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DC currents in power grids are mainly caused by geomagnetic activity especially during magnetic storms. It is desirable to monitor these currents to prevent saturation of transformers, which may cause blackout. However, adding DC current sensors to existing installations would be very costly. We suggest to convert some of the existing current transformers to fluxgate DC current sensors by injecting AC excitation current into their secondary winding. We successfully tested this concept on 500 A current transformer. The achievable accuracy is 10% for DC currents and 1.5% for AC currents, which is sufficient for protection and monitoring purposes. We analyze the DC current sensitivity dependence on the (changing) grid impedance, and we show that the sensitivity can be stabilized by controlling the secondary voltage component at the excitation frequency. Excitation current injected into the grid also depends on the grid impedance, but for realistic conditions it is below 2 A.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2013