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Loss Assessment in a Low-Voltage Distribution System

Raksanai Nidhiritdhikrai, Kulyos Audomvongseree and Bundhit Eua-arporn

Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University,
Phayathai Rd., Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand, Email:

Abstract of transformer loading. These estimations are convenient

Accurate assessment of power loss in a low- in practice but depend on experience of utility experts,
voltage distribution system is still an important issue which may lead to high error calculation. Other
under present competitive environment. Even though, distribution utilities rather evaluate their power loss from
power flow analysis is still efficient to calculate power flow calculation to obtain a more accurate and
technical power loss, it requires numerous data which detailed results, even though such method requires many
may not be available for some utilities. For this reason, more parameters, some of which may not be properly
the loss assessment for a low-voltage distribution system collected. This paper proposes an alternative approach
is not easy when the demand of any customer load points for technical power loss assessment in a low-voltage
is still unclear. Therefore, distribution utilities obviously radial distribution system based on an insufficient data
require a more suitable algorithm with their available environment. The proposed approach is developed to
information to calculate their system power loss. This maintain accurate results with available data. A low-
paper proposes an alternative algorithm to crop with this voltage radial distribution system, in this work, starts
problem. The proposed approach has been tested with an from the low-voltage/ secondary side of a distribution
actual system, a low-voltage distribution system with 16 transformer and delivers electrical energy to the load
customer load points. It is found that the proposed points/customers via either single or three phase system.
method can provide satisfactory results. The technical power loss to be evaluated in this paper
includes low-voltage line power loss, which is directly
Keywords: loss assessment, power flow, node computed from an expression of I 2 R , once the power
analysis, low-voltage distribution system flow is solved.

1. Introduction 2. Low-voltage loss assessment methodology

Accurate assessment of power loss in terms of Technical power loss assessment in a low-
technical and economic aspects is still an important issue voltage radial distribution system is summarized in this
under competitive environment nowadays. It is one of section. The proposed method employs (1) node analysis
the key factors that can be used to measure system [2] to compute technical power loss, and (2) the
performance, especially for distribution systems, as they proposed algorithm to achieve loss assessment.
contribute more loss than others. Moreover, power loss
is usually one of the controlling factors when evaluating 2.1 Node analysis
alternative plans and operative strategies. It is generally accepted that power flow analysis
In general, power loss can be categorized into is a fundamental tool for power system engineers. The
two types, technical and non-technical power losses. results typically consist of voltage magnitudes and
Technical power loss results from the transportation of phases, and injected power at all buses. These
electrical energy to customers through system parameters are often further used to calculate other
components. Therefore, technical power loss is strongly related parameters, e.g. line flow and total power loss of
related to the system configuration and demand. Non- the system. Power flow analysis [3] when implemented
technical power loss, on the other hand, is due to the with a radial system is relatively simple. Even though a
problems with inadequate and also inaccurate metering considered system is not complex, there is still a
or problems with billing and collecting processes. difficulty due to the high number of load points and very
Technical power loss generally comes from two limited information on individual points. Generally, the
main causes i.e. the load power loss and no-load power power flow analysis tools used nowadays can be
loss. The load power loss consists of heating of classified into (1) balanced three-phase power flow, and
conductors, coils, and windings of transformers and (2) unbalanced three-phase power flow. The balanced
other devices when electrical current flows through three-phase power flow takes advantage of a balanced
them. The no-load power loss does not depend on system condition of a system to calculate only a single phase or
demand variation. The majority of no-load power loss is the positive sequence network, which is normally
typically associated with transformer core loss suitable for transmission systems. The unbalanced three-
emanating from the excitation current. phase power flow, on the other hand, is suitable for
Many distribution utilities simply determine primary distribution systems, where the effect of current
their technical power loss by means of some flowing in a neutral wire due to unbalancing can be
approximated formulae [1], or a fixed percentage e.g. 1% neglected, since most of primary feeders do not have a

978-1-4244-3388-9/09/$25.00 ©2009 IEEE

neutral wire on their routes. For a low-voltage To understand the proposed concept, consider
distribution system, technical power loss assessment also the sample circuit illustrated in Fig 2.
can employ unbalance three phase power flow analysis.
Nonetheless, it seems to be inconvenient and takes lots
of effort and computation cost since a set of equations to
be solved is non-linear. This set of non-linear equations
is the power balance at each node written in terms of
non-linear relation between voltage and active and
reactive power. In this paper, instead of directly solving
a set of non-linear equations when modeling the load as
constant power, we apply Node analysis which is simply Fig. 2. Simple medium-voltage radial distribution system
a circuit calculation by modeling load as a current Fig. 2 depicts an example of a simple low-
source, making the calculation easy due to the linear voltage radial distribution system with 4 load points,
property. This methodology does not only increase each of which is a single-phase load, e.g. M1 is a single-
stability and speed of computation but also support a phase meter connected to phase A. Redraw the system in
three phase four-wire distribution configuration as well. Fig. 2 with its detail included as shown in Fig. 3.
This configuration type is not easily solved by a power
flow calculation. Since with the existence of a neutral j4 e j9 e
5 8
wire, branch voltage not node-to-datum voltage is of
consideration. Interestingly, this equivalent current j5 j10
j1 j7
source is not constant. This is because when solving the VA
problem with load modeled as a current source, the load e4 = 0 e1 e6
points at the end of the feeder will receive the amount of VB j2
load less than the specified value due to the voltage drop. e2 j11
Thus, the current source will be adjusted in each iteration VC
until all load points receive the amount of load equal to
j3 e3 j8 e7
that specified as constant power. Once the circuit
problem has been solved, the power loss in all three
phase lines (ABC) of each feeder in the circuit and Fig. 3. Detailed circuit of the system in Fig. 2
power loss in the neutral line (N) can be computed. The
flowchart which summarizes the proposed node analysis The circuit in Fig. 3 consists of 8 nodes and 11
algorithm is depicted in Fig. 1. branches. The phase voltages (line-to-neutral) at the
infeed-bus are assumed to be at a nominal level, e.g.
VA = 220∠0° , VB = 220∠ − 120° , and VC = 220∠120° V.
Here, we pick the neutral-ground as the datum node
(node 4). There are two basic equations of node analysis
which are obtained from a network graph and
Kirchhoff’s laws.
To begin with, we define j1 , j2 ,...., jb and
v1 , v2 ,...., vb as branch current and voltage respectively,
and e1 , e2 ,...., en as node-to-datum voltage. To solve for
e1 , e2 ,...., en , we need to know the branch characterization
of the network through the node incidence matrix, A ,
and branch equations which relate the branch voltage
and branch current. From Kirchchoff’s laws we have (1)
and (2).

Aj = 0 (1)
v=A e T
The branch equations are of the form shown in (3).

j = Yv + js − Yvs (3)
Y is the diagonal branch admittance matrix.
J s is the branch current source vector.
Fig. 1. Flowchart of the proposed node analysis algorithm
vs is the branch voltage source vector.
Then, we have
Yn e = is (4)
Yn e = AYAT , and is = AYvs − Ajs

The node-to-datum voltage, branch voltage and branch

current can be determined from (5) – (7) respectively.
e = Yn−1is (5)
v=A e T
j = Yv + js − Yvs (7)

Typically load modeled as constant power is preferable

especially for the power flow calculation. However, it is
not necessary to directly solve the power flow with load
modeled as constant power in a low-voltage radial
distribution system, which is quite complicated and
inconvenient. Therefore, we model it as a temporary
current source, a more applicable form to be used for the
node analysis, and it will be adjusted in each iteration to
yield the same result as does constant power load.
Consequently, each load current source for the next
iteration will be adjusted using the most updated branch
voltage. The equation used for updating the load current
is as shown in (8).
( k +1)
⎛ P + jQ ⎞
j = ⎜ i (k ) i ⎟ (8)
s (i ) ⎜ v ⎟
⎝ (i ) ⎠
We then repeat the calculation of the currents source
until the norm of branch voltages converges within an Fig. 4. The flowchart of the proposed algorithm
acceptable tolerance, and the computed total load
converges to the specified value. Then, we can simply The required customer data of each customer load points
compute technical power loss in each branch, i.e. both consists of a customer phase type, a recorded energy
phase and neutral lines, based on the expression of I 2 R demand in a consideration interval, a consideration
using the computed branch current and line impedance. interval time, and the customer classifications, e.g.
residential sector, small industrial sector, and etc.
2.2 The proposed algorithm
The proposed algorithm is designed in order to Step 2 Set Initial Values
perform a loss assessment under an available data of an To solve the power flow problem, it is
actual low-voltage distribution system. The main idea is necessary to initialize a bus voltage and a demand at
to create a time-series demand at each customer load each customer load points in a consideration interval. By
point which can be obtained from combination of a using an obtained input data (2) and (3), the time-series
studied load patterns and an available data. Afterwards, a demand of each customer load points is computed by a
time-series power loss is computed from a created time- combination of the studied load patterns which are
series demand of each customer load points by the scaled by using equal energy criteria approximation.
proposed node analysis. The proposed algorithm is
categorized into 4 steps as described below. The Step 3 Perform power flow calculation via node analysis
flowchart which summarizes the proposed algorithm is To solve power flow problem, power flow
depicted in Fig. 4. calculation via node analysis in Section 2.1 is performed.
The power loss is calculated after a successful
Step 1 Get input data convergence of an iterative node analysis.
Based on available data of an actual low-
voltage distribution system, the required data are Step 4 Determine a conductor energy loss calculation
composed of; (1) system configuration which is required In order to determine a conductor energy loss
to perform power flow calculation; (2) a studied load calculation, a successive calculation is employed for a
patterns categorized by a customer type from the 1996 time-series of the estimated load. Step 3 is repeated until
Annual Load Research Report for the Thailand Electric the end of considered time-series. Then, a conductor
System [4]; and (3) an available customer data. energy loss is calculated.
3. Numerical example 4. Conclusions
3.1 The test system This paper proposes an alternative method to
In this work, a low-voltage distribution system assess the technical power loss in an actual low-voltage
starts from the low-voltage/ secondary side of a distribution system by using actual available information.
distribution transformer and delivers electrical energy to The proposed method makes the technical energy loss
the customer load point. A considered actual low- assessment in an actual low-voltage distribution system
voltage distribution system shown in Fig. 5 is used to possible under limited data. Nevertheless, this proposed
test the proposed method. The system consists of 16 method cannot provide accurate results without good
customer load points and is supplied by a 22kV/380V, quality and precise available input data. Moreover, the
250 kVA distribution transformer. accuracy of the results depends on quality of the studied
load patterns. According to our simulation it is found
that the proposed method can provide satisfactory
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[1] Nazarko, J., Styczynski, Z., Poplawski, M, “The

95 sq. mm.

1 fuzzy approach to energy losses calculations in low

voltage distribution networks,” IEEE Power
30 Engineering Society Winter Meeting 2000, 23 – 27
Jan. 2000, vol.4, pp. 2763 – 2768.
[2] Charles A. Desoer, Ernest S. Kuh, Basic Circuit

Theory, International edition, Mc-Graw Hill, 1969.
[3] Hadi Saadat, Power System Analysis, 2nd Edition,


6 McGraw-hill, 1982 (International Edition).

Fig. 5. An actual low-voltage distribution system [4] “the 1996 Annual Load Research Report for the
Thailand Electric System,” Energy Policy and
3.2 Simulation results Planning Office Ministry of Energy Royal Thai
To determine technical energy loss, we apply Government, 1997.
the proposed methodology to calculate a technical
energy loss of the considered system. By using the
simulation time interval from 4 August 2007 to 2
September 2007, the simulation result is depicted in
Table 1. As a result, percentage of energy loss portion
referred to an infeed-energy properly reflects a realistic
loss portion of an actual low-voltage distribution system.
Furthermore, it can be seen that loss in the neutral line
(N) cannot be neglected in loss assessment for a low-
voltage distribution system.

Table 1. A simulation result

! Simulation Result !
! (Rec. = recorded, Cal. = calculated) !
! In-feed Energy !
! INFEED total :: 20159.695 kWhr (Rec.) !
INFEED total :: 19689.373 kWhr (Cal.) !
! Load Energy !
! LOAD in A-phase :: 8086.233 kWhr (Rec. & Cal.) !
! LOAD in B-phase :: 7486.530 kWhr (Rec. & Cal.) !
! LOAD in C-phase :: 3790.927 kWhr (Rec. & Cal.) !
! LOAD total :: 19363.690 kWhr (Rec. & Cal.) !
! Recorded Total Loss Energy (Technical & Non-Technical Loss) !
! LOSS total :: 796.005 kWhr (Rec.)(3.95%) !
! Conductor Loss Energy (Technical Loss) !
! LOSS in A-phase :: 110.781 kWhr (Cal.) !
! LOSS in B-phase :: 114.469 kWhr (Cal.) !
! LOSS in C-phase :: 20.775 kWhr (Cal.) !
! LOSS in N-phase :: 79.657 kWhr (Cal.) !
! LOSS total :: 325.682 kWhr (Cal.)(1.62%) !
! Non-Technical Loss Energy (Non-Technical Loss) !
! LOSS total :: 470.322 kWhr (Rec.)(2.33%) !