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Sizing of Current Transformers

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Dilson Subedi , Tandin Dendup , Deepen Sharma


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Centre of Excellence in Control & Protection, Tala Hydropower Plant, Druk Green Power Corporation Limited

Abstract: Current transformers (CTs) are used to transform large primary currents to a small secondary current.
Since most standard equipments are not designed to handle large primary currents, the CTs have an important
role in any electrical system for the purpose of Metering and Protection, both of which are integral part in any power
system. The proper sizing of CTs (also called Dimensioning of CTs) therefore becomes very important for the
system designers as it will play an integral role in metering (which is money) as well as protection (which is
reliability) of the equipment.
This paper outlines the basic parameters to be considered for a CT when designing a protection system and
metering Circuit. It will also outline the basic nature of the Protective Class (P) and Special Protective Class (PS) of
CT's. The trend these days is to upgrade the protection system from electromechanical relays to Numerical relays
without usually changing the Current transformers. The electromechanical relays thus having high impedance as
compared to it equivalent numerical relays therefore drastically reduces the overall burden on the CT's; The effect
of under burdening of CTs owing to such an up-gradation from electromechanical to numerical relaying will also be
discussed, along with available methods for burden compensation and their disadvantages

Introduction

As the development of digital measurement and protection equipment has progressed over the last
years, the criteria used for sizing the necessary instrument transformers have changed as well.
Whereas in the past, due to the high burden of electromechanical relays, it was the rated power of the
current transformers (CT) and potential transformers (PT) that was the crucial parameter. Nowadays, it
is the transient performance of instrument transformers that has gradually become the over-riding
influence within the digital world of relays, measuring and controlling devices.
Firstly, due to paradigm change in the technology of the power system substations the traditional usage
of high VA-rated instrument transformers can become even dangerous both for themselves and for the
secondary circuits and equipment connected to them. Secondly, the reduction of the switchgear
dimensions, especially Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS), leads to a reduction of the available instrument
transformer compartments. That is the reason why the volumes of the instrument transformers have to
be optimized and adapted to the actual needs of modern measurement and protection equipment
connected to them. Since most of the generating stations in Bhutan have reached a stage where the
up-gradation of its protection equipment is of utmost importance keeping in view the growing power
system infrastructure. Therefore knowing the usage of dimensions of CT will be essential information
while planning such up-gradation.

Current Transformer Specifications

While ordering a Current Transformer from a manufacturer we must provide them with certain system
data as to enable them to design. Apart from the nominal system data like primary current (IP) &
secondary current (IS), it is also advisable to specify the maximum short circuit current (IPSC, MAX) at the
Current Transformer location, the desired nominal over current factor (KSCCN) and the Burden that would
be connected to the Current Transformer (SBN). The over current factor is also called as Accuracy
Limiting Factor (ALF) for Protective class Current Transformers and Instrument Security Factor (ISF) for
Metering class Current Transformer. The importance of specifying the above will be discussed in the
following sections.
In turn the manufacturer will give the Knee point voltage (VKNEE), Secondary Coil resistance (RCT) and
the nominal burden to be connected to the Current Transformer in its name plate details. These details
will be essential when we think about upgrading the instrument connected to the Current Transformer.

2.1

Calculation of Current Transformer Specifications

For the purpose of keeping a mathematical basis for specifying the Current Transformer in the system
we must first find out the nominal primary current IP. Once this is known we must decide on the
secondary current IS. Generally there are two options for standard secondary currents viz. 5 amperes

and 1 ampere. In olden days when electromechanical relays were used higher currents were required to
operate the relay and therefore 5 ampere CT was used, now a days with the development of digital
technology all of the protection functions can be achieved by 1 ampere. This will give us our CT ratio.
Secondly we must know the type of instrument that will be connected to the CT i.e. protection
instrument or the metering equipment, since this will affect the over current factor of the CT.
Once these values are known we can now proceed towards designing a CT.
First we must ensure that the CT should not saturate during normal operation;
Therefore;
VKNEE > KSCCN.IFS, MAX (RCT + RBN),

(1)

Where;
IFS, MAX :is the maximum secondary fault current;
KSCCN= IPSC, MAX/ IPN,

(2)

RBN= Rated burden in ohms.

The over current factor will be different depending upon the application for which the CT is used.
For metering application, the CT should operate with minimum error in the nominal region and should
saturate on fault conditions so that the connected metering equipment is not damaged, hence the value
of KSCCN for metering CT also called Instrument Security Factor is very low.
For protection application, the CT should have minimum error in faulted conditions for the operation of
the connected protection equipment as well as for event recording in case of faults. Therefore the KSCCN
value also called Accuracy Limiting Factor will be higher for protective CT. Although the KSCCN value is
higher which will allow higher current to flow in the CT secondary the CT will eventually saturate for very
high fault currents. This in turn will protect the connected equipment from very high fault currents.

Current Transformer Operation

A CT due to its physics always tries to draw such a secondary current IS through its secondary circuit
that equalizes the magnetic flux excited by the primary current IP. It means that each current transformer
is forced to introduce such a secondary current IS so that the secondary magnetic flux linked with it
equalizes at every point of time with the primary flux.
Ideally there should be no magnetizing flux is inside of an ideal CT core, or, in other words, ideal
working-conditions for a CT are given when its core is fully balanced and no magnetic flux is present. In
reality, there are no ideal conditions as described above. There exists always some secondary burden
as resistance or impedance, e.g. at least the inner secondary winding burden, which causes a voltage
drop in the secondary circuit.
Practically, the current transformer during its duty of core-balancing by drawing the secondary current
through the secondary circuit always has to overcome a couple of burden. In other words it is forced to
magnetize itself to produce such a voltage (on the inductance L) that draws the secondary
ampere-turns current which equalizes the ampere-turns of primary current. Such burden for the CTs
are internal impedance of the secondary winding and the total impedance that is connected to its
secondary clamps (i.e. wire and instrument burden). Thereby, the higher the burden or the higher the
primary current, the higher voltage must be induced to allow the secondary current flow.

The maximum detectable short-circuit current IPSC, MAX on the CT secondary side must not lead to a
voltage drop higher than the knee point voltage in order to avoid too high error of the secondary current
due to magnetic saturation. Furthermore, the limit of the magnetizing current may be required to ensure
enough fault sensitivity.

3.1

Current Transformer Limitations

The most important issue is to keep in mind that the exactness specified at IPN can only be guaranteed
by the CT manufacturer, when the CT is burdened with rated burden SBN.
1. Accuracy (current error and phase displacement) is specified for more working points that lie not only
at the nominal current IPN but start below it up to slightly above the nominal current (e.g. at 1%, 5%, ... up
to 120% of IPN).
2. Instead of overcurrent factor, an instrument security factor (ISF) or an Accuracy Limiting Factor (ALF)
is specified, at which the composite error must be at least 10%. This is to protect the connected
measuring devices against too high over-currents. Thereby, the most important are the following
remarks:
a) The accuracy class of metering CT can be only maintained when the CT is burdened with operational
burden SBO that lies between 25%... 100% of its nominal burden SBN, and
b) The nominal instrument security factor ISFN or nominal Accuracy Limiting Factor ALFN is defined at
nominal working conditions of the CT, i.e. when the CT is burdened with its nominal burden SBN.
Remembering the fact that the error limits for protective classes are maximum values, the actual errors
have to be lower. This is a minimum requirement for dimensioning of protective class CTs and it can be
also understood as forbidden area for the error of such protective-core CT.
For the instrument security factor ISF the error must be at least 10% in order to protect measuring
devices against too high over currents by limitation of the CT secondary current. This is a maximum
requirement for dimensioning of measuring class CTs.
Acc. to IEC 60044-1 standard the winding resistance RCT is usually not given on the rating plate
because this calculation is done by the CT manufacturer only.
3. For the performance the CT magnetizing curve should be always analyzed. So the usage of
resistances and voltages is the right way. On the contrary, the usage of power (burden) and overcurrent
factor can be misleading.

Under burdening of CT

Nowadays, modern digital protection devices work with 1A nominal current and have burdens lower
than 0.1 VA so only the burden of secondary wiring is the most significant one. Maximum operation
times have been shortened to a few milliseconds up to a few cycles, so the DC component must be now
considered by an additional transient dimensioning factor KTD.
Therefore the over current factor is now calculated as:
KSCCN= KTD. IPSC, MAX/ IPN,

(3)

However if a low burden is connected to a high rated burden CT, as is the case these days due to
up-gradation of connected equipment without changing the CT, then the over current factor KSCCN will
not be valid for that circuit as it is dependent on the burden connected. The new operational overcurrent
factor KSCCO can be calculated as:
VKNEE=KSCCN. IFS, MAX. (RCT+RBN)=KSCCO. IFS, MAX.(RCT+RBO),
Where

(4)

RBO= Connected burden in ohms


Since knee point voltage VKNEE will remain same on different connected burden.
Simplifying we get
KSCCO= KSCCN. (RCT+RBN)/ (RCT+RBO)

(5)

The above equation shows that the new overcurrent factor will be very high. This high over current
factor will expose the connected equipment to high secondary current which is dangerous to both the
equipment and the operator.
Under burdening will also have the following effect:1. Using under-burdened, protective CT with turn- compensation and measuring CT, can exceed the
error at nominal current (the error curve is lower for lower burdens than nominal burden).
2. Using under-burdened CTs with small current ratio can damage the connected relays in case of
strong close-in fault (very high secondary current that flow on the CT secondary due to high KSCCO).
These two critical and very important facts have to be considered in the same way for the instrument
security factor ISF for measuring classes, too. The operating factor of security ISFO for the
under-burdened measuring CT can be calculated:
ISFO= ISFN. (RCT+RBN)/ (RCT+RBO),

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As already mentioned above, for measuring classes, the new error curve may exceed also the accuracy
limit for nominal currents.

Burden Compensation

According to IEC 60044-1 the error limits for CTs are required to be valid only for burden that is
between 25% and 100% of its nominal burden SBN. This requirement leads very often to additionally
installed resistors in order to compensate too low burdens, which is surely a dangerous practice of
introducing new elements into the secondary circuit of a CT and should be abandoned. Such additional
resistive elements introduce a risk as it may be damaged by over currents and lead to interruption of the
CT secondary circuit.

Case Study- Under Burdened CTs

220kV Switch Yard, Maintenance Division, BHP


CT TYPE: IMB 245; EQUIPMENT: Current Transformer
LOCATION: 220 kV Rurichhu-Tsirang Feeder

Table 1.NAME PLATE DATA


CORES

II

IPrimary

ISec

III

IV

600-300-150

600-300

Accuracy Class

5P

5P

0.5

5P

5P

Rated Burden

20

20

30

20

20

Rated Burden

20

20

30

20

20

ALF/ISF

30

30

<10

20

20

VK (V)

2580-1290-645

2580-1290-645

1718-859-428

888-444

Rct()

6-3-1.5

6-3-1.5

4-2

4-2

Imag (mA)

30-60-120

30-60-120

30-60-120

30-60

Analysis: Taking only one core i.e. core I


Table 2. Single core data
CT Core

CT Ratio

300:1

Rated Accuracy

Composite

Rated

Connected

RCT

Limiting Factor

Error (%)

Burden(VA)

Burden(VA)

(Ohms)

30

20

0.667

From the above details we know:


KSCCN= 30
SBN=20 VA or 20 ohms for 1 ampere ISN
RCT= 3 ohms
RBO=0.667 ohms
From this information we can calculate:
KSCCO= KSCCN. (RCT+RBN)/ (RCT+RBO)

(5)

KSCCO= 30. (3+20)/(3+0.667) = 118.16

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This means that the CT will go to saturation only when the secondary current IS is higher than 118.16
times of the nominal current IN, but from the name plate detail the current transformer should saturate
for secondary currents higher than 30 times of IN.
Such high current is dangerous to the connected equipment in the CT secondary. Moreover the
accuracy of the measurement in such conditions is also questionable as the error curve is not defined
for such high currents by the manufacturer.

Conclusion

The practice of up gradation of the Protective or metering equipment without changing the current
transformers is dangerous as it exposes the equipment and the operator to high current. Due diligence
must be given to study the change in overcurrent factor so that the accuracy of the current transformers

measurements are kept high for metering as well as protection functions. The use of burden
compensation methods for cost saving on current transformers is not advisable as it will raise a question
of integrity for the circuit during faulted condition when the IS is very high.

References

[1] Jaeger et al. D.T. 2008. Instrument Transformer Dimensioning: Past and Future. 4th GCC CIGRE
International Conference, Manama (Bahrain).
[2] Ibrahim et al. D.T. 2006. Saturation of current transformers and its impact on digital over current
relays. 2006 IEEE PES transmission and distribution conference and exposition, Latin America,
Venezuela.
[3] CT Test Report 220KV Rurichhu-Tsirang Feeder CT, CoECaP,2013.

Biographies

Dilson Subedi holds a Bachelors of Engineering in Electronics and Communication


Engineering from PSNA College of Engineering and Technology under Anna
University, Chennai in India. He joined Druk Green in 2010 and worked in Electrical
Maintenance Unit under Maintenance Division in Kurichhu Hydro Power Plant. He
currently works in the Centre of Excellence in Control and Protection (CoECaP). He is
in Network Protection and Automation work group under CoECaP which mainly deals in
study and testing of protection and automation in power system networks.
Tandin Dendup holds a Bachelors of Technology in Electronics and Communication
Engineering from Jaypee Institute of Information Technology University in India. He
joined Druk Green in 2010 and worked in Control and Protection Unit under
Maintenance Division in Chhukha Hydro Power Plant. He currently works in the Centre
of Excellence in Control and Protection.
Deepen Sharma graduated with Bachelors of Technology in Electrical Engineering from
the National Institute of Technology (Former REC), Allahabad, India in 2003. He then
obtained his Masters of Technology in Power Electronics, Machines & Drives from the
Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, India, in 2007. As a part of his Masters thesis
he has co-authored few papers on switched mode power electronic converters
published in various forums like IEEE International Conferences, PEDES06, PEDS07
& Journal of Power Electronics, 2007.
He started his professional carrier in Ferro & Steel processing industries for few years before joining
Druk Green Power Corporation Ltd. (DGPCL), Bhutan in 2011. He is currently working as a practicing
engineer in one of the Centre of Excellences (CoEs) under DGPCL, called the Centre of Excellence in
Control & Protection (CoECaP), since January 2012.He is currently managing one of the two CoECaPs
work groups, Control & System Analyses, the group that is broadly concerned with Study, Analyses &
Testing of Power System Controls including the Governing & Excitation System, Primary Systems such
as Instrument Transformers, Circuit Breakers, Surge Arrestors & Power system earthing/grounding
systems.