Loss-of-mains protection is an important component of the protection systems of embedded generation. The role of loss-of-mains is to disconnect the embedded generator from the utility grid in the event that connection to utility dispatched generation is lost. This is necessary for a number of reasons, including the safety of personnel during fault restoration and the protection of plant against out-of-synchronism reclosure to the mains supply. The incumbent methods of loss-of-mains protection were designed when the installed capacity of embedded generation was low, and known problems with nuisance tripping of the devices were considered acceptable because of the insignificant consequence to system operation. With the dramatic increase in the installed capacity of embedded generation over the last decade, the limitations of current islanding detection methods are no longer acceptable. This study describes a new method of loss-of-mains protection based on phasor measurement unit (PMU) technology, specifically using a low cost PMU device of the authors' design which has been developed for distribution network applications. The proposed method addresses the limitations of the incumbent methods, providing a solution that is free of nuisance tripping and has a zero non-detection zone. This system has been tested experimentally and is shown to be practical, feasible and effective. Threshold settings for the new method are recommended based on data acquired from both the Great Britain and Ireland power systems.
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