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Evolutionary Computation Applied to Power Distribution System Planning and Operation

Eduardo Gontijo Carrano, Ph.D.
Professor of Department of Electrical Engineering
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG
Belo Horizonte – MG, Brazil


Optimization techniques should be employed for the design of engineering systems, allowing for the best allocation of the limited financial resources. The power distribution system is essential for sustaining the current industrial/commercial/residential activities, and its proper design and operation constitute very complex problems to be solved. The electric distribution network is the part of the power system that is more susceptible to changes. The rise of new load centers, the growth of the existing centers and the continuous variation of load profiles make necessary a periodical update of the system structure and operation. Besides, the demand for better energy quality has increased the standards that must be complied by the energy companies. The emerging challenges of this scenario pose the need of new tools to handle with power distribution optimization. The evolutionary algorithms rise as suitable choices for solving distribution system related problems. Due to their flexibility and robustness, such algorithms can be adapted to deal with the complex structure of the problem.

The goal of this tutorial is to discuss the employment of evolutionary algorithms in the design and operation planning of power distribution networks. Initially, a brief explanation of the distribution system, covering its structure, technical constraints and protection coordination will be presented. Further, three important aspects related with network design and operation will be discussed: (i) the design of the system itself, considering multiple design criteria and robustness; (ii) the network reconfiguration and restoration during operation, and; (iii) the allocation of distributed generation on the system. The application of evolutionary algorithms for handling with these three aspects will be presented.

Expected enrollment:

Researchers, engineers and students interested in real world applications of optimization.


1. The power distribution network:
          a)  the power system; distribution network structure; constraints; load flow
               and protection coordination;
          b)  design versus operation.

 2. Distribution system design/expansion:
          a)  decision variables;
          b)  network cost; network reliability; long term design and network robustness;
          c)  evolutionary algorithms applied to distribution system planning.

3. Distribution system reconfiguration/restoration:
          a)  decision variables;
          b)  distribution network reconfiguration;
          c)  evolutionary algorithms applied to network reconfiguration; 
          d)  distribution network restoration;
          e)  evolutionary algorithms applied to network restoration.

4. Distributed generation:
          a)  decision variables;
          b)  energy availability; effects of the distributed generation to the distribution system;
          c)  evolutionary algorithms applied to distributed generation placement.



Eduardo Gontijo Carrano received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 2007. From May 2006 to May 2007, he was a Visiting Student with the Center for Intelligent Systems, Universidade do Algarve, Faro, Portugal. From September 2007 to January 2008, he was a Post-­‐Doctoral Researcher with the Department of Mathematics, UFMG. From January 2008 to June 2011, he was an Assistant Professor with Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Minas Gerais (CEFET ‐ MG), Belo Horizonte.

Since June 2011, he has been an Assistant Professor with Department of Electrical Engineering, UFMG. His current research interests include network design, combinatorial optimization, evolutionary algorithms, multiobjective optimization, optimization theory, algorithm evaluation, and dynamic systems. Since 2001, he has published over 40 full papers in peer‐reviewed journals and conferences, including 15 full papers in optimization applied to power system networks. He currently leads several research projects in cooperation with companies in the Brazilian electric sector.


The length of the tutorial:
two hours.


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