When creating an electrical earth for a transformer with vertically driven earthing rods, problems can arise either because the ground is too hard or because the ground is too resistive to achieve the required earthing resistance. To assist in the planning of earthing installations a geographic information system (GIS) layer has been created. In its simplest form it consists of a colour coded map that indicates the most likely earthing installation: a single vertically driven rod (indicated by dark green); multiple vertically driven rods (indicated by light green); a horizontal trench, where a rod installation is unlikely (indicated by yellow); for difficult ground, a specialist installation (i.e. drilling; indicated by red). However, the GIS can be interrogated to provide site-specific information such as site conditions, likely depth of installation and quantity of earthing materials required. The GIS was created from a spatial model constructed from soil, superficial and bedrock geology that has been attributed with engineering strength and resistivity values. Calculations of expected earthing rod resistance, rod or trench length, and all possible combinations of ground conditions have been compared with the ‘likely’ conditions required for each of the four proposed installation scenarios to generate the GIS layer. The analysis has been applied to the electrical network distribution regions of Western Power Distribution, in the English Midlands, and UK Power Networks, which covers East Anglia, London and the SE of England. Because the spatial model that underlies the GIS has been constructed from national databases the analyses can be extended to other regions of the UK.

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