Unlocking Ampacity and Maximising Photovoltaic Penetration through the Phase Balancing of Low Voltage Distribution Network Feeders

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Martin Caton


In recent years there has been a large increase in the connection of photovoltaic generators to the low voltage distribution network in urban residential areas. In the future, it is predicted that this trend will continue and be accompanied with a rise in the uptake and connection of electric vehicles and heat pumps. Recently, monitoring trials have found widespread current unbalance in the feeders that transmit electrical energy to and from these urban residential areas. This unbalance is likely to be accentuated by the gradual and piecemeal uptake of the aforementioned devices. The combined impact of the changes and present day unbalance is likely to be more frequent thermal and voltage constraint violations unless new strategies are adopted to manage the flow of electrical energy. Here, a novel device named the 'phase switcher' that has no customer compliance requirements is proposed as a new tool for distribution network operators to manage the thermal and voltage constraints of cables. The phase switcher is shown to unlock cable ampacity and maximise voltage headroom and it achieves this through phase balancing in real time. A centralised local feeder controller is simulated to employ dynamic and scheduled phase switcher control algorithms on a real network model, and it's ability to unlock cable ampacity and reduce cable losses is quantified. Also, a small model based controller algorithm is presented and shown to perform almost as well as others despite having a very limited sensing and communication system requirement. Phase switchers are also quantified for their ability to increase feeder voltage headroom when employed to improve the balance of photovoltaic distributed generators across phases. To this end, an exhaustive offline photovoltaic capacity prediction technique is documented which shows that when phase switchers are placed explicitly to a known photovoltaic installation scenario, an almost linear relationship exists between the penetration level and maximum node voltage when PSs or phase conductor rejointing is considered as an option for implementation. Finally, a fast feeder assessment algorithm is detailed that is found to be better and more robust at estimating extreme maximum and minimum photovoltaic penetration level scenarios that cause over-voltage. All the work is presented within a new general mathematical framework that facilitates formulation of the problem and calculation of device phase connections for networks containing phase switchers.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2015