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Direct solution of Distribution System Load Flow Using Forward/Backward Sweep

Abdullah Mahmoudi, Seyed Hossein Hosseinian

Electrical Engineering Department, Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran , general meshed topology like transmission systems have been proposed [6]-[10]. In [7], the authors presented the most commonly and rigid approach by combining the implicit Zbus method and the Gauss-Seidel method. Calculation of power mismatches at the end of radial main feeder and laterals, and construction of the system Jacobian matrix have been proposed in [11]. To obtain the system Jacobian matrix in this method, The relationship between lateral power mismatches and the power injected into laterals must be calculated thus when there are many laterals presents heavy matrix computation. A branch-current based NR approach has been proposed in [12]. Several fast decoupled Newton methods for DSs have been extended in [13]-[15]. In [16]-[17] three-phase current injection methods based on current injection equations have been proposed. The FBS method based on network topology of DSs is very prevalent due to its good performance and simplicity of implementation [18]-[21]. The main idea of the method has been suggested in [18] which a new power flow method for calculation of branch current flows has been proposed using compensation based technique and Kirchhoff's laws. In [19] an improved version of this method has been suggested, in which active and reactive powers as flow variables rather than complex currents were used. Future developments of the FBS methods for real-time analysis with emphasis on modeling of unbalanced and distributed loads in [20], and the extension version allowing the modeling of voltage-dependent loads in [21], have been presented. The tertiary category was based on construction of an impedance matrix and solving equations in form of V=ZI [22][25]. A method which can express the voltage of each load in terms of currents and common impedance of current paths for RDSs has been proposed in [22]. In [23]-[24] the author develops two matrices to express bus voltages as a function of branch currents, line parameters, and the substation voltage using special topological characteristics of DSs. Solving RDSs is easy using direct methods but it is not as easy as RDSs for WMDSs. In [22], WMDSs have been solved by breaking the meshes and writing equations for two obtained paths. Therefore for each loop it is necessary to construct one extra equation. In [23], the equations of the loop have been solved by applying the Kirchhoff's Voltage Law (KVL) of the loop in the branch-current to bus-voltage (BCBV) matrix and using Kron's reduction. One of the most advantages of the direct methods is that the load voltages can be expressed in terms of

Abstract One of the main requirements in large scale distribution systems (DSs) is an efficient load flow solution which can explicitly exploit characteristics of DSs. This paper presents a direct power flow solution not only for radial distribution systems (RDSs) but also for weakly meshed distribution systems (WMDSs) using the backward/forward sweep. The direct approaches for RDSs are presented in some papers but extension of them for WMDSs needs solving new extra equations and meshes must be located at the end of feeders. In this paper, a new method based on division of currents for WMDSs is used which can express the voltage of each load in terms of currents and common impedances of current paths directly without need to any new data. Results obtained for unbalanced, meshed and radial systems at different loading conditions, power factors and R/X ratios show that the proposed method is efficient, fast, robustness and has great potential to be used for large scale DSs. Index Terms Distribution load flow, forward/ backward sweep, direct load flow, radial distribution systems, weakly meshed distribution systems


ITH considerable growth of DSs, a robust and efficient power flow method to determine voltages and line flows is required [1]. Almost in all topics related to the expansion, operation and management of DSs, such as loss minimization, voltage control, Var. planning, sizing and location of shunt capacitors, state estimation, security analysis, it is very important to solve the power flow algorithm as efficient as possible. An electric DS has Special characteristics such as unbalanced three phase loads, radial structure and high branch R/X ratios. The traditional load flow algorithms is not suitable for DSs. Especially the fast decoupled Newton method [2] which works well for transmission system, has poor convergence for most RDSs due to their high R/X ratios of branches. Therefore, new methods with considering those features have been required. Several approaches for DS load flow solutions have been proposed. These methods and solving algorithms based on basic approaches which have been used to construct them can be classified into three categories: (a) methods based on Newton-Raphson (NR) and Newton like methods, (b) forward/backward sweep (FBS) methods and (c) direct methods. To modify conventional load flow methods, NR based methods initially have been suggested for solving illconditioned power systems [3]-[5]. Then methods based on

the load currents, the line impedances and the substation bus voltage. In the both mentioned methods, for WMDS, the load voltages cannot be expressed in terms of those parameters, directly. They also considered systems which have only meshes at the end of feeders and the meshes in the center of the feeders have not been considered generally. Therefore, this paper attempts to present a novel method for WMDSs which can solve the two mentioned problem. In this approach, the current divider rule is applied to meshes and only the new data which must be used is a current division ratio. II. ALGORITHM DEVELOPMENT FOR RDSS The algorithm can be expressed in two sections. These sections include the forward/backward sweep and circuit relationship developments. A. Forward/backward sweep Although the basic idea of FBS methods are same but their algorithms presented in papers are different. Therefore, in this paper, it is presented in two main and simple steps as follows: 1) Forward Sweep (FS) For any load before the calculation of its current, it is necessary to know its voltage. For any feeder, initially with knowing the current of each load from the previous iteration, the load voltages are updated from the substation bus to the end of feeder. On the other hand, in this method instead of the bus voltages, the load voltages are calculated. The currents at the first iteration are assumed to be zero so the voltages are equal to the substation bus voltage. 2) Backward Sweep (BS) After calculation of the voltages in the previous step, to update the current of each branch, knowing the load currents located after the branch is necessary. Therefore, it is better to update the branch currents form the end of the feeder to the substation bus. Thus from the end of the feeder to the substation bus, the branch currents are updated using the load voltages from the previous step. B. Circuit relationship developments In each of the mentioned steps the total length of the feeder must be swept. To simplify and express the steps as simple circuit relationships, consider a DS consists of a radial main feeder only. The one-line diagram of such a feeder comprising n branches/nodes is shown in Fig. 1. In the FS, the load voltages can be obtained as:

Fig. 1. One line diagram of a main distribution feeder

conditions must be considered. When a load is constant power, the current can be obtained as shown in (2a). Eq. (2b) is used for a load which has constant impedance while the magnitude of the current of a constant current load is definite. If the breakup of a composite load is known, the current of each component can be calculated. They are written as:
k I Li = Si* / Vi k

(2a) (2b)
k Ln

k I Li = Vi k / Z Li

I =I

k i

k Li

+ ... + I

k I Li is the current of load i at

where Si is the power of load i,

k-th iteration, n is the total number of loads. Further simplification of the equations can be derived by combined (1) and (3) as:
k k V i k =V i k 1 z i (I Li1 + ... + I Ln1 )


It is better to write (4) in terms of the substation bus voltage Vs. Therefore, starting from the substation bus and using (4), the voltage of the load 1 in terms of Vs can be expressed by:
k V 1k =V s z 1 I Lj 1 j =1 n


Repeating the same process for the other loads yields the following formula for voltage of loads as follows:
k V i k =V s z r I Lj1 r =1 j = r i n


The unknown values in (6) can be restricted to currents, if Vik is expressed in terms of the load current and the load equivalent impedance. Therefore the voltage of each load can be written as:
* k k k Vi k = Z Li1 I Li1 = ( Vi k 1 / S Li ) I Li1 2


V i k =V i k1 z i I ik 1


where is the voltage of load i at the k-th iteration, zi is the impedance of a branch located between load (i-1) and load i, Iik is the current of a branch located between load (i-1) and load i at k-th iteration. In BS, the load and branch currents must be calculated. Whereas there are four types of loads, therefore four

where is the equivalent impedance of load i at (k-1)-th iteration, SLi is the power of load i. Eq. (7) expresses the equivalent impedance for the constant power loads. In some cases loads can be expressed in terms of constant impedance or constant current. Eq. (7) for them is not necessary. Only for constant power loads and composite loads as discussed in [22], eq. (6) is necessary and can be rewritten using (7) as:
* k k k Vs = Zi1I L11 + ... + (Zii + Vi k 1 / SLi )I Li1 + ... + Zin I Ln 1 (8) 2


Z ij =

r =1


where Zij is the impedance of a path which is common

between the currents of load i and load j. y in (9) is equal to minimum i and j (min(i,j)) for loads on the main feeder and can be generalized to include laterals. Eq. (8) expresses the DS load flow solution in terms of the Ohm's law relationship in the form of Vs=ZIL. One of the advantages of this relationship is that equations are liner and only the diagonal elements of the Z matrix, including the load equivalent impedances, are variable and must be updated at each iteration. Therefore, the direct solution of DS load flow can be obtained by solving (10) iteratively:
* k Z Li = Vi k / S Li k I L = Z 1 s V 2

Fig. 2. one line diagram of a central mesh

(10a) (10b)


k +1

=Z I

k Li

k Li


III. ALGORITHM DEVELOPMENT FOR WMDSS It is mentioned that the solution of WMDSs is not as easy as RDSs and has some difficulty. To solve WMDSs as easy as RDSs, the same solution of RDSs is applied to WMDSs. When the solution is reviewed, it is clear that for each load the path form the substation bus to the load is swept and there is only a single path from the substation bus for each load. i.e. the load current paths are completely definite but when there is a mesh, the load currents can be flowed from two paths. In fact the calculation of the load currents at each path is a problem. Namely, if there is a mesh in a system and it is desired to express the voltage of loads as (6), selection of a path and a solution for the load current problem are needed. If for each load two equations are written per path, the number of equations is increased considerably especially for meshes located in the center of feeders. It is clear that when a mesh is located in the center of a feeder, two paths are existed to flow currents to loads located after a mesh. However, for a mesh located on the end of a feeder, the boundary of two paths of currents is not explicitly definite. Hence, in this case one of loads is selected as the end of the mesh therefore two paths which start from the beginning of the mesh and end to the selected load are defined. For simplicity, the meshes located in the center of the feeder and on the end of the feeder will be referred to as the central meshes and the end meshes, respectively. The selected load will be referred to as the end load and for each load a path which the load is located on that will be referred to as the self path. To solve these problems considering the electrical circuit theory and Kirchhoff's laws, the movement to reach a load from different paths can cause the same electric potential difference if the current of each path are specified. So development of the proposed method for WMDSs can be obtained as follows: a) Divide the current of loads located after the loop between the two paths of the mesh using the current divider rule or KVL of the loop. For the end meshes, divide the current of the end load.

b) Select one of the two paths to reach loads located after the loop and the self path for loads located on the loop. The movement from each path has same results using the above techniques. In other words, these techniques are used to solve the different path equations and present those in a single path. To obtain the current division ratio () for the selected path, it is necessary to know the load currents but in the load flow problem the current is one of the network unknowns. Therefore, 1) the nominal currents are considered as the load currents and 2) since the electric potential difference is obtained by multiplying the current and the impedance (v=z(i)) so the current division problem is better to apply when the Z matrix is constituted. i.e. can be entered in calculation of impedances (v=(z)i). Some elements of the Z matrix are computed in a different way for WMDSs especially when is entered in the calculation. Consider a system including one loop as shown in Fig. 2. The path P1 is chosen as the selected path. According to location of the load i (assume that the load i is closer to the substation bus than the load j), three conditions are exist to obtain Zij and Zji as follows: In forward formulas Zbl, ZP1 and Zal are the impedance of the path before the loop, the path P1 and the path after the loop to load i, respectively. A) If load i is before the loop, this condition well be same as RDSs. So the value of Zij and Zji are equal to the value of the impedance before the load i. i.e. the y at (9) is equal to i. B) If load i is located on the loop, which includes three states: 1) The second load is also located on the loop. If two loads are located on the same path as P1 then the common impedances (Zij and Zji) are equal to Zbl plus the impedance on the loop before load i (ZLi). If two loads are located on different paths, these values are equal to Zbl. 2) If the load i is located on the selected path (P1) and the load j is located after the loop, therefore:

Z ij = Z bl + Z Li

(11) (12)

Z ji = Z bl + Z Li

3) If the load i is located on another path (P2) and the load j is located after the loop so: (13) Z ij = Z bl + (1 ) Z L i


= Z bl


C) If the both loads are located after the loop, the common impedances in this case are calculated as follows:

Z ij = Z ji = Z bl + Z al + Z P 1


From the above equations, it is clear that the Z matrix is not symmetric for WMDSs. Now the value of must be specified. To obtain there are three methods as follows:

1) Approximate method In the simplest condition, it can be supposed that there are no loads located on the loop. So will be computed using the current divider rule as:


= Z P 2 / ( Z P1 + Z P 2 )


Algorithms Proposed method Method [32] Method [11]

MEP 9.69e-5 1.15e-6 5.77e-4

NI 4 4 7

NET 1.000 1.024 31.88

2) KVL on the loop The value of can be calculated using the KVL of the loop. In this state the KVL equation is solved with nominal values of the currents. 3) Auxiliary equation In this method the given KVL in the KVL method is used as auxiliary equation. This equation is solved after each iteration considering the calculated values of currents. After the calculation of , the Z matrix must be updated for the next iteration. For notational simplicity, these three methods will be referred to as the MO1, MO2 and MO3, respectively.
IV. TEST RESULTS This proposed method was implemented using MATLAB 7.6 software and tested on a windows-XP-based Pentium(R), Dual-Core CPU E5200 (2.5 GHz), PC. In order to validity the accuracy of the solution for the RDSs and WMDSs the results of the Gauss Seidel load flow is selected as the base results. Therefore, the convergence tolerance of the Gauss Seidel is considered 10e-15 p.u. and for the methods is set at 0.0001 p.u. The performance of the proposed method including the normalized execution time (NET) and the number of iterations (NI) is also compared with the other methods. 1) Radial Network test For the study of RDSs, a radial 20 kV feeder in Chalus city, Iran, was chosen. This feeder will be referred to as Azarak feeder. The loads on the distribution transformers (20/0.4 kV) are considered as the constant power loads. Results of the main parameters for this feeder are shown in Table I. The table shows that the NI is equal to 4 for the proposed method and [23]. The NET of these two methods is also very close although the NET of the proposed method is less. Therefore, the performance of two methods is same and it is very better than the [11]. The maximum error of load voltages in p.u (MEP) for the proposed method is less than the convergence tolerance so its accuracy is acceptable. 2) Unbalanced three phase load flow A system which is chosen in this section is shown in Fig. 3, and taken from [23]. The system includes the three-phase, double phase, and single-phase line section and buses. Whereas the data of the system which was used for the analysis of it in [23] is not found so the analysis of this system is performed with new hypothetical data. Table II shows the results for this system. As can be seen in the table, the results are very close so the accuracy of this method for three phase load flow is same as the direct method proposed in [23]. 3) Weakly-Meshed Network Test It is clear that among three methods used to obtain , the MO1 and the MO2 are approximate. Therefore, to study the


Bus No.

The Proposed Approach

The method [32]


Ang. (Deg.)
0.0000 -120.00 120.00 -0.2892 -119.18 120.11 -0.2976 -118.98 119.93 -118.95 119.93 120.10 120.11


Ang. (Deg.)
0.0000 -120.00 120.00 -0.2894 -119.18 120.11 -0.2979 -118.98 119.93 -118.95 119.93 120.10 120.11


1 1 1 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 6 7 8

1.0000 1.0000 1.0000 0.9914 0.9827 0.9655 0.9904 0.9761 0.9630 0.9767 0.9612 0.9634 0.9617

1.0000 1.0000 1.0000 0.9914 0.9827 0.9654 0.9904 0.9761 0.9630 0.9767 0.9612 0.9633 0.9617


CT (p.u) Parameters Without Loop MO1 MO2 MO3

1e-4 1e-6 1e-8 1e-10 1e-15


9.69e-5 4 1 1.51e-7 7 2.02e-9 9 2.22e-11 11 4.97e-12 16

9.19e-5 4 0.98 6.28e-5 7 6.29e-5 9 6.29e-5 11 6.29e-5 17

9.34e-5 4 1 4.95e-7 7 3.55e-7 9 3.53-7 11 3.53-7 16

9.32e-5 4 1.48 2.07e-7 7 6.67e-8 9 6.49e-8 11 6.48-8 16

performance of these methods, the Azarak feeder with hypothetical changes is used for comparisons. To construct a loop in this feeder, one of the normally open tie switches is closed. In this condition the created loop is located in the middle of the feeder. Table III shows the MEP for different convergence tolerances using the three methods of obtaining . The MEP when the convergence tolerances becomes less, is becoming less but the MEP is not less than a value which is an error

caused by its respective approximation. It means that the approximations used in MO1 and MO2 cause only the errors about 6.28e-5 and 2.9e-7 p.u., respectively. The error of the MO3 can be considered as difference of two methods. The NET and the NI are also shown in table III. This table shows that the time and number of iteration when the loop is created is same as the state without the loop. Only the execution time of the MO3 is increased since one auxiliary equation is added and the Z matrix must be corrected after each iteration. To study the accuracy of these methods to obtain in different conditions, first the factors which can affect the accuracy of them are discussed as follows: 1) One of the main factors is the ratio of load values located after the loop to the load values located on the loop (). 2) imbalance of loads located on two side of the loop () can increase the error. 3) The lengths or impedances before loads located on the loop are another factor which can effect on . In the above feeder 12.5% of loads are located on the loop, is equal to 4, and the imbalance of loads located on two sides of the loop is 6.25%. With these features, the accuracy of the approach is equal to 6.29e-5 p.u. in the MO1. The above mentioned factors show that the worst condition is when a system has an end mesh and high imbalance. So for better study, a system shown in Fig .4 is analyzed. It is clear when there is an end mesh, the end load can be selected as there is no imbalance. But to study effects of the imbalance, L4 is selected as the end load so there is the 50 percent imbalance however if L3 is selected, there is no imbalance. In addition to the Gauss Seidel load flow, since there is the end mesh, the method proposed in [23] can be used to test the system. Table IV shows the error of the load voltages in different methods. The maximum error is 0.00115 p.u. in the MO1 and less than the convergence tolerances (0.0001 p.u.) in two other methods. When L3 is selected as the end load the maximum error is 3.09e-7 p.u. in the MO1. Only when there is a central mesh, the high imbalance can be applied by the system especial topology. Therefore the accuracy of the MO1 is always better than 0.001 p.u. since when there is a central mesh, as discussed for the factor 1, the accuracy can be improved. The approach has high accuracy even for the MO1 therefore only when the desired accuracy is less than 0.001 p.u. and the condition is severe ( , ), the MO2 and MO3 is needed to be used. The MO3 increase the time and equations and only when the current values have high difference with nominal values and very high accuracy is desired, it is necessary to be used. One of the main advantages of using the load voltage instead of the bus voltage, is that the equations of switching buses is not necessary to be solved, so in table IV only the voltages of the loads is presented.

Fig. 4. A system including an end mesh TABLE IV


Load No.

Method in [32]




1 2 3 4

3.23e-8 7.48e-8 7.97e-8 7.48e-8

1.02e-6 0.00038 0.00076 0.00115

1.26e-7 2.27e-7 1.81e-7 9.69e-8

1.26e-7 1.63e-7 5.32e-8 9.5e-8

Features Conditions NI Without Loop NET NI MO2 NET

Power Factor

System Loading

R/X Ratio's

0.8 0.5 0.2 0.14 0.13 0.1(P+jQ) 2(P+jQ) 3(P+jQ) 4.3(P+jQ) 4.4(P+jQ) 0.1R+jX 0.5R+jX 2R+jX 3R+jX 4.8R+jX

4 5 7 14

1.00 1.05 1.17 1.57


3 6 8 22

0.94 1.11 1.23 2.08


3 4 6 7 27

0.94 1.00 1.11 1.17 2.35

4 5 7 13 28 3 6 8 20 30 3 4 6 7 22

1.00 1.05 1.16 1.52 2.41 0.94 1.11 1.23 1.94 2.54 0.93 0.98 1.11 1.17 2.09

different conditions is studied. Briefly speaking, only the results of the MO2 is shown and the Azarak feeder is studied in two states when there is a loop and when there is no loop. Table V shows NI and NET for different loading conditions, power factors and R/X ratio's for both state of the Azarak feeder. In the table P+jQ represents the nominal loadings on the system while R+jX indicates the nominal R and X parameters of all the branches on the system. As can be seen from table V, the proposed method converges in different conditions and when there is a loop in the system, the convergence is not only worse, but also is better than a state which there is no loop because in this situation some elements of the impedance matrix Z become smaller than previous values. V. CONCLUTION In this paper a direct method for distribution system was developed using backward/forward sweep. The proposed method has been extended for WMDSs not only for the end meshes but also for the central meshes. Three methods for solving meshes have been proposed. It was proved that the accuracy of the proposed method is better than 0.001 p.u. even for serve conditions by using only the current divider rule. The performance of the approach for WMDSs is as efficient and

B. Convergence study In each load flow solution, the convergence is very important feature especially for ill-condition, unbalanced and meshed DSs so the convergence of the proposed approach in

simple as RDSs. In addition to efficiency and robustness, the equations can be constructed as easy as the ohm's law relationship (V=ZI). The results show that the proposed method is efficient and suitable not only for large scale DSs but also for different loadings, power factors and R/X ratios. VI. REFERENCES
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[19] Luo, G. X. and A. Semlyen, Efficient load flow for large weakly meshed networks, IEEE Trans. on Power Systems, Vol. 5, No. 4, Nov. 1990, pp. 1309-1316. [20] Cheng, C. S. and D. Shirmohammadi, A three-phase power flow method for real-time distribution system analysis, IEEE Trans. on Power Systems, Vol. 10, No. 2, May 1995, pp. 671-679. [21] G. R. G. Renato Cespedes, New Method for the Analysis of Distribution Networks, IEEE Trans. Power Delivery, Vol. 5, No.1, Jan. 1990, pp. 391-396. [22] BASU S.K. , and GOSWAMI S.K., Direct Solution of distribution systems, IEE Proc.-Gener. Transm. and Distrib., Vol. 138, No. 1, Jan 1991 pp.78 88. [23] Jen-Hao Teng, A Direct Approach for Distribution System Load Flow Solutions, IEEE Trans. On Power Delivery, Vol. 18, NO. 3, July 2003, pp. 882-887. [24] JenHao Teng, A Network Topology-based Three-Phase Load Flow for Distribution Systems. Proc. Natl. Sci. Counc. ROC(A). Vol. 24, No. 4, 2000. pp. 256-264. [25] S. Jovanovic and F. Milicevic, Triangular Distribution Load Flow, IEEE Power Engineering Review, Vol. 20, No. 5, May 2000, pp. 60-62.

Abdullah mahmoudi

was born in 1985 in Iran. He received his B.Sc. degree in Electrical Eng. from Shahed University, Iran, in 2007, and the M.Sc. degree from the Electrical Eng. Dept. of Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT), Iran in 2010. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the Electrical Eng. Dept. of AUT, Iran. His research interests include Power Quality, Distribution System Planning, Restructuring and Deregulation in power systems.

Seyed Hossein Hosseinian was born in 1961 in Iran. He received both the B.Sc.

and M.Sc. degrees from the Electrical Eng. Dept. of Amirkabir University of technology, Iran, in 1985, and 1988, respectively, and PhD degree in Electrical Engineering Dept, university of Newcastle England, 1995. At the present, he is the assistant Professor of Electrical engineering Department in Amirkabir University of technology (AUT). His especial fields of interest include transient in power systems, Power Quality, Restructuring and Deregulation in power systems. He is the author of four books in the field of power systems. He is also the author and the coauthor of over one hundred technical papers.