Power Flow Problems for the Smart Grid
A core element of the evolving “Smart Grid” is efficient use of energy. From a generation perspective, it includes the traditional sources such as fossil-fuel (gas/coal) and nuclear power plants but increasing it also includes a vast array of renewable sources such as Wind and Solar power. The power output (both volume and quality) of the traditional energy sources are quite predictable and hence relatively easy to control. However, the output from the renewable sources are stochastic in nature due to the unpredictability of the wind speed or cloud cover at any point of time. Also stochastic in nature is the demand side of the equation since consumers these days often subscribe to smart meters which can adjust the demand based on spot prices in today’s deregulated environment. This introduction in stochasticity both from the supply and demand side in the energy market has resulted in a new wave of research and development in the area of transmission and distribution especially in optimizing the flow of power across the grid. In this talk we will explore some of the challenges and solution approaches for optimal power flow. We will start with an introduction to the problem, address some of the solution methodologies that the R&D community including ourselves are exploring currently and conclude with some thoughts and outstanding research challenges.