Time Synchronization Requirements in the Electrical Power

Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission
and Distribution Systems
Allen Goldstein
NIST Synchrometrology Lab
Gaithersburg, MD
[email protected]
Synchronization of measurements in electrical power systems with
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is expected to become mission
critical worldwide over the next few years. This paper describes
some of the applications for time-synchronized measurements, the
requirements for accuracy and reliability, the ways timing information
is received and distributed in electrical substations, and the risks
which must be mitigated before the power system becomes reliant
on time synchronization. It explains the need for alternative time
synchronization sources redundant with Global Positioning System
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Time Synchronized Measurements
 not a new concept or
application in electrical power
 multiple spatially distributed
measurements which are
synchronized to occur within
a specified window of time
 transmitted and then collected
at one or more locations and
aligned in time
 increasingly being used in
electrical power systems
 as technology advances, the
time frame of synchronized
information has been steadily
reduced from minutes to
seconds, milliseconds, and
now microseconds
 applications:
• disturbance
• fault location
• synchrophasors
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Accuracy requirements
SCADA/EMS (state estimation):
 one to three seconds
Disturbance monitoring/recording:
 within 2 milliseconds of UTC
• specified by the National
Energy Reliability Corporation
– NERC is the U.S. regulatory
agency for the energy sector
Fault Location Devices:
 less than about 1.7
 travelling wave locators rely
on the difference in clocks at
either end of a fault.
• fault signal travels at
approximately the speed of
 1.7 microseconds equals
about 500 meter uncertainty
in the location of the fault
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Phasor measurement units
(PMUs) measure power
system voltages and currents
and estimate the
synchrophasor of each phase
Synchrophasors are a polar or
rectangular representation of
the power system amplitude
and phase compared to a
theoretical signal at the power
system nominal frequency
synchronized to UTC
The reporting rates from the PMU
can be from one report per
second to 120 reports per
 Typical reporting rates are 10,
20, 30 or 60 reports per
second in 60 Hz power
systems; 10, 25 or 50 reports
per second in 50 Hz power
Synchrophasor data from
multiple PMUs are aggregated
at remote locations and can
provide a real-time
measurement of the system
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Synchrophasor accuracy
The maximum allowed error for
PMU measurements is 1 %
total vector error (TVE)
 PMU performance limits are
specified by IEEE Standard
C37.118.1-2011, revised by
IEEE C37.118.1a-2014
Equation 1: Total Vector Error [6]
(Xˆ (n) − X (n)) + (Xˆ (n) − X (n))
(( X (n)) + ( Xi(n)) )
TVE (n) =
Figure 1: Graphical depiction of synchrophasor error
The total vector error combines
both the phase error and
magnitude error into a single
scalar value which is the
magnitude of the vector
between the measured
synchrophasor value and the
“true” value (the actual input to
the PMU)
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Effect of time accuracy on synchrophasors
For a 50 Hz or 60 Hz power
system, a 0.573 ° (0.01 rad)
error (with 0 magnitude error)
would yield a 1 % TVE.
 A 0.573 ° phase error could
be caused by a 26.53 µs time
error for a 60 Hz system or a
31.83 µs timing error for a 50
Hz system
 This leaves no room for
magnitude error
The recommended time accuracy
for synchrophasors is 1 µs [4].
 All synchrophasor
measurements at a particular
time should be made within 1
µs of each other.
 The phase accuracy is a
function of the frequency of
the voltage or current being
measured and the time
• For a 60 Hz measurement, a 1
µs error would yield a 0.377
mrad (21.6 mdeg) error, and
for a 50 Hz measurement the
error would be 0.314 mrad (18
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Synchrophasors’ future
The synchrophasor standard is
being revised by a joint
IEEE/IEC working group
 considering new applications
 expects to publish a joint
synchrophasor standard:
IEEE/IEC 60255-118-1
sometime before 2018
 applications which require
better than 1 % TVE are
being considered
A Department of Energy ARPA-E
program is investigating
applications for a “micro-PMU”
extremely precise time-stamping of
measurements to allow comparisons of
voltage phase angle down to small fractions of
a degree
may be beneficial in distribution networks where
the phase differences between nodes are smaller
µPMU technology is expected to discern
angle differences to significantly better than ±
0.05 deg (aiming for ±0.01 deg)
the maximum timing error would need to be
less than 0.463 µs for a 60 Hz system or
0.557 µs for a 50 Hz system
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
other synchrophasor timing requirements
A time-synchronous measurement
device calibration system
should be at least 10 times as
accurate as the measurement
system under test (20 times
more accurate is preferable).
 A phase accuracy of 87 µrad
(0.005 deg) is the
recommended target
Table 1: Phase error and TVE contribution of timing errors
timing error
26.53 µs
1 µs
0.463 µs
0.231 µs
phase error (60 Hz)
0.01 rad (0.573 deg)
0.3 mrad (0.022 deg)
0.17 mrad (0.01 deg)
87 µrad (0.005 deg)
 The difference between the
calibration system’s time and
the device-under-test’s time
must be small. If so, the time
difference with UTC does not
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
TVE contribution
Reliability requirements
NERC publishes reliability standards for the bulk
electric systems of North America
numerous standards which are required to
be met by power system designers and
For many systems considered essential to
the reliability of the bulk power system,
“The (standards drafting team) understands
redundant systems are required.
that there may be some Cyber Assets where
• For example, in Standard COM-0011.1 –
automated monitoring may not be possible
operator, and balancing authority is responsible
At this time, there are no NERC
requirements for redundancy in
time-synchronization facilities
 Notably, requirement R2 of
the NERC cyber security
standards states:
(such as a GPS time clock). For that reason,
automated technical monitoring was not
explicitly required and a responsible Entity
telecommunications facilities for the exchange of
may choose to accomplish this requirement
through manual procedural controls”
redundant and diversely routed”
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Time reception
GPS as Today’s Only Option
 PMUs should maintain 1 µs accurate
synchronization with UTC and may
In the United States, NERC creates standards
for power system reliability, and power
system operators must comply with the
most of the mission critical power
system components are required to be
redundant and diversely routed.
is the only option available today, and
PMUs today are not considered
mission critical components of the
power system.
GPS is the only system presently
• however, demands on the system are
be located almost anywhere in the
 satellite-based time synchronization
being used for timing. Other satellite
systems are being developed. These
include GLONASS, Galileo, and
 research is needed into the
plausibility of using other sources of 1
µs accurate UTC time to provide a
redundant, diversely routed source of
time signal.
changing with new loads such as electric
vehicle charging and synchronous DC
• furthermore, new energy sources such as
wind and solar power are becoming
distributed across transmission systems
and even across distribution systems
which were not originally designed for bidirectional power flow.
• based on synchronized measurements,
PMUs are widely expected to become
mission critical over the next 5 to 10 years.
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Time distribution
Depending on the manufacturer
and model of the device, the
time-synchronizing source
input may be:
 GPS antenna input,
 Inter Range Instrumentation
Group (IRIG) standard 200-04
[11] input (sometimes also
requiring a digital pulse per
second (PPS) input)
 or for some newer equipment,
an IEEE 1588 Precision Time
Protocol (PTP) delivered via
Ethernet as specified by the
Power Profile
GPS Antennas and Splitters
 Many devices containing
PMU functions include their
own GPS receivers.
 input is often a coaxial cable
directly from a remotely
located GPS antenna or a
GPS antenna splitter.
• EMI, impedance matching, and
cable delay are issues that can
contribute to time
synchronization errors or loss
of lock.
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Today’s Risk is Low
 today’s applications of timesynchronized power system
measurements are not considered
mission critical.
Tomorrow’s Risk is Uncertain
 applications in use today include:
power system base-lining
event analysis,
model verification,
fault location,
modal (oscillation) analysis, and state
estimate verification.
 None of these applications is solely
dependent on PMU data; as a
consequence, a loss of PMU data is
highly unlikely to contribute directly to
a system outage or blackout.
transient analysis,
time-synchronized measurement applications
are being researched by power system
operators, utilities and government
• real-time system protection applications,
• real-time generator control,
• real-time frequency and voltage control,
• load shedding,
• intentional islanding control,
• many others.
which of these applications may be
implemented in the electrical system and the
time frame is uncertain at this time
• using
time-synchronized measurements for the
above applications could:
prevent large system outages
restore the system faster if outages do happen.
these applications depend on PMUs:
• failure or sabotage of the timesynchronizing source signal could
introduce vulnerabilities that have the
potential to degrade the grid operation or
damage equipment.
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems
Before time-synchronized measurement becomes mission
critical on the power system, it is likely that measurement
systems will be required to have redundant and diversely
routed synchronizing time sources.
Thank you
Allen Goldstein
NIST Synchrometrology Lab
Gaithersburg, MD
[email protected]
Time Synchronization in Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution Systems