Approximating electrical distribution networks via mixed-integer nonlinear programming

Sanyogita Lakhera, Uday V. Shanbhag, Michael K. McInerney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Given urban data derived from a geographical information system (GIS), we consider the problem of constructing an estimate of the electrical distribution system of an urban area. We employ the image data to obtain an approximate electrical load distribution over a network of a prespecificed discretization. Together with partial information about existing substations, we determine the optimal placement of electrical substations to sustain such a load that minimizes the cost of capital and losses. This requires solving large-scale quadratic programs with discrete variables for which we present a novel penalization-smoothing scheme. The choice of locations allows one to determine the optimal flows in this network, as required by physical requirements which provide us with an approximation of the distribution network. Furthermore, the scheme allows for approximating systems in the presence of no-go areas, such as lakes and fields. We examine the performance of our algorithm on the solution of a set of location problems and observe that the scheme is capable of solving large-scale instances, well beyond the realm of existing mixed-integer nonlinear programming solvers. We conclude with a case study in which a stage-wise extension of this scheme is developed to reflect the temporal evolution of load.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-257
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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