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Optimal Network Reconfiguration of Electrical Distribution Systems

Bhoomesh Radha, Robert T. F. Ah King and Harry C. S. Rughooputh

University of Mauritius
Reduit, Mauritius

Abstract- Distribution systems are critical links between investigate methods for network reconfiguration. The
the utility and customer, in which sectionalizing objective of network reconfiguration is to reduce power
switches a r e utilized for both protection and losses and improve reliability of power supply by changing
configuration management. Usually, distribution the status of existing sectionalizing switches and ties. This
systems a r e designed.to be most efficient a t peak load paper surveys the methods that have been proposed to
demand. Obviously, the network can be made more solve the network reconfiguration problem and presents an
efficient by reconfiguring it according to the variation integration of two algorithms: a network-topology-based
in load demand. This paper surveys the methods that three-phase distribution power flow algorithm and an
have been proposed to solve the network algorithm for determining power loss of a radial
reconfiguration problem and presents a n integration of configuration for a power distribution network. Simulation
two algorithms: a network-topology-based three-phase results for the 22 kV Bramsthan section of the CEB
distribution power flow algorithm and an algorithm for network of Mauritius are presented.
determining power loss of a radial configuration for a
power distribution network Simulation results of the 2 Survey on Network Reconfiguration
proposed method on a 22 kV Bramsthan section of the
CEB network of Mauritius are presented.
Under normal operating conditions, distribution feeders
1 Introduction may b e frequently reconfigured by opening and closing
switches to reduce line losses, improve feeder voltage
Every electrical utility in the world has a vast network of profile and increase network reliability while meeting all
distribution systems to supply power to its consumers. The load requirements and maintaining a radial network. These
average line losses in the transmission and distribution requirements result in a very complicated non-linear
system in Mauritius are found to be in the region of 12%, integer optimization problem. The exact optimal solution
which is high compared to corresponding values (7 to 9%) of such a problem may be obtained only by enumeratively
io advanced countries like the USA, France, Sweden and examining all possible switch options, requiring
Japan, etc. These losses have to be brought down to a prohibitively long computational time because the number
reasonable level in order to improve the efficiency of of switch options is usually very large in a practical
distribution system. Furthermore, in the present days of distribution network. This problem is not easily solvable by
energy crises and with increasing concern for standard optimization methods and yet its accurate solution
environmental pollution, energy conservation should be a can result in vast savings for electricity utilities.
Different algorithms have been previously used to solve
Power losses in the distribution system at the time of the recoofiguration problem and each method has involved
peak load condition increase the requirement of generating one or more difficulties such as:
capacity, while the energy over that required by the system (1) The high computational time for medium and large
load increases. In other words, payload of the system scale systems may be prohibitive,
decreases. No doubt, the line losses cannot altogether be (2) Reliance on heuristics, hence sub optimal solutions,
avoided, due to inherent resistance of distribution lines; (3) Difficulty in obtaining feasible solutions.
however these can be reduced to a reasonable low value by
taking suitable measures. Sarfi et al [l] survey a variety of approaches to the
network reconfiguration problem. This survey begins by
Distribution systems are critical links between the utility stating, “The generalized reconfiguration problem presents
and customer, in which sectionalizing switches are used for a considerable computational burden for a distribution
both protection and configuration management. Usually, system of even moderate proportions.” This assumed
distribution systems are designed to be most efficient at computational burden follows 6om the observation that
peak load demand. Obviously, the network can be made “the nonlinear nature of the distribution system necessitates
more efficient by reconfiguring it according to the variation that at each iteration of an optimization algorithm a load
in load demand. Recent studies indicate that up to 12% of flow operation be performed to determine a new system
the total power generated is wasted in the form of line loss operating point.” If this is correct, it follows that a direct or
at distribution level. Hence, it is of great benefit to exhaustive solution is infeasible, so that a practical solution

0-7803-7852-0/03/$17.00 02003 IEEE 66 KIT 2003 - Maribor, Slovenia

must employ some heuristic search method, possibly developed to obtain the optimal switch plan with m i n i u m
guided by a simplified optimization procedure. This is the switch operations to accomplish the transition 60m the
approach taken by most of the methods surveyed. initial Configuration to the optimal configuration. This
optimal switch plan is obtained by eliminating those
2.1 Discrete Branch And Bound Method unnecessary switch operations suggested during the
iterative solution procedures of the single-loop
Merlin and Back [ 2 ] presented one of the frst works optimization approach.
reported to reduce losses in a distribution network. It
presents an integer-mixed non-linear optimization model In [7], Baran and Wu developed search techniques based
that is solved through the discrete branch and bound on the idea of branch exchange for the reconfiguration of
method. Its solution scheme starts with a meshed network balanced distribution systems. To assist in the search, two
by initially closing all switches in the network. The methods are proposed for the computation of load flows for
switches are then opened one at a time until a new radial radial networks with different degrees of accuracy: the
configuration is reached. An equivalent linear resistive approximate power flow and backward-forward methods.
network model is used to determine the switches to be In addition, an algebraic expression is proposed that allows
opened. Due to the combinatorial nature of the problem, it estimating the loss reduction and load-balincing index for
requires checking a great number of configurations for a a given topological change.
real-sized system.
Rudnick et 01 [SI modified the solution methodology
Shirmohammadi and Wong [3] used the same heuristic proposed by Baran and Wu [7]. To obtain a solution, that
procedure exposed in [ 2 ] . They share its advantages and methodology requires fulfilling a large amount of load flow
prevent its main disadvantages. The solution scheme also calculations, and due to the great computational effort
starts by closing all the network switches, which are then involved for a real sized distribution system, it turns out to
opened one after another by determining the optimum flow be impractical. As a solution to this difficulty, a simplified
pattern in the network. non-iterative calculation method is proposed that allows
calculating the power flows and the voltages of the buses of
2.2 Switch Exchange Type Heuristic Method
the system with reasonable accuracy, drastically reducing
In [4], Civanlar ef al suggested a switch exchange type the computational effort.
heuristic method, where a computationally effective
formula was presented for determination of the loss change All of the proposed methods described above employ a
due to a switch exchange. Goswami and Basu [ 5 ] extended heuristic search and thus they converge to a local optimum
the method of Civanlar ef al in an intuitative way by simply solution, that is convergence to the global optimum is not
limiting the switch exchange operation within a single loop guaranteed.
each time. An improved configuration is obtained by
2.3 Exhaustive Search Algorithm
successively conducting the single-loop switch exchange
until no further improvement can be obtained. This single- Morton and Mareels [9]proposed a more efficient solution
loop optimization approach is superior to other heuristic to the network reconfiguration problem. They suggested a
algorithms since it provides implementation simplicity, method for determining a minimal-loss radial configuration
computation efficiency, solution feasibility and optimality. for a power distribution network, using an exhaustive
search algorithm. Despite being exhaustive, the method
Fan ef a/ [6] presented an analytical description and a used is highly efficient, deriving its efficiency from the use
systematic understanding about the single-loop of graph-theoretic techniques involving semi-sparse
optimization approach via qualitative analysis. The transformations of a current sensitivity matrix. The
problem of network reconfiguration for minimum loss is algorithm can be applied to networks of moderate size and
formulated as an integer optimization problem with a has advantages over existing algorithms for network
quadratic objective function, &1 type state variables and reconfiguration in that it guarantees a globally optimal
a linear constraint equation with state dependent formulas. solution (under appropriate modelling assumptions), and is
This nonlinear integer-programming problem, if linearized easily extended to take account of phase imbalance and
could be approximately represented by an integer LP network operation constraints.
(Linear Programming) problem. This understanding leads
to the consideration of applying the concept of simplex 2.4 Simulated Annealing
method normally used for solving LP problems, which, in
turn leads to the direct derivation of the single loop At present, new methods based on artificial intelligence
optimization approach. This fact indicates that single-loop have been used in DNRC [IO, 111. Chiang and Jean-
optimization approach actually originates from the same Jumeau [ l 11 presented a simulated annealing (SA) method
technical principle as the simplex method. In addition, a to solve the DNRC problem, in which the SA was very
simple and efficient scheme is used to calculate the load time-consuming. It requires an improved SA with high
flow and loss change in the network after a switch speed to handle the DNRC problem.
exchange in a loop. A heuristic procedure is then

Theorem 1 191: Let G be the graph of a distribution
2.5. Genetic Algorithm

One of the fust studies where genetic algorithm (CA) is

network, let T c G be a tree and let Y.l k )be
applied to the global optimal solution of DNRC is an elementary tree transformation involving arcs
discussed in [IO]. This study shows that GA rather than the c r , c q E G . Let S and SI be the sensitivity matrices
SA approach obtained a better performance. Zhu [12]
further refines the GA method by modifying the string of the tree networks T and T / respectively, in which
structure and fitness function. In [lo], the string used in
GA describes all the switch positions and their " o d o f f the To 'row corresponds to the arc cy, respectively
states. The string can be very long and it grows in
proportion with the number of switches. For large and other rows correspond to like arcs. Let rIE GI ,
distribution systems, GA. cannot effectively search such 12s Gz be the nodes incident with c, , and let G = 1 if
long strings. In [12], the string is shortened. To reduce - -
computational burden, approximate fitness functions were cr is directed from ri to rz , and -lothenvise. Then
used in GA to represent the system power loss [lo]. It may I
1) S,k= SJk if SyI- Sy,= 0 OTSmk= 0 ,
affect the accuracy and effectiveness of GA. GAS are
essentially unconstrained search procedures within the I
2) Smk= GrSmr2Smk
given represented space. All information should be fully
represented in the fitness function. An over-approximated 3) If sIrI- slrrf 0 and Smk# 0 , with j # m ,
fitness function would lead directly to unreliable solution. I /
then Slk= 0 if SIk# 0 ,othenvise SJk= S J ' I - S J ? ~
In [12], a precise fitness function is used.

3 Network-Topology-based Three-phase Load The following results are used, the proof of which can be
found in [9]:
1) Let T c G be a tree. Then T,,]k
)is a tree if and
A network-topology-based three-phase distribution power
flow algorithm featuring robustness and computer economy
onlyif C,E T and cjEK,b" 1.
has been developed by Teng [13]. This method fully 2) Trees TI and TZ in G are related by an elementary
exploits the special topology of a distribution network to tree transformation in G if and only if d (TI, T z k l .
obtain a direct solution. Two matrices: the bus-injection to
branch-current matrix (or current sensitivity matrix), BIBC 3 ) LetTi , Tz he any trees in G . If d bt, Tz)=k , then
and the branch-current to bus-voltage matrix BCBV are Tz can be obtained from through a sequence of exactly k
sufficient to obtain the power flow solution. The
traditional Newton-Raphson and Gauss implicit Z matrix elementary tree transformations.
algorithms, which need LU decomposition and
fonvardlbackward substitution of the Jacobian matrix or For a new configuration, the sensitivity matrix is
the Y admittance matrix are not required. modified row by row; whenever a row of the matrix
changes, the corresponding cable current is recalculated
and the losses perturbed by the difference between the
4 Power Losses of Radial Power Distribution squares of the old and new currents, multiplied by the
Network appropriate cable resistance:
Morton and Mareels [9] have suggested a method for
determining power loss of a radial configuration for a
power distribution network. This method is highly efficient,
deriving its efficiency from the use of graph-theoretic
In the case of the row corresponding to the arc being
techniques involving semi-sparse transformations of a
substituted, the magnitude of the current is unchanged, and
current sensitivity matrix, S , The algorithm can he the loss need only be altered to take account of the physical
applied to any networks and has advantages over other cable substitution:
existing algorithms for network reconfiguration in that it is
easily extended to take account of phase imbalance and doSF
P,oss+(rr-rq)lid2 (2)
network operation constraints. The algorithm developed
can be used with any search algorithm for the solution of Based on Theorem 1 [9] and the network-topology-
the network reconfiguration problem. Theorem 1 [9] based three-phase distribution power flow algorithm [13],
describes the effect of an elementary tree transformation on the flowchart representing the implementation of the above
the sensitivity matrix for a tree network. procedure to calculate the network losses using constant-
power loads is given in Fig. 1. In the case of constant-

current loads, the calculation of the power loss does not NO
involve the network-topology-based three-phase load flow. I I I I

Input the reduced incidence matrix

A ,21 and s k for initial tree Tu.

the tie switch numbers of t e e

Compute sensitivity matrix so fur tree T o


Modify S'according to Theorem 1 to obtain

the sensitivity of the new spanning tree TI

Modify Z J to incorporate the

impedances oithe new tree.

(C34) I
Fig. 2: Node numbering scheme of Bramsthan distribution

A Compute
5 Application of Network Reconfiguration to
Distribution Systems of Mauritius
The 22 kV Bramsthan section of the CEB network of
Mauritius is selected for reconfiguration purposes. The test
system shown in Fig. 2 comprises a cable network 'G
having N = 33 nodes (or buses), C = 36 cable segments

and nullity v =4. To fit in our framework, the supply bus 0

is relabelled as 33, and is taken as datum node. The cable
network topology and impedances are given in Table A in
the Appendix. The 32 load circuits can be assumed to have
either constant power characteristic or constant current
characteristic whose real and imaginary parts are provided
in Table A, next to the data for the fust 32 cable segments.
Cable segments 32 through 36 are tie lines. The system
base is V=22 kV and S= IO MVA. Power factor is

U Calculate network l o s s ~ z j l j

Return rcsu11 for configuration TI

assumed to be 0.8 (lagging). The active and reactive
powers of the loads at the sink nodes (customer load point)
are obtained by multiply the rating of connected
transformers with their respective demand factors (at
19:OO). The total system load is 21.39975 MW.
Fig. 1: Flowchart showing implementation of algorithm to
In order to get a precise branch current and system
calculate network losses of any tree of a distribution
power loss, the network-topology-based three-phase load
network using constant-power loads
flow described in the previous section is used. As the sub-

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