Active Distribution Networks - Development & Operation

One of the CIGRE C6 working groups whose activities had to do with distribution automation related functions is C6.11 “Development and operation of Active Distribution Networks”. This working group started in August 2006 during the CIGRÉ General Session in Paris, France with the objectives defined in the Terms of Reference as follows:

  • Provide a shared definition of active distribution networks
  • Identify the enabling technologies
  • Identify limits and barriers
  • Assess the actual status of implementation of active distribution networks worldwide
  • Provide recommendations/requirements for the integration of Distributed Energy Resources (and transition towards more active distribution networks)

The document is intended for readers with different knowledge and skill levels from different parts of the world and can help them not only better understand the concept of active distribution networks, but also to learn from the actual existing implementations around the world.
The first chapter of the brochure provides some background information on the changing distribution power systems and the transition from the typically passive distribution networks of the past to the integration of distributed energy resources in the systems of today. The working group had determined that at the time there was no clear idea of what an “active” distribution network is, so the working group prepared and distributed a questionnaire to all relevant stakeholders (distribution companies, research organizations, manufacturers, and customer groups) in order to determine the state of implementation of active distribution networks and derive a definition of active distribution networks.


The results from the Survey had allowed the working group to produce in Chapter 2 the following definition:
Active distribution networks (ADNs) have systems in place to control a combination of distributed energy resources (DERs), defined as generators, loads and storage. Distribution system operators (DSOs) have the possibility of managing the electricity flows using a flexible network topology. DERs take some degree of responsibility for system support, which will depend on a suitable regulatory environment and connection agreement.”

The results from the survey are analyzed and presented in Chapter 3, identifying:

  • Key features of active distribution networks
  • Enabling technologies
  • How the researchers and stakeholders at the forefront are addressing the integration challenges

Chapter 4 provides some generic and stakeholder specific recommendations. They cover what actions should be taken, in terms of system operation, system planning, regulatory activities, and in general to foster adoption of technologies in the transition towards more active distribution networks.

A summary of the brochure was published in the April 2011 issue of Electra. 
Active CIGRE members can download brochure 457 from:
www.e-cigre.org/bib/457.pdf  

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