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Design aspects of Islanding and Load

Shedding Schemes for Captive Power


U K Hambarde
Description of the Problem

A typical network is shown in Fig.1. The plant receives power from the utility at 220 or
132 kV level and is stepped down to 22 kV, 11 kV or 6.6 kV through station transformers.
The captive generators, typically rated from 5 to 40 MW are either connected directly to the
bus or through 1:1 generator transformers. The loads are distributed in the plant at 11 kV, 6.6
kV and 415 V levels. The loads are generally segregated into essential, important and
unimportant loads and are fed through different transformers and switchgears. Essential loads

are those loads that must run for the safety of the equipment and personnel. Important loads
are those that must preferably run to avoid production discontinuity but can be tripped if there
is no other alternative. Unimportant loads are those loads that can be shed at any time without
unduly affecting the process. The plant can operate in the following modes when the in-plant
generators operate in parallel with the grid:
a. In-plant generation is enough to meet essential loads and a part of important loads with the
remaining power taken from the grid.
b. In-plant generation is just enough to feed the entire load of the plant and power import
from the grid is negligible.
c. In-plant generation is enough to feed the entire load of the plant and export power to the
When in isolation from the grid, inplant generators feed the entire or partial load of the plant
depending on generation conditions. In conditions a to c, any disturbance in the grid can
affect the operation of the in-plant generators and consequently the total plant. It may be
mentioned that under condition b, when real power import is negligible, it is prudent to be
slightly exporting reactive power under normal operating condition; otherwise a penalty may
have to be paid for very poor power factor.
Types of disturbances can be categorized as follows:

Loss of utility supply due to grid collapse.

Fault on the line supplying power to the plant and subsequent tripping of the line either
from the plant end or from the remote end due to protective relay operation causing loss
of grid supply
Wide fluctuation in frequency or grid voltage or both.

In all the above disturbances, it is essential to isolate the in-plant units from the grid as
quickly as possible to save the internal system. The generators are provided with their own
protection in order to trip them safely in case the parameters go beyond the set values. The
permissible time for this protection is generally within a few seconds for most disturbances.
Hence grid isolation should generally be achieved within a second, giving sufficient time for
isolated generators to stabilize and feed partly or fully the plant loads subsequent to isolation.
Whenever the plant is importing power from the grid, it is essential that after grid isolation
the generators pick up additional power (basically, governor response) to meet the plant
loads. If adequate generation is not available, loads have to be shed to achieve loadgeneration
Observed Symptoms
The disturbances described earlier lead to one or more of the following symptoms that can be
detected by the hardware available at present:

Rate of changes of frequency with either drop or rise in frequency

Reduction in frequency but at a slow rate.
Sudden change in real power direction (from import to export) along with drop in

Change in current direction (from grid - plant to plant - grid) with reduction in voltage.
Voltage dip for duration of 1 second or more.
Rise in voltage above the normal value along with zero real power import from grid to the

Islanding Schemes
The following schemes are generally used to detect a disturbance and its severity and to
isolate the in-plant system from the grid:
Rate of Change of Frequency alongwith Underfrequency for Specified Time
In the majority of cases, the following scenario is observed: the distribution substation in the
utility receives power at 220 kV, 132 kV or 66 kV level either radially or by loopin-loopout
anangement. In case of failure of power from the grid to the utility substation, captive
generators tend to supply power to other consumers connected to the substation. As the inplant generators are designed to meet only the local loads of the plant, there is a loadgeneration unbalance leading to a steep fall in frequency. The rate of change of frequency can
be analytically estimated by conducting stability studies for a number of operating conditions
and after detailed discussions with operating people, the lowest rate of change of frequency
can be determined. The relay is then set for this rate of change of frequency along with a set
underfrequency below which the relay operates and initiates islanding. This is the most
important scheme and is responsible in more than 50% of the cases for grid isolating.
Reverse Power With Underfrequency (RPUF)
This scheme is useful to detect loss of grid supply whenever the difference between load and
available generation is not sufficient to obtain an appreciable rate of change of frequency but
active power continues to flow into the grid to feed external loads. The setting of the reverse
power relay (real power from plant to grid) also should take into account the maximum
export under normal conditions. The reverse power relays should have an adjustable power
setting unlike those generally used in generator protection, which have fixed settings like
0.5%. Also, reverse power relays with either builtin or external timers should be used to
avoid isolation under transient reversal of power. The settings can be worked out after doing
system studies and then fine tuning at the site.
Directional Overcurrent With Undervoltage
Whenever there is an uncleared fault on the grid near the plant (for example on the incoming
supply line to the plant), the plant generators tend to feed the fault, and the voltage at the
supply point drops. The extent of current fed and the voltage dip depends on the electrical
distance between the fault location and the plant. Both the schemes explained above may not
operate as the frequency may tend to rise in this case. This scheme caters to such a situation.
Time delay is normally built into the relays or achieved with an external timer to give the
primary protection on the grid lines a chance to operate. Time delay is estimated by
conducting stability studies to determine the maximum fault clearing time permissible
(critical clearing time) before in-plant generators lose stability and trip on their own
protection. Undervoltage contact is introduced in series to doubly ensure that isolation occurs
for genuine uncleared grid fault near the plant. For successfully sustaining the plant units,

some critical issues like excitation ceiling and AVR response during fault and after islanding,
unforeseen changeover from Auto to Manual channel, etc., have to be investigated.
Pure Underfrequency Isolation
This scheme comes into play when the grid frequency gradually sinks and other parameters
are not affected to the point of normal detection. The set print for underfrequency is much
below the normal operating frequency but should be slightly above the highest
underfrequency relay setting used for load shedding after islandng. Time delay is normally
employed and is related to underfrequency trip setting and withstand time for the in-plant
generators (e.g., 47.5 Hz, 3s).
Pure Undervoltage Isolation
Similar to the slow decline in frequency, it is observed that the grid voltage gradually drops
while the other parameters are not affected to the extent of normal detection by other
schemes. In this case, undervoltage isolation with time delay is provided. The time delay is
sufficient to prevent isolation in the event of transient voltage dips. The undervoltage setting
should be above the undervoltage trip setting for plant generators.
Overvoltage With Reactive Power Inflow Isolation
Whenever the plant is fed by a long transmission line from a grid substation and the remote
end breaker on the line trips, the whole line charging var is imposed on the plant. This gives
rise to overvoltages accompanied by high reactive power flow into the plant from the line.
The overvoltage in the system causes the plant generators to reduce excitation to a minimum
value through AVR. In some cases the generators' absorption capacity is exceeded. In rare
cases, field failure relay with mho characteristics also initiate tripping. Under this condition,
isolation is done by detecting overvoltage beyond normal limits along with reactive power
setting for flow into the plant, which is set above the normal reactive draw. Time delay is
again provided to avoid tripping due to transients.
A typical logic covering the above schemes is shown in Fig 2. Though only one set of relays
per scheme is shown here, in actual implementation, they are duplicated to improve the
Load Shedding after Islanding
This is phase 2 of the exercise wherein the in-plant system is stabilized after islanding. Under
normal conditions, before islanding, the plant may be importing both real and reactive power
from the grid. Immediately after islanding, the load generation balance is disturbed and it is
required that a certain amount of load be shed to prevent a system collapse. It is obvious that
load shedding can be initiated only after islanding (tripping small loads compared to the grid
size does not have any significant impact when operating in parallel with the grid). The
islanding contact derived through logic, confirming the plant is isolated from the grid, must
be taken to individual switchgears wherever the underfrequency load shedding relays are
wired to trip the individual or bulk loads. The amount of load to be shed depends upon the
following factors:

Power import before isolation

Inertia of the in-plant generators
Excess margin available in in-plant generators to pick up further load
Response time of governing system and correct changeover from perhaps constant power
mode to isochronous mode
Rate of change of frequency and actual frequency at the time of isolation.
Protection provided for plant generators
Protections provided for other loads like inverters, HV motors, etc.

Extensive stability studies are carried out for different system conditions from normal
operation to disturbance inception until system stabilization. The final settings are selected so
that in a majority of cases, the system can remain stable after isolation.
Design of Islanding and Load Shedding Schemes
Important factors to be considered in engineering islanding and load shedding schemes are:
a. The islanding contact for initiation of load shedding and annunciation in the control room
in which islanding has occurred should be derived using relevant breaker contacts instead
of contacts of output relays used in islanding scheme. This will avoid load shedding when
breakers marked for islanding do not trip due to various reasons like trip supply failure,
stuck breaker, etc.
b. As many schemes operate in parallel to generate islanding contacts to trip relevant breakers
to achieve islanding, the final output relays should be high speed tripping relays with many
contacts. In some cases it has been observed that due to fleeting output contacts of rate of
change of frequency relays, final output relays do not pick up due to less speed, and
islanding cannot be initiated although rate of change of frequency relay operation indication
has occurred.
c. If there is more than one generator within the plant and they are so located that it is
possible to create self sufficient small islands, then multiple islanding points can be selected
so that after islanding, load shedding is kept to a minimum. The points of isolation depend
upon the number of generators in operation before the disturbance. For example, a bigger
island can be created feeding more loads if more generation is available resulting in
minimum disturbance.
d. Depending on breakers selected for islanding, sometimes natural load shedding occurs
(some load buses get islanded along with the grid and the loads do not come on plant
generators after islanding). Since a bulk of load relief is obtained without recourse to
underfrequency load shedding, system recovery is also faster. Sometimes it may even be
possible to connect the sheddable loads to the grid so that load shedding is almost avoided
if the grid recovers.
e. After islanding, depending on load and generation balance, critical parameters like voltage
and frequency are affected. In some cases, this leads to operation of protective relays on
auxiliary equipment, which in turn leads to tripping of main equipment such as a big
process motor or generator. For example, tripping of a lube oil pump motor may, by
process interlock, trip the main, equipment. Hence protection of auxiliary equipment

including, their protection and control supply have to be studied in depth and co-ordinated
Reliability Aspects
The following measures are taken to enhance the success of the scheme and prevent plant
a. All of the schemes are duplicated to the extent possible. For example, the plant may
receive power from the grid through 132 kV /22 kV transformers. It is preferable to
provide independent relays with independent inputs from 132 kV side and 22 kV side.
b. As already described, it is preferable to use auxiliary contacts of islanding breakers to
derive islanding signal rather than contacts of relays used in islanding scheme. This will
avoid spurious load shedding.
c. High speed self reset tripping relays may be used especially to multiply contacts of rate of
change of frequency relays to ensure positive pickup. Rate of change of frequency relays
provide output in the form of pulse contacts of very short duration.
d. Rate of change of frequency relays used for df/dt detection generally comes with 33, 66 or
99 ms built-in sample time. For reliable operation, especially for islanding purposes, 99 ms
sample time may be used to reduce the chance of maltripping. Also, it is very essential to
monitor output of dc-dc converter, which supplies low dc voltage for electronics in the
relay through LED. Otherwise, the operator may think the relay is in circuit while actually
it may be dysfunctional.
e. Sometimes, islanding is successful but the in-plant generators also sink after islanding.
One of the main reasons is the uncertainty about governor response and load pickup
capability of the unit. Load pickup and throw off test on the units may be done at site so
that their behaviour can be anticipated. This is a major gap in many sites.
f. If small capacity in-plant generators are directly connected to the bus, then a fault on
outgoing feeder from the bus results in terminal fault on generator for which the critical
clearing time is much smaller. However, the operating time of relays on the feeders may
be more since they have to co-ordinate with downstream relays. Hence it may be desirable
to introduce a 1:1 generator transformer. The economic impact of this may be taken into
account during the initial cost estimate of the project itself.
g. An essential pre-requisite for successful operation of the schemes is to do a detailed study
to co-ordinate the relays of islanding schemes, in-plant feeders and generators and tie lines
to grid. Also, if the plant turbines use extraction steam, it is desirable to involve the
concern persons to review protections based on steam variables like extraction pressure
low, high etc.
Integration with SCADA System
Recently, in many industrial plants, some kind of SCADA has been installed to monitor
electrical parameters. With the availability of current data and enormous processing power,
these systems can be used in engineering the schemes described above. However, it must be

emphasized that SCADA by itself will not replace any of the hardware relays mentioned
earlier. However, it can enhance the flexibility as detailed below:
a. Since the current load and generation measurements are available, the system keeps track
of deficit or surplus at any instant of time. Should islanding occur, it can decide in an
instant which islanding breakers will create the most self-sufficient islands. The dynamic
selection is one of its powerful applications.
b. Sometimes with conventional implementation, the in-plant generators sink due to
insufficient load shedding. The feeders are selected apriori and wired to relays for tripping.
However, at the time of islanding, these feeders may be open and tripping of these feeders
do not contribute to any load relief. SCADA can prepare a look up table based on current
values and also on priority assigned by the operator and generate permissive contacts for
feeders to trip. However, the initiating signal to trip must still come from hardwired logic.
Performance and Experience
Some of the plants where the schemes explained above have been suggested/ used are:
1. Reliance Industries Limited, Patalganga Plant
2. India Petro Chemical Limited, Nagothane
3. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Hazira
4. Narmada Chematur Petro Chemical Limited, Bharuch
5. Krishak Bharati Co-operative, Surat
6. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Mumbai.
The first scheme was commissioned in 1985 and the other schemes have been in operation
for the last 2 to 8 years. In general, the success rate is about 80%. Considering the power
situation in India, where steady-state frequency can be as low as 48 Hz instead of 50 Hz,
which allows only a narrow margin for implementing the scheme, the success rate is
reasonable. After the scheme is commissioned at a site, the scheme is wired only for alarm
for 2 to 3 months so that performance of the scheme can be monitored at the site and settings
can be fine tuned. After gaining the confidence of operating personnel, the schemes are
finally wired for trip. With the advent of SCADA, we can expect a much higher success rate.
Various islanding schemes used in industrial plants with captive generation are described.
Details of load shedding schemes after islanding are given. Some important design aspects
and factors to be considered for reliability improvement are presented in brief. Finally, the
impact of SCADA on these schemes is described.
Published : TCE World January 2004