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High Voltage Systems

Electrical Power Cables – Part 1

Power cables are used over the whole voltage range of 415V
up to 500kV. Because they are much more expensive than
overhead lines, particularly at the high voltage end, power
cables are generally used only where circumstances
necessitate their use. This will be for urban and, though not
always, suburban areas and for environmentally sensitive
areas. A major use for cables is of course for water crossings.
AC cables have very high reactive power generation in their
capacitance and this limits the AC cable length that can be
used without some form of reactive compensation by series
inductance. About 25–30 km is the upper limit without
compensation. If the route is longer and there is no possibility
of reactive compensation, then DC cables are normally used.
Most long underwater cables (e.g the English channel cables,
the inter-island link in NZ and the Bass Strait cable between
Tasmania and Victoria are HVDC.

Cables are subject to much more stringent requirements than

overhead lines, in terms of their insulation condition and their
power loss dissipation and hence their operational rating.
This is because they are essentially sealed units when
operating and any insulation degradation is cumulative. The
insulation is not able to recover its insulation strength in the
event of insulation problems in the way that the air insulation
of overhead lines can. The heat dissipation rate is much more

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limited for cables than for OH lines because it is restricted to
thermal conduction, the most inefficient of the heat
dissipation mechanisms. OH lines are able to dissipate heat
by convection and radiation which are much more efficient.
The problem is compounded in high voltage cables by
significant dielectric heating in the insulation. Insulation
condition assessment is also much more difficult for cables
because of the problems of location of faults and the problem
of energising cables with a separate source to perform tests
such as partial discharges and dielectric dissipation factor.

Until about twenty years ago the main insulation material

used for cables at voltages above about 3.3 kV was lapped
paper impregnated with either low viscosity oil or with high
viscosity hydrocarbon compound. Low voltage cables were
insulated with PVC or similar type materials. However the
situation now is that almost all high voltage cables use
crosslinked polyethylene (XLPE) insulation or ethylene
propylene rubber (EPR). Paper is no longer used as a single
insulation material. At very high voltages, it is used in
conjunction with polypropylene foil (PPL) where the paper
layers are interleaved with polypropylene foil layers. PVC
and EPR are still used extensively at the lower voltage ends
of the range.

The move to polymeric insulation at HV has caused some

difficulty with insulation assessment. The main methods of
testing paper insulated AC cable is to use HVDC to avoid the
high reactive power needs of separate source testing.
However the very high resistivity of XLPE can allow long-
lived space charge when it is energised at HVDC. This space
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charge can cause insulation problems when the cable is then
later commissioned with full AC volts. Thus, new test
techniques are required. In addition to this, XLPE has a
particular insulation problem, water-treeing, which does not
occur with paper insulation. Water trees are difficult to detect
with standard diagnostics.

1. Cable Structure (not including aerial bundled


Cables consist of four main components: (i) the main

conductor (the core), (ii) the electrical insulation, (iii) a
sheath over the insulation (may be a conductor forming the
neutral or simply a polymeric protective sheath), (iv) a cover
for cables with metal sheaths. In some cables, there will be an
armour layer to protect against damage.

1.1 Conductors, Metal Sheaths, Armour and Conducting


The main conductors are primarily either aluminium or

copper in (generally) a stranded form. As there is no tension
requirement for cable conductors in service, the conductor
metal can be annealed to increase electrical conductivity.
Copper is used at the high voltage end while aluminium has
its main applications in the lower voltage end and is
sometimes used in solid (CONSAC) structure rather than in
stranded form. Copper jointing is easier to do than aluminium

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Conducting sheaths were primarily lead (Pb) in old cables
but are commonly aluminium now. The original requirement
for lead sheaths was to prevent moisture ingress to the paper
insulation. The metal sheaths are extruded.

Armour materials are principally steel for three phase (core)

cables while for single-phase cables aluminium is used
because of its lower permeability and thus lower propensity
to generate eddy currents and associated heating. The armour
may be in the form of wound steel tape or stranded steel wire.
In the case of aluminium, the armour is always in the form of
stranded wires. In those cases of cables with solid aluminium
sheaths, the sheath itself provide adequates armour

Conducting tape screens are often used in various cables to

maintain electric field uniformity (see diagrams). The
stranding of cable conductors causes a substantial increase
(about 20%) in the electric field at the conductor. The thin
conducting tape screen will reduce the field by increasing the
overall radius of curvature. For multi-core cables,
Hochstadter (H)-type cables use thin conducting foil screens
over the insulation to maintain a uniform radial electric field
for each core. This is important for paper cables, but not for
polymer cables.

1.2 Insulation Materials

There are a variety of insulating materials used in cables:

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• Oil-mpregnated lapped paper – now only used for very
high voltages
• Petroleum oil (for impregnation –paper/oil impregnated
• Petroleum grease (compound) (for impregnation- mass
impregnated paper cables)
• Cross linked polyethylene (XLPE) - most common for high
voltage applicatiions
• Low density polyethylene (LED) – superseded by XLPE
for power applications
• Ethylene propylene rubber (EPR) –generally up to about
11-33kV only
• Polypropylene-paper laminate (PPL) – oil impregnated: for
very high voltages
• Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – low voltage applications only
• Nitrogen (gas pressure cables)
• Sulphur hexafluoride (pure and in mixtures with nitrogen)

PE and XLPE have very low dielectric loss factors and high
breakdown voltage and thus are good for high voltage
applications. PE has rather low temperature limits (about 60-
70oC), but XLPE has a much higher temperature withstand
achieved by the cross-linking process. Gases have the
advantage of no dielectric loss.

PVC has a very high dielectric loss factor and a high relative
permittivity and can only be used at low voltages because of
its high dielectric power loss.

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For insulating sheath materials, PVC and high density
polyethylene (HDPE) are often used. For older cables,
bitumen and jute fibre were used for the outer sheaths
(servings) over conducting-metal sheathed-cables. In old LV
cables, vulcanized India rubber (VIR) was used extensively,
but deteriorates and becomes brittle with age. The
vulcanizing process used sulphur, which can also cause
contact problems over time.

1.3 Cables Types

The general construction features of cable types are:

• Single Core Sheathed


• Multicore Belted
H-type (Hochstader type)

• Compressed gas insulated cables

• Pipe-type cables with insulating oil

• Specialised cables ( e.g. pyrotenax, fire resistant cables)

• Aerial bundled cables

Examples of single core and multicore cables for high

voltage, medium voltage and low voltage applications are
shown on the next pages.

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Medium Voltage Cables

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High Voltage Cables

Low Voltage Cables

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2. Cable Parameters

2.1 Resistance

The calculated resistance MUST include both the skin and

proximity effects if valid. The skin effect is important in
single core and multi-core cables. The proximity effect is
important in both multi-core cables and in closely coupled
single core cables in three-phase arrangements (eg trefoil).

RAC = RDC ⎡⎣1 + λs + λ p ⎤⎦

where λs is the Skin effect coefficient

λp is the Proximity effect coefficient

λs and λp are able to be determined from Maxwell’s equations

applied to skin and proximity effects in a cylindrical
conductor configuration. Values usually used are:

(a) For the skin Effect

λs = for x ≤ 2.8
192 + 0.84 x 4

8π f μr
where x= for circular cross-section
RDC .107

[Note that:

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8π f μr μ r μoωπ a 2 ρ .1
= [R DC = ]
RDC .107 π .ρ .1 π a2

2a 2 2ρ
= [δ = = skin depth]
δ 2
thus x = 2 ]

(b) The proximity Effect

1.5a 2G ( x1 )
λp =
1 − a 2 H ( x)

8π f μ r
[ x1 = x = for solid conductors ]
RDC .107

a= where r = conductor radius
s = conductor spacing

For x ≤ 2.8
11x 4 1 ⎡1 + 0.0284 x 4 ⎤
G ( x) = and H ( x) = ⎢
704 + 20 x 4 3 ⎣1 + 0.0042 x 4 ⎥⎦

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Conductor resistivities and other properties
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2.2 Inductance

(a) For coaxial cable structures

L = Lint + Lext

Internal inductance:
Lint = H/m

External (conductor-sheath) inductance:

μo ⎡ a + t ⎤
Lext = ln ⎢ H/m
2π ⎣ a ⎥⎦
where a = conductor radius
t = insulation thickness

Thus total inductance of a single core coaxial cable is:

μo ⎛ 1 ⎡a +t ⎤⎞
Ltotal = +
2π ⎜⎝ 4
ln ⎢⎣ a ⎥⎦ ⎟ H/m

(b) Multicore cables

In multicore cables, there is also internal inductance in the

conductor as before, but the external inductance is now that
due to flux coupling between the separate phases or to the
neutral plane.

The total inductance between two phases is :

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μo ⎡ 1 ⎛ s ⎞⎤
Ltotal = + ln ⎜ ⎟⎥ H/m
2π ⎢⎣ 4 ⎝ a ⎠⎦
where: s = conductor core spacing
a = conductor radius

Note that skin and proximity effects will affect the internal
conductor inductance. In the case of cables, because of the
small value of s, the internal inductance is not necessarily
negligible compared to the external inductance, as was the
case with overhead lines. Thus such internal inductance may
be important in cables.

In addition, there will also be some internal inductance due to

flux coupling in the sheath and armour materials etc.

Note that the conducting screens in H-type cables will not

affect the magnetic field distribution and the inductance: it
will only affect the electric field distribution and this will
only have impact on the capacitance values.

2.3 Capacitance

(a) Coaxial cables [and H-type screened cables]

2πε oε r
C= F/m [phase – neutral]
⎛ a+t ⎞
ln ⎜ ⎟
⎝ a ⎠

For paper: ε r ≅ 3.5 XLPE: ε r ≅ 2.5

PVC: ε r ≅ 5 − 6 EPR: ε r ≅ 3.3
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(b) Belted cables

Capacitance of a belted cable is difficult to calculate because

of the asymmetric and time varying electric field distribution
that occurs due to the interaction of the phase voltage
distribution. It is usual to measure the capacitance. In the
equivalent circuit shown below, Cc is the core-core
capacitance and Cs is the core - sheath capacitance.

The effective core-sheath capacitance, Ceff, is what we need

to determine from the measurements. The above equivalent
circuit shows that this is:
Ceff = Cs + 3Cc

It is not possible to measure Ceff directly: rather it requires

two measurements, in general, to determine Cc and Cs
individually and then use the above equation.

For example, the following measurements can be made, as

shown below:

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a) connect all three cores together and measure capacitance
between the core(s) and the sheath: this will then give
3Cs, hence Cs is calculated.

b) short two of the cores together and also to the sheath and
then measure between the other isolated core and the
sheath; this gives Cs + 2Cc and hence Cc can be obtained.
Then Ceff is determined.

There are empirical formulae that can be used but they are
not very accurate.

2.4 Insulation resistance

The electrical resistivity of cable insulation material is both

temperature and electric field dependent and these will have
some impact on the operating insulation resistance of the
cable, although the impact will not be great in terms of
leakage current change. The geometry dependence of the
insulation resistance is:

ρ ⎛ ro ⎞
R= ln ⎜ ⎟ Ω/m
2π ⎝ a ⎠

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where ro = a + t and ρ = electrical resistivity

In contrast to metals, where the electrical resistivity increases

with increasing temperature, the resistivity of cable insulation
(in common with all organic insulation) decreases with
increasing temperature (in a logarithmic variation).
Alternatively stated, the electrical conductivity increase with

The conductivity σ ( = 1 ρ ) varies as:

σ (T ) = σ o exp (α T )

However there is also a dependence of the resistivity on the

electrical field level in the dielectric material, so that a more
general dependence of the conductivity can be written as:

σ (T , E ) = σ o exp [α T + bE ] (E is electric field)

For AC operation of the cable the voltage distribution over

the insulation (and thus the electric field distribution
E = dv dr ) is controlled by the capacitance rather than the
insulation resistance and the capacitive leakage current is
much greater than the resistive leakage current through the

For DC operation, however, the voltage distribution (and

hence the electric field distribution) is controlled by the
insulation resistance and the dependence of resistivity on the
temperature will thus affect the voltage and field distribution

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in the insulation. As the insulation temperature is load
dependent because of the heat being conducted from the
conductor to the outer surface, it means that the electric field
distribution will also be load dependent in DC cables.

2.5 Electric field in cables

For coaxial cables and H-type screened cables with

symmetric radial field distribution, the electric field is readily
calculable. However for belted cables and for cables with
non-circular cross-section of conductor, the electric field is
more difficult to determine.

For coaxial cables with radial field variation:

E (r ) = V/m
⎛r ⎞
r ln ⎜ o ⎟

where: r is the radial position in the insulation

V is the total voltage across the insulation

Thus, the maximum and minimum fields occur at the

extremities of the insulation layer, viz, r = a and r = ro :
Emax = E ( a ) = V/m
⎛r ⎞
a ln ⎜ o ⎟

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Emin = E ( ro ) = V/m
⎛r ⎞
ro ln ⎜ o ⎟

Generally, operational conditions of cables are chosen so that

the highest value of E under normal operating conditions,
Emax, is about 30-40% of the maximum breakdown field of
the insulation material.

Typically, Emax may be about 10-15 kV/mm during normal

operation of a HV cable.

If the values of a, V and Emax are specified for a particular

cable application, then the equation:
Emax = E ( a ) = V/m
⎛r ⎞
a ln ⎜ o ⎟

specifies the insulation thickness required for the particular

cable under AC conditions. This is given by:
⎡ ⎛ V ⎞ ⎤
ro − a = a ⎢ exp ⎜ ⎟ − 1⎥ m
⎣ ⎝ aEmax ⎠ ⎦

2.5.1 Control of electric field distribution in AC cables

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Because of the 1 r dependence of the electric field in a cable,
as shown below, AC cables do not use the insulation very
efficiently as the design must be done using the maximum
field only and thus most of the dielectric is understressed.

E (r ) Emax


There have been schemes of grading the insulation in
attempts to improve the utilization (and hence reduce
thickness) of the insulation by making the field more
uniformly distributed over the insulation.

These methods include:

(a) Use of different insulation layers with different values
of εr
(b) Inter-sheath voltage grading with external voltage

These two methods are shown graphically below:

(a) Use of different materials

Using insulation layers with different dielectric permittivity

values, the capacitance over the insulation is redistributed

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and thus the voltage distribution is altered and hence the E
field is changed also, as shown below:

[note that we must have ε1 > ε2 > ε3 > ε4 to achieve the

proper variation in grading]

(b) Intersheath voltage grading

This method requires thin conducting foils to be inserted

between layers of insulation, with the voltage of the foil held
at a level above that that would naturally occur if isolated in a
homogeneous layer of the same overall thickness. Some
external voltage source must be used for such graded cables.

In the diagram below, the voltage V1 which is applied to the

intersheath foil has to be greater than the voltage which
would naturally occur without any external voltage

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Although the above methods of electrical field control are
theoretically possible, practical difficulties in the
manufacturing of the cables make them not possible to use
without great difficulty and added expense.

However, a variation which combines the two above methods

is used extensively in capacitively-graded bushings to
control the electric field levels in such items. Because the
bushings have a finite length it is possible to use a number of
conducting foils of different lengths between the various
layers of (the same) insulation and the different foil lengths
will then control the capacitance of each layer and hence
control the voltage across each layer without need for
external voltage sources.

Such methods are very commonly used in high voltage

bushings. For example, a 330 kV current transformer bushing
may have 15-20 capacitively-graded layers.

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2.5.2 Effect of spatial non-uniformity of E-field in
paper insulated belted cables

When there is no individual foil to control voltage over the

individual core insulation to be radial, the result will be a
time and spatially varying electric field. There is a particular
problem for paper insulated cables with this in that whereas
the radial field type cable keeps the E field normal to the
paper layer, in the belted type cable it is possible to get
substantial tangential E field components along the paper
layer. Paper has its maximum dielectric strength normal to
the layer and minimum along the layer.

The diagrams below show the problem for such cables. It is

only a problem for paper-insulated cables however: polymer
insulated cables, which are manufactured by an extrusion
process, do not have this problem as they are homogenous in
their structure and have no preferential orientation of
dielectric strength relative to their spatial structure.

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3. Cable Losses

The determination of cable losses is of paramount importance

because of the potential for insulation deterioration if the
insulation gets too hot during operation. The heat loss
generation and dissipation in the cable will determine the
insulation temperature. Detailed knowledge of heat
generation and loss is necessary for rating calculations.

There are a number of heat loss generation mechanisms that

produce heat in cables (not all of them will be present in all
(i) Conductor ohmic heat loss
(ii) Insulation dielectric loss
(iii) Metal sheath losses
(iv) Armour losses
(v) Pipe, metal tray and metal conduit loss

The last three mechanisms are essentially eddy current losses

generated by the AC magnetic field of the main current in the
cable. In DC cables, only (i) will occur.

3.1 Conductor Ohmic loss

This loss is simply I 2 RAC , but the resistance will include skin
and proximity effects and will be increased by elevated
RAC = RDC ⎡⎣1 + λs + λ p ⎤⎦

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where λs and λp are the skin effect and proximity effect
multipliers respectively.

Typically, λs and λp are less than about 5%.

RDC = [ l = length]
π a2

For added accuracy, the length l may need to include an

addition for the stranding effect increase in true length.

RDC must also include a temperature variation dependence of

the resistivity:
ρ (T ) = ρ 20 ⎡⎣1 + α (T − 20 ) ⎤⎦

Skin and proximity effect can be reduced in large conductors

by using Milliken type segmented conductor structures [see
below] to reduce eddy currents and their heating effects [cf
use of Litz wire at high frequencies]. In a segmented
conductor, strands are arranged on layers. Each strand
changes its path between the centre and surface of the

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3.2 Metal sheath loss

When it is subject to an AC magnetic field, the conducting

sheath will have eddy currents induced in it and thus heating
will result.

There are two types of loss encountered:

(i) True eddy current loss

This is due to proximity effect by magnetic coupling from the
current in the main conductor. This can be reduced by use of
higher resistivity sheath materials. This loss mechanism is
generally relatively low in its contribution.

(ii) Circulating current loss.

This form of loss occurs with very high voltage cables
operating as three separate coaxial cables with individual
sheaths. Longitudinal voltages are induced in the sheaths by
proximity effect and substantial circulating currents in the
three sheath systems are generated and cause sheath heating.

There are two cases to be considered in this case:

(a) With no sheath cross-bonding
(b) With sheath cross-bonding

(a) No sheath bonding

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With no cross-bonding of the sheaths the eddy currents will
be generated by the internal and external magnetic fields
coupling. The major problem is that the induced effects will
generate sheath voltages relative to each sheath and these can
attain quite high values without cross-bonding. For this
reason the sheaths are normally cross-connected within cable
boxes along various sections of the cable length.

The induced voltage will be determined by the mutual

inductance between the sheaths (M), where:
μ ⎛S −r ⎞
M = o ln ⎜ ⎟ H/m
2π ⎝ r ⎠
S = core separation
r = mean sheath radius

μo ⎛ S ⎞
When S r : M= ln ⎜ ⎟ H/m
2π ⎝ r ⎠

This is the case of bi-lateral coupling with two cores and two

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For the case of one conductor and sheath:
μo ⎛ S ⎞
M= ln ⎜ ⎟ H/m
2π ⎝ r ⎠

The induced voltage in the sheath is:

V =M = ω MI volts

For two sheaths bonded at one end,

V2 = 2ω MI volts

Such voltages can be very high for long cable runs. Cross-
bonding reduces this.

(b) Cables with cross bonding at ends.

With short-circuiting of the sheaths at the end, a circulating

current flows:
ω MI
IC = A/m
R +X

where: Rs is the sheath longitudinal resistance

Xm = ωM is the mutual inductive reactance
I is the main load current in the cable conductor

The sheath losses are then:

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⎛ ω 2M 2I 2 ⎞
I Rs = ⎜ 2
2 ⎟ s
R W/m
⎝ s
R X m ⎠

This can be reduced by intermediate cross-bonding along the

cable length: cf transposition of overhead lines.

3.3 Armour Loss and Pipe loss

These losses are due to eddy currents in the armour or pipe

enclosure of the cable. Pipe loss can be reduced by using an
insulating housing instead of a metal pipe. Armour loss can
be reduced or minimised by using a non-magnetic metal for
the armour: aluminium instead of steel for example.

Note that the effect of these losses are greater for single phase
cables than for three core cables where some cancellation of
the current and flux will occur. Thus, for single core cables,
aluminium armour is needed, but for three core cables, steel
armour is possible without problems of enhanced loss.

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Cross-bonding of cable sheaths

3.4 Dielectric Loss

The total loss in the insulation includes both direct ohmic

leakage loss in the insulation resistance and the dielectric
hysteresis loss in the dielectric insulation due to the dielectric

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dissipation factor (DDF, tanδ, power factor, loss factor, loss
angle to use some of its common names).

In practice the leakage loss is negligible and DDF loss is the

only significant factor.

The dielectric loss is given by:

Pd = ωε oε r E 2 tan δ W/m3 [power density]
or Pd = ωCV 2 tan δ W [or W/m if C is in F/m]

Thus V and tanδ are the important factors in determining

dielectric heating.

In general, Pd is not significant until the voltage level gets to

66 kV and above. At very high voltages, Pd is comparable to
the total conductor loss.

The DDF value of an insulation material is dependent on two

main factors:
(i) Temperature (DDF increases with temperature)
(ii) Voltage (DDF increases with voltage)

Some typical values of DDF and other cable insulation

properties are shown below.

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4. Insulation Breakdown in Cables

Cable insulation may degrade or break down as a result of a

number of possible causes, including:
ƒ Overheating by excess current
ƒ Overvoltage effects
ƒ Contamination of insulation
ƒ Jointing problems
ƒ Partial discharges

These will be discussed in detail below.

4.1 Overheating by excess current

High temperatures will degrade any organic insulation by

promoting chemical reactions in the material (Arrhenius
degradation). The rate of degradation is exponential with
temperature because the rate of chemical reactions which
cause changes increase exponentially with temperature.

DDF measurement should be able to detect such changes in

insulation properties. The effect of thermal degradation is that
DDF will increase with higher temperature and may lead to
thermal runaway and sudden breakdown. The presence of
moisture and its high DDF may also contribute to heating.

4.2 Overvoltages in cable insulation

If the voltage level is high enough then breakdown or partial

breakdown will occur. Such full breakdown is not a normal

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means of failure, but partial breakdown is much more
common. Partial breakdown location is detectable by means
of pulse reflection techniques. Such techniques are very
accurate methods of fault location.

4.3 Contamination of insulation

Moisture is the main problem in this regard. It will increase

dielectric heating and decrease breakdown strength. It is a
particular problem in XLPE cables where it can start water
trees which will grow inexorably until they turn into
electrical trees at which stage full breakdown becomes
imminent. Water trees are very difficult to detect in cables.

4.4 Internal defects: cable joints, voids, etc.

Any insulation may have some small imperfections such as

gas filled voids (micron sized) which can start partial
discharge activity. They may occur during manufacture of the
main cable, but more likely, the manufacture of cable joints is
the major source of internal imperfections in cables. Such
imperfections will lead to partial discharge activity which
will degrade the cable material in the void. The problem that
occurs with voids is the high electric field in the void relative
to the dielectric strength of the gas in the void.

For example, consider the case of an air void in a cable

insulation material with relative permittivity of 3.0:

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Because of the constancy of the displacement vector, D = ε E

We have: ε r1 E1 = ε r 2 E2

ε r1
and thus Eair = E2 = E1
= × 10 kV/mm = 30 kV/mm

This level of electric field will certainly start partial discharge

in the void and lead to permanent and escalating damage to
the insulation.

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4.5 Test techniques for Cables

(i) High voltage testing

Such testing may require voltages up to 2 pu.

This is difficult to achieve on site for AC cables because of

the reactive power requirements of long cable lengths.

HVDC was (and still is) used for paper-insulated cables but
space charge generation with HVDC in polymer cables such
as XLPE do not allow HVDC testing for them. To test such
cables on site requires either resonance testing with an
auxiliary variable inductor or the use of very low frequency
(VLF) testing (for example at 0.1 Hz).

(ii) Dielectric dissipation factor testing

This is a useful technique but is limited for the same reasons

as given above. Both resonance testing and VLF testing can
be used to get DDF results.

DDF testing is a very useful method for cables: it will

monitor deterioration. The main problem is that it is not a
real-time condition monitor: it gives accumulated damage
effects only. Generally DDF tests must be done off-line but
there are some systems that will give results on-line.

(iii) Dissolved gas analysis

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As with transformers, analysis of the insulating oil in oil
impregnated insulation provides a very useful indicator of
such insulation condition. It is not of any use for polymeric

(iv) Dielectric spectroscopy

This and its variants of recovery voltage and isothermal

relaxation testing are tests used primarily for detection of
moisture in insulation and are aimed mainly at water tree
detection in XLPE cables. They have to be done off line and
are long duration tests of some hours. The test monitors the
dielectric polarization response to low level DC voltages. The
results are difficult to interpret. This technique, although
increasingly used, is still mainly in the development phase so
far as interpretation is concerned.

(v) Insulation resistance (IR)

This test is easy to do but the results are of little real value
and is thus the least useful of the tests. Polarization index
results from the IR measurements are more useful

(vi) Reflectometry and loop resistance tests

These are used for location of faults. They do not provide any
useful test for insulation condition assessment. The regime of
such tests include the following:
Murray loop test
Reflectometer tests

ELEC9712: Power Cables – Part 1 p. 40/44

Thumpers – audio detection of location.

(vii) Partial discharge (PD) testing

PD tests can be done on line or off line and can be performed

with ELF or resonant testing. The method picks up the high
frequency signals from discharges in voids and similar
imperfections in insulation. The main problem is that of PD
signal attenuation along the (lossy) cable. Also, EM noise
such as corona, is a major problem for on-line testing. There
is a move towards the use of high frequency CTs or
capacitive couplers so that PDs at VHF levels where the EM
noise is reduced.

PDs have the very great advantage of being a real-time

insulation condition monitor. They can also be used with
pattern analysis to quantify condition.

ELEC9712: Power Cables – Part 1 p. 41/44

ELEC9712: Power Cables – Part 1 p. 42/44
5. Cable Accessories

Cable accessories include joints and terminations and

traditionally are the sites where most faults occur in cables.
They are normally performed manually on-site and this is
where insulation problems may occur. Cable jointing is a
process requiring great skill and attention to detail. Particular
attention is required for the insulation and stress grading is
often required to modify electric field distribution.

For paper cables, manual lapping must be performed over the

joint and any voids of air must be omitted.

For polymeric cables, less skill is required and synthetic cast

resin joint enclosures are made for conductor joints but care
must be taken to keep voids from forming. They are mainly
resins of the following types:
• Acrylic
• Epoxy
• Polyeurethane
• Polyester

Heat shrink materials are often used at medium voltages (less

than 33 kV).

As it is not possible to obtain total homogeneity of insulation,

the electric field stress at the joint or termination may be
excessive and some form of stress relief will be required.
This can be achieved by shaping of the insulation structure in
the accessories as shown in the diagrams.

ELEC9712: Power Cables – Part 1 p. 43/44

Stress Grading in cable terminations and joints.

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