CWI starts new research on smart grids

The Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam and Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), in collaboration with KEMA, are going to start a new research on our future energy network. It focuses on automatic optimization of the capacity planning of the electricity network. Results are relevant to policy makers, energy suppliers and network providers.

In the future, energy supply gets more complex. Decentralized generation will cause two-way traffic on the energy grid, with peaks and drops in the load. In addition, private parties that are investigating in energy storage for example, will join the energy market. These developments require a new approach to capacity planning and a redesign of the network. The research takes into account environmental objectives and geographical and economical aspects.

Components in the network, such as cables, transformers and batteries, make together a stable and reliable energy supply. Decisions on changes in components used to be made based on experiences and trial and error. The load in the net of a thicker cable for instance was calculated manually with software. In the future, intelligent software has to optimize automatically the capacity planning between all the components in the network and it has to take decisions on the availability, location and cost of the components.

“Traditional energy supply takes place by means of a top-down approach”, says Han La Poutré, head of the research group Multi-Agent and Adaptive Computation of CWI. “The future energy supply is much more complex and with many players and systems it is multi-objective. Advanced software is essential in this process, in which environmental and economic objectives are being taken into account as well.” By applying a mechanism as ‘peak shaving’, which the researchers implement in their automation of capacity planning, a part of the energy demand can be controlled with the energy price.

In the research project, the TU/e will study the modeling of components and the future energy supply and demand. CWI and KEMA focus on programming optimization software. As a part of this, CWI is to develop advanced evolutionary algorithms. Furthermore, CWI will design a simulation system in which economic issues such as mechanisms to control supply and demand are included.

The generation, storage and distribution of renewable energy cannot do without complicated mathematical calculations and sophisticated software. CWI performs various energy-related research projects in collaboration with companies, universities and research institutes.

The research was made possible by the Smart Energy Systems program (SES) from NWO. The aim of this program is to investigate how ICT can contribute to increased sustainability of energy. This could, for example, be achieved by realizing a better approach for controlling energy consumption in buildings, developing systems for the efficient and stable decentralized generation of energy or by reducing the amount of energy consumed by the ICT sector.


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