Project: Research council

Project Details


Electricity is so deeply ingrained in everyday life that when it is not available many things, essential and simply pleasurable, cease working. Finding ways to better manage faults in electricity distribution systems is a key way of improving the quality of supply offered to customers. Society also faces choices about its sources of energy and we need to find ways to remove technical barriers to the connection of small scale renewable generation without large cost penalties. The reasons that both of these tasks are difficult are (i) that the low voltage part of the distribution system was designed for simple operation without active control and (ii) the distribution system is very large and overall central control is not realistic. Solutions are also constrained by the large amount of existing equipment that is only part way through a long service life and is too expensive to replace prematurely. This project will explore a means to gradually devolving control authority from the existing central control room (which is semi-automated and semi-manual) and use a peer-to-peer network of controllers/decision-makers placed at each substation. The controllers can open and close remotely controlled switches to reallocate loads to different parts of the network and take various voltage correction actions. There is a strong need for communication to obtain feedback information and to allow a controller with only a partial view of the system to cooperate in finding an optimal set of actions to take in the event of a fault, an out-of-tolerance voltage or a generator whose output is being limited by network constraints. The project is challenging because it requires integration of research in distributed control, decision making, network analysis and communications. For this reason we have assembled a team drawn from 7 universities and 3 major international companies in the power industry.
Effective start/end date1/01/0730/06/10


  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council


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