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If the prime-mover supply is removed while the generator is connected to the
power system and the field excited, the power system will drive the unit as a
synchronous motor. This is particularly critical for steam and hydrounits. For
steam turbines it causes overheating and potential damage to the turbine and
turbine blades. Low water flow for the hydrounits can cause cavitation of the
blades of the turbine. This can also occur by closing the steam or water flow
valves very rapidly during a load-reduction phase or by tripping the turbine,
while not correspondingly tripping the generator breaker.
Typical values of reverse power that are required to spin a generator at
synchronous speed with no power input in percentage of the nameplate
kilowatts are
Steam turbines, condensing types 1%3%
Steam turbines, noncondensing types 3%
Hydro turbines 0.2%2%
Diesel engines +25%
Gas turbine 50%
Various detection means are provided as part of the generator and its
control, but a supplementary reverse power relay (32) is recommended and is
shown in Figure 8.3 and Figure 8.5. The power directional relay is connected
to operate when real power flows into the generator. Typical relay sensitivities with microprocessor relays are as low as 1 mA, which may be required
when a generator can operate with partial prime-mover input. The operating
time can be approximately 2 sec.


Generators as well as transformers must not be subject to overvoltage except
for short or transient excursions. With normal operation near the knee of the
iron saturation curve, small overvoltages result in significant exciting currents
in transformers, and excessive flux densities and abnormal flux patterns in
generators. These can cause severe and extensive damage.
The field excitation current, at rated output, is greater than that required at
no-load, so it is important to reduce the excitation correspondingly as load is
reduced. Normally, this is accomplished by the regulating system, but incorrect voltage signals, loss of VT fuses, or other failures in these systems, can
result in high overvoltage.
A particularly dangerous period is during the time when the generator is
disconnected from the system and the speed is changed. The generator
voltage is proportional to frequency and the magnetic flux, so overvoltage
protection should have a constant pickup as a function of the ratio of voltage
to frequency, a volts=hertz (24) type. Protection supplementary to that in

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