An adaptive overcurrent protection scheme for distribution networks

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Distribution networks are evolving toward the vision of smart grids, with increasing penetration of distributed generation (DG), introduction of active network management (ANM), and potentially islanded modes of operation. These changes affect fault levels and fault current paths and have been demonstrated to compromise the correct operation of the overcurrent protection system. This paper presents an adaptive overcurrent protection system which automatically amends the protection settings of all overcurrent relays in response to the impact of DG, ANM, and islanding operation. The scheme has been developed using commercially available protection devices, employs IEC61850-based communications, and has been demonstrated and tested using a hardware-in-the-loop laboratory facility. A systematic comparison of the performance of the proposed adaptive scheme alongside that of a conventional overcurrent scheme is presented. This comparison quantifies the decrease in false operations and the reduction of mean operating time that the adaptive system offers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-568
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Power Delivery
Issue number2
Early online date27 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • adaptive protection
  • distributed generation
  • islanded operation
  • network automation
  • time overcurrent protection


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