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Abstract--Direct and backflashovers across line insulators are

the main cause of transmission line outages, even when shield
wires are used. So, the simulation of this phenomenon can be
useful to the insulation design as well as to study the effectiveness
of corrective actions. The Electromagnetic Transients Program
(EMTP), is one of the most important tools in the simulation of
electromagnetic transients, with a large library of electric and
electro mechanic component models. Also, user defined models
can be integrated with the main program. In this work, the
integration of user defined models with the EMTP, as well as its
Index Terms--Electromagnetic transient analysis, lightning,
modelling, power transmission lines, power system transients.
ightning strokes hitting towers, conductors or any object
in the neighbouring of a transmission line can produce
abnormal current/voltage waves along conductors (phase
and/or shield wires) as well as along steel towers. Due to these
phenomena, overvoltages are produced and electric arcs
(between two or more conductors as well as between phase
conductors and the tower structure) may appear, if insulation
breakdown voltage is reached.
Lightning discharge, as a physical phenomenon, cannot be
anticipated. So, lightning studies are usually done considering
statistical information related to the lightning current
parameters [1], and sensitivity analysis is needed in order to
obtain reliable results. Monte Carlo techniques can also be
applied in order to determine possibility of insulation
flashover as well as maximum overvoltages appearing at
important electrical devices.
Laboratory experiments are expensive, limited to the
maximum capacity of current/voltage generators and to
individual components testing. Computational simulation tools
that allow for the modelling of complex networks and
arrangement of electrical or non-electrical components are
widely used in the study of this kind of phenomena without
risks and at low cost.
Due to the high frequency range associated with lightning

C. J. Coelho Teixeira is with the Department of Electrical Engineering, at
Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Coimbra, 3030-199 Coimbra, Portugal, (e-
mail: ccoelho@isec.pt).
A. Machado e Moura is with the Department of Electrical and Computer
Engineering, at Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto, 4000
Porto, Portugal, (e-mail: mmoura@fe.up.pt).
transients phenomena adequate electrical component models
are required. For these reasons, simulation studies require
detailed modelling of the lightning phenomenon and of the
network elements, including even towers and insulators which
are usually not considered [2]. For some network components,
models are not implemented or the model to be used differs
from the one presented in the library. So, user may need to
create its own models, using the possibilities given from the
computational program.
In this paper, it is shown the integration of user sources as
well as nonlinear components with the commercial version of
the EMTP software package, using external routines [3].
Some applications in the simulation of overhead transmission
line transients are presented, in order to demonstrate its
practical interest in the simulation of lightning effects in
electrical networks and for the correct selection of insulation
A lightning stroke hitting a phase conductor, a shield wire
or even a tower, corresponds to the injection of a current wave
in the point of impact. This current will propagate along
conducting paths (electrical network or the tower's structure)
and will produce instantaneous potential variations in the
conducting paths [4].
Real lightning current waveshapes are characterized by its
polarity, maximum instantaneous value, steepness, and
equivalent front/tail times. Due to its non-regular shapes (see
fig. 1), lightning current is not easy to describe by
mathematical functions, even if complex functions are used.
Fig. 1. Example of a lightning current waveshape [5]
Towers are connected to the soil by ground electrodes,
which can consist in a simple electrical conductor or in
complex metallic structures, in order to obtain low equivalent
Study of the Backflashover Phenomena in
Overhead Transmission Lines using the EMTP
C. J. Coelho Teixeira, and A. Machado e Moura
1-4244-0288-3/06/$20.00 2006 IEEE
2006 IEEE PES Transmission and Distribution Conference and Exposition Latin America, Venezuela
Due to the high frequency associated with lightning
transients, a PI-model should not be used to represent
transmission lines. So, more detailed models are used,
considering the frequency dependence of line parameters. As
lightning studies only consider short time windows after the
lightning discharge, may be sufficient to consider a few spans
for both sides of the stroked point.
Towers, although being neutral components of the
transmission lines, need also to be considered in the
simulation of lightning transients. If a direct stroke occurs or
if a lightning current propagating along shield wires arrives to
the tower top, they act as electrical conductors since tits
electric potential rises.
When a sufficient high difference of potential between
phase conductors and the tower structure appears, insulation
breakdown can occur as an electric arc in the air, across
insulators. So, insulation flashovers need also to be modelled
as electric equivalent components.
A. User Sources
Lightning is usually modelled by an equivalent current
source with a representative waveshape. Although detailed
models for the lightning discharge process are known, it is
common to represent the lightning channel by equivalent
surge impedance, parallel to the source [4]. In this work, no
resistance was considered because the additional path for the
injected current could produce different results and
conclusions, and only negative current were considered, since
the most frequent lightning discharges are negative, with the
greatest current steepness.
A lot of different analytical functions have been presented
to approach real curves, in order to allow the simulation of
lightning current injection within an electrical network.
Complex mathematical functions have been suggested by
several authors or organizations. The most common are the
concave function (Heidler type) as defined by CIGRE [6], the
double-exponential function, used in IEC standard laboratory
tests [7], and a simple triangular function which, for some
kind of studies, can be sufficient [2].
In this paper, concave functions were mathematically
described by equations (1) and (2), for the front and tail
regions respectively, considering the definitions and
calculation procedures as defined in [6].
I ( t ) A t B t = + (1)
( ) ( )
1 2
1 2
n n
t T t T
I ( t ) I e I e

= (2)
For the double-exponential waveshapes it was used the
common expression (3), where I
is the peak current, o and |
are the inverse of time constants.
- -
t t
I ( t ) k I e e
o |

B. Footing Resistance
Although ground electrodes are difficult to model, for
practical purposes, they can be considered as equivalent
resistances or as equivalent transmission line with distributed
parameters, in particular when counterpoises are used.
For transient analysis, ground electrodes are usually
considered as non-linear resistances and the distributed nature
of its parameters is not taken into account.
In this work, linear as well as non linear approaches were
considered. The effective footing resistance (R
) can be
calculated by equation (4), and depends on the instantaneous
value of current crossing footing elements (I), on the low
current and low frequency resistance of the electrode (R
) and
on the critical soil ionization current (I
), calculated using (5),
where E
is the electrical field necessary to start soil ionization
and is the soil resistivity [8].
R =

= (5)
C. Transmission Lines and Towers
The influence of the soil characteristics, the variable
distance between conductors and the ground and the skin
effect need to be considered. Shield wires, if they exist, need
to be considered individually as well as its connection to the
tower structure, once they play an important role in the
backflashover phenomena [4].
Towers can be modelled as simple inductances, as complex
three-dimensional structures or as equivalent vertical lines. In
order to allow its full integration with other electrical device
models, using circuits theory, towers are commonly
considered as vertical transmission lines and modelled using
Bergeron type model. This model takes into account the tower
length, wave impedance and propagation velocity, and its
electrical behaviour is described using the method of
D. Insulation flashover
An electric arc is a complex phenomenon. Flashovers
across insulators are long electric arcs on the air, subject to the
atmospheric conditions and depending on the nature and shape
of insulators and arc horns. An electrical equivalent model is
required to the integration of flashovers with other electrical
components in the network. in this work, the leader
propagation model (LPM) [9], [10] was used.
According with LPM, the arc will start when the average
electrical field is greater than a specified value E
, set as
750 kV/m.
( )
V t E D > (6)
The propagation of the leader will occur with a velocity
given by (7) or (8) according with the relation between the
leader length X
and the effective distance D between
electrodes (arc horns): for X
less or equal to D/2, equation (7)
applies while (8) is used for X
greater than D/2.
1 0
( )
( )
( )
V t
v t K E
D X t
| |

\ .
( )
( )
( )
V t
v t K E v
D X t
| |
' ' = +

\ .
The leader current is assumed with a value given by (9),
proportional to the leader propagation velocity.
0 L L
I K v = (9)
It is considered that the electric arc occurs at the instant (t)
where the length of the leader X
(corresponding to the
integral of the velocity v
) is equal to D.
( )
v t d t D >
In this work, the electrical arc has been considered, at each
instant, as a non-linear resistance with a value given by the
quotient between voltage and arc current.
There are a lot of powerful computer programs that can be
used to simulate electromagnetic, electromechanical and
control systems on multiphase electric power networks. Most
of them result from the Dommels work, in the late 1960s, at
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). In this work, it was
used the commercial version of the EMTP (version 3.2),
commercialized by Hydro One Networks Inc [11]. So, the
applied techniques may be non-compatible with other
versions, like EMTP/ATP or EMTP/RV.
The integration of user models with this version of EMTP
is not a simple task, even if a simple non-standard current or
voltage source should be modelled. One of the possibilities is
to create a text file with current/voltage values for each time
instant (according with the desired time step). A TACS
Fortran controlled source can also be used in which an
external signal can be used to drive the source, simulating the
desired waveshape.
In the first methodology, the modification of a simple
parameter implies the creation of a new data file (only for the
function). So, this process is not suitable to simulate lightning
current waveshapes where random parameters as well as
sensitivity analysis are often used. The second technique is
more flexible, although its implementation is more complex,
once a Dynamic Link Library (dll) needs to be edited,
compiled and re-linked with the main program in order to run
the new tool.
There are a lot of non-linear models in the EMTP library.
Although that, for some kind of studies, user may need to
create its own models instead of modifying pre-defined
models. In this work, footing resistances as well as electric
arcs across insulators (flashover) were modelled.
A. User sources
Lightning current sources were implemented by using the
TACS controlled source referred above. For each simulation
step, the main program calls the external routine which returns
a value for the signal, according with the evaluation of the
corresponding function f(t). For these purposes, EMTP
provides the source code (written in FORTRAN) of a dll
named INFACE, which need to be edited to insert the
desired function(s).
The user source can be defined as a simple analytical
function, returning a value for the control variable at the
corresponding instant time (f(t)) but, generally, more complex
functions can be implemented by this way, including pre-
calculation modules used to determine function parameters
before returning final values.
In order to make this tool friendlier, it was created the
graphical interface presented in figure 2.
Fig. 2. Graphical TACS Fortran controlled source interface
The open terminal I_out of the TACS Slave source
provides an electrical connection to the power network.
Current waveshape parameters can be edited directly inside
the FORTRAN block, and different functions can be called
from the same block, by changing the name of the function
(in the figure, it is shown a call to a concave function named
ONDACIG). By this method, ten different functions were
created in the dll source code:
- ONDACIG, BIEXP and TRIANG generate concave,
double-exponential and triangular functions, respectively;
- C31, C100, B31, B100, T31 and T100 call pre-specified
current waves (the only needed parameter is the instant
- AUTOCIG allows, for a specified peak current value, the
generation of a concave waveshape with parameters defined in
accordance with statistical co-relations between parameters.
For each study, the first call to a specified function will
activate an auxiliary subroutine which performs the
conversion from waveshape parameters (front and tail times,
peak current and steepness) to the corresponding arguments of
the analytical function.
B. Non-linear elements
Non-linear elements can also be integrated with the EMTP
software package. The methodology used to the integration of
with differs from the techniques applied to include user
sources. Compensation technique (C-Type routine) requires
iterative procedures to the adjustment of the model
parameters, and returns a current compensation to be added to
the network currents obtained neglecting the non-linear
elements [12].
Fig. 3. Integration of a nonlinear element using compensation method (C-
Type routine).
The current i
in fig. 3 is calculated by an iterative
procedure in order to match equations (11) and (12)
k m k m t h v k m
V V Z i = (11)
( , , ,. . . )
k m
k m k m
d i
V f i t
d t
= (12)
In the first equation,
k m
denotes the voltage between
nodes -k and -m, obtained by solving the system equations
without the nonlinear elements.
For this purpose, a special dll named USERINT is provided
with the EMTP software package, and the communication
with the main program is established by using a type 92
component associated with the flag 7878.
Figure 4 shows the interface created to call the footing
external routine, which simulates the non linear footing
resistance, while fig. 5 shows the interface created to call an
electric arc model associated with the flashover across
insulators. In the figure, the flashover routine (arco3p1e) is
called three times since, for this study, 3 insulators were
Fig. 4. Graphical interface providing a call to the non-linear footing resistance
Fig. 5. Graphical interface providing a call to the electric arc model
Assuming that CIGRE stands for a concave front
waveshape, BIEXP for a double exponential function and
TRIANG for a triangular function, table I shows the basic
parameters for six possible combinations of shape and
Front time
Tail time
CIGRE31 -31 4.198 91.537 27.562
CIGRE100 -100 6.794 91.537 42.812
BIEXP31 -31 4.198 91.537 ---
BIEXP100 -100 6.794 91.537 ---
TRIANG31 -31 1.125 91.537 (27.562)
TRIANG100 -100 2.336 91.537 (42.812)
Two different peak current values (31kA and 100kA) and
the three mathematical functions referred above were
considered. Figure 6 shows the three functions defined above,
for a peak current of 100 kA.
Fig. 6. Negative current waveshapes assuming a peak value of 100 kA
Considering the basic system shown in fig. 7, with a single
tower and two equivalent spans, 20 km long for each side of
the tower, results are not affected by reflections at adjacent
towers neither by reflections at line ends, within the first 133
microseconds after the current wave injection.
20 km
20 km
Fig. 7. Simplified network analyzed
Lightning current injection was assumed in the tower top,
at the connection with one of the shield wires (SW1).
Transmission lines were modelled with a Frequency
Dependent (FD) model. Tower was modelled as a simple
vertical line (Bergeron model), 40 meters high, and surge
impedance equal to 100 O. Propagation velocity along tower
corresponds to 85% of the velocity of the light.
Table II shows insulators voltages calculated for the system
above, assuming linear footing resistances, while table III
shows insulator voltages for non linear footing resistances,
assuming a value of 100 O.m for the soil resistivity.
The non linear model assumed produces lower voltages
than linear model. Maximum values are highly dependent on
the waveshape assumed, either for 31 kA and 100 kA. Double
exponential function will result in the lowest voltages, in any
case, while concave and triangular functions will give
identical results.
Figure 8 shows the insulator voltage evolution, assuming
linear and non linear footing resistance cases, for R
and soil
resistivity equal to 50 O and 100 O.m, respectively.
Fig. 8. Insulator voltages assuming a linear and a non linear footing resistance
Considering the flashover model and assuming 3,8 meters
for the insulator length (effective distance between arc horns),
some simulations were performed too, in order to show the
application of the external routine arco3p1e created. Figure 9
shows the insulators voltage for a CIGRE100 waveshape,
assuming a linear footing resistance equal to 100 O. For
comparison, the voltage evolution for the same situation but
without the flashover model inclusion is shown in the same
Fig. 9. Insulators voltage evolution considering the flashover model
In order to show the utility of the tools developed, is was
performed a search of the minimum lightning current
necessary to produce a flashover (the critical current value)
for different scenarios.
Assuming a normalized test waveshape (double
exponential, 1,2/50 sec) as well as concave front
waveshapes, relating the corresponding time characteristics to
the desired amplitude (statistically dependent variables [1]),
critical currents were identified for the system above,
considering different linear footing resistances. Results are
shown in tables V and VI, respectively.
The obtained results prove that external functions are
perfectly integrated with the main program, and that
sensitivity analysis is possible to be made considering
simultaneously all the external routines created.
It is shown that the adopted waveshape has great influence
in the obtained results, and that a complete lightning analysis
requires detailed analysis of the footing resistance models, as
the non-linear modelling shows high reductions in the
maximum insulator voltages.
Also, the search of critical flashover currents requires a
repetitive study for increasing lightning current amplitudes,
and produces different results for different waveshapes.
Although not calculated, the total edition time associated
with the performed studies is highly reduced when the
external routines developed are used, and extensive sensitivity
analysis can in future be performed, using the models already
integrated with the EMTP software package.
[1] CIGRE TF 33.01.02, Characterization of lightning for applications in
electrical power systems, CIGRE, Brochure 172, December 2000
[2] IEEE Fast Front Transients Task Force, Modelling guidelines for fast
front transients, IEEE Trans. Power Delivery, vol. 11, pp. 493-506, Jan.
[3] C. J. Coelho Teixeira, J. A. Dias Pinto, Integration of external routines
with the EMTP for the simulation of lightning transients, in Proc. of 1st
International Conference on Electrical Engineering- CEE05, Coimbra,
Portugal, 10-12 Oct. 2005, CD_ROM.
[4] P. Chowdhuri, Electromagnetic transients in power systems, Research
Studies Press Ltd, England, 1996.
[5] T. Narita, T. Yamada, et all, Observation of current waveshapes of
lightning strokes on transmission towers, IEEE Trans. Power Delivery,
vol. 15, pp. 429-435, Jan 2000
[6] CIGR WG 33-01, Guide to procedures for estimating the lightning
performance of transmission lines, CIGRE, p. 1-56, October 1991
[7] IEC 71-1, Insulation co-ordination - part 1: Definitions, principles and
rules, International Electrotechnical Commission, 7th Ed., 1993.
[8] W. Chisholm, W. Janischewskyj, Lightning surge response of ground
electrodes, IEEE Trans. Power Delivery, vol. 2, pp.1329-1335, Apr
[9] H. Motoyama, Experimental study and analysis of breakdown
characteristics of long air gaps with short tail lightning impulse, IEEE
Trans. Power Delivery, vol. 11, pp. 972-979, Apr 1996.
[10] T. Mozumi, Y. Baba, et all, Numerical electromagnetic field analysis of
archorn voltages during a back-flashover on a 500-kV twin-circuit line,
IEEE Trans. Power Delivery, vol. 18, pp. 207-213, Jan 2003.
[11] EMTP Development Coordination Group, The Electromagnetic
Transients Program (EMTP), version 3.2.
[12] H. W. Dommel, EMTP theory book, 2nd Ed, Microtran Power System
Analysis Corporation, Vancouver, 1996
C. J. Coelho Teixeira was born in Baio, Portugal,
on February 7, 1974. He graduated in Electrical
Engineering (1997) and got his M.Sc in Electrical
Engineering (2005), by Faculdade de Engenharia da
Universidade do Porto (FEUP), both in Power
Systems Area. MSc thesis is the area of lightning
transients. He his an Assistant Professor at High
Engineering Institute of Coimbra, from 1997.
A. Machado e Moura was born in Porto in July
1950. He Graduated in Electrical Engineering by
Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto
(FEUP) in 1973. He got his PhD in 1984, at FEUP,
in the area of Electromagnetic Transients in Power
Systems High and Medium Voltage Systems based
on a research work developed at Direction des
tudes et Recherches of Electricit de France (EDF),
in Clamart. At FEUP he began a career of Professor
as Eventual Assistant (1975) and in 1991 he
becomes a Full Professor. He was member of several professional/ scientific
organizations. Presently he integrates the Superior Committee of Public and
Transportation Task as an aggregated member.