Power Systems and the environment is a very scarcely discussed issue but one of utmost significance. Various economics of Power Systems ly in the environment because Power Systems per se is one of the major system that is constantly exposed to the vagaries of the environment. By and large the Environment would mean the weather at whose mercy Power Systems operate.
Transformers of various kinds, Transmission cables, Breakers, Relays, Fuses,Power Electronic Devices, and Insulators all come under the pressures of Weather.
Let us see how weather influences Transmission cables. It can vary the resistance, inductance and the capacitance of cables altering line to line voltages and also the phase voltage. Sometimes such influences are not properly taken into account. Such variations can influence power delivered and such vagaries exist every single minute for any cable that is outdoor. Over a period of twenty four hours it is influenced by varying degrees of temperatures and add to that such fluctuations over a year. It can also influence the frequency of the system. Various countries must be having various kinds of defense mechanisms for such issues and also note that such influences are not uniform over a long distance. Power losses can be traced to such phenomena. Underground cabling could be one of the ways this problem can be mitigated but environmental influences of a different kind hamper underground cablings.
Transformers of various ratings bear the brunt of environmental influences…from rain to cold weather to heat. I have seen many bushings of transformers literally burning themselves out in the rain..a very dangerous and delicate phenomena. Pressure inside the transformer must be properly maintained as it can lead to transformer bursts…Laminations inside the transformer get heated varying transmission properties. Transformers are largely placed in the open because of natural cooling that it gets. Transformer oil properties change with weather. Predictive maintenance on Transformers is often undertaken to prevent breakdowns. Many a times Single phasing happens at the Transformer points because some fuse gives away because of Environmental influences. Rusting of Transformer surfaces and possible leaks can result from such situations. Transformer behavior variations can lead to variation in Power System parameters in a very pronounced way. Windings could get heated up influencing the input and output voltages. Breakers associated with Transformers that are manually operated get stuck sometimes and in an emergency to disconnect power would be difficult.
Relays are sensitive electromagnetic equipment that come with Electrical systems. They are costly to replace but form an important protective aspect of Power Systems. Extreme fluctuations in weather lead to relay misbehavior and to my observation very often overlooked by the maintenance personnel. Nuisance tripping of relays is one of the issues .Relays have to be constantly reset to compensate for weather influences.
Various countries face various kinds of such issues if not handled preemptively can lead to mal judgment’s of various kinds leading to larger breakdown times and complications.The essence of the matter is that environment influences Power Systems and for location to location design of systems must take note of such issues and compensate for them in advance at the design stage itself if possible and also take corrective action from time to time. . How forces like weather influence a particular Electrical component must be properly estimated and periodic actions initiated; Weather is an umbrella under which Power Systems work and Power Systems Engineers around the World must acknowledge it first in their day to day engagement of this sector.