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Voltages in Power Transmission Lines or Transmission Voltages

Published on 24/2/2012 & updated on 9/11/2018
In generating station electrical power is generated at medium voltage level that ranges from 11 kV to 25 kV. This generated power is sent to the generating step up transformer to make the voltage level higher. From this point to the user end voltage level varies in different levels. We can realize this voltage level variation step by step.power transmission line

Type of Power Lines

From the very beginning of power generation to the user end transmission lines are broadly classified based on different voltage levels.

Why High Voltage is used for Long Transmission Line?

Generally long distant transmission lines are designed to operate at high voltage, extra high or ultra high voltage level. It is because of line power loss reduction purpose.

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Voltages in Power Transmission Lines or Transmission Voltages

Practically long distant transmission line resistance is comparatively more than medium and short transmission line. Due to this higher valued transmission line resistance considerable amount of power is lost. So we need to decrease the amount of current through each conductor by making the operating voltage very high for same amount of power transmission. We know that the power in AC system to transmit is Total power loss PLoss = 3IL2R considering three phases altogether. R is the resistance in ohm per phase of the transmission line. Now, rearranging Equation (1) we get, So,

Again in DC system, there is no phase difference between voltage and current, i.e. cosƟ = 1, and only two conductors (positive and negative) are used. So, in DC system transmitted power P = VI, and power loss From equation (2) and (3), it is clear that power loss in transmission line is inversely proportional to the square of line voltage. The higher value of line voltage the lesser amount of power loss occurs. Hence transmission line conductor is used with less diameter, hence savings of conductor material.

Why HVAC is Used for Long Transmission Line?

Now-a-days electrical energy is generated, transmitted and distributed in AC form. Especially for long distant transmission line high voltage AC is transmitted for several reasons, they are:
  1. AC voltage can be stepped up or down as per requirement easily by transformer.
  2. Maintenance of AC substation is easy and cheaper.
  3. Throughout electrical power system AC voltage is handled. So no extra hazard of rectification or inversion like DC voltage transmission.

Why HVDC is Used for Long Transmission Line?

High Voltage DC is used at extra or ultra high voltage level. HVDC transmission is used at fixed level of voltage in primary transmission only as it cannot be stepped up or down by transformer. Only in long distant transmission line it is used only, because
  1. Only two conductors (positive and negative) are required as compared to three of AC transmission..
  2. Absence of inductance, capacitance and phase displacement power loss is very less. Hence better voltage regulation.
  3. Surge problem never occurs.
  4. No skin effect.
  5. Less insulation requires due to less potential stress.
  6. Less corona effect, thus less power loss.
  7. Highly stabilized and synchronized.

Why Low and Medium Voltage is Used in Distribution Line?

In primary distribution, power is handled at 11 kV or 33 kV. As voltage level gets stepped down from 132 kV to 11 kV or 33 kV, current level gets higher valued. But this high valued current distributed among various local distribution stations (distribution transformers) nearby. These distribution transformers again steps down the voltage to 415 V. It is because; Power at 415 V is used at the user end. Distance between these distribution transformers and the primary distribution stations is very short, hence conductor resistance is not large. Very small amount of power is lost in this section.

Disadvantages of AC or HVAC Transmission

The main disadvantages of AC transmission are
  1. AC lines require more conductor material than DC.
  2. AC transmission line construction is more complicated than DC.
  3. Effective resistance is increased due to skin effect, hence power loss.
  4. Continuous power loss due to charging current because of line capacitance.

Disadvantages of DC or HVDC Transmission

The main disadvantages of DC transmission are
  1. Electric power is not generated in HVDC form due to commutation problem. Only HVDC is achieved for transmission from HVAC by rectification. So special arrangement is required for this conversion.
  2. DC voltage cannot be stepped up or down for transmission.
  3. DC switches and circuit breakers are expensive and with certain limitations.

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