Generating statistically correct random topologies for testing smart grid communication and control networks

Zhifang Wang, Anna Scaglione, Robert J. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations


In order to design an efficient communication scheme and examine the efficiency of any networked control architecture in smart grid applications, we need to characterize statistically its information source, namely the power grid itself. Investigating the statistical properties of power grids has the immediate benefit of providing a natural simulation platform, producing a large number of power grid test cases with realistic topologies, with scalable network size, and with realistic electrical parameter settings. The second benefit is that one can start analyzing the performance of decentralized control algorithms over information networks whose topology matches that of the underlying power network and use network scientific approaches to determine analytically if these architectures would scale well. With these motivations, in this paper we study both the topological and electrical characteristics of power grid networks based on a number of synthetic and real-world power systems. The most interesting discoveries include: the power grid is sparsely connected with obvious small-world properties; its nodal degree distribution can be well fitted by a mixture distribution coming from the sum of a truncated geometric random variable and an irregular discrete random variable; the power grid has very distinctive graph spectral density and its algebraic connectivity scales as a power function of the network size; the line impedance has a heavy-tailed distribution, which can be captured quite accurately by a clipped double Pareto lognormal distribution. Based on the discoveries mentioned above, we propose an algorithm that generates random topology power grids featuring the same topology and electrical characteristics found from the real data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5463043
Pages (from-to)28-39
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Smart Grid
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Graph models for networks
  • Power grid topology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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