In the final workshop session, Robert J. Thomas (Cornell University) and J. Thomas Overbye (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) concluded by noting that the electrical industry is vitally interested in getting its analytical methods right. The discussions provided throughout the workshop provided great insight into key areas of importance in data and data analytics, control optimization, and uncertainty.
Several topics were discussed on different occasions throughout the workshop. Points that were addressed by multiple speakers or participants during the course of the workshop include the following:
- Renewable energy integration. Several speakers (Bita Analui, Yonghong Chen, Steven Chu, and Pravin Varaiya) and breakout session participants discussed the importance and difficulty of integrating renewable energy into the grid. As distributed rooftop solar energy generation becomes increasingly prevalent, electrical providers need to find better ways to plan for and integrate these electricity sources. Chu discussed the possibility that individualized electricity storage for solar electricity (perhaps in the form of, or partnered with, electric vehicles) may help ease this transi-
tion. Another option discussed was increasing the prevalence of shorter-timescale markets in which renewables are able to more easily compete, compared to day-ahead markets.
- Consumer energy storage. Speakers (Steven Chu and David Sun) and breakout participants described the trend of some commercial and residential consumers moving to distributed personalized energy storage. As Chu discussed, this can come in the form of a large heat and power system, such as what is currently available at Texas Medical Center, or in the form of smaller individualized electricity storage for solar electricity (perhaps in the form of, or partnered with, electric vehicles).
- Aged transmission and distribution infrastructure. The current transmission and distribution system was described as being outdated (Steven Chu and Louis Wehenkel) and often relying on failing infrastructure that has surpassed its planned life span.
- Open-source software. A lack of open-source software was discussed by speakers Terry Boston and Matthew Gardner and breakout session participants. Gardner stated that increased use of, and comfort with, open-source solutions could help utilities update outdated models in multiple areas, and some breakout session participants stated that such a move could help engage a broader research community.
- Sharing data. Several speakers (Judy Cardell, Steven Chu, Matthew Gardner, and Louis Wehenkel) and breakout session participants discussed the need to share data responsibly both between utility providers and researchers. Data of particular interest are those from phasor measurement units. Wehenkel commented that more data need to be available, especially for estimation of the remaining lifetime of transmission system assets and the estimation of joint probabilities of multiple faults. Cardell and breakout session participants emphasized the need to consider consumer privacy while designing and deploying new technology.
- Evolving business models. Many speakers (Terry Boston, Michael Chertkov, Steven Chu, David Sun, and Pravin Varaiya) and breakout participants discussed the changing paradigm of the grid in the context of what it means for utility companies. Chu’s description was that as consumers move toward more rooftop solar, electric vehicles become commonplace, and large stationary batteries become widely available, more and better pricing and generation models are deployed and other alternatives, such as switching to a personalized gas generator, become more popular—compelling utilities to examine what this means for their current business models and how they will adapt. Sun believes that utility companies will adapt by unbundling existing services and offering new, more innovative services to consumers. Varaiya suggested that a potentially viable option
would be for utilities to modify their approach to meeting the flexible demands of consumers through means such as priority pricing, interruptible electrical power, demand response, price-responsive demand, and duration-differentiated energy service. The possibility of increased reliance on high-voltage direct-current technologies as a way to better transport electricity was also discussed.
- Security. The importance of protecting the grid from cyber and physical attacks was discussed by several speakers (Terry Boston, Steven Chu, and Matthew Gardner) and in multiple breakout sessions. This was a notable concern when discussing grid control architecture.
- Moving to a smart grid. Transitioning from a legacy grid to a smart grid was discussed throughout the workshop by many speakers (Steven Chu, Sean Meyn, David Sun, Pravin Varaiya, and Louis Wehenkel) and breakout session participants. Chu noted that this will require the use of more modern technology, better models, and nimble electricity generators and providers. Sun discussed several demonstration projects (e.g., NiceGrid and the Pacific Northwest Demonstration Project) that will offer lessons for larger transitions to come, and Wehenkel discussed some of the innovations that would need to happen across the grid. Varaiya described some consumer-oriented approaches to modifying demand instead of load. Meyn discussed the importance of eliminating risk to consumers and the grid when using demand-side flexibility for reliable ancillary services in a smart grid.
- Improved modeling needed. The role for mathematical and computational modeling is increasing, as explained by multiple speakers (Bita Analui, Robert Bixby, Yonghong Chen, Michael Chertkov, Steven Chu, Alexander Eydeland, Matthew Gardner, Miriam Goldberg, Sean Meyn, Cynthia Rudin, David Sun, and Louis Wehenkel) and breakout session participants. These include optimization models (such as linear programming and mixed-integer programming), dynamic game theory and mechanism design, power-flow models, human-in-the-loop models, nonlinear control and stability models, statistical models that represent observational data via probability densities (such as Gaussian processes, Markov chains/fields, logistic models, random forests, and support vector machines), physical models that represent deterministic constraints among physical quantities (such as algebraic and differential equations), consumer behavior and response models (for systems such as real-time pricing, priority pricing, interruptible electrical power, demand response, price-responsive demand, deadline-differentiated service, and duration-differentiated energy service), uncertainty analysis, causal analysis, and power market pricing (such as Black-Scholes theory).
- Uncertainty. The importance of understanding uncertainty in models and physical systems was discussed by Yonghong Chen and Miriam Goldberg and in breakout sessions. Goldberg described the three main kinds of measurement and verification uncertainties in grid modeling: estimation/forecasting error, policy choices and conventions, and extrapolations.
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