Distribution power flow management utilising an online optimal power flow technique

Michael James Dolan, Euan Davidson, Ivana Kockar, Graham Ault, Stephen McArthur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes the current connection regime for distributed generation (DG) in the U.K. and presents a novel application of the optimal power flow (OPF) technique for automatic power flow management (PFM) to manage thermal constraints in distribution networks. OPF formulations have been used, in an offline mode, as a power system planning tool for several years. The novel implementation of OPF for “corrective” PFM in an online operational mode, for MV distribution networks, is presented and tested in this paper. The authors demonstrate, through simulations conducted on a commercially available substation computer, that such an application of OPF can represent first on, last off generator connection agreements that reflect the current principles of access in the U.K. Two case study networks, a 33 kV and an 11 kV, provide the basis for assessment of the OPF-based PFM algorithm in terms of computation time to arrive at a solution in the event of a network thermal excursion and the level of DG curtailment necessary to meet network thermal limits. Assessments are made and fully discussed of the suitability for an OPF-based approach for distribution network management within an online network control scheme including discussion of the important consideration of control robustness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-799
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Power Systems
Issue number2
Early online date16 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • power flow management
  • distribution
  • substations
  • online optimal power flow technique
  • voltage control
  • generators
  • integrated circuit interconnections
  • load flow
  • real time systems
  • software


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