ISO-NE collaborates with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on high-performance computing project

Promising results were delivered in late 2013 from ISO New England’s partnership with scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to explore more efficient, reliable ways of integrating renewable resources into the grid. The collaboration was part of a pilot program called hpc4energy incubator, aimed at accelerating the development of energy technology using high-performance computing (HPC). The ISO was one of six program participants selected by LLNL in March 2012 to work with the national laboratory to demonstrate how HPC modeling and simulation benefit their respective projects. The collaboration kicked off in April 2012 and ran for a year and a half.

Challenge: Dispatching Variable Resources

The end goal of the ISO New England’s project was to find efficient, reliable ways of integrating renewable resources, such as wind, into New England’s power grid. While renewables make up a growing percentage of the region’s electricity generation needs, their variable nature creates significant challenges for the grid operator. It is difficult to plan for real-time and day-ahead energy needs when a large percentage of generating resources might be offline because the wind isn’t blowing. Ensuring reliable operation in the presence of increased uncertainty requires changes to the ISO’s existing procedures, most notably the unit commitment (UC) model used to dispatch generators.

To solve this problem, the ISO is developing a new UC model that features a state-of-the-art technique, known as robust optimization, to account for this uncertainty and variability. However, for every new UC configuration, 1,000 dispatch problems must be answered, requiring 20,800 hours on a desktop computer. Relying on LLNL’s expertise in high performance computing, ISO New England ran simulations on the new robust UC solution and examined its economic and operational benefits to real-time dispatch and pricing. This collaborative project with LLNL enabled the ISO to conduct extensive studies on the solution’s performance in an accelerated timeframe, helping prepare New England’s grid for the integration renewable resources. ISO New England and LLNL also teamed up with GAMS, a software company whose product is used to code robust UC model. GAMS customized the UC code to speed up the computation time as well as to efficiently gather simulation output information. Using high-speed computing and the customized code, the team reduced needed calculation times to only 9.5 hours. The team also produced a sophisticated statistical wind generation model for use with future studies on the random behavior of wind.

About Our Team

The ISO team leading the high-performance computing project is the ISO’s Business Architecture and Technology group. These in-house experts are tasked with developing innovative tools and methodologies to keep the operation of New England’s power grid up to speed with cutting-edge industry advancements. Focused on three main areas of responsibility—research and development, technology strategy, and smart grid strategy—the group’s core mission is to identify, define, and solve challenges with operating and administering today’s power grid and wholesale electricity markets.

Note: This is an update to an article previously posted July 17, 2012.

Features & Interviews, Inside ISO New England
renewable resources, smart grid