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I. Introduction

Distribution load flow is a very important tool for

the analysis of distribution systems and is used in opera-

tional as well as planning environments as described by

Lin and Chen (1986), the IEEE Tutorial Course on Distri-

bution Automation (IEEE, 1988) and the IEEE Tutori-

al Course on Power Distribution Planning (IEEE, 1992).

Many real-time applications in the distribution automa-

tion system (DAS) and distribution management system

(DMS), such as network optimization, Var planning,

switching, state estimation and so forth, need the support

of a robust and efficient power flow method. Such a

power flow solution must be able to model the special fea-

tures of distribution systems in sufficient detail. Some of

the inherent features of electric distribution systems are:

(1) a radial network structure,

(2) an unbalanced distributed load and unbalanced op-

eration,

(3) an extremely large number of branches/nodes, and

(4) a wide range of resistance and reactance values.

These features cause the traditional power flow methods,

the Gauss-Seidel and Newton-Raphson techniques, which

arise from the transmission area, to lack either computer

economy or robustness in distribution applications. In

particular, the assumptions necessary for the simplifi-

cations used in the standard fast-decoupled Newton-

Raphson method as reported by Stott and Alsac (1974) are

often not valid for distribution systems. In addition to per-

formance, all the above mentioned characteristics need to

be considered to qualify a good distribution load flow al-

gorithm.

Some efforts have been made to overcome these dif-

ficulties. Some of these methods, such as those of Birt et

al. (1976), Chen et al. (1991a, 1991b), Chen and Chang

(1992), and Teng and Lin (1994), based on the general

meshed topology of a transmission system, are also appli-

cable to distribution systems. The Gauss implicit Z-ma-

trix method as reported by Chen et al. (1991a, 1991b)

does not explicitly exploit the radial structure of the distri-

bution system and, therefore, requires finding the solution

of a set of equations whose size follows the order of the

number of buses. Recent researches have led to some new

ideas on how to deal with distribution networks. These

ideas may require new data formats, such as the compen-

sation-based technique reported by Shirmohammadi et al.

(1988), where the forward-backward sweep algorithm is

adopted in the solution scheme. Luo and Semlyen (1990)

requires a definition for feeder breakpoints, which has to

be specified by examining the feeder segments one-by-

one. Cheng and Shirmohammadi (1994) adopts the feed-

er-lateral based model, which requires the “layer-lateral”

based data format. In addition to the conventional bus-

branch oriented data format, new data bases have to be

built and maintained for these models to run.

The algorithm proposed in this paper is a “novel but

Proc. Natl. Sci. Counc. ROC(A)

Vol. 24, No. 4, 2000. pp. 259-264

A Network-Topology-based Three-Phase Load Flow for

Distribution Systems

JEN-HAO TENG

Department of Electrical Engineering

I-Shou University

Kaohsiung, Taiwan, R.O.C.

(Received August 16, 1999; Accepted December 17, 1999)

ABSTRACT

A network-topology-based three-phase distribution power flow algorithm is developed in this paper. The

special topology of a distribution network has been fully exploited to make obtaining a direct solution possible.

Two developed matrices are enough to obtain the power flow solution: they are the bus-injection to branch-current

matrix and the branch-current to bus-voltage matrix. The traditional Newton Raphson and Gauss implicit Z matrix

algorithms, which need LU decomposition and forward/backward substitution of the Jacobian matrix or the Y

admittance matrix, are not needed for this new development. The features of this method are robustness and com-

puter economy. Tests show that the proposed method converges in almost all circumstances for distribution sys-

tems and has great potential for use with distribution automation system.

Key Words: distribution automation system, distribution load flow, distribution management system, Gauss

implicit Z matrix method, Newton-Raphson method

classic” technique, running on the conventional bus-

branch oriented data format used by most utilities. Our

goal is to develop a formulation which exploits the topo-

logical characteristics of a distribution system and solves

the distribution load flow directly. This means that the

traditional Newton Raphson and Gauss implicit Z matrix

algorithms, which need LU decomposition and forward/

backward substitution of the Jacobian matrix or the Y

admittance matrix, are not needed in this new develop-

ment. Two developed matrices, the bus-injection to

branch-current matrix and branch-current to bus-voltage

matrix, and a simple matrix multiplication are utilized to

obtain the power flow solution. The features of this me-

thod are robustness and computer economy. Tests show

that the proposed method has great potential for real-time

operation.

II. Unbalanced Three-Phase Model

Figure 1 shows a three-phase line section between

Bus i and j. The line parameters can be obtained using the

method developed by Carson (1926). A 4 × 4 matrix,

which takes into account the self and mutual coupling

terms, can be expressed as

(1)

For a well-grounded distribution system, V

N

and V

n

shown

in Fig. 1 are assumed to be zero, and Kron’s reduction can

be applied in Eq. (1). Equation (2) is designed to include

the effects of the neutral or ground wire and to be used in

the unbalanced load flow calculation:

(2)

The relations between the bus voltages and branch cur-

rents in Fig. 1 can be expressed as

(3)

For any phase which fails to present, the correspond-

ing row and column in this matrix will contain null-en-

tries.

III. Formulation Development

The proposed method is based on two matrices, the

bus-injection to branch-current matrix and branch-current

to bus-voltage matrix, and on the equivalent current injec-

tion. They are developed in this section.

1. Equivalent Current Injection

For distribution systems, the models which are based

on the equivalent current injection, as reported by Shir-

mohammadi et al. (1988), Chen et al. (1991a) and Teng

and Lin (1994), are more convenient to use. At each Bus

i, the complex power S

i

is specified by

(4)

and the corresponding equivalent current injection at the

k-th iteration of the solution is

(5)

where

V

k

i

is the node voltage at the k-th iteration;

I

k

i

is the equivalent current injection at the k-th itera-

tion;

I

r

i

and I

i

i

are the real and imaginary parts of the equiv-

alent current injection at the k-th iteration, respec-

tively.

2. Building Algorithms for Developed Matrices

A. Bus-Injection to Branch-Current Matrix

The simple distribution system shown in Fig. 2 will

be used as an example. The power injections can be con-

I I V jI V

P jQ

V

i

k

i

r

i

k

i

i

i

k i i

i

k

· + ·

+ |

.

`

,

( ) ( ) ,

*

S P jQ i N

i i i

· + · ( ) , , , , 1 2 L

V

V

V

V

V

V

Z Z Z

Z Z Z

Z Z Z

I

I

I

a

b

c

A

B

C

aa n ab n ac n

ba n bb n bc n

ca n cb n cc n

Aa

Bb

Cc

]

]

]

]

]

]

·

]

]

]

]

]

]

−

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

− − −

− − −

− − −

.

Z

abc

aa n ab n ac n

ba n bb n bc n

ca n cb n cc n

Z Z Z

Z Z Z

Z Z Z

[ ] ·

]

]

]

]

]

]

− − −

− − −

− − −

.

Z

abcn

aa ab ac an

ba bb bc bn

ca cb cc cn

na nb nc nn

Z Z Z Z

Z Z Z Z

Z Z Z Z

Z Z Z Z

[ ] ·

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

.

J.H. Teng

–260–

Fig. 1. A three-phase line section.

verted into the equivalent current injections using Eq. (5),

and a set of equations can be written by applying Kir-

chhoff’s Current Law (KCL) to the distribution network.

Then, the branch currents can be formulated as a function

of the equivalent current injections. For example, the

branch currents B

5

, B

3

and B

1

can be expressed as

(6)

Furthermore, the Bus-Injection to Branch-Current (BIBC)

matrix can be obtained as

(7a)

Equation (7a) can be expressed in the general form as

(7b)

The constant BIBC matrix has non-zero entries of +1

only.

By inspecting Eq. (7), we can develop a building

algorithm for the BIBC matrix as follows:

Procedure (1) – For a distribution system with m-

branch sections and an n-bus, the di-

mension of the BIBC matrix is m × (n

– 1).

Procedure (2) – If a line section (B

k

) is located be-

tween Bus i and Bus j, copy the col-

umn of the i-th bus of the BIBC ma-

trix to the column of the j-th bus and

fill a + 1 in the position of the k-th row

and the j-th bus column.

Procedure (3) – Repeat Procedure (2) until all the line

sections are included in the BIBC ma-

trix.

The building Procedure (2) for the BIBC matrix is shown

in Fig. 3.

The algorithm can be easily expanded to a multi-

phase line section or bus. For example, if the line section

between Bus i and Bus j is a three-phase line section, then

the corresponding branch current B

i

will be a 3 × 1 vector,

and the +1 in the BIBC matrix will become a 3 × 3 identi-

ty matrix.

B. Branch-Current to Bus-Voltage Matrix

The relations between the branch currents and bus

voltages as shown in Fig. 2 can be obtained by using Eq.

(3). For example, the voltages of Bus 2, 3, and 4 are

(8a)

(8b)

(8c)

where V

i

is the bus voltage of Bus i, and Z

ij

is the line

impedance between Bus i and Bus j.

Substituting Eqs. (8a) and (8b) into Eq. (8c), the

voltage of Bus 4 can be rewritten as

(9)

From Eq. (9), it can be seen that the bus voltage can be

expressed as a function of the branch currents, line param-

eters and substation voltage. Similar procedures can be

utilized for other buses, and the Branch-Current to Bus-

Voltage (BCBV) matrix can be derived as

(10a)

Rewriting Eq. (10a) in the general form, we have

(10b) ∆ [ ] · [ ][ ] V BCBV B .

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

Z

Z Z

Z Z Z

Z Z Z Z

Z Z Z

1

1

1

1

1

2

3

4

5

6

12

12 23

12 23 34

12 23 34 45

12 23 36

0 0 0 0

0 0 0

0 0

0

0 0

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

−

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

·

]

]

]

]

]

]

]]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

B

B

B

B

B

1

2

3

4

5

.

V V B Z B Z B Z

4 1 1 12 2 23 3 34

· − − − .

V V B Z

4 3 3 34

· − ,

V V B Z

3 2 2 23

· − ,

V V B Z

2 1 1 12

· − ,

B BIBC I [ ] · [ ][ ].

B

B

B

B

B

I

I

I

I

I

1

2

3

4

5

2

3

4

5

6

1 1 1 1 1

0 1 1 1 1

0 0 1 1 0

0 0 0 1 0

0 0 0 0 1

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

·

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

]

.

B I

B I I

B I I I I I

5 6

3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5 6

·

· +

· + + + +

,

,

.

A Rapid Distribution Load Flow

–261–

Fig. 2. A simple distribution system.

Based on Eq. (10), a building algorithm for the BCBV

matrix can be developed as follows:

Procedure (4) – For a distribution system with m-

branch sections and an n-bus, the di-

mension of the BCBV matrix is (n – 1)

× m.

Procedure (5) – If a line section (B

k

) is located be-

tween Bus i and Bus j, copy the row of

the i-th bus of the BCBV matrix to the

row of the j-th bus, and fill the line

impedance (Z

ij

) in the position of the j-

th bus row and the k-th column.

Procedure (6) – Repeat Procedure (5) until all the line

sections are included in the BCBV ma-

trix.

The building Procedure (5) for the BCBV matrix is shown

in Fig. 4.

The algorithm can be expanded to a multi-phase line

section or bus easily. For example, if the line section be-

tween Bus i and Bus j is a three-phase line section, then

the corresponding branch current B

i

will be a 3 × 1 vector,

and Z

ij

in the BCBV matrix will be a 3 × 3 impedance

matrix as shown in Eq. (2).

From Figs. 3 and 4, it can be seen that the building

algorithms for the BIBC and BCBV matrices are similar.

In fact, these two matrices were built in the same subrou-

tine of our test program. Therefore, the amount of compu-

tation resources needed can be reduced. In addition, the

building algorithms are based on the traditional bus-

branch oriented data base, so the data preparation time of

the proposed algorithm can be reduced and can be inte-

grated into the existing DAS.

3. Solution Techniques

The BIBC and BCBV matrices were developed

based on the topological structure of distribution systems.

The BIBC matrix is responsible for the relations between

the bus current injections and branch currents. The corre-

sponding variation of the branch currents, which is gener-

ated by the variation at the current injection buses, can be

found directly by using the BIBC matrix. The BCBV

matrix is responsible for the relations between the branch

currents and bus voltages. The corresponding variation of

the bus voltages, which is generated by the variation of the

branch currents, can be found directly by using the BCBV

matrix. Combining Eqs. (7b) and (10b), the relations be-

tween the bus current injections and bus voltages can be ex-

pressed as

(11)

and the solution for the distribution load flow can be

obtained by solving Eqs. (12a) and (12b) iteratively:

(12a)

(12b)

Compared with the traditional Newton Raphson and

Gauss implicit Z matrix algorithms, which need LU de-

composition and forward/backward substitution of the

Jacobian matrix or the Y admittance matrix, the new for-

mulation uses only the DLF matrix to solve load flow

problem. The time-consuming LU decomposition and for-

ward/backward substitution procedures are not needed.

This considerably reduces the amount of computation re-

sources needed and makes the proposed method suitable

for on-line operation.

The proposed algorithm is summarized as follows:

(1) Input data.

(2) Use Procedures (1), (2), (3) and Eq. (7) to form the

BIBC matrix.

(3) Use Procedures (4), (5), (6) and Eq. (10) to form

the BCBV matrix.

∆

[ ]

· [ ]

[ ]

+

V DLF I

k k 1

.

I I V jI V

P jQ

V

i

k

i

r

i

k

i

i

i

k i i

i

k

· + ·

+

( ) ( ) ( ) ,

*

∆ [ ] · [ ][ ][ ]

· [ ][ ]

V BCBV BIBC I

DLF I ,

J.H. Teng

–262–

Fig. 3. The building Procedure (2) for the BIBC matrix.

Fig. 4. The building Procedure (5) for the BCBV matrix.

(4) Use Eq. (11) to form the DLF matrix.

(5) Iteration k = 0.

(6) Iteration k = k + 1.

(7) Solve for the three-phase power flow by using Eqs.

(12a) and (12b), and update voltages.

(8) If

max

i

(|I

k+1

i

|– |I

k

i

|) > tolerance, goto (6).

(9) Report and end.

IV. Test Results

The proposed three-phase power flow program was

implemented using the Borland C++ language and tested

on a Windows-98 based Pentium-II (350) PC. Two meth-

ods were used in the tests, and the convergence tolerance

was set at 0.001.

Method 1: The Gauss implicit Z-Bus method as report-

ed by Chen et al. (1991a).

Method 2: The proposed algorithm.

1. Accuracy Comparison

For any new method, it is important to make sure

that the final solution obtained using the proposed method

is the same as that obtained using the existing method. A

simple 8-bus system (equivalent 13-bus system), including

three-phase, double-phase and single-phase line sections

and buses, is shown in Fig. 5. The final voltage solutions

obtained using Method 1 and Method 2 are shown in

Table 1. From Table 1, it can be seen that the final con-

verged voltage solutions obtained using Method 1 are very

close to the solutions obtained using Method 2. This

means that the proposed method can be used to solve for

the distribution load flow.

2. Performance Tests

The test feeders were 13, 37 and 123 bus, three-

phase IEEE test feeders as reported by Kersting (1991).

The feeders were predominantly three-phase lateral with

unbalanced loads. The execution time and number for

iterations for these two methods are shown in Table 2.

From Table 2, it can be seen that Method 2 outperformed

Method 1, especially in the case of a large-scale distribu-

tion system since time-consuming procedures, such as LU

decomposition and forward/backward substitution, are not

needed in Method 2. Moreover, the results shown in

Table 2 reveal that the number of iterations needed by

Method 2 is stable. Method 2 is, definitely, a robust algo-

rithm.

V. Discussion and Conclusion

In this paper, a direct approach algorithm for distri-

bution load flow has been developed. The features of this

method are robustness and computer economy. Two ma-

trices, developed based on the topological structure of dis-

tribution systems, have been used to solve the load flow

problem. The BIBC matrix is responsible for the varia-

tion between the bus current injection and branch current,

and the BCBV matrix is responsible for the variation

between the branch current and bus voltage. The pro-

posed solution algorithm is primarily based on these two

matrices and matrix multiplication. Time-consuming pro-

cedures, such as LU factorization and forward/backward

substitution of the Jacobian matrix are not needed, and the

A Rapid Distribution Load Flow

–263–

Fig. 5. An 8-bus distribution system.

Table 1. Final Converged Voltage Solutions

Bus

Method 1 Method 2

Number |V|(pu) Angle |V|(pu) Angle Phase

(Rad.) (Rad.).

1 1.0000 0.0000 1.0000 0.0000 A

1 1.0000 –2.0944 1.0000 –2.0944 B

1 1.0000 2.0944 1.0000 2.0944 C

2 0.9840 0.0032 0.9839 0.0032 A

2 0.9714 –2.0902 0.9712 –2.0902 B

2 0.9699 2.0939 0.9697 2.0939 C

3 0.9833 0.0031 0.9832 0.0031 A

4 0.9653 –2.0897 0.9652 –2.0897 B

4 0.9672 2.0932 0.9669 2.0932 C

5 0.9644 –2.0898 0.9640 –2.0898 B

6 0.9652 2.0930 0.9650 2.0930 C

7 0.9686 2.0937 0.9683 2.0937 C

8 0.9674 2.0936 0.9671 2.0936 C

Table 2. Execution Time and Number of Iterations

Method 1 Method 2

Feeder Execution Number of Execution Number of

Time (sec.) Iterations Time (sec.) Iterations

IEEE-13 0.0165 3 0.00565 3

IEEE-37 0.2190 3 0.0181 3

IEEE-123 2.4453 4 0.1127 4

ill-conditioned problem which occurs at the Jacobian ma-

trix does not exist in the solution procedure. Therefore,

the proposed method is robust and economical. Test

results show that the proposed method is suitable for

power flow calculations in large-scale distribution sys-

tems. Other issues involved in distribution system opera-

tion, such as multi-phase operation with unbalanced and

distributed loads, voltage regulators and capacitors with

automatic tap controls, will be discussed in a future paper.

Acknowledgment

This paper was sponsored by the National Science Council,

R.O.C., under research grant NSC 88-2213-E-214-041. The author

would like to thank Dr. Shun-Yu Chan for his useful comments on this

paper. The author would also like to thank the reviewers for their contri-

butions to this paper.

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J.H. Teng

–264–

- Z LU Y

loadflow in dist......

loadflow in dist......

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