/m] is the dead weight of the conductor per meter and q [N/m]
A v

is the ice load at no wind per meter conductor. The vertical tension load from the guy
e io

wires is given by
V =
cos α tan γ
where the angles α [ ] and γ [ ] are in accordance with Figure 26 and the horizontal tension
◦ ◦

load from the guy wires, H [N], is given by


H =
H .
S F (36)
The lengths s [m] and y [m] are given in Figure 26 and the horizontal tension force H [N]
is according to Equation (31).

Using a safety factor of 2.1 against buckling, a minimum top diameter of 24 cm should be
chosen to avoid buckling. This is possible by choosing poles of type S+2.

4 Discussion

When comparing the two graphs with general calculations of bending versus buckling for
non-guyed suspension supports, Figures 12 and 14, it can be observed that buckling usually
do not occur for these type of supports. If buckling occurs, the maximum bending stress
was always reached for a shorter span length than in the buckling case. The conclusion
that can be drawn from this is that bending due to wind loads is the critical load when
designing non-guyed timber pole supports. That is, if the weight span is not extremely
long in comparison with the wind span.
There was no similar general bending-buckling comparison conducted on guyed suspension
supports in this thesis. The reason was that the moment forces, and so too the tension
in the guy wires, are dependent on the position of the strut mount, which is dependent
on insulator swing outs and internal clearances at the support. No general conclusion can
therefore be drawn about these type of supports, but from the calculations made in the
Göta canal case, the conclusion can be drawn, that the moment forces at the strut mount
are usually the most critical aspect when designing guyed timber pole suspension supports.
It seems very likely that this would be the critical aspect as well, since a greater distance
between the strut mount and the beam causes higher bending stresses, but this distance
can not be too small since the guy wires may not be too close to the conductors.
There was no general bending-buckling comparison conducted of tension supports either,
only the calculations made in the Göta canal case. A dierence between guyed suspension
supports and tension supports, regarding the guy wires, is that the strut mount can be
a lot closer to the top in a tension support since the insulators are horizontal instead of
vertical, and especially since the conductors are not close to the poles. The guy wires are
designed to counteract the moment forces at the ground surface, so bending stresses in that
area is not very likely to be critical. Since the distance between the beam with insulators
and the strut mount usually is very short, it is not very likely that bending stresses at
the strut mount would be critical. Buckling on the other hand seems more likely to be
the crucial factor when designing tension supports. Since the guy wires are designed to
counteract not just wind loads, but the pre-tension to keep the entire line in tension, until
the next tension support, the tension in the guy wires are a lot greater than in the ones
used in suspension supports. This adds an extra vertical load which can be critical with
respect to buckling.
The safety factors used in this thesis may seem unnecessary high, especially since it can
be assumed that some kind of safety margin already is included in the design values. But,
timber poles are in reality not completely straight, they have twigs and other imperfections.
Assuming that the material would behave as perfect as a man-made material is a major
simplication, which makes it necessary to have a high safety factor when calculating the
timber pole supports.
When comparing the rst order analytical and the FEM solution of bending stress in the
poles, the analytical solution always gave a somewhat larger value. This can be due to that
the beam connecting the two poles, which makes the support stier, was not accounted
for in the analytical solution. Because of this, the analytical solution can be assumed to
be conservative, that is, it will always give a worse result than reality. The dierence
between the two solutions were not that big though, only 2-8%, which indicates that the
analytical solution is not that far from reality, which is good since too over-sized structures
are not desirable. The conclusion that can be drawn from this is that rst order analytical
calculations is sucient for timber pole calculations. This is very useful since Nektab
presently does not use any FEM computation software for computations on poles, they
only have software for computations on conductors.
Regarding the Göta canal case, both uplift solution alternative 2 and 3 are feasible solu-
tions, but solution 3 are in several aspects the best solution. Firstly, the counterweights
introduce vibration sensitive supports into the system. Secondly, support 2 and 4 can re-
sult in very big insulator swing outs if not very heavy counter weights are chosen. And last,
but not least, choosing tension supports allows that part of the power line to be mounted
separately. When it comes to construction with crossings, this can be vary favorable since
the rest of the power line are not depending on when it is possible to build the crossing
span. In this case for instance, it would be preferable to build the crossing span during
winter when Göta canal is not in use. If suspension supports was used, the rest of the
power line, until the next tension support, would have to be constructed at the same time,
but with tension supports this is not a requirement.

5 Conclusions

When projecting a power line, one should always aim to place all supports at equal distances
and suspend all conductors at equal height. Signicant dierences in height or length
between spans and supports causes problems.
The risk of uplifting forces arises when the quota ≤ 0.8. Uplifting forces occur for

smaller quotas for longer spans and for larger quotas for shorter spans, that is the risk of

uplift is greater for power lines with short spans.

Bending stress is usually the critical factor when designing suspension supports. Non-
guyed timber pole supports are usually limited to span lengths of 100-180 m, depending
on pole thickness. Buckling is usually not an issue for these type of supports.
For tension supports on the other hand, buckling is more critical. The supports are built
to withstand the bending loads, but this increases the vertical loads which causes buckling.
Regarding the Göta canal case, the best solution to the problem is to change the supports
closest to the canal tower to tension supports. This solution eliminates both the uplift and
the swing-out problem, as well as simplifying the construction process.

6 Further work

This master thesis mostly looked into the strength and limitations of non-guyed timber
pole supports. It would also be interesting to do a similar analysis of guyed timber pole
suspension supports as well as tension supports. The question is how long span lengths
that are possible as function of weight span, wind span and insulator type. That is since
the bending stress at the strut mount is dependent of the distance between the strut mount
and the beam, which is dependent of the insulator swing-out.
It would also be interesting to do comparisons of dierent supports, both support types
and materials. Today a lot of dierent alternatives are available, but when it comes to the
regional network almost all supports that are built in Sweden are made of timber. Timber
is the cheapest pole material, and is therefore dominating the regional support market.
Due to this, it would be interesting to investigate the supports also from an economical
aspect, with mechanical aspects as the starting point. Timber is assumed to always be the
cheapest material, but the more guy wires, guy wire foundations, counter weights and so
on that are added to the support, the more expensive it becomes. The question is, when
would it be less expensive, or equally expensive, to change to another support type or
material, for example composite poles made of berglass reinforced polyester.
Another aspect is the strength of other support types and materials. How long span
lengths would be possible to have, and how much could the number of supports therefore
be decreased? Since poles made of manufactured materials can be longer than naturally
grown timber, the sag will not limit the span length as much as for timber supports. This
is another aspect which inuences how cheap timber poles are compared to other support
types. What can be added then are transportation, construction and maintenance costs,
in order to look at the full life time perspective.

7 References

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2. Svenska kraftnät. Technology. 2016. (Ac-
cessed 2017-03-09)
3. SEK Svensk Elstandard. 2 edition.

Stockholm: SIS förlag, 2007. (Swedish standard SS-EN 50341)

Overhead electrical lines exceeding AC 45 kV.

4. Douglass, Dale and Springer, Paul.

Power point presentation. 2013.
Sag-tension Calculations - A CIGRE Tutorial (Accessed 2017-

Based on Technical Brochure 324.

5. Douglass, D.A and Thrash, Ridley. 2006. (Accessed 2017-
Sag and Tension of Conductor.

6. Kiessling, F., Nefzger, P., Nolasco, J. F. and Kaintzyk, U.
Springer. 2014.
Overhead Power Lines:

Planning, Design, Construction.

7. Bowden, Gordon. Stanford Linear Accelerator Center,

USA. 2004.
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8. Necks electric. Product catalog. Bollnäs: Bok & Tryck AB, 2014.
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10. Thiel, Stefan; Projector at Nektab. Interviews April 4, 21 and June 2, 2017.
11. EFLA. ICEtow, Version V8i. Computer software. Reykjavik, Iceland. 2008.
12. Ingenjörsrman Leif Andersson.
Computer software. Bålsta, Sweden. 2014.
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ningar, Version 2014-01-30.

13. ANSYS, Inc. Computer software. Canonsburg,

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