Our energy systems are facing a period of immense change and difficulty. Assets are aging, requiring more investment and maintenance. At the same time, increasing pressure is placed on them by the ever-increasing share of energy from renewable sources.
This makes the job of the grid operator much more difficult. They must plan outages and works on the grid for the next weeks, months and years, taking into account ever more constraints and difficulties. At Elia, the TSO in Belgium, a yearly works and outage plan now involves up to 10,000 unique grid activities and linked outages to be scheduled. It is nearly impossible for a human to develop a suitable outage plan for this many activities, let alone an optimal one.
Together with N-SIDE, Elia developed a decision-support optimization software able to find optimal outage planning scenarios for a wide range of optimization goals, such as limiting the number of outages, or maximizing the number of works performed per outage.
This solution, called OPSO, combines state-of-the-art optimization techniques (Constraint Programming) with deep business knowledge in them energy sector. It is able to consider multiple business objectives alongside network and resource constraints in an integrated way, and including the following features:
- Customizable: Fit specific needs of each grid by designing and setting custom objectives and optimization parameters
- Transparent: “Open-box” approach makes it easy to understand the algorithm’s recommendations
The OPSO solution is able to find a near-optimal planning scenario for up to 10,000 grid activities and linked outages in a reasonable amount of time, for a time horizon ranging from year-ahead planning to week-ahead updates. This allows for agile adaptations of pre-optimized plans.
Moreover, the unique mathematical modelling solution used by OPSO enables multiple users to collaborate with a single tool and taking into account multiple areas of responsibility, such as:
- Workforce management and planning: enables planners and foremen to keep track of planned interventions and frequently update grid activity needs and resource availability with a daily granularity
- Outage planning and grid constraints management: enables network analysts and planning engineers to schedule and track planned outages over time on multiple voltage levels and to adapt network constraints based on the evolution of the grid
- Strategic planning: allows key decision makers to understand the impact of different planning scenarios which prioritize one business objective over another by performing what-if scenarios and sensitivity analyses
By using OPSO for planning, the Elia grid operators achieved:
- 15% increase in the number of maintenance works realized per year, meaning 15% more works were able to be scheduled and completed in the same amount of time
- 8% decrease in the number of planned outage days
- 10% decrease in the risk of energy not served
- 10% decrease in the workload of dispatchers and switching operators