Distributed Optimization in Distribution Systems: Use Cases, Limitations, and Research Needs

Niloy Patari, Venkatesh Venkataramanan, Anurag Srivastava, Daniel K. Molzahn, Na Li, Anuradha Annaswamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus Citations


Electric distribution grid operations typically rely on both centralized optimization and local non-optimal control techniques. As an alternative, distribution system operational practices can consider distributed optimization techniques that leverage communications among various neighboring agents to achieve optimal operation. With the rapidly increasing integration of distributed energy resources (DERs), distributed optimization algorithms are growing in importance due to their potential advantages in scalability, flexibility, privacy, and robustness relative to centralized optimization. Implementation of distributed optimization offers multiple challenges and also opportunities. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the recent advancements in distributed optimization for electric distribution systems and classifications using key attributes. Problem formulations and distributed optimization algorithms are provided for example use cases, including volt/var control, market clearing process, loss minimization, and conservation voltage reduction. Finally, this paper also presents future research needs for the applicability of distributed optimization algorithms in the distribution system.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3469-3481
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Power Systems
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 1969-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-84102


  • active distribution systems
  • distributed energy resources
  • distributed optimization
  • optimal power flow


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