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Distribution Feeder Reconfiguration Using a Genetic Algorithm

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for Distribution Feeder Reconfiguration Using a

Genetic Algorithm

Vincent Roberge, Mohammed Tarbouchi, Francis Okou

Royal Military College of Canada, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Kingston, Canada

Vincent.roberge@rmc.ca ; tarbouchi-m@rmc.ca ; aime.okou@rmc.ca

Abstract—Power distribution networks are typically solver is tested on network ranging from 16 to 4400 buses and

structured in a radial topology with extra tie switches to allow for revealed to be very powerful and efficient. For all test cases, it

a manual reconfiguration in case of unexpected failure or found solutions of equal or better quality than previous works

scheduled maintenance. With the implementation of the smart

grid, it is now realistic to also consider the power demand while maintaining a much shorter execution time. The

fluctuation and have real-time reconfiguration of the network to contribution of this paper is the new solution encoding proposed

always operate in the optimal topology, minimizing distribution which allows the GA to efficiently optimize network five times

losses. In this paper, we propose the use of a genetic algorithm to larger than any of the deterministic and non-deterministic

find the optimal configuration of the network. The algorithm uses methods surveyed while maintaining a much smaller runtime.

a unique solution encoding based on branch weights and computes

the minimum spanning tree to decode the candidate solutions. This Feeder 1 Feeder 2 Feeder 3

novel encoding ensures that the radial topology of the network is

maintained without the need for complex operators resulting in an

efficient and powerful solver. Finally, the solver is tested on S4 S9

distribution networks ranging from 16 to 4400 buses. The quality S0 8 13

S6 S10

of the final solutions is equal or better, the maximum network size S5

considered is much larger and the execution time is significantly 10 14

shorter than that of state-of-the-art methods.

4

S7

9 S14

S1 S8 S11

S13

S2 5 11 12

Keywords—Distribution feeder reconfiguration; Genetic

algorithm; Minimum spanning trees. S3 S15 S12

6 7 16 15

Figure 1. 16-bus system (dash lines represent open switches)

I. INTRODUCTION

The distribution feeder reconfiguration (DFR) is a large-

The power distribution network is the final stage in the scale, non-linear, non-convex combinatorial optimization

distribution of electricity. It connects the distribution problem. It can be formulated as finding the radial topology

substations (feeders) to the customers. Distribution networks that:

are typically structured in a radial topology and include minimizes

additional tie switches (normally open) to reconfigure the

network in case of failure, planned maintenance or demand ( ̅) = (1)

fluctuations. An example of a 16-bus distribution network [1]

is shown in Figure 1. With the implementation of the smart- subject to

grid, this reconfiguration can be automatized to adjust to | | ≤| |≤| | for = 1 (2)

demand fluctuations and always operate in the optimal

configuration minimizing distribution losses. In this paper, a | | ≤| | for = 1, … , (3)

genetic algorithm (GA) is used to find the optimal configuration where ̅ is the solution vector (topology of the network),

of the distribution network that minimizes real power losses. are the real power losses on branch , | | is the voltage

The proposed algorithm uses a unique solution encoding based magnitude at bus and | | is the apparent power on branch .

on a vector of real numbers and finds the minimum spanning | | ,| | and | | are the limits on the bus voltage

tree (MST) to decode the solution. This novel encoding ensures and the branch rating.

the radial topology of the network, does not require complex

operators and is compatible with most metaheuristics. The

2nd International Conference on Electrical and Information Technologies ICEIT’2016

II. PREVIOUS WORKS rarely been used to solve network with more than a few hundred

Solutions to the DFR problem can be divided into three buses [10].

categories: heuristics, conventional programming and In this paper, we propose a completely different solution

metaheuristics [2]. Heuristic methods are knowledge-based and encoding for metaheuristics that intrinsically maintains the

developed from network operation experience. They include radial topology and allows the genetic algorithm to be effective

the branch exchange [3] and the loop segmentation [4] methods. and fast on networks with up to 4400 buses, much larger than

In the branch exchange method, the search starts from a feasible for any of the references surveyed.

topology and a pair of opened and closed branches is selected

for exchange. The exchange takes place only if the resulting

topology is radial. The search stops when no more improvement III. PROPOSED OPTIMIZATION STRATEGY

is possible. In the loop segmentation method, all branches are A. Genetic Algorithm

initially closed. The mesh graph is analyzed to identify all The genetic algorithm is a metaheuristic inspired from the

fundamental loops. The algorithm then opens one branch per Darwinian evolution and was proposed by Holland in

loop in order to obtain a radial network. Both the branch 1975 [16]. It is an optimization technique that uses selection,

exchange and the loop segmentation methods have a severe crossover and mutation operations to improve the fitness of

limitation. Being deterministic algorithms, their search is solutions mimicking how living organisms have adapted to

greedy and they are unable to escape local optima. their environment since the beginning of their existence. The

Conventional programming methods include mixed-integer pseudo-code of the GA is listed in algorithm 1. The algorithm

conic programming (MICP) [5], mixed-integer linear begins at line 1 with a population of candidate solutions

programming (MILP) [5] and mixed-integer quadratic randomly generated. The solution encoding is explained in the

programming (MIQP) [6], [7]. These methods aim to simplify section III-B. The algorithm then starts its iterative process at

the problem formulation so that it becomes tangible by classical line 2. Each iteration begins at line 3 with the evaluation of the

optimization technics. As outlined in [7], conventional candidate solutions. The fitness function used for this

programming methods do not require an initial solution, are evaluation is discussed in section III-D. Based on the fitness

guaranteed to find the optimal solution within the simplified values calculated, parent solutions are selected at line 4 and

formulation used and the distance to that optimal solution is used to generate new solutions at line 5. The newly created

known at every iteration. These methods have been shown to solutions are then subject to a mutation at line 6. Then, the old

be efficient on networks up to 880 buses [6], [7]. Unfortunately, solutions are replaced by the new ones at line 7 and the iterative

they can have very long execution time and they are only as process continues until the maximum number of iterations is

good as the simplified formulation used. achieved. We refer the reader to [17] for a comprehensive

Finally, metaheuristics are high level strategies that guide description of the GA.

the search though iterative improvement of candidate solutions.

Examples of metaheuristics that have been used for DFR are the

ant colony optimization (ACO) [8], the genetic algorithm Algorithm 1. Pseudo code of the Genetic Algorithm

(GA) [9], the artificial immune system (AIS) [10], the particle 1: generate population of candidate solutions

2: for (int i = 0; i < num_iterations; i++) {

swarm optimization (PSO) [11], the bees algorithm (BA) [12] 3: compute fitness of candidate solutions

or the imperialist competitive algorithm (ICA) [13]. 4: select parent solutions

Metaheuristics have the advantage of escaping local optima and 5: generate children solutions by crossover

can be used with non-differentiable objective functions. 6: mutate children solutions

7: replace parent solutions

However, the main challenge is to maintain the radial topology 8: }

of the distribution network when generating or modifying 9: Return best solution

candidate solutions. Some authors such as [14] proposed to

simply run the metaheuristic as is and rely on the fitness

function to penalize candidate solutions that are not radial. In our implementation, the candidate solutions are encoded

Others such as [9] or [15] developed complex operators to as a vector of real numbers between 0 and 1. The solutions are

maintain that radial topology. Yet, both methods have severe randomly initialized using a uniform distribution. Once the

limitations. In the first case, the approach is not scalable to fitness of every candidate solution has been computed, parent

larger networks as the probability of generating radial candidate solutions are selected by tournament [17] from a pool of three

solutions can be very small. In the second case, the complex candidates randomly selected. Every couple of parent solutions

operators are limited to the neighborhood of a known solution produces two children solutions by uniform crossover [17].

and therefore reduce the exploration of the search space. Once created, a child solution may be selected for a mutation

Moreover, both approaches require that the topology of every based on a selection probability of 0.1. If selected, its elements

candidate solution be verified using a graph traversal operation, are modified using a uniform random mutation [17] with a

resulting in a long execution time. In short, metaheuristics have probability of 0.2. When an element is modified, it is randomly

moved within a range of 0.25. The uniform crossover and the

2nd International Conference on Electrical and Information Technologies ICEIT’2016

Finally, the parent solutions are replaced by the children and the 0.7

0.5

iterative process continues for a fixed number of iterations. 0.5 8 13

0.8 0.4

0.0

Parent 1: Child 1: 10 14

4

1.0

9 0.0

0.5 0.1 0.8 0.7 0.5 0.9 0.1 0.8 0.8 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.3

Parent 2: Child 2: 0.9

0.5 5 11 12

0.9 0.3 0.4 0.8 0.1 0.5 0.3 0.4 0.7 0.5

(a) 0.7 0.8 0.6

6 7 16 15

Child 1: Mutant Child 1:

0.9 0.1 0.8 0.8 0.1 0.9 0.1 0.7 0.8 0.2 Figure 4. Undirected weighted graph for the 16-bus network with feeder buses

grouped into a single root node and values from the solution vector assigned to

(b) branch weights

Figure 2. Uniform crossover (a) and uniform random mutation (b)

1

B. Solution Representation S9

S4

The proposed algorithm is quite different from previous S0

8 13

works in the way it encodes its candidate solutions. Previous S6 S10

S5

works mostly used (a) a vector of binary numbers representing 10 14

the state (open/close) of every branch, (b) a vector of integer 4

S7

9 S14

S1 S8 S11

numbers identifying the index of the open branches or (c) a S13

S2 5 11 12

vector of integer numbers identifying the index of the open

branches within each fundamental loop [9]. In all three cases, S3 S15 S12

6 7 16 15

maintaining the radial topology of the network is a significant

challenge as it was discussed in section II. Figure 5. Configuration of the 16-bus network after the calculation of the

minimum spanning tree

In this work, we suggest encoding each candidate solution

using a vector of real numbers between 0 and 1 and of length

Branch ID 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

equal to the number of branches in the network. An example of Solution 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0

a randomly generate candidate solution for the 16-bus network Figure 6. Decoded solution vector

is illustrated in Figure 3. To decode the solution, the distribution

network is represented as an undirected graph. The multiple C. Backward-Forward Power Flow Analysis

feeder buses are grouped into a single root node. The real

numbers from the solution vector are assigned to their Once the radial topology associated with a candidate

respective branch and represent the weight of that branch as solution has been computed, a power flow (PF) analysis using

shown in Figure 4. The MST connecting the root to every node the Backward-Forward (B-F) method [19] is run in order to get

is then computed using the Borůvka algorithm [18] to get the the complex voltage at every bus. The B-F algorithm is the

radial topology associated with the candidate solution vector as method of choice for radial networks where the R/X ratio is

in Figure 5. Finally, the decoded solution vector in Figure 6 is typically high causing other conventional PF methods such as

simply the state (open(1)/close(0)) of every branch in the MST Gauss-Seidel or Newton-Raphson to diverge [20].

obtained. Although the Borůvka algorithm has the same The B-F algorithm required the radial network to be

complexity as the Prim’s or the Kruskal’s MST algorithms, it organized in layers. To do this, a simple depth first search can

was selected because it can be easily parallelized. be used to compute the depth of each bus. Each iteration of

The solution encoding proposed is simple, can be used by the B-F method consists of the following three steps:

most metaheuristics and does not require any application

specific operators such as those in [15]. It ensures the radial 1) Nodal current injection: Compute the current

topology of all candidate solutions and it is not limited to the injected at every node using:

∗

neighborhood of a known solution. As we will see in section V,

the proposed encoding will allow for a superior DFR solver = −YV (4)

compared to state-of-the-art methods in terms of network size,

solution quality and execution time. where is the power demand; is the voltage as

calculated at the previous iteration, Y is the bus shunt

Branch ID 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 admittance, is the index of the node and ‘*’ is the

Solution 0.5 0.1 0.5 0.7 0.5 0.0 0.8 1.0 0.0 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.6 0.9 0.0 0.8 complex conjugate operator.

Figure 3. Encoded solution vector

2nd International Conference on Electrical and Information Technologies ICEIT’2016

2) Backward sweep: starting from the deepest layer and get the fitness ℱ( ) of the solution.

going up to level 1, apply Kirchhoff’s current law to 1+ ( , ̅ ), ( , )=1

ℱ( , ) = (11)

compute the current , in the branch connecting node ( , ), ( , )<1

to its parent using: This definition was carefully thought out so that infeasible

solutions all have a fitness between 0 and 1 and feasible

, =− + , (5) solutions, between 1 and 2.

∈

to its children . IV. PARALLEL IMPLEMENTATION

Developing a fast DFR solver is critical as it will allow for

3) Forward sweep: starting from layer 1 and going down to the quick reconfiguration of the distribution network following

the deepest layer, apply Kirchhoff’s voltage law to a disturbance, a failure or a demand fluctuation. In the proposed

compute the voltage at node using: GA-based DFR solver, the part that is the most computationally

= + , (6) intensive is the evaluation of the fitness function. In fact, on a

,

Dell Precision T7600 workstation equipped with two 8-core

where , is the impedance of the branch connecting Intel Xeon E5-2650 CPUs, the solver takes 52.36 s to

node to its parent . reconfigure a 136-bus network using 1000 solutions over

200 iterations, but spends 50.98 s in the fitness evaluation. As

This iterative process continues until the largest correction this evaluation is done independently for each candidate

made to a bus voltage at the last iteration is smaller than a given solution, the work can be safely shared between multiple

tolerance. threads using a master-slave approach [21] where the master

D. Fitness Function thread controls the flow of the GA whereas the slave threads

evaluate the candidate solutions. On a multicore computer, this

Once a PF analysis has been run for every candidate

parallelization technique will allow for a better CPU utilization

solution, their fitness ℱ( ) can be evaluated. Firstly, the

and ultimately a shorter runtime. To find the number of threads

objective function ( ̅ ) must be calculated using equation (1)

that leads to the best speedup, we evaluated the fitness of 1000

and normalized between 0 and 1 where 0 represents a very poor

candidate solutions for five test networks and plotted in

solution and 1 represents a very good one:

Figure 7 the speedup (defined as ⁄ ) measured for

1

( ̅) = (7) different number of threads. The experiment was run on the

1 + ( ̅) computer system described above and the multithreading was

Secondly, a violation factor is calculated to account for the programed using OpenMP®. From the graph, we can see that

inequality constraints. To verify the constraint on the voltage the speedup levels after 32 threads. This is normal as the

magnitude limits at equation (2), each bus must be checked and workstation used has 16 physical cores and supports hyper-

any excess is quantified using: threading for a total of 32 virtual cores. For this reason, the

| |−| | number of threads used by the proposed DFR solver is set to 32

, | |>| |

| | −| | 14 33 70 83 136

(| |) = | | −| | (8) 20

, | |<| |

Speedup (Tseq / Tpar)

| | −| | 16

0 , | | ≤| |≤| | 12

where (| |) is the relative voltage magnitude excess at bus .

8

Dividing the absolute difference by the range to get a relative

value allows for a more meaningful comparison when the limits 4

vary from one bus to another. A similar equation is used to 0

compute the relative branch rating excess (| |) for every 1 2 4

8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40 44 48

Number of OpenMP threads

branch . The values calculated are then summed to get the total

Figure 7. Speedup versus number of threads for different test network

relative excesses ( ̅ ) for the entire network:

( ̅) = (| |) + (| |) (9)

V. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS

As for the objective function, this sum is normalized between 0

In this section, the proposed GA-based DFR solver is tested

and 1 to form the normalized violation factor ( ̅ ):

on nine different distribution networks for which the details and

1

( , ̅) = (10) their source are listed in Table I. Seven of them are widely used

1+ ( , ̅) in the literature and two were created for this work. The

Finally, the normalized objective function and the 1760-bus network was built by copying two instances of the

normalized violation factor are grouped together as follows to

2nd International Conference on Electrical and Information Technologies ICEIT’2016

880-bus network and adding 20 extra tie switches to connect the efficient and powerful solver. The solver was tested on

two networks. The 4400-bus network was built in a similar networks ranging from 16 to 4400 buses. In all cases the

fashion, but using five instances and 50 extra tie switches. The proposed solver found configurations with lower power losses

data for all test networks is available in an online repository at while maintaining a much smaller execution time than any of

[22]. The program is coded in C++ in Visual Studio 2013 and the references surveyed, confirming the advantage of the novel

run on a Dell Precision T7600 workstation equipped with two solution encoding proposed.

8-core Intel Xeon E5-2650 CPUs. To take advantage of the

multicore CPU, the program is parallelized using master-slave TABLE II

COMPARISON OF THE SOLUTIONS OBTAINED BY THE PROPOSED ALGORITHM

approach [21] implemented in OpenMP®. In this parallel AND OTHER REFERENCES WHEN MINIMIZING REAL POWER LOSSES (PLOSS)

model, the master thread executes the GA sequentially whereas Test case Source Ploss (kW) Qloss Vmin (p.u.) Vavg (p.u.) Runtime

the evaluation of the candidate solutions is done in parallel by (kVAR) (s)

the slave threads. 16-bus Initial 511.4 590.4 0.969 0.985 -

ACO [8] 466.1 544.9 0.972 0.987 1.81

TABLE I GA [9] 466.1 544.9 0.972 0.987 2.1

DETAILS OF THE TEST CASES Our GA 466.1 544.9 0.972 0.987 0.01

Test case details GA config. 33-bus Initial 211.0 143.0 0.904 0.945 -

Test case

NFeeders NBuses NBranches Load (MVA) Nsoln Nphases Nite. AIS [10] 139.6 102.3 0.938 0.965 16.9

16-bus [1] 3 13 16 28.7 + i 17.3 128 1 10 PSO [11] 139.6 102.3 0.938 0.965 5.69

33-bus [23] 1 32 37 3.7 + i 2.3 512 1 20 Our GA 139.6 102.3 0.938 0.965 0.06

70-bus [24] 2 68 79 4.5 + i 3.1 1024 2 50 70-bus Initial 227.5 204.9 0.905 0.950 -

83-bus [25] 11 83 96 28.4 + i 20.7 1024 2 50 GA [9] 203.2 186.6 0.931 0.953 4.64

136-bus [26] 1 135 156 18.3 + i 7.9 1024 2 100 GA [27] 203.9 191.1 0.927 0.953 160

415-bus [5] 55 415 480 141.8 + i 103.5 1024 3 200 Our GA 201.4 185.1 0.931 0.954 1.17

880-bus [7] 7 873 900 124.9 + i 74.4 1024 3 200 83-bus Initial 532.0 1374.3 0.929 0.970 -

1760-bus 14 1746 1820 249.7 + i 147.7 1024 3 300 PSO [11] 471.1 1252.1 0.952 0.972 36.1

4400-bus 35 4365 4550 624.4 + i 371.8 1024 3 500 AIS [10] 469.9 1248.0 0.953 0.972 160

Our GA 469.9 1248.0 0.953 0.972 1.40

In the first test, the GA-based solver is used to compute the 136-bus Initial 320.3 702.7 0.931 0.975 -

GA [28] 280.7 611.0 0.961 0.977 32.6

optimal radial topology that will minimize the real power losses MICP [5] 280.1 611.1 0.959 0.977 1800

of the distribution network. The algorithm is configured with Our GA 280.1 611.1 0.959 0.977 4.26

the parameters also listed in Table I. To account for the 415-bus Initial 2660.0 6871.6 0.929 0.969 -

difference of complexity between the multiple networks, MICP [5] 2359.9 - - - 1800

MILP [5] 2350.7 - - - 1800

different number of stages, iterations and candidate solutions Our GA 2349.4 6240.0 0.953 0.972 39.78

were used for each network. The details of the solutions found 880-bus Initial 1496.4 1396.5 0.956 0.987 -

by the proposed GA-based solver are available online for MIQP [6] 461.4 - 0.982 0.990 3192

download at [22]. All calculations were done in double MIQP [7] 461.0 566.7 0.992 0.995 1134

Our GA 457.0 563.3 0.992 0.995 63.63

precision and a tolerance of 1E-10 p.u. was used for the PF 1760-bus Initial 2992.9 2793.0 0.956 0.987 -

analysis. To allow for a comparison with other works, the Our GA 821.7 1014.9 0.992 0.996 195.75

power losses and bus voltages associated of the solutions found 4400-bus Initial 7482.2 6982.5 0.956 0.987 -

and those of other works are listed in Table II. From the results Our GA 1905.3 2399.5 0.992 0.996 931.24

obtained, we can make the following conclusion. Firstly, the

proposed method finds solutions of equal or better quality for

all test cases. Secondly, its execution time is significantly

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