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Talk: In many parts of the US, generation supply and wholesale electricity prices are determined in markets that update every five minutes, with locationally distinct prices across thousands of grid locations. In the computations that make such markets possible, basic physics dictates total generation output must equal total load demand plus network losses, second by second. Moreover, given that installed generation capacity exceeds demand on all but a few peak demand days of the year, tremendous flexibility exists in deciding the exact allocation to each of the many thousands of operating generators. The restructuring of the US power industry over the past 20+ years has largely focused on making this decision process more and more market-oriented, with faster and faster update rates.
The giant circuit that is the US power grid must satisfy many physical and reliability-based constraints. First, the grid is subject to the basic circuit equations of Kirchhoff’s Current Law and Kirchhoff’s Voltage Law, dictating a set of exact equalities grid voltages and currents must satisfy. Quality service to customers then demands that frequency and voltages stay in acceptable ranges (e.g., 60 Hz, and 120 Vrms +/-5% at your wall outlet). Reliability demands that each transformer and each transmission line must stay within its current carrying limits. Any market-based decision for allocating generator output levels must respect these many physical constraints.
Historically, generation companies were willing to accept payments based on approximate allocations, with “out of market” adjustments to ensure satisfaction of all physical limits, often with significant margins to allow for approximate engineering calculations. As markets evolve, pressure is growing to make engineering calculations more precise, to avoid “leaving money on the table” in allowance for approximate computation. Against this backdrop, this talk will highlight on-going research at UW-Madison to improve engineering accuracy and speed of power grid market optimization.
Speaker: Christopher DeMarco holds the Grainger Professorship in Power Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he been a member of the faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) since 1985. He has served as ECE Department Chair (2002-2005), and is UW-Madison Site Director for the Power Systems Engineering Research Center (2004-present). He was recipient of the UW-Madison Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2000. Dr. DeMarco received his PhD degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985, and his B.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980, both in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. His research and teaching interests center on control, operational security, and optimization of electrical energy systems.