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2, FEBRUARY 2015 711

Optimized Multiple Microgrid-Based Clustering

of Active Distribution Systems Considering
Communication and Control Requirements
Seyed Ali Arefifar, Member, IEEE, Yasser Abdel-Rady I. Mohamed, Senior Member, IEEE, and
Tarek El-Fouly

AbstractAn optimized communication and control of new digital and intelligent devices, the power grids are
infrastructure, based on the microgrid building block moving toward a faster-acting, potentially more controllable
concept, for active distribution systems is essential to and reliable grid, the so-called smart grid [7]. If implemented
facilitate powerful control framework under the smart grid
and operated properly, the smart distribution system can bring
paradigm. In this paper, a novel methodology for designing
a communication and control infrastructure is presented. lots of benefits and advantages to the environment, electric
The new design takes into account both communication power suppliers and electricity consumers [8]. For this reason,
system and distribution system-related aspects. The pro- they have been under study from several aspects including:
posed design facilitates systematic and optimized clus- smart grid automation [9], unbalanced optimal power flow [10],
tering of the distribution system into a set of virtual loss minimization [11], distributed-energy-resource manage-
microgrids with optimized communication requirements
ment [3], control and protection [12], optimal voltage regula-
while considering the power quality aspects, character-
istics of distributed generation units, distributed energy tion [13], and failure identification [14].
storage units, and distributed reactive sources. The new de- In the context of smart distribution systems, a large number
sign facilitates robust infrastructure for smart distribution of emerging devices with wide band of control actions and
systems operation and control, e.g., self-healing control options will be adopted. This includes distributed and renew-
and optimized system-level operation, by using virtual mi- able generation units, storage units, custom power devices,
crogrids as building blocks in future distribution systems.
electric vehicle charging stations, demand-side management
The motivations, conceptual design, problem formulation
and solution algorithms are presented in this paper. The controllers, etc. With the increased penetration of these de-
well-known PG&E 69-bus distribution system is selected vices along with conventional system devices, the control and
as a test case and through several sensitivity studies, the operation of bulk distribution systems can be an issue. A
effect of optimization coefcients on the design, and the ro- robust communication and control infrastructure is essential
bustness of the algorithm are investigated. Finally, the to facilitate optimized operation of such bulk systems with a
algorithm is tested on the IEEE 123-bus distribution system.
large number of controllable devices and operation scenarios
Index TermsCommunication system, control center, [15][19]. Two important communication and control strategies
graph partitioning, microgrid, power imbalance, Tabu exist for communications and control design in a power system,
search (TS). namely, they are centralized and decentralized [20], [21].
I. I NTRODUCTION In the centralized scenario, all the controllable devices receive
the control commands from a central control center. Despite

P OWER engineers nowadays are facing new challenges to

improve the operation of power distribution systems [1].
Introduction of renewable energy resources and energy storage
the advantage of lower costs for installation of communication
and control centers, this option has a higher length of commu-
nication media, relatively larger delays and lower reliability.
devices on one hand and the increase in the rate of electricity The other option is to cluster the controllable devices, such
consumption, associated costs of large power generating plants as distributed generators (DGs), storage devices, controllable
and environmental issues on the other hand, have manifested loads, etc., into groups and construct communication zones so
the need for new planning, operation and control strategies in that each zone has its own control center, including voltage and
power distribution systems [2][6]. Through the incorporation frequency control units. All the control centers are then super-
vised by a central control center that is at a higher control level
in the designed infrastructure. Through simulations on the IEEE
Manuscript received October 17, 2013; revised March 15, 2014 and 118-bus test network, it is shown in [21] that having almost the
May 12, 2014; accepted May 24, 2014. Date of publication August 27,
2014; date of current version January 7, 2015.
same total costs for both centralized and decentralized systems,
S. A. Arefifar and Y. A.-R. I. Mohamed are with the Department of the latency and reliability in the communication network will
Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, be improved in a decentralized infrastructure.
AB T6G 2V4, Canada (e-mail:; yasser_rady@ieee. The question here is what the best scenario is to virtually
T. El-Fouly is with CanmetENERGY, Natural Resources Canada split the network into different communication and control
(NRCan), Varennes, QC J3X 1S6, Canada (e-mail: telfouly@nrcan. zones and what items should be considered in the design so that both utility and customers get the maximum benefits.
Color versions of one or more of the figures in this paper are available
online at A good communication infrastructure should be fast, secure,
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TIE.2014.2352212 reliable, and convenient in terms of controlling the devices at

0278-0046 2014 IEEE. Personal use is permitted, but republication/redistribution requires IEEE permission.
See for more information.

different system operating conditions. These parameters and the be mostly the utilities. With the high penetration of distributed
installation costs are important and should be considered in an resources (DG), the communication infrastructure should cover
infrastructure design; however, there are some other issues that key system nodes where DG units, energy storage devices,
are also worth to be considered in the planning problem. Self- major loads, etc., are installed. The utility will use the com-
healing is a relatively new problem in smart distribution sys- munication infrastructure for monitoring and control of large
tems, which deals with the algorithms for taking preventative and complicated future distribution systems. In this context,
actions or to handle problems after they occur [22]. The ability the ownership of DG does not affect the planning aspects of
of a distribution network to self-heal in disturbance conditions the communication system. The communication infrastructure
is one of the important characteristics of future smart grids should cover both customer-owned and utility-owned DG units
[23]. Under some circumstances, such as disturbances, a self- to ensure complete access to key generators and loads. When
healing action is partitioning the system into islands by using the infrastructure is designed, both customers and utility will
reconfiguration switches so that the healthy part of the sys- benefit from it as it facilitates the realization of better control
tem remains untouched by the disturbance. Supply-adequacy- and operation algorithms for distribution systems. Some of
based optimum construction of microgrids in active distribution these benefits are summarized in the following.
systems is addressed in [3], however, communication system
requirements are not considered in the design stage. 1) Distributed Control Strategy: The controllable devices
Considering the importance of both communication and in a distribution system can be controlled in centralized
self-healing related aspects of system partitioning, this paper or decentralized ways. Other than the improvements in
presents a novel methodology to find the optimum communica- reliability and latency of the communication network,
tion and control infrastructure in a smart distribution system. in a decentralized approach, the system controllability
The proposed design simplifies the control of large systems becomes easier because of the fewer amounts of control-
with high penetration of DG resources in grid-connected and lable devices in each control zone.
islanded modes of operation. It also facilitates systematic and 2) Intelligent Monitoring Options: The number of intelligent
optimized clustering of the distribution system into a set of electronic devices for monitoring, protection, and other
virtual microgrids with optimized communication and control purposes such as smart metering, power quality mon-
requirements, while considering the power quality aspects and itoring, and distribution system automation have been
characteristics of DG units, distributed energy storage units increased in distribution systems, as part of smart grid
(DESR), and distributed reactive sources (DRS). The new projects. Improvements in smart grid communications
design facilitates robust infrastructure for smart distribution system makes the data captured by these new devices
systems operation and control, e.g., self-healing control and available to multisubscribers and serves multiple intelli-
optimized system-level operation, by using virtual microgrids gent electronic devices infrastructures [25].
as building blocks in future distribution systems. The proposed 3) Advanced Fault Location: In case of faults, the avail-
design is in line with the recently developed IEEE Std. 1547.6, ability of additional feeder data helps to improve the
which presented a microgrid structure as the building blocks of accuracy of the fault location methods and subsequently,
active distribution systems [24]. The contributions of this paper improve the self-healing control actions [25], [26]. With
to the research field are the following: the designed communication and control infrastructure,
1) development of a systematic strategy for designing a more data will be available and as the microgrids are
communication and control infrastructure in smart grids; smaller than the whole system, the fault locating task will
2) consideration of communication network costs such as be more accurate and the required self-healing actions
costs of building a new control center, costs of the com- will be done more conveniently.
munication media and routers in the design; 4) Advanced Self-Healing Control Actions: Self-healing
3) consideration of communication network properties such usually includes system reconfiguration, load shedding
as network latency and reliability in the design; or controlling the dispatchable generators output powers.
4) taking into account the power-related aspects, such as Since in the proposed infrastructure, each zone has min-
power quality issues, characteristics of DG, DESR and imum power imbalance and its own control center at the
DRS units, in making communication zones as a step same time, the self-healing control actions can be done
toward an improved self-healing action and coordinated with minimum required actions and the disconnected
control actions in a smart grid. microgrids can operate in autonomous mode with less
amount of load shedding
II. M OTIVATIONS AND C ONCEPTS OF D ESIGN 5) Self-Adequate Microgrids: When the microgrids are con-
structed in a distribution system, the less the generation-
The motivations for having an optimum communication and
load imbalance within them will result in the more
control infrastructure for a smart distribution system, as well as
self-sufficient microgrids. Thus, more loads can be sup-
both communications related and power-related aspects of the
plied in case of autonomous-mode operation of micro-
design, are explained here.
grids in the distribution system, and the energy losses on
power lines connecting the microgrids will be minimized.
A. Motivations for the Proposed Design
6) More Reliable Distribution Systems: Reliability is an
The problem defined in this paper is a planning problem; important issue in designing current distribution systems.
therefore, the audience and user of the proposed approach will With the proposed design, the system will be split into

several self-adequate microgrids. Other than easing the balance can be considered in system partitioning [30]. Although
self-healing control actions, which increase the reliability the controllable generation and load must be balanced once
of the system, the self-sufficiency of microgrids will a system partitions, if we consider minimizing the power
also improve the reliability indexes such as the System imbalance in the zones and in steady-state conditions at the
Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI), System planning stage, balancing generation and load considering the
Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), etc. system dynamics will be much more convenient and effective in
the operating stage. Therefore, an optimum partitioned system
The aforementioned items present some justifications and is the one with minimum generation-load imbalance in each
motivations behind the proposed communication and control zone. With the proposed design in this paper, each island can
infrastructure design strategy. Some specific aspects of the behave as a microgrid and may operate in grid connected or
design such as communications- and power-related aspects are islanded mode, with minimum interactions from other parts of
explained with more details in the following sections. the system. Moreover, the power balancing in each microgrid
will be done easily, as each microgrid has its own control
B. Communication and Control-Related Aspects center. It should be noted that since the research in this paper
is a long-term planning problem, the system transients and
The communication network is an essential part of the power
dynamics, which may occur during islanding process and do
system as a failure in communication may affect the operation
not last for a long period, are not considered here. To account
of the electrical system itself. Furthermore, an optimized com-
for special distribution system characteristics associated with
munication infrastructure is essential to facilitate smart grid
power balancing, such as the intermittent nature of DG units
control and operation functions, such as self-healing control
and loads, a probabilistic power balancing approach is proposed
and distributed energy management. Thus, the communication
in this paper.
infrastructure will be as important as the electrical infras-
tructure [27]. The communication network performs the data
exchange between data resources, control centers, and control- D. Combination of the Two Aspects
lable devices; therefore, it will be a vital part of wide-area mea- Both communication and control and power-related aspects
surement systems, wide-area control systems, and wide-area are taken into account for finding the optimum communication
protection systems. The base-line communication and control and control infrastructure. With this design, from the commu-
infrastructure is usually designed for long-term purposes, and nication and control point of view, the whole system can be
it may evolve depending on new system-level needs. At the controlled more conveniently in grid-connected and islanded
base-line planning stage, however, there are some issues that mode of operation by using decentralized control centers to
should be considered. In case of future needs for upgrading optimize the overall operational aspects of the system. From
the communication system, the optimum design should be the power point of view, clustering the system into self-
updated accordingly. Key long-term objectives are considered sufficient microgrids, regardless of grid-connected or islanded
in this paper as a typical base-line communication and control mode operation, will ease the self-healing control actions such
infrastructure design for smart and active distribution systems. as system reconfigurations, load shedding or controlling the
Three important factors are cost-related issues, latency, and DGs outputs in case of disturbances. One obvious advantage
reliability of the network. The cost-related issues include the of this formulation is that if for any reason, the system is
costs of communication media, communicating routers and split into zones, each zone has the minimum generation-load
communication and voltage and frequency control centers and imbalance and, at the same time, has its own control center.
the latency/reliability of the communication system is mainly In this scenario, the preventive actions in the disturbed zones
based on the latency/reliability of communication media and and healthy zones can be performed more conveniently and
the communicating routers. Therefore, the optimum infras- more intelligently. Although in some zones the generation level
tructure is the one with optimum number of communication may not meet the required consumption at the peak load level,
zones and minimal total communication costs. In spite of the the islanding may be possible at light-load periods or through
minimized costs, the system latency should be kept less than a minimum load shedding actions, and this will be beneficial for
threshold, and the minimum required system reliability should both utility and customers. Furthermore, the created virtual mi-
be maintained. crogrids can be controlled in a coordinated manner to optimize
the overall system-level operational aspects. In other words,
C. Power-Related Aspects the extended formulation proposed in this paper provides a
flexible infrastructure for the distribution system operation by
In response to disturbances, a self-healing system reconfig-
applying the concept of virtual microgrids. The main design
uration that splits a power network into self-sufficient islands
concepts proposed in this paper and how the virtual microgrids
can stop the propagation of disturbances and avoid cascading
are clustered are shown in Fig. 1.
events. Traditionally, only the active power has been considered
in system partitioning [28], [29]. However, by considering
the reactive power as an important role player in supporting III. M ODELING OF L OADS AND DGs
the voltage profile and knowing that a significant mismatch To obtain an optimum communication and control infras-
of reactive power supply and demand causes high- or low- tructure in the presence of the uncertain nature of DG units
voltage conditions within islands, both real and reactive power and loads, the characteristics of loads and DG units should be

power of PV modules can be easily generated. The Beta PDF

used to describe the probabilistic nature of solar irradiance, is
as shown in
( + )
fb (s) = s(1)
(1 s)(1) 0 s 1, 0, 0 (1)

where s is solar irradiance (kW/m2 ), fb (s) is Beta distribution

function of s, and and are parameters of the Beta distribu-
tion function. The parameters of Beta distribution function are
calculated by using the mean () and standard deviation () of
random variable s, as shown in
(1 + )
= (1 ) 1 & = . (2)
2 1
The Beta PDF is generated for each time segment (one hour
for this research) and the probabilistic output power of the PV
modules is then calculated using the following equations [31]:
Fig. 1. Main design concepts and the virtual microgrids. NOT 20
Tcy = TA + say (3)
considered in the design. For this purpose, DG units are mod- Iy = say [Isc + Ki (Tc 25)] (4)
eled as typical combination of three types of DGs, including
Vy = Voc Kv Tcy (5)
photovoltaic (PV) modules, wind turbines, and biomass gen-
P sy (say ) = N F F Vy Iy (6)
erators. The nature of renewable resources are probabilistic;
therefore, the solar irradiance and wind speed for each hour of FF = (7)
the day are modeled by Beta and Weibull probability density Voc Isc
functions (PDFs) by using historical data [31]. To get the PDFs, where Tcy and TA are cell and ambient temperature during
the study can be done over a selected period of one year, and state y ( C); Kv and Ki are voltage and current temperature
four days can be selected as representatives of four seasons. coefficients (V / C and A/ C); NOT is nominal operating
The day representing each season is further divided into 24-h temperature of cell per C; F F is fill factor; Isc and Voc are
time segments, each having a PDF for solar irradiance and short circuit current (A) and open circuit voltage (V ); N is the
wind speed. The load is also modeled as a firm generation number of cells; IMPP and VMPP are current (A) and voltage
using IEEE-RTS [32]. In order to integrate the output power (V ) at maximum power point; P sy is the output power of
of PV modules and wind turbines as multistate variables in the PV module during state y, and say is the average solar
the formulations, the continuous PDF of each is divided into irradiance of state y.
different states. The selected number of states affects the accu-
racy and complexity of the formulation. In this research, the
B. Wind Turbine Generators
output power of the wind turbine and PV modules for each
hour of the day is divided into 12 segments. This means for The output power of wind turbines depends on the wind
each hour of the day, we have 12 states of solar DG power and speed and parameters of the wind-power conversion curve.
12 states of wind DG power with different probabilities. Similar to the PV module generators, once the wind speed is
Assuming that solar irradiance and wind speed states are in- modeled for each hour by using a PDF, the probabilistic func-
dependent, the probability of any combination of the load and tion of the output power of wind turbines can be generated eas-
generation is obtained by convolving the two probabilities. ily. The wind speed is usually modeled using the Rayleigh PDF,
Therefore, for each hour, we have 144 (1212) number of which is a special case of the Weibull PDF, as shown in (8) [31]
states with different probabilities and for each day there are      
2v v 2
3456 (24144) states. To obtain the power and energy losses f (v) = 2
exp (8)
c c
for the system, the deterministic power flow is run for each
state, and the results are accumulated considering the proba- where c is called the scale index. The mean value of wind speed
bility of each state. (v) is calculated using the historical data for each time segment
and then the scale index can be calculated, as shown in
A. PV Module Generators        
2v v 2
vm = vf (v)dv = v 2
exp dv
The output of each PV module depends on the amount of c c
0 0
solar irradiance, ambient temperature and characteristics of the
module itself. When the solar irradiance is modeled for each
= c, c 1.128vm . (9)
hour by using a PDF, the probabilistic function of the output 2

The output power of a wind turbine is calculated using where LoMC is the total length of communication media,
N oRC is the total number of routers, and N oZ is the number
0, 0 vaw vci , vco vaw
vci ) of communication or control zones. The coefficients , , and
P vw (vaw ) = Prated (vvaw , vci vaw vr
r vci are the cost of communication media, cost of each router, and
Prated , vr vaw vco cost of installing a communication and control center (including
voltage and frequency controller units). Their dimensions are
where vci , vr , and vco are the cut-in, rated, and cut-out speed $/km, $/router and $/(control center), respectively. Minimizing
of wind turbine, respectively; P vw is the output power of wind F1 will minimize the total cost of communication infrastructure
turbine during state w; and vaw is the average wind speed of by finding the communication-based virtual microgrids.
state w. The other objective is to minimize the real and reactive power
imbalance between generation and loads within the zones. This
C. Biomass Generators is a step toward 1) having a self-healing strategy for system
reconfiguration that splits the power system into self-sufficient
The biomass generators are assumed to be firm generators islands in response to disturbances; and 2) creating virtual
with constant output powers without uncertainty. In case of microgrids where controllable devices that affect the power
uncertainty in the factors that affect the availability of biomass, flow (e.g., DG units, demand-side management, etc.) can be
such as rain, the biomass DGs output powers can be modeled clustered. This objective function can be formulated as
in a similar way that has been presented for PV module or
wind turbine generators by using the probability function of a Pindex + b Qindex
F2 = (13)
availability of the biomass for the planning period. (N oZ 1)

where Pindex and Qindex are probabilistic indexes to represent

D. DESRs and DRSs the probabilistic real and reactive power of the virtual cut set
The DESRs are modeled as loads during the charging period lines and are calculated, as shown in (14). The denominator is
and as generators during discharging period. It is also assumed set to normalize the cost function
that the DESRs charge only during off-peak hours of the day

and discharge only during the on-peak hours. Therefore, for Pindex = |Pijk |k & Qindex = |Qijk |k (14)
each period of 24 h, there is one charge-discharge cycle. A con- k=1 k=1
straint has been introduced on the amount of power generated
by the DESRs, as shown in where i and j are the nodes, which connect two zones to-
gether; Pij _k and Qij _k are the real and reactive power flowing
PDESR_i,t PLoad_j,t t (11) between buses i and j at the generation-load state k; N is
i j the number of states for each year (4(seasons) 90(days)
3456(states/day)); and k is the probability of the state, in
where Pload_j,t is the real power consumed at bus j, time t and
which the real and reactive powers are calculated. The power
PDESR_i,t is the real power generated by DESRs at bus i and
balance objective function can be calculated by performing a
time t. This constraint keeps the output power of DESRs always
probabilistic power flow in the system. Since the two aspects
less than the total demand during each hour and guarantees that
are to be considered simultaneously, the final objective function
the reverse power flow is coming from the DG units during any
(F ) can be represented as the weighted summation of F1 and
hour. The DRSs are also modeled as simple reactive sources
F2 , as shown in
with specific rated capacity.
M in(F ), F = K1 F1 + K2 F2 . (15)
Based on the definition of , , and , the dimension of F1
Optimization problems are constructed from an objective is costs in dollars, if we determine the cost of interruption due
function and some constraints. This section explains the pro- to the supply inadequacy or power quality issues of microgrids
posed problem formulation and associated constraints. (which is out of the scope of this paper), then we can define
K2 as dollar per imbalance ratio. With such definitions the
A. Optimization Objective Function objective function of the problem will be in dollars.
Two different objective functions are considered in this re-
search, namely, they are the communication and control re- B. Optimization Constraints
lated and the power balance related. The communication and
control cost function to be minimized includes the cost of There are two types of constraints for the optimization prob-
installation of new control centers, which includes voltage and lem, communication related and power related. From a commu-
frequency controller units; cost of network switches and routers nication point of view, two constraints, i.e., network latency and
and the cost for length of communication media that can be reliability, should be satisfied for the optimum infrastructure.
represented as Although the network latency is not only a function of the
length of media and the number of routers in the system;
F1 = LoMC + N oRC + N oZ (12) however, these two indexes provide sufficient information for

the design regarding the systems latency. On the other hand, the second necessary condition for a successful operation of the
since the power systems typically enjoy relatively low data rate microgrid is
communications, other factors (e.g., performance loss, band-
width cost) can be safely ignored. It is noted that by assuming PBM 0.6 PDG (22)
a proper medium access control for low-rate communications,
the operational delay can have a negligible effect on the latency. where PBM is the generated power of biomass DGs in the mi-
Therefore, the total systems latency is calculated, as shown in crogrid. Equations (21) and (22) are two necessary conditions
(16) [21] for the successful operation of microgrids and can be satisfied
by shedding the loads according to their requested reliability.
T = TSerial + Tbetween.packet + Tpropagation + Trouting . (16) In this research, the load shedding starts from smaller loads to
larger ones until the conditions are satisfied. Moreover, some
Tserial and Tbetween.packet are serial delay and between packet
other constraints should be satisfied to guarantee the security
delay, which are constant and Tpropagation and Trouting are
of supply for the constructed microgrids. They are the voltage
propagation delay and routing delay and are calculated, as
magnitude (V ) and frequency (f ) limits on all system buses
shown in (17); therefore, the total network latency will be
in the microgrids, and maximum lines currents (I), which are
T = Constant + Tpropagation + Trouting formulated as follows:

= Constant + LoMT /v + N oRT Trouter (17) Vmin Vi Vmax i

where v is the velocity at which the media is sent through fmin f fmax (23)
(close to speed of light), LoMT is the maximum length of
communication media from control center, N oRT is number and for power line current limits
of routers seen from control center to the farthest node, and
Trouter is the router delay. For the optimum infrastructure, we Ii Imax,i i. (24)
should have
The optimum microgrid design should satisfy these conditions
T Tmax . (18) in an islanded mode of operation. In Section VI, sensitivity
studies are conducted to assess the effects of changing the
The second constraint is the threshold for the network relia-
coefficients on the optimum design.
bility. The communication reliability is function of number of
routers and length of media. Each node is in service only if all
the links and paths related to this node work properly; therefore, V. S OLUTION A LGORITHMS
the communication networks reliability in each zone can be
formulated as The formulated problem in Section IV is a comprehensive
problem with combinatorial nature and demands efficient solu-
Rz = (Rrouter )N oRR RLoMR (19) tion algorithms. This problem has two different objective func-
tions, which are aggregated into a single-objective function, by
where Rrouter is the reliability of each router, RLoMR is the using weighting coefficients. It is assumed that the weighting
reliability of total length of communication media from control coefficients such as K1 and K2 are predetermined based on
center to each node, and N oRR is the total number of routers in economic and system-related studies; therefore, the problem
the zone. Since the network reliability in each zone should be can be seen as a single-objective optimization problem. Heuris-
higher than a threshold, the minimum calculated reliability for tic optimization techniques are well-suited for such optimiza-
each zone is considered as the reliability index (R). Here, also tion problems. In this paper, we have used three different
for the optimum infrastructure, we should have types of algorithms at different stages, including Tabu search
(TS) optimization algorithm, as the main optimization method,
R Rmin . (20) graph theory related techniques for suboptimization problems
and NewtonRaphson-based probabilistic power flow methods.
From power distribution system point of view, one necessary
condition for an island to be successful is Several heuristic optimization techniques other than TS have
been proposed in literature for graph partitioning, which cope
PDG PLoad + PLoss (21) with the combinatorial nature of the present problem, such as
those mentioned in [27], [28]. Since the algorithm proposed by
where PDG is the generated power of the DGs within the the authors in this paper is effective and sufficient for solving
microgrid, PLoad is the load power of the island, and PLoss the defined problem, and the main contribution of this paper
is the power losses of the island and assumed to be 5% of is the new problem formulation that combines communication
the current load [33]. On the other hand, according to [34] and power balance aspects, other methods are not considered
for an islanding operation of microgrid, the penetration level in this research for splitting the network. The flowchart of
of dispatchable DG units should be at least 60% of the total the algorithms is shown in Fig. 2. The optimization process
peak load demand at the time of islanding. For this research, for selecting the optimum cut set lines are explained in the
it assumed that biomass DG units are dispatchable; therefore, following.

i.e., latency and reliability. The latency-related constraints are

checked by calculating LoMT and N oRT . These values are
calculated by solving the minimum spanning tree (MST) [35]
and the shortest path [36] algorithms. By finding the MST
in each zone, the structure of the communication network is
determined. Afterward, the shortest path from each bus to the
other buses in the same microgrid is calculated. The bus that has
the shortest length of communication media to all other buses
is selected as the control center. After determining the control
center, the LoMT and N oRT can be calculated in each zone,
and the maximum values calculated for the zones will be used
to check the feasibility of infrastructure in terms of network
latency (less than 100 ms).
The reliability constraint is checked by calculating LoMR
and N oRR . Through the MST problem solved for the latency
constraint, these two parameters can be calculated for each
zone, and the minimum value for the zones will be used to
check the feasibility of the infrastructure in terms of network
reliability (more than 0.99). The power-related constraints can
be checked by performing power flow in the constructed micro-
grids. Each G vector represents a set of virtual cut set lines that
construct a microgrid structure. For a structure to be acceptable,
all the three constraints, voltage limits on all system buses in
the microgrids, system frequency, and power line current limits,
should be satisfied. The next step is to calculate the objective
function and select the best point among the neighbors.

Fig. 2. Flowchart of the algorithms used for the design.

C. Selection of the Best Point
A. Starting the Optimization Process The objective function includes two parts, i.e., F1 and F2 . F1
The optimization process starts with finding a feasible so- is determined as a weighted summation of LoMC , N oRC , and
lution as a starting point, searching within the neighbors and N oZ, which are determined from solving the suboptimization
continues until a certain criterion, which is usually the maxi- problem. F2 is related to the real and reactive power flowing
mum iteration numbers, is reached. A feasible solution is an in each cut set line of the system and can be determined once
infrastructure constructed through virtually cutting some power at the beginning through probabilistic power flow calculations
lines in the network. Each feasible solution can be represented considering typical characteristics of DG units and loads in
by a vector (G), as shown in active distribution systems. After calculating the objective func-
tion for all the points (G vectors) in the neighborhood, the
G = [1 0 1 1 0 . . . . . . 1 0 1 1] (25) best neighbor (vector) will be set as the new starting point and
the algorithm continues until reaching the maximum iteration
where the length of the vector is equal to the number of power number. Finally, the optimum result is selected as the best point
lines, which can be considered as cutting edges to construct the (vector) of each set of neighbors.
zones. Each component of the G vector represents one physical
line. The number 1 and 0 for each component of G vector
represents an inside or between microgrids line, respectively. D. Implementing Memory Structures
The next step is to make a set of neighbors for the starting To avoid stopping over a local optimum, and to prevent
point. A neighbor can be defined in many ways; here, we have cycling around it, the Tabu List (TL) is introduced, which
selected each neighbor by changing some components (e.g., prevents to visit the best solutions that have been visited in
five components) of the G from 0 to 1 or vice versa and previous moves or the moves that resulted in the optimum point
checking the feasibility of the resulted infrastructure in terms in previous regions. To construct the TL from the best recently
of the constraints. The constraints should be satisfied for all visited solutions, a unique quantity for each vector G is used,
neighbors as explained in the next part. which is calculated in

B. Checking the Optimization Constraints G(i) 2i . (26)
As explained in Section IV-B, two types of constraints
should be satisfied, the communication related and power re- Furthermore, the TS algorithm uses different memory struc-
lated. The communication-related constraints include two parts, tures to avoid random search. In this paper, the short-term

Fig. 3. The 69-bus distribution system with DGs locations.

memory (STM) and the long-term memory (LTM), are imple- TABLE I
mented. The STM memorizes the common features of subopti-
mal solutions for a number of iterations and tries to search for
the solutions with similar features in that region. The LTM is
used to diversify the search by jumping to new regions to find
the global optimum. This long-term memory will keep track of
the common features of all initial starting points in different
regions to avoid restarting from similar previously used starting A. Power Imbalance Related Objective Function Only
points. The two types of memories have been implemented by
In this part, we only consider the power imbalance related
using two different vectors with the same length as G.
objective function. In other words, K1 = 0 & K2 = 1. Math-
In the next sections, the proposed algorithms have been
ematically, the optimum result will occur when the system is
applied to a 69-bus distribution system. After several sensitivity
split into two virtual microgrids and the connecting power line
studies for the formulation and robustness of the algorithm, the
carries the minimum power. In order to have more feasible
algorithm has been applied to a larger system, the IEEE 123-bus
values (more than two microgrids), another constraint is added,
distribution system, and the results are presented.
at this stage only, which is on the number of zones to be more
than 5. For the rest of simulations in this paper, there is no limit
VI. I MPLEMENTATION AND S ENSITIVITY S TUDIES on the number of microgrids, and the optimum number will
The well-known PG&E 69-bus distribution system [37] is be determined as a result of solving the optimization problem.
selected as the test system for implementation of the algorithm Table I shows the optimum virtual cut set lines to construct the
and sensitivity studies. The locations of DGs, DESRs, and microgrids. In Table I, the cut set line j is the line between
DRSs are arbitrary selected to be as shown in Fig. 3. The total bus j and j + 1, line jei is the ith branch starting from bus
rated capacities of DG units are 250, 150, and 600 kW, for j. The sensitivity studies at this stage, reveals that the system
wind turbines, PV modules and biomass DGs, respectively. The partitioning results will be different based on selection of real
total rated power of DESRs and DRSs are also 450 kW and and reactive power indexes, or both, for minimizing the power
400 kVAr, respectively, in 25 kW/kVAr and 50 kW/kVAr units. imbalance in the zones. For this table, the goal is normalized
The location of reconfiguration switches are also shown in using the case that has a = b = 0.5, and the rest is shown as
Fig. 3 [38]. In the next sections, the optimum communication percentage values of this case.
and control infrastructure are designed for this system consider-
ing different objective functions. The goal or objective function
B. Communication-Related Objective Function Only
defined in this paper can represent real costs. The coefficients a,
b, , , , K1 , and K2 will be different for different distribution In this part, we only consider the communication-related
systems depending on the economic conditions. How variation objective function and its constraints to investigate the impact
of these coefficients affects the optimum design for communi- of communication-related coefficients on the optimum design.
cation and control infrastructure is investigated here. In other words, K1 = 1 & K2 = 0. The results of sensitivity
For the sensitivity studies, the cost function for all cases is studies are shown in Table II, where , and represent the
normalized by using one of them as a reference (arbitrary) and cost of length of media, cost of a router, and cost of building
the rest is shown as percentages of this value. This will help a control center, respectively. Since the cost of length of media
to have a more clear evaluation of the effect of varying the per kilometer and the cost of a communication router are in the
coefficients on total costs. same range and very different from the cost of installation of

TABLE II mentioned before, it is assumed that each bus in the system is

equipped with a controllable device such as distributed and re-
newable generation units, storage units, custom power devices,
electric vehicle charging stations, demand-side management
controllers, etc.
The sensitivity studies presented here reveals that the de-
signed communication and control infrastructure is dependent
on the optimization coefficients and for having an optimum
communication and control infrastructure, all the optimization
coefficients should be selected properly.
The research presented in this paper is related to the plan-
ning stage and the audiences of this paper are mostly util-
ities. From the utility point of view, a communication and
control infrastructure or any other long-term plan will be
acceptable if it is optimal or near optimal, in case of vari-
ation of system conditions, for the designated long-term pe-
riod. In this research, the sensitivity of the proposed design
to variation of some important characteristics of a distribu-
tion system that may change over time is investigated. These
a new control center, and are assumed to be constant (0.5
characteristics include variation of loads, penetration level
each) and has been changed to see its effect on the optimum
of DGs on some or all system buses, adding new DGs to
communication and control infrastructure. It is seen that the
random buses, and variation of system topology. How the
results are very dependent on . By changing it from 50 to 500,
variation of each parameter will affect the optimum infras-
the total infrastructure changes from 9 control zones to 3 control
tructure and whether the planned infrastructure is still op-
zones. The value of varies for different systems and should
timal or near optimal design are investigated here. For this
be set based on the cost of building the communication center
purpose, several case studies are presented; first, the effect of
in each area, its maintenance, etc. For this table, the objective
changing the loads and generation levels, then the effect of ad-
function is normalized using the case that has = = 0.5 and
ding DGs to some random buses, and finally the effect of system
= 200.
reconfiguration on the optimum design is observed. For the
sensitivity studies here, any of the cases mentioned in Table III
C. Considering Both Objective Functions can be used. As a sample case, here, it is assumed that a
and b are equal to 0.5, and , and are 0.5, 0.5, and 200
Both power imbalance and communication cost-related ob-
respectively, also K1 and K2 are 0.7 and 0.3, respectively.
jective functions are considered here. For this purpose, the al-
gorithm is applied under different circumstances with different
optimization coefficients, and the optimum communication and A. Load and Generation Levels
control infrastructure are developed as presented in Table III. The load level or consumers of electric power in the system
For the sensitivity studies here, it is assumed that a and b usually increases during a long period of time. The penetration
are equal to 0.5, and , , and are 0.5, 0.5, and 200, level of DG units in the system also varies during a long-
respectively. Table III shows that depending on the importance term operating period depending on several factors such as
of communication related or power imbalance related aspects, economic, environmental, and weather conditions, based on
the optimum communication and control infrastructure will be distribution system companies decision. This part examines
different. For Table III and the rest of tables in this paper, the effect of long-term variations in the load and generation on
the objective function is normalized using the case that has the optimum design. For this purpose, three different scenarios
a = b = = = 0.5, = 200, K1 = 0.7, and K2 = 0.3. As are investigated. First, it is assumed that the load and generation
explained before, the selection of these parameters for a refer- rated powers are changed from 90% to 150% for all system
ence case is arbitrary, and normalizing is done for having a more buses, and the results are shown in Table IV. In the second
clear comparison between the objective functions of different scenario, only the loads on some buses of the system are
cases. The goal in Table III has large variations for different changed from 90% to 150% (even buses) and the rest of loads
cases. The reason is that K1 and K2 , which are determined and DGs penetration are kept constant. The results related to
based on circumstances of communication- and power-related this part are shown in Table V. Finally, the penetration levels
aspects of the problem, have significant impacts on the total of DGs on some system buses (even buses) are changed from
objective function. The optimum infrastructure for the case that 90% to 150% and the rest of DGs generations and load levels
K1 and K2 are 0.7 and 0.3, respectively, is shown in Fig. 4. are kept constant, as shown in Table VI. The sensitivity studies
The optimum infrastructure in this case, divides the system here show a little difference in the optimum infrastructure in
into 5 zones with each having different controlled buses. As each case; however, from a communication and control point

Fig. 4. Optimum communication and control infrastructure for 69-bus system.




this purpose, it is assumed that different types of DG units,

including wind turbines, photovoltaic modules and biomass
of view, the optimum infrastructure is very similar. This means generators are randomly added to some of the system buses,
that if for any reason the load or generation changed over a and the optimum communication and control infrastructure is
long period of time for all or some of the system buses, the designed and compared for the updated systems. The results
designed infrastructure is still valid and close to optima in related to this part are shown in Table VII. In this table, the
terms of communications and power-related aspects. It is clear total penetration level of DGs is increased from 0 to 350 kW in
that further increase in the load or penetration level of DGs 25 kW steps. The second column, WSB, represents the number
will affect the optimum design. In such cases, the optimum of wind, solar and biomass DG units added to some random
communication and control infrastructure should be updated buses of the system. For instance, WSB = 325 means three
accordingly. units of 25 kW wind turbines, two units of 25 kW photovoltaic
module and five units of 25 kW biomass generators are added
B. Adding DGs to Random Buses of the System to ten (3 + 2 + 5) random buses of the system. The sensitivity
During a long-term period, the total number of DGs may in- studies here reveal that the optimum designed infrastructure
crease in the system based on utilities or DG owners decision. is similar in all cases. This means that adding up to 350 kW
The impact of adding DGs to the system buses on the optimum new DGs to the system (%35 of existing DGs capacities) does
communication and control design is investigated here. For not have significant impact on the location of sectionalizing


switches or optimum communication and control infrastruc-

ture. It should be noted that adding more DGs to the system
may affect the optimum infrastructure, and in such cases, the
communication and control infrastructure should be modified

Fig. 5. Optimum design for IEEE 123-bus distribution system.

C. Distribution System Reconguration
The system configuration might change through operation of system is split into 7 virtual zones. In each zone, there are some
sectionalizing switches. In such cases, whether the designed DGs, DESRs and DRSs. Through the optimum design, every
communication-control infrastructure is still valid and close zone has minimum real and reactive power imbalance between
to optima should be investigated. In Table VIII, the system generation and load; therefore, the DGs will be able to feed
configuration is changed and the optimum infrastructure has the zones with minimum load shedding actions or even may
been designed for the system. L-in and L-out in the table be able to feed the loads in the zone during light-load periods.
represent the connected and disconnected line, respectively. The total cost of communication and control infrastructure is
Table VIII reveals that the optimum designed communication also minimized while maintaining the acceptable reliability and
and control infrastructures under different system topologies latency of the communication network. With such design for
are similar. This means that if for any reason the system the communication and control infrastructure, each zone has its
configuration changed over a period of time, the designed own control center. Having a control center and communication
infrastructure is still acceptable. Similarly, in this case, it is network, with acceptable reliability and latency in each zone,
clear that major topological changes in the system configuration will ease the operation and control of generation and loads
may affect the optimum design, and in such cases, the optimum such as controlling the DGs output powers, load shedding and
communication and control infrastructure should be updated performing demand-side energy management. Furthermore, in
accordingly. case of faults, with the minimal self-healing actions, such as
load shedding in the zones, the maximum number of loads can
VIII. L ARGE S YSTEM A PPLICATIONS still get their service from utility.

The proposed algorithm was tested on the adopted IEEE

123-bus distribution system and the results are presented here.
For this system also, the locations of DGs, DESRs, and DRSs This paper has presented a strategy for designing a com-
are arbitrary selected to be as shown in Fig. 5. The total munication and control infrastructure in a distribution system
rated capacities of DG units are 350, 250, and 800 kW, for based on the virtual microgrid concept. The new design takes
wind turbines, PV modules and biomass DGs, respectively. The into account both communication and power-related objective
total rated power of DESRs and DRSs are also 800 kW and functions. In the optimum infrastructure, the total costs related
700 kVAr, respectively, 50 kW/kVAr units. The locations of to building communication and control infrastructure should be
DGs in the system are shown in Fig. 5. In order to design minimized while maintaining the acceptable network latency
the optimum communication and control infrastructure for the and reliability. On the other hand, the optimum partitioning
123-bus distribution system, the optimization parameters are scenario in case of emergency is the one with minimum power
selected the same as in Section VII. The processing time imbalance in each zone. This will ease the control strategy in
for 1000 iterations on an Intel Core2 Duo with CPU each island and protects other healthy areas of the network
E7500@2.93GHz for 69-bus system was 24 min and 46 s and from the disturbances as a self-healing action in a distribution
for the 123-bus was 38 min and 53 s. Since this is a planning system. The sensitivity studies show that the optimum infras-
not operation problem, there is no limitation for the processing tructure depends on these coefficients, which differ for different
time; therefore, to get higher quality results, we can increase the systems. The robustness of the infrastructure to the variation
number of neighborhood and iterations in the TS algorithm. The of loads and DG penetration levels, adding new DGs to the
optimum communication and control infrastructure designed system, and system reconfiguration is investigated. The results
for this system is shown in Fig. 5. The 123-bus distribution show that the final design is not very sensitive to the DG and

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Aug. 2011. and power quality.

Yasser Abdel-Rady I. Mohamed (M06SM11) Tarek El-Fouly received the B.Sc. and
was born in Cairo, Egypt, on November 25, M.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from
1977. He received the B.Sc. (with honors) and Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, in 1996
M.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from and 2002, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree
Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, in 2000 in electrical engineering from the University of
and 2004, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, in 2008.
in electrical engineering from the University of He joined CanmetENERGY, Natural Re-
Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, in 2008. sources Canada, Varennes, QC, Canada, in
He is currently with the Department of Elec- 2008, as a Transmission and Distribution Re-
trical and Computer Engineering, University of search Engineer, where he is conducting and
Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, as an Asso- managing research activities related to active
ciate Professor. His research interests include dynamics and control distribution networks, microgrids, and remote communities. In 2010,
of power converters; distributed and renewable generation, and micro- he was appointed as Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Department
grids; modeling, analysis, and control of smart grids; electric machines; of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo. His
and motor drives. research interests include protection and coordination studies, integra-
Dr. Mohamed is an Associate Editor of the IEEE T RANSACTIONS tion of renewable energy resources, smart microgrid, smart remote
ON I NDUSTRIAL E LECTRONICS . He is also a Guest Editor of the IEEE community applications, demand-side management, and forecasting.
tributed Generation and Microgrids. His biography is listed in Marques
Whos Who in the World. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in
the Province of Alberta, Canada.

Short-Term Operation Scheduling in

Renewable-Powered Microgrids:
A Duality-Based Approach
Binyan Zhao, Student Member, IEEE, Yi Shi, Member, IEEE, Xiaodai Dong, Senior Member, IEEE,
Wenpeng Luan, Senior Member, IEEE, and Jens Bornemann, Fellow, IEEE

AbstractThis paper considers the operation scheduling prob- UC indication function.

lem in renewable-powered microgrids, which is used to determine Emission limit.
the least-cost unit commitment (UC) and the associated dispatch, Euclidean projection of to the interval
while meeting load, environmental, and system operating require-
ments. The intermittency nature of the renewable energy sources, , i.e., .
as well as microgrids capacity to operate either in parallel with, or Euclidean projection of to the interval
autonomously of, the traditional power grid, pose new challenges to , i.e., .
this classic optimization task. A probability-based concept, proba- Fuel cost coefcients of a unit.
bility of self-sufciency (PSS), is introduced to indicate the proba- Aggregated cost coefcients of a unit.
bility that the microgrid is capable of meeting local demand in a
self-sufcient manner. Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, Maintenance cost coefcients of a unit.
we make the rst attempt in approaching the mixed-integer UC Error function [17, eq. 8.250.1].
problem from a convex optimization perspective, which leads to an Unit index (subscript).
analytical closed-form characterization of the optimal commitment
Iteration index (superscript).
and dispatch solutions. The simulation results show that 1) the
proposed method achieves an efcient performance that incurs no Power dispatch of a unit.
loss of optimality with lower complexity than existing algorithms; Optimal power dispatch of a unit.
2) an energy storage system (ESS) with suitable capacity contributes , Minimum and maximum power generation
to the self-sufciency target of a microgrid, and the stored energy
varies less remarkably as the microgrid tends to operate more
independently; 3) the proposed method provides guidelines in decid- Wind turbine power output.
ing the ESS size to achieve a desired PSS. Power dispatch of a unit in the relaxed UC
Index TermsDistributed generators, duality, economic dispatch, problem.
microgrid, renewable energy resources, unit commitment (UC). Forecasted wind power in time interval .
Hour index (subscript).
NOMENCLATURE Unit status indicator of a unit where 1 means
ON and 0 means OFF.
Symbol Description
Cut-in wind speed.
Emission coefcients of a unit.
Cut-out wind speed.
Demand forecast error.
Rated wind speed.
Wind power forecast error.
Wind speed.
Convergence criterion parameter.
Rated electrical power.
, , Lagrange multipliers.
Modiedelectricitydemandintimeinterval .
Mean of demand forecast error.
, Lower and upper limits of the energy stored
Mean of wind power forecast error.
in ESS.
Cooling time constant of a unit.
Cold start-up cost of a unit.
Variance of demand forecast error. Dual function.
Variance of wind power forecast error. Forecasted demand in time interval .
Step size of the subgradient method. Emission function of a unit.
CDF of wind power forecast error.
Manuscript received November 23, 2012; revised April 12, 2013 and July 15, Fuel cost function of a unit.
2013; accepted July 16, 2013. Date of publication September 30, 2013; date of
current version December 12, 2013. Hot start-up cost of a unit.
B. Zhao, Y. Shi, X. Dong, and J. Borenmann are with the Department of L Lagrange function.
Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8W Maintenance cost function of a unit.
3P6, Canada (e-mail:;; xdong@ece.; , The time a unit needs to remain ON/OFF if ON/
W. Luan is with the State Grid Smart Grid Research Institute, Beijing 100085, OFF at the beginning of the scheduling period.
China (e-mail: Total number of units.
Color versions of one or more of the gures in this paper are available online at Probability operator.
Digital Object Identier 10.1109/TSTE.2013.2279837 Probability of self-sufciency.

1949-3029 2013 IEEE


Operating reserve requirement in time particle swarm optimization (PSO) [10], simulated annealing
interval . techniques [11], [12], and network-ow programming [13], have
Start-up cost function of a unit. been proposed to solve the optimal UC problem, but most of
Total time horizon of 1 day. them only provide a reasonable numerical solution (suboptimal,
Total cost of all units. nearly global optimal) and have high computational complexity.
, The time a unit has been ON/OFF at the For the classical mixed-integer UC problem, the branch and
beginning of the scheduling period. bound (BB) technique provides exact accurate numerical results.
However, the procedure is generally not efcient except when
large portions of the solution space can be quickly discarded in
the case that there are not too many solutions having near optimal
USTAINABILITY has become an imperative requirement function values. In [14], a linear optimization problem was
S on the electric power infrastructure with the impending
energy crisis and environment deterioration. In parallel to the
formulated and numerically solved to determine the optimal
size of energy storage system (ESS) that minimizes the operating
rapid evolution of smart-grid-based solutions [1], another emerg- cost. The authors in [15] and [7] also established UC strategies
ing power distribution system known as microgrids is also based on piecewise linear blocks approximating the quadratic
quietly gaining momentum. A microgrid is an integrated system objective function and frequency droop scheme. The authors in
consisting of a set of distributed generators (DGs) [microturbines [16] modeled explicitly the length of time the microgrid operates
(MT), fuel cells (FC), reciprocating engines] and renewable autonomously and used a Monte Carlo analysis to study the
energy sources (RESs) [solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind impact of RESs over a set of United Kingdom commercial
turbines (WT) systems] [2], which function cooperatively to load proles.
furnish the cooperation in parallel with, or autonomously of, the This paper deals with a quadratic formulation of the environ-
traditional electricity macrogrid. The dening characteristic of mental/economic UC optimization problem in a microgrid that
a microgrid is its ability to separate itself seamlessly from the consists of DGs, RESs, and an ESS. The contributions of this
macrogrid during a utility grid disturbance, and function as a work are summarized as follows: 1) in light of microgrids
self-controlled entity with high efciency and low greenhouse unique operational feature and to take into account the forecast
gas emissions. This transparent adaptation in operational modes, errors that exist in demand and wind power forecast, a novel
along with the capacity to better manage distributed energy probability-based concept is proposed to indicate the probability
resources (DERs), renders microgrid the most promising solu- that the microgrid is able to operate in islanded mode, termed
tion to develop a more reliable and decentralized energy system. probability of self-sufciency (PSS); 2) the mixed-integer UC
The daily operation of a microgrid involves nding the least- problem is approached from a convex optimization perspective,
cost dispatch of the DGs that minimizes the total operating cost, which leads to an analytical closed-form solution. Compared to
while meeting the electrical load and satisfying various technical, two classical methods, BB and GA, the proposed method uses
environmental, and operating constraints. This can be seen as a signicantly less processing time yet renders no loss of optimal-
downsized version of the unit commitment (UC) problem that is ity in performance; and 3) the proposed method provides guide-
traditionally applied to large central generators in macrogrid [3]. lines in deciding the size of ESS to improve the autonomous
Mathematically, the UC task can be described as a mixed-integer target PSS for a microgrid efciently.
optimization problem with a nonlinear solution space, which has The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section II
been the subject of intensive investigation for more than 40 years discusses the basic system models including wind power forecast,
(c.f., bibliographical survey [4]). Nevertheless, the unique features operating cost, emission, as well as various unit and operation
of microgrids introduce further restrictions as well as simplica- constraints. In Section III, the optimal UC problem is formulated,
tions to this classic optimization task that needs to be addressed. transformed into a convex optimization problem, and nally
The biggest challenge comes from the intermittent nature of solved in analytical closed forms. An efcient subgradient-based
RESs, which often leads to power variations and makes it much algorithm is also proposed to obtain the optimal UC solution in
more difcult to produce accurate day-ahead schedules in this section. Section IV conducts numerical simulations that
microgrids. Therefore, the operation scheduling of the dispatch- verify the efciency and reliability of the proposed scheme.
able DGs should be performed at a much ner level, providing Finally, concluding remarks are drawn in Section V.
quick and continuous power provision, based on the most recent
and accurate forecasted data [5]. Although large thermal units
are often subject to ramping rate limits that are typically in the
order of several tens of megawatts per hour, it only takes We consider a microgrid that consists of a set of DG units,
several minutes for an MT to ramp up from 0 to full load [6]. including both MTs and FCs, an RES, the WT, and an energy
This further supports the operation scheduling to be performed storage module, the ESS. Electrical loads in the microgrid are
at a more granular level for microgrids [7]. Last but not the least, prioritized into tiers, which consists of critical loads that relate to
the capacity of switching between different operational modes essential processes that must be always met and lower-priority
calls for a proper modeling framework that reects the unique non-critical loads that can be temporarily removed until adequate
characteristic of microgrids. power is available. Due to the limited capacity of the DERs and
Various numerical-based algorithms, including some typical as in [18][20], we assume that the microgrid schedules its units
heuristic methods such as genetic algorithm (GA) [8], [9], to meet the critical loads in the highest priority, satises the

non-critical loads using best efforts, and purchases power from

the macrogrid in case of supply shortage. In addition, to better
utilize an environmentally friendly resource, we assume that the Start-Up Costs: The generator start-up cost depends on the
WT is always ON and functions as the primary power source [14]. time the unit has been off prior to a start-up. The start-up cost
The DGs, on the other hand, serve as backup generators and work of unit in time interval can be represented by an exponential
collaboratively with the WT to meet the critical loads. The ESS cost curve [24, eq. (3.12)]
module is introduced to mitigate the renewable power intermit-
tencies and load mismatches. In this work, we assume that the
microgrid updates its UC strategy every 1 h1 during which load
and generation are considered constant.

A. Forecasted Wind Power Model Sometimes, the industry is interested in the total cost per day

Wind power is the electrical power generated by WT, installed

in locations with strong and sustained winds. In practice, the
actual wind power almost entirely depends on the wind speed
when other physical limitations are xed or changed relatively
slowly [14]. In principle, is a random variable and varies
C. Emission Model
continuously over time. In this work, we assume that remains
unchanged in one scheduling period (i.e., 1 h), and can vary Emission effects should be taken into account for an
independently between different scheduling periods. environmentally friendly power production. The microgrids are
Extensive research has been done in developing wind envisioned to be new energy savings and green grids in the
forecasting models and approaches [14], [21]. To capture the future, which entails carbon emissions limited to regulations and
relationship between the wind speed and wind power and as in legal requirements.
[14] and [22], the following piecewise linear model is adopted: The amount of emissions produced depends on the fuel used,
pollution control devices installed, and the amount of electricity
generated. In this work, we assume that only DGs produce
emissions and the RESs are emission free.2 The emission
< function is typically expressed as a polynomial, the order of
which depends on the desired accuracy [27], [28]. As in [15] and
[28], a quadratic function is considered for the emission curve
B. Cost Models for MT and FC as follows:

MTs are small electricity generators that burn gaseous and

liquid fuels to create high-speed rotation that turns an electrical
generator. Depending on the size range, an MT can ramp up D. Energy Storage System
from 0 to full load between 10 s to several minutes [6]. The FC In renewable-powered microgrids, the problem of mitigating
technology uses an electrochemical process rather than a com- power intermittencies and load mismatches is an important and
bustion process to generate electricity. Polymer electrolyte FCs, challenging task. In this context, an ESS plays a critical role in
also known as proton exchange membrane FCs, are particularly shaving peak demand and compensating forecast errors. For
attractive for microgrids that require rapid start-up and quick instance, when the forecasted wind power is smaller than the
response to load change [23]. actual value (i.e., an underestimate), the supplied power is likely
The operating cost of an MT/FC usually includes fuel cost, to be larger than the actual electricity demand, in which case
maintenance cost, and start-up cost. the ESS will be functioning in charging state to store surplus
Fuel Costs: The fuel costs for DGs are considered as a electrical/renewable energy, which can be dispatched properly
quadratic model [24], which includes linear fuel cost models later in the event of power shortage.
as special cases [7], [14]. The fuel costs of unit in time interval The charge and discharge of the ESS is subject to stored energy
can be expressed as limits, and , which specify the minimum and maxi-
mum energy stored in the battery bank, respectively. In this case,
is set as the full capacity of the ESS and to be around
10% of its full capacity. The ESS is also subject to starting and
Maintenance Costs: The maintenance costs for DGs are based ending limits that specify the initial and nal energy inside the
on forecasts with minimal real-life situations, which are assumed battery bank during the course of 1 day. In this work, the starting
to be proportional to the produced power [25]. Therefore, the and ending limits are both selected as for the purpose of
maintenance costs of unit in time interval is energy balance of the ESS [14].

1 2
Depending on different application requirements, a smaller updating interval Note that the emissions in the production process of WT and other equipments
can be selected since the closed-form UC solutions can be computed fast. [26] have not been considered.

E. Unit and Operation Constraints As in [29] and [30], we assume that both demand forecast
error and wind power forecast error can be modeled
Maximum and Minimum Output Limits: The output power of
as independent normally distributed random variables, i.e.,
the DG in stable operation is restricted by its lower and upper
and , respectively. Then,
limits as follows:
the probabilistic power balance constraint can be expressed as

In our case, the minimum available power for the DGs is 0, i.e.,
the DG can be turned OFF when the output power from the WT is
enough to meet the demanded power. which, after some algebra, can be reformulated as
Minimum Up/Down Time: Once a DG is switched ON, it has to
operate continuously for a certain number of times before it can
be switched OFF. Also, a certain number of hours have to pass
before a DG can be brought online after being switched OFF.
Violation of such constraints can shorten the units life time.
Mathematically, we have


Based on the aforementioned cost models and system con-
straints, we rst formulate the UC optimization problem that is
For DGs in microgrids, the minimum up/down time of DGs is used to determine the loads and commitments of DGs such that
around 600 and 300 s [5], respectively, which is always satised the total cost is minimized, power demand is met, and the system
under hourly scheduling operations. constraints are satised. A duality-based analysis is then applied
Ramp Rates: Traditional thermal units are often subject to ramp to derive closed-form solutions. Finally, an efcient subgradient-
rate limits that specify the amount a units generation can increase based method is introduced to numerically compute the optimal
or decrease during one scheduling period. In the context of solutions.
microgrids, small DG units can ramp up from 0 to full load in
the order of several minutes [23]. Thus, the ramp rate limits are A. Problem Formulation
typically not reached under normal hourly scheduling operations.
Emission Limits: To comply with the purpose of environment The UC optimization problem in a particular operation sched-
conservation and reduce the greenhouse gas footprint, we impose uling interval can be written as
hourly emission limits on all the DGs. Mathematically, we have

Operating Reserves: In the event of a power supply disruption,

Evidently, problem is a mixed-integer programming prob-
operating reserve constraints guarantee that there exist extra
lem with a nonlinear solution space. In order to transform into
generating capacity to the system that can be brought online
a convex optimization problem, we introduce auxiliary power
immediately (spinning reserves) or within a short interval
variables and relax to be a continuous variable
(supplementary reserves). In microgrids with fast-start DGs,
in [0,1]. Thus, the transformed problem can be written as3
operating reserves are imposed as follows [3]:

Probability of Self-Sufciency: Both demand and renewable

power forecast are prone to errors, which negatively affect
the microgrid in meeting the local power demand and their
autonomous and independent functions. Once a microgrid
cannot meet the power demand solely based on local
generating units, it can switch to a grid-connected mode and
purchase energy from the upstream macrogrid. To better
understand the impacts of operational mode on total operating
cost, we propose the use of a novel probability-based concept,
PSS, which indicates the target probability that the microgrid
is able to operate in islanded mode without purchasing energy 3
The objective function is dened at by continuity as
from the macrogrid. .

where the aggregated cost coefcients are and Besides, we observe that the commitment decisions are
. Note that the objective function of completely determined by the sign of at the optimal
is equivalent to that of as the change of variables is invertible dispatch [c.f. (18)]. Thus, can be seen as a UC
except for . The same statement holds for the emission indication function. In the case that the power generated by
constraints (10) and (14). In case that , every the WT is sufcient to meet local power demand, the microgrid
solves . will be entirely powered by the RES and no DG needs to be
The Hessian matrices of the objective function and the turned ON, i.e., for all .
constraints of are positive semi-denite, and the form of
the whole problem meets the requirement of a convex problem C. Subgradient-Based Algorithm
[31], indicating that is a convex problem. So far, we have found the analytical optimal solutions in
(17) and in (18), which are, however, functions of the
B. Closed-Form Economic Dispatch and UC Solutions
Lagrangian multipliers. By convexity, it sufces to obtain the
To solve analytically, we rst decouple the optimization optimal dual variables ( , , ) to the dual problem, which
variables and by substituting . Note that are used to compute optimal primal solutions (17) and (18).
for the case of interest, i.e., . For this reason, The complete algorithm is formally stated in Algorithm 1.
we will henceforth use . The Lagrangian function can This section discusses the use of a subgradient-based iterative
then be written as procedure to numerically compute the corresponding optimal
Lagrangian multipliers , , and . The key iteration steps
L are [31]

where can be viewed as the UC indication function

The dual function can be obtained by minimizing the which are provably convergent to the optimal value provided
Lagrangian (14), which is given by that the step sizes are selected to satisfy and
< [32]. A graphical convergence illustration can
be found in the simulation section.

Algorithm 1 Subgradient-based algorithm

Initialize Lagrangian multiplier , , and to arbitrary

non-negative values and set the step size .
The initial step to solve (16) is to tackle the inner minimization,
the solution of which can be easily derived as repeat
Compute economic dispatch using (17).
Obtain UC indication function via (15).
Find unit status indicator using (18).
Update , , and via (19), (20), and (21),
The next step is to solve the outer minimization over in respectively.
(16), given the optimal power dispatch solution (17). Evidently,
the minimum value is attained by setting for all until < .
< and otherwise. Mathematically, we have


In this study, a microgrid system consisting of two MTs, FC
and WT, and one ESS is considered for a scheduling time horizon
Remark 1: An important step in the course of analytical of 24 h. The fuel cost coefcients, the emission coefcients,
derivation is to decouple the optimizations of the commitment and the power limits of the DGs are summarized in Table I, where
status and the power dispatch separately as in (16). of all DGs are 0 kW. Similar parameter settings have also


Fig. 2. Performance comparison of different optimization algorithms under

. , , and
for GA.

Fig. 1. Total operating cost per day under different PSS targets.

been used in [8]. The emission limit is set as 150 kg/hr.

The wind speed data samples adopted in this work are from
the Wind Test Center in West Texas A&M University [33],
with the parameters in (1),
. Unless stated otherwise, the demand forecast
error statistics and those of the wind power are set as
, , and . To understand the
impact of PSS on the total operating cost, three different Fig. 3. Elapsed CPU time of the proposed algorithm under different stopping
criteria. The computer used was an ThinkPad Laptop with a i7 M560 duo-core
operation scenarios are considered, which are , processor at 2.67 GHz.
, and .

A. UC, Dispatching and Methods Comparison

order of , with < < [34], and a simple GA
This section illustrates the derived UC solutions without involves a complexity of , where gens is the
considering the functionality of the ESS. The effects of ESS number of generations and pop the population size [35]. There-
will be investigated in Section IV-C. Fig. 1 illustrates the fast fore, the proposed method achieves accurate results with lower
convergence behavior of the proposed algorithm in optimizing computational complexity compared to BB and GA as shown in
the total operating cost per day of the microgrid. It takes only Fig. 2. The corresponding CPU time to run the proposed algo-
about 20 iterations to reach the optimal solution under all three rithm has been plotted in Fig. 3. It is observed that the algorithm
PSS values. Besides, it is observed from Fig. 1 that the operating running time decreases as the stopping criterion drops from
cost increases as the microgrid functions more autonomously, within 0.1% of the value in the previous iteration to 10%.
since more power has to be generated to ensure self-sufciency The optimal amount of dispatch of each DG for given demand
and to mitigate demand and wind power forecast errors. and wind power forecast proles is shown in Fig. 4 under
Fig. 2 shows the comparison results of four different methods different target PSS values. Take Fig. 4(b) as an example.
in our environmental/economic dispatch optimization problem. Observe the forecast wind power decreases from 1:00 A.M. to
We use GA and the proposed method (Prop-algor) to solve the 5:00 A.M. in the early morning. In order to fulll the demand, the
original problem and the transformed problem , respec- DGs are dispatched economically according to the optimal UC
tively. In addition, BB is applied to solve , providing us an solution. The dispatched power from the DGs continues to be in
accurate result as a benchmark. In terms of computational a higher level until 13:00 P.M., when the forecast wind power
complexity, the proposed method has [31] time comes into play again. At midnight, the power demand reaches a
complexity with the number of generators in the system, minimum and the microgrid is entirely powered by the wind
while BB with depth-rst search requires the computation on the power. During the whole process, the DGs serve as backup

Fig. 4. Forecasted demand and wind power as well as optimal dispatch of the DGs under different PSS targets: (a) , (b) , and


sources that complement the renewable source in meeting elec-

tricity demand.
Table II further depicts the UC status of the DGs for the case of
over a period of 24 h. Cross-referencing Fig. 4(b),
we can observe that an FC is the most preferred power source
among the DGs and contributes signicantly during the entire
scheduling period. In contrast, MT2 contributes the least and Fig. 5. Total operating cost per day under different time horizons.
is always the last one to be turned ON. The reason is as follows.
Recall from (18) in Section III-B that the commitment status of
the DG is solely determined by the sign of the UC indication
function at the optimal dispatched point . An interest-
ing phenomenon observed from numerical results is that
< < for all . In other
words, there exists a hidden priority listing order that arranges
the DGs based on lowest operational cost characteristics as well
as emissions.

B. Operating Cost Versus Different Forecasting Time Horizons

Clearly, the shorter the forecasting interval is, the more
accurate the forecast data and the smaller the variance of the
forecast error. According to [29] and [36], the typical standard
deviation of the wind power forecast error for a specic wind
farm can be expressed as a function of the forecast horizon, which Fig. 6. Achieved PSS versus the capacity of the ESS based on wind power
can be approximated accurately by a linear function when the statistics collected in 1 month.
forecast horizon is less than 6 h. Fig. 5 examines the impact of
varied forecasting time horizons on the total operating cost,
C. The Impact of ESS on Microgrids Autonomy
based on the aforementioned linear model. It is observed that for
the case of , the operating cost grows almost linearly In the last numerical example, we incorporate the ESS into the
as the forecasting interval increases from 10 min to 1 h. The microgrid setting and study the impact of ESS on the achieved
same trend is observed for the case of . Interestingly, level of autonomy of the microgrid. To verify the effectiveness of
the cost holds constant for the case of , due to the fact the ESS on the achieved PSS, data samples collected by the wind
that the microgrid is indifferent to either being connected to, or test center [33] in 1 month are employed to calculate the achieved
autonomous of the macrogrid. PSS of the microgrid in practice. We observe from Fig. 6 that for

Fig. 7. Variations in the amount of energy stored in ESS in 1 day under different PSS targets: (a) , (b) , and (c) .

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[27] F. Mohamed and H. Koivo, Multiobjective optimization using modied
third-generation mobile communication systems. Her research interests include
game theory for online management of microgrid, Eur. Trans. Electr.
communication theory, radio propagation, cooperative communications, ultra-
Power, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 839854, 2011.
wideband radio, and signal processing for communication applications.
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sources for cost and emission reductions, IEEE Trans. Ind. Electron.,
vol. 58, no. 4, pp. 12291238, Apr. 2011.
Communications and Networks.
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in systems with signicant installed wind capacity, IEEE Trans. Power
Syst., vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 587595, May 2005.
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forecast error and its application to the estimation of penalties in liberalized from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, in 1986,
markets, IEEE Trans. Power Syst., vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 20312039, the M.Sc. degree from Tianjin University, Tianjin,
Nov. 2011. China, in 1989, and the Ph.D. degree from Strathclyde
[31] S. Boyd and L. Vandenberghe, Convex Optimization, Cambridge, U.K.: University, Glasgow, U.K., in 1999, all in electrical
Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004. engineering.
[32] D. P. Bertsekas, Nonlinear Programming, Belmont, MA, USA: Athena He was an Engineering Team Leader in the Smart
Scientic, 1995. Metering and Infrastructure Program at BC Hydro,
[33] Wind energy database of white deer [Online]. Available: http://www. Burnaby, BC, Canada. He is currently working at the State Grid Smart Grid Research Institute, Beijing,
[34] W. Zhang, Branch-and-Bound search algorithms and their computational China. His special elds of interest include smart
complexity, University of Southern California Marina Delrey Information metering, smart grid solutions, system planning, asset management, control
Sciences Inst, Tech. Rep. ADA314598, May 1996. system cyber security, and utility advanced applications.
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[36] D. Lew and M. Milligan, The value of wind power forecasting, in Proc.
91st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, USA, Jens Bornemann (M87SM90F02) received the
Jan. 2011. Dipl.-Ing. and the Dr.-Ing. degrees, both in electrical
[37] S. Arefar, Y. Mohamed, and T. El-Fouly, Supply-adequacy-based opti- engineering, from the University of Bremen,
mal construction of microgrids in smart distribution systems, IEEE Trans. Germany, in 1980 and 1984, respectively.
Smart Grid, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 14911502, Sep. 2012. From 1984 to 1985, he was a Consulting Engineer.
In 1985, he joined the University of Bremen,
Germany, as an Assistant Professor. Since April
1988, he has been with the Department of Electrical
and Computer Engineering, University of Victoria,
Binyan Zhao (S13) received the B.Sc. and M.Sc.
Victoria, BC, Canada, where he became a Professor in
degrees in telecommunication from Beijing Universi-
1992. From 1992 to 1995, he was a Fellow of the
ty of Posts and Telecommunications, Beijing, China,
British Columbia Advanced Systems Institute. In 1996, he was a Visiting
in 2008 and 2011, respectively. She is currently
Scientist at Spar Aerospace Limited (now MDA Space), Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue,
working toward the Ph.D. degree at the Department
Qubec, Canada, and a Visiting Professor at the Microwave Department, Univer-
of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University
sity of Ulm, Germany. In 2003, he was a Visiting Professor at the Laboratory for
of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.
Electromagnetic Fields and Microwave Electronics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
Her research interests include scheduling problems
From 1997 to 2002, he was a codirector of the Center for Advanced Materials and
in distribution power network and service restoration
Related Technology (CAMTEC), University of Victoria. From 1999 to 2002, he
issues in microgrid.
served as an Associate Editor of the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MICROWAVE THEORY
AND TECHNIQUES in the area of microwave modeling and CAD. From 2006 to 2008,
he was an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Electronics and
Yi Shi (S06M10) received the B.E. degree in tele- Communications. From 1999 to 2009, he served on the Technical Program
communications from Beijing University of Posts Committee of the IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium. He
and Telecommunications, Beijing, China, in 2006. He has coauthored Waveguide Components for Antenna Feed SystemsTheory and
received the Ph.D. degree in electronic and computer Design (Artech House, 1993) and has authored/coauthored more than 250 tech-
engineering from The Hong Kong University of nical papers. His research activities include RF/wireless/microwave/millimeter-
Science and Technology, Hong Kong, in August 2010. wave components and systems design, and eld-theory-based modeling of
From 2010 to 2012, he worked as a post-doctoral integrated circuits, feed networks, ultrawideband technology, and antennas.
fellow in the Department of Electrical and Computer Dr. Bornemann is a Registered Professional Engineer in the Province of British
Engineering, University of Victoria. He is currently an Columbia, Canada. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering
Engineer with Huawei Technologies, Beijing, China. (CAE) and serves on the editorial advisory board of the International Journal of
His work involves the 3GPP standarization of the Numerical Modeling.