Cover Page


René Smeets

DNV GL – Energy, The Netherlands

Lou van der Sluis

Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

Mirsad Kapetanovié

University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

David F. Peelo

Consultant, Canada

Anton Janssen

Liander Asset Management, The Netherlands

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To Geert Christiaan Damstra (1930–2012)


At the turn of the nineteenth century, a revolution took place in electrical engineering. In a rather short time, the transformer was invented, electric generators and motors were designed, and the step from DC to AC transmission was made. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the transmission voltages were steadily increased to reduce transmission losses. To improve operating efficiency, power systems began to be interconnected. Reserve power or spinning reserve could be then shared and capital expenditure could be reduced.

This is where “power” switching came in with its major task: isolating the faulted section of the system while keeping in service all healthy parts. Nowadays the power system can be regarded as one of the most complex systems ever designed, built and operated. Despite its complexity and robustness, the switching technology facilitates consumers to connect and disconnect electric loads in a rather simple and reliable way. Moreover, it protects the system from the effects of faults. However, this comes at a price since every change in the state of a system generates transients that may affect both the operating conditions of the system and its components.

With the first application of power switching in early electric systems, the development of standards for rating, testing and manufacturing high-voltage circuit-breakers began. In the United States, initiative was taken by a number of engineering and manufacturer trade organizations, such as the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), dating back to 1884, later on merged into the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1963.

In Europe, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) was founded in 1906, and the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) started in 1921. CIGRE structured its organization by means of study committees in 1927. These study committees are responsible for the operation of working groups and task forces. Both collect field data and perform system studies, and their reports are used as input for creation and revision of IEC standards.

Over the years, many books and publications have been written on switching in electric transmission and distribution systems. A great deal of this knowledge results from the work of CIGRE and IEEE working groups, published as standards, technical brochures, reports and scientific papers.

For a utility engineer who wants to familiarize him- or herself with switching technology and the system aspects, the available literature is not easily accessible and sometimes difficult to comprehend. This book has been written to bridge the gap between the daily practice of utility engineers and the available literature.

The authors have served long periods in many working groups of CIGRE, IEC, and IEEE, and are familiar with switchgear manufacturing, power system aspects, and high power testing. In the relevant sections, contributions of the authors to CIGRE technical brochures, scientific literature, and standards are summarized.

The respective standards are referenced and run through the book like a continuous thread. This approach is intended to provide on the one hand guidance to the practical complexity of all essential switching operations and, on the other, a proper understanding of the standards and their background.

The book would not be complete without significant chapters on circuit-breakers and the switching media involved. Most of this material is gratefully taken from the book “High Voltage Circuit Breakers” by Professor Mirsad Kapetanović, issued by ETF – Faculty of Electrotechnical Engineering, Sarajevo (2011), commissioned by KEMA.

We acknowledge Zdeněk Matyáš M.Sc. who spent many hours harmonizing all our text, figures, and equations to be in line with the IEC standards and to achieve consistency in terminology.

Thanks are also due to Professor Viktor Kertész for the thorough checking of the mathematical sections, and we appreciate the contribution of Romain Thomas M.Sc. to the section on numerical simulation of transients.

We have dedicated our book to Professor Geert Christiaan Damstra (1930–2012), who has significantly contributed to the development of switching-, measurement-, and testing technology during his working life at the switchgear manufacturer Hazemeyer, KEMA, and the Eindhoven University of Technology. Being active and truly innovative in the high-voltage technique – literally to his last days – he has set an example to many.

René Smeets, Editor
Arnhem, Spring 2014