Distributed control of flexible loads

Ana Bušić (INRIA Paris - ENS)

Frank Adams 2,

In power grids, it is necessary that the electrical production is equal to the demand at all times. In addition to ensuring sufficient electricity production, flexible resources are also needed which can quickly adapt their production / consumption in order to compensate for demand forecasting errors and ensure real-time balancing between production and demand. This service is an example of the system services essential to the proper functioning of power grids. In recent years, there is a significant increase in participation of smaller, intermittent and less predictable, renewable power generation. As a result, balancing supply and demand in real time is becoming ever more challenging. Balancing reserves from traditional power plants is becoming very expensive due to the need to compensate for the missed opportunity cost the power plants are facing while operating at a lower set-point to be able to ramp up and down more aggressively than in the past. At the same time, the rapid development of "smart technologies" open new possibilities for innovation on the demand side. There is an enormous flexibility potential in the power consumption of the majority of electric loads (e.g. thermal loads such as water heaters, air-conditioners and refrigerators; electric vehicles etc.). Their power consumption can be shifted in time to some extent without any significant impact to the consumer needs. We develop a distributed control theory and algorithms for automated demand control, which can be used by grid operators as ancillary service to regulate demand-supply balance. A single control signal is sent to each local user, which reacts (in a decentralized way) by locally optimizing its own arbitrage between participation in system services and its quality of service, while respecting its local constraints. The approach combines the techniques from the theory of controlled Markov processes, mean-field theory, signal processing, and the automatic control

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