CONVEX-OPTIMIZING THE POWER GRID

Undergraduate Seminar Talk Seminar

Elliott Wolf & Alex Woolf (Lineage Logistics)

Thursday, March 23, 2017 -
4:45pm to 5:45pm
Location: 
Physics 119

The addition of renewable energy sources, whose power production cannot be scheduled, has created increasing gaps between instantaneous electricity supply and electricity demand. Sometimes the grid is oversupplied with energy, requiring zero-marginal-cost sources of power to be shut or energy to be bled off of the grid. Other times there is insufficient electricity, requiring high-marginal-cost sources of electricity to be switched on or consumers to curtail their demand. The current state of the grid has led various utilities and power consumers deploy capital-intensive energy storage, such as lithium-ion batteries, to better-match grid supply with grid demand. We present a method to add large-scale energy storage to the power grid using only sensors, software modifications to the control systems of large industrial refrigeration systems, and mathematical optimization. Our talk will address the required instrumentation, the physics necessary to understand applicable thermal constraints, and numerical methods used to determine a mathematically optimal-discharge schedule. We further discuss the economics of the US power grid, "war stories"of doing complex mathematics in a large industrial setting and the effects of various Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and California Public Utility Commission on our efforts.