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Energy Systems Week

24th May 2010 to 27th May 2010

Organisers: S Zachary (Heriot-Watt), C Dent (Durham), RJ Gibbens (Cambridge), S Foss (Heriot-Watt), R Leese (Industrial Mathematics KTN), J Meeson (Council for the Mathematical Sciences) and B Mestel (Isaac Newton Institute).

Workshop Theme

Adaptation to new, non-fossil-fuel, sources of energy poses many interesting challenges in the generation and distribution of electrical power. Notably, renewable sources such as wind power produce supplies which are highly variable and often unpredictable even on relatively short timescales. Further, new sources of generation capacity, whether renewable or nuclear, are often located far from the urban and industrial areas they must serve. Finally, the provision of generation capacity, both in its construction and in its short-term availability, is typically determined by market forces in which many competing operators each seek to optimise their own returns. Electric power systems have features in common with networks found in other engineering applications, but the issues confronted in energy markets go well beyond any other commodity flow problem. Among the key issues in this area are,

  • Network management techniques so that demand and supply are balanced on a second-by-second basis
  • Simplified network models that take into account the unique constraints and dynamics found in electrical networks
  • Improved efficiency in energy production, transmission, and energy usage
  • The creation of incentives to shift the demand for electricity at peak hours
  • The need to create storage for electrical energy; in particular, to reduce the impact of volatility in supply

These issues are central to the operation and planning of power systems. In addition to their influence on everyday operation, one extreme consequence of the physical constraints present in power networks is that in an already weakened power system, a single initiating event can shut down the entire system in a matter of seconds. (Such severe disturbances are rare, but recent examples include the Italy and NE USA blackouts of 2003, each of which involved 50+ million people.)

This workshop will provide an introduction to current modelling challenges in power systems for the benefit of systems mathematicians. It will begin with two days of technical tutorial talks from modelling experts already working in the field, followed by industrial problem-scoping and networking sessions.

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) for Industrial Mathematics

University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute The Leverhulme Trust London Mathematical Society Microsoft Research NM Rothschild and Sons