Review of distribution network phase unbalance: Scale, causes, consequences, solutions, and future research direction

Kang Ma, Lurui Fang, Wangwei Kong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (SciVal)
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Phase unbalance is widespread in the distribution networks in the UK, continental Europe, US, China, and other countries. First, this paper reviews the mass scale of phase unbalance and its causes and consequences. Three challenges arise from phase rebalancing: the scalability, data scarcity, and adaptability (towards changing unbalance over time) challenges. Solutions to address the challenges are: 1) using retrofit-able, maintenance-free, automatic solutions to overcome the scalability challenge; 2) using data analytics to overcome the data-scarcity challenge; and 3) using phase balancers or other online phase rebalancing solutions to overcome the adaptability challenge. This paper categorizes existing phase rebalancing solutions into three classes: 1) load/lateral re-phasing; 2) using phase balancers; 3) controlling energy storage, electric vehicles, distributed generation, and micro-grids for phase rebalancing. Their advantages and limitations are analyzed and ways to overcome the limitations are recommended. Finally, this paper suggests future research topics: 1) long-term forecast of phase unbalance; 2) whole-system analysis of the unbalance-induced costs; 3) phase unbalance diagnosis for data-scarce LV networks; 4) techno-commercial solutions to exploit the flexibility from large three-phase customers for phase balancing; 5) the optimal placement of phase balancers; 6) the transition from single-phase customers to three-phase customers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-488
Number of pages10
JournalCSEE Journal of Power and Energy Systems
Issue number3
Early online date21 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020


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