Factors influencing ampacity and temperature of underground power cables

I. A. Metwally*, A. H. Al-Badi, A. S. Al Farsi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the factors that influence ampacity and temperature rise of three-phase, single-core 33- and 500-kV XLPE underground cables (UGC) using CYMCAP software. These factors are conductor cross-sectional area, soil thermal resistivity, cable burial depth, cable separation, sheath bonding, bedding and backfill heights and thermal conductivities, nearby parallel heat source, formation of dry zone, loss tangent and segmented conductors. Results reveal that increasing the separation distance between phases gives higher ampacity, contrary to the burial depth. The rate of conductor temperature reduction due to the increase in the bedding thermal conductivity is more pronounced than that achieved by increasing backfill thermal conductivity. Furthermore, increasing the native thermal conductivity and/or the maximum conductor temperature increases the UGC ampacity and consequently increases the induced sheath voltage. Sheath losses are significant in transmission UGC where the load currents are always high. High conductor temperature and hence degradation rate is expected for UGC carrying currents of highly fluctuating loads. UGC must be derated as they age (increasing loss tangent), or when dry zones are formed around them, or when a nearby parallel heat source. Finally, it is found that the increase in the number of conductor segments nonlinearly increases the UGC ampacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-392
Number of pages10
JournalElectrical Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Ampacity
  • Cable system layout
  • Critical temperatures
  • Cyclic conductor temperature
  • Multilayer soil
  • Power cables
  • Soil thermal conductivity
  • Temperature rise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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