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Corona Effect in Power System

Published on 18/3/2013 & updated on 9/11/2018
Electric power transmission practically deals with the bulk transfer of electrical energy, from generating stations situated many kilometers away from the main consumption centers or the cities. For this reason, the long-distance transmission conductors are of utmost necessity for effective power transfer, which in-evidently results in huge losses across the system. Minimizing those has been a major challenge for power engineers of late and to do that one should have a clear understanding of the type and nature of losses. The corona effect in power system has a predominant role in reducing the efficiency of EHV (extra high voltage lines) which we are going to concentrate on, in this article.

What is Corona Effect and Why it Occurs?

For corona effect to occur effectively, two factors here are of prime importance as mentioned below:-
  1. Alternating electrical potential difference must be supplied across the line.
  2. The spacing of the conductors, must be large enough compared to the line diameter.

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Corona Effect in Power System

When an alternating current is made to flow across two conductors of the transmission line whose spacing is large compared to their diameters, then air surrounding the conductors (composed of ions) is subjected to dielectric stress. At low values of supply end voltage, nothing occurs as the stress is too less to ionize the air outside. But when the potential difference is made to increase beyond some threshold value of around 30 kV known as the critical disruptive voltage, then the field strength increases and then the air surrounding it experiences stress high enough to be dissociated into ions making the atmosphere conducting. The ionized surrounding results in electric discharge around the conductors due to the flow of these ions, giving rise to a faint luminescent glow, along with the hissing sound accompanied by the liberation of ozone. This phenomenon of electrical discharge occurring in transmission line for high values of voltage is known as the corona effect in power system. If the voltage across the lines still gets increased the glow becomes more and more intense along with hissing noise, inducing high power loss into the system. corona effect

Factors Affecting Corona in Power System

As mentioned earlier, the line voltage of the conductor is the main determining factor for corona in transmission lines, at low values of voltage (lesser than critical disruptive voltage) the stress on the air is too less to dissociate them, and hence no electrical discharge occurs. Since with increasing voltage corona effect in a transmission line occurs due to the ionization of atmospheric air surrounding the conductors, it is mainly affected by the conditions of the cable as well as the physical state of the atmosphere. Let us look into this criterion now with greater details :

Atmospheric Conditions

We have proved that the voltage gradient for dielectric breakdown of air is directly proportional to the density of air. Hence in a stormy day, due to continuous air flow, the number of ions present surrounding the conductor is far more than normal, and hence it's more likely to have electrical discharge in transmission lines on such a day, compared to a day with the fairly clear weather. The system has to be designed considering those extreme situations.

Condition of Conductors

This particular phenomenon depends highly on the conductors and its physical condition. It has an inverse proportionality relationship with the diameter of the conductors. i.e., with the increase in diameter, the effect of corona on power system reduces considerably. Also, the presence of dirt or roughness of the conductor reduces the critical breakdown voltage, making the conductors more prone to corona losses. Hence in most cities and industrial areas having high pollution, this factor is of reasonable importance to counter the ill effects it has on the system.

Spacing between Conductors

As already mentioned, for corona to occur in the spacing between the lines effectively should be much higher compared to its diameter, but if the length gets increased beyond a certain limit, the dielectric stress on the air reduces, and consequently, the effect of corona reduces as well. If the spacing is made too large, then corona for that region of the transmission line might not occur at all.

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