Due to the liberalization of the electricity sector, the number of players involved in the generation and distribution of electricity has increased significantly. In the near future the number of ‘input’ nodes will even further increase as more small-scale solar and wind energy installations will start to feed electricity into the network.
Due to the liberalization of the electricity sector, the number of players involved in the generation and distribution of electricity has increased significantly. In the near future the number of ‘input’ nodes will even further increase as more small-scale solar and wind energy installations will start to feed electricity into the network. Coordination among the growing number of different suppliers and distributors needs to be efficient to ensure a reliable and smooth energy supply. In the Next Generation Infrastructures project Multi-Agent Coordination and Intelligent Control of Infrastructure Networks such coordination mechanisms are developed by researchers of the Delft Center for Systems and Control of Delft University of Technology.
“The multi-player structure of power networks results in a network with many interactions and dependencies,” says dr. Rudy Negenborn, “which will only become more complex in the future. Efficient coordination will become increasingly important. This is a challenge, because the different players may have conflicting goals and interests.”
Negenborn is studying how this coordination can be implemented using automatic control mechanisms. “The ultimate goal of this research is to develop intelligent decision-making strategies based on coordination and cooperation among the different input nodes,” he says. “The major challenge in this is determining what information the different input nodes have to exchange and how they have to use this information in their decision making. The different input nodes have to locally choose those actions that are required to enable the overall network to function optimally.” These distributed decision-making strategies will also have to be able to take proactive measures in anticipation of future changes in supply or demand. This will help to avoid over- or undercapacity, prevent failures in the network, and address remaining failures more effectively.
“Today, most of these coordination and control mechanisms work manually,” says Negenborn, “but as the systems are becoming more and more complex, automation will be the only solution. Especially in complex chains of events, it is impossible for individual human operators to anticipate what is coming. In today’s situation, failures rapidly spread in the system. Automatic coordination and control will hopefully be able to prevent this.”