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smart energy grids research

Towards the smart energy grid of the future


he electrical power infra­ struc­ture is rapidly changing due to the growing use of distributed renewable sources and is becoming increasingly complex to manage. Today’s energy market requires an infrastructure for flexible, reconfigurable smart grids that can facilitate the producer and consumer in their changing needs. Future energy grids ask for a multilayered ICT approach in order to become robust. And need to be embedded in society as a sociotechnological system in itself.

In search of integral solutions for this changing energy market, three faculties at Delft University of Techno­ logy (TU Delft) joined forces in the PowerWeb initiative. Our view on smart grids research comprises the integrated study of the underlying physical systems (hardware), the design of smart energy management systems (software), and the study of smart grids in relation to their societal and economic environment (peopleware). This will allow us to model and design ICT systems that integrate energy production and consumption services in a robust way.

Building blocks for a flexible smart grid infrastructure When an accident happens in a power grid system, such as a short circuit or collapse of a power-grid tower, the voltages and currents in components of the network change suddenly. These phenomena are called transients in power systems. Existing algorithms require large amounts of computational resources, which limits current industrial practice to small-scale problems. The aim of this project is to investigate how recent advances in computational methods can be applied to the modeling and computation of transients in power systems. PhD candidate: Romain Thomas Supervisors: Kees Vuik and Lou van der Sluis

Some representative projects currently being conducted within PowerWeb are:

“We are dealing with a problem no one can solve on its own; in fact, no single project covers all aspects, but PowerWeb connects all projects.” dr. M de Weerdt, Assistant Professor, Algorithmics, TU Delft

The smart grid as a complex socio-technological system

The smart grid as a multi-layered system

Big Energy data

Smart grids can be designed in many different ways. Prosumers may behave differently depending on the kind of smart grid they are in. By modelling prosumer behaviour, we try to gain insight into how prosumers interact with the smart grid in these different situations. When for example people’s privacy concerns are not taken into account when designing smart meters, adoption of the entire system can be very problematic.

Smart grids are viewed as an ICT-supported energy ‘Power Web’ comprising several inter­ acting layers: from the physical-electrical infrastructure to a system consisting of pro­ sumers, transporters and traders of electricity. At every level a separate equilibrium or opti­mum is aimed for. In view of the inter­ dependencies between the layers, their variability, and errors that might occur, instabilities and serious disruptions of the Power Web might easily result. Therefore, dynamic control of the system at and over different layers is indispensable.

The ‘smart’ in smart energy systems is facilitated by ICT and refers to dynamically controlling the system in the face of load fluctuations and anomalies or network failures. Within Alliander’s MS-LiveLab project, a test environ­ment has been realized to gain knowledge on digitising the (existing) Medium Voltage networks. MS-LiveLab is installed in the city of Zaltbommel and is expected to generate a large amount of data.

By focussing our modelling efforts on the behaviours and ethical concerns of prosumers, we hope to understand better how to design a smart grid that is well-accepted, sustainable, secure and maybe even fun to interact with. PhD candidate: Jochem Douw Supervisors: Paulien Herder and Zofia Lukszo

In order to reach a robust and self-configuring smart grid, we aim to: 1) provide a formal description of the behaviour of the Power Web based upon the individual models used to describe the separate layers 2) define the proper interfaces between the layers, and 3) control the individual optimizations and equilibria in such a way that robustness and safety of the Power Web as a whole can be realized. PhD candidate: Shruti Devasenapathi Supervisors: Cees Witteveen and Fernando Kuipers

Funded by Alliander

The objectives of this project are threefold: 1) What kind of data is needed and can be collected, how and where can it be efficiently stored, and how frequently - and to where - does it need to be communicated? 2) What kind of communications and com­pu­ tations infrastructure is needed? There is a strong need for dynamic access to scalable computing and network resources. 3) Efficiently processing vast amounts of finegrained data in near-real-time, commonly referred to as data analytics. Developing algorithms for dealing with big energy data and complex networks constitutes a fairly new area within the field of algorithm design and will require a tailor-made multidisciplinary solution.

Dynamic Capacity Control and Balancing at MV

Risk-based system security concepts for the grid

Funded by Alliander

Part of umbrella project funded by EU

The rise of renewable energy sources such as solar panels puts high demands on our electricity grid. In particular, the demand on the medium-voltage (MV) level of the power grid may increase above current capacity at peak times. In collaboration with Alliander we investigate how large customers can be involved in staying within network capacity. Combining information about their flexibility in power consumption with smart planning can alleviate some of the capacity problems.

Due to the changes in the electricity network, its deregulated market and the gradual increase in consumption and variety of participants, secure grid operation in future networks becomes increasingly complex.

The main question of study is what financial incentives are required to entice customers to share this information and if necessary use this flexibility. By rewarding customers for their contribution to keeping the power grid within capacity, the need for investment in the physical grid infrastructure may be reduced.

In Work Package 4 of the European Umbrella project we study and implement risk-based system security concepts in order to develop a dedicated and innovative toolbox to support the grid security approach of transmission system operators (TSOs). PhD candidate: Martijn de Jong Supervisor: Kees Vuik and Lou van der Sluis

“PowerWeb has the elements of a research model that make it very valuable in today’s world. There is emphasis on building a complex system that provides ‘emotional value’ in terms of sustainability and added functionality to energy users while also ensuring the stability robustness of a critical resource.” Shruti Devasenapathy, PhD candidate, Algorithmics, TU Delft

Smart Grid Evolution: Developing a service platform for the Internet of Energy In July 2013 a Dutch Business Mission has visited Houston. Kees Vuik was a member of this mission as a PowerWeb representative. During that mission ideas came up to start Smart Grids in a number of large cities, also called A3 (Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Austin). For the Netherlands the aim is to have a smart grid of 500.000 houses in 2020. Cogas and Alliander has prepared plans how to develop such a large smart grid. Besides new technologic devices also research is needed to manage such a large grid. To facilitate the start of this research a TKI plan has been developed and granted with title: Smart Grid Evolution: Developing a service platform for the Internet of Energy. The 3TU is the main partner to do the research. For the TU Delft PowerWeb consortium, a postdoc will start to investigate the social and market aspects of a smart grid for Amsterdam.

smart energy grids research

Steering Board PowerWeb

prof. dr. ir. P.M. Herder dr. ir. F.A. Kuipers

prof. dr. C. Witteveen

prof. dr. ir. C. Vuik prof. ir. L. van der Sluis

Delft University of Technology PowerWeb Mekelweg 4 2628 CD Delft The Netherlands T +31 (0)15 278 45 68

smart energy grids research

Towards the smart energy grid of the future

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