Distribution Network Supports for Transmission System Reactive Power Management

  • Linwei Chen

Student thesis: Phd


To mitigate high voltages in transmission systems with low demands, traditional solutions often consider the installation of reactive power compensators. The deployment and tuning of numbers of VAr compensators at various locations may not be cost-effective. This thesis presents an alternative method that utilises existing parallel transformers in distribution networks to provide reactive power supports for transmission systems under low demands. The operation of parallel transformers in small different tap positions, i.e. with staggered taps, can provide a means of absorbing reactive power. The aggregated reactive power absorption from many pairs of parallel transformers could be sufficient to provide voltage support to the upstream transmission network.Network capability studies have been carried out to investigate the reactive power absorption capability through the use of tap stagger. The studies are based on a real UK High Voltage distribution network, and the tap staggering technique has been applied to primary substation transformers. The results confirm that the tap staggering method has the potential to increase the reactive power demand drawn from the transmission grid.This thesis also presents an optimal control method for tap stagger to minimise the introduced network loss as well as the number of tap switching operations involved. A genetic algorithm (GA) based procedure has been developed to solve the optimisation problem. The GA method has been compared with two alternative solution approaches, i.e. the rule-based control scheme and the branch-and-bound algorithm. The results indicate that the GA method is superior to the other two approaches.The economic and technical impacts of the tap staggering technique on the transmission system has been studied. In the economic analysis, the associated costs of applying the tap staggering method have been investigated from the perspective of transmission system operator. The IEEE Reliability Test System has been used to carry out the studies, and the results have been compared with the installation of shunt reactors. In the technical studies, the dynamic impacts of tap staggering or reactor switching on transmission system voltages have been analysed. From the results, the tap staggering technique has more economic advantages than reactors and can reduce voltage damping as well as overshoots during the transient states.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorHaiyu Li (Supervisor)


  • reactive power optimisation
  • tap stagger
  • genetic algorithm
  • parallel transformer
  • Distribution network
  • reactive power support

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