Robust energy system paper wins runner-up prize for innovation

Dr Yashar Ghiassi-Farrokhfal from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) was awarded the audience choice runner-up at the ACM International Conference on Future Energy Systems (ACM e-Energy) in Karlsruhe, Germany in June 2018. The paper addresses a design issue in green energy systems; it investigates how people should optimally split the budget between solar PV panels and batteries for the highest energy availability that meets a target level of predictability. Dr Ghiassi-Farrokhfal also co-chaired a workshop at this conference, the 1st International Workshop on Energy Market Engineering.

The research paper, Robust and Practical Approaches for Solar PV and Storage, was co-authored by Dr Ghiassi-Farrokhfal and the University of Waterloo’s Professor Catherine Rosenberg, Professor Srinivasan Keshav, and PhD student Fiodar Kazhamiaka.

ACM e-Energy is renowned as a highly competitive paper conference with a low acceptance rate. Through a voting scheme, conference participants awarded their paper the audience choice runner-up.

Green energy availability and predictability

To move towards sustainable societies, authorities and individuals look to sustainable sources of energy, such as solar PV panels and wind turbine installations, which are often backed up by batteries to support its variable and unpredictable nature. However, the issue presents itself when one needs to secure energy availability and predictability; the more investment on solar PV panels, the more energy availability but more unpredictability as well— and with batteries, the converse follows.

“It is important to reach a high level of certainty especially in certain applications such as in remote locations where you do not have grid connection, or when one is disconnected from the grid, or if you want to have a high-level reliance on green energy,” says Dr Ghiassi-Farrokhfal, who is an assistant professor in RSM’s Department of Technology and Operations Management.

Practical, robust advice on system sizing

A robust design, he defines, is a design that accounts for the variability of the system with regards to its underlying components; here, energy consumption and production. “In order to follow the restrictive energy metrics, you need to have a robust approach for designing such systems.”

The authors approached this problem by using a theoretical foundation to compare and contrast sizing approaches based on robust simulation, robust optimisation, and stochastic network calculus. Through this framework, they evaluated the computational complexity and the robustness of these approaches in order to provide practical advice on system sizing.

“We have come up with approaches that are very fine-tuned to satisfy the exact energy metrics that is needed while accounting for the fluctuations of the underlying processes which include energy demand, energy production, and consumption behaviour,” says Dr Ghiassi-Farrokhfal. “Today, there is no such robust system yet so this can potentially be state-of-the-art.”

Co-chairing Energy Market Engineering workshop

As a part of the conference, Dr Ghiassi-Farrokhfal organised the 1st International Workshop on Energy Market Engineering to encourage a discussion regarding electricity markets. He co-chaired this workshop with the scientific director of the Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business Professor Wolf Ketter, and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s Dr Johannes Gärttner and Professor Christof Weinhardt.

The workshop included keynote presentations regarding blockchain energy and capacity costs, presentations of research papers, and an interactive roundtable addressing the role of storage and flexibility in future electricity markets.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

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