Title page for ETD etd-08212009-120733

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Feroze, Hassan
Author's Email Address hferoze@vt.edu
URN etd-08212009-120733
Title Multi-Agent Systems in Microgrids: Design and Implementation
Degree Master of Science
Department Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Rahman, Saifur Committee Chair
Pipattanasomporn, Manisa Committee Member
Zaghloul, Amir I. Committee Member
  • Multi-agent Systems
  • Smart Grids
  • Critical Loads
  • Power Systems Security
  • Microgrid Management
Date of Defense 2009-08-07
Availability unrestricted
The security and resiliency of electric power supply to serve critical facilities are of high importance in today’s world. Instead of building large electric power grids and high capacity transmission lines, an intelligent microgrid (or smart grid) can be considered as a promising power supply alternative. In recent years, multi-agent systems have been proposed to provide intelligent energy control and management systems in microgrids. Multi-agent systems offer their inherent benefits of flexibility, extensibility, autonomy, reduced maintenance and more. The implementation of a control network based on multi-agent systems that is capable of making intelligent decisions on behalf of the user has become an area of intense research.

Many previous works have proposed multi-agent system architectures that deal with buying and selling of energy within a microgrid and algorithms for auction systems. The others proposed frameworks for multi-agent systems that could be further developed for real life control of microgrid systems. However, most proposed methods ignore the process of sharing energy resources among multiple distinct sets of prioritized loads. It is important to study a scenario that emphasizes on supporting critical loads during outages based on the user’s preferences and limited capacity. The situation becomes further appealing when an excess DER capacity after supplying critical loads is allocated to support non-critical loads that belong to multiple users. The previous works also ignore the study of dynamic interactions between the agents and the physical systems. It is important to study the interaction and time delay when an agent issues a control signal to control a physical device in a microgrid and when the command is executed. Agents must be able to respond to the information sensed from the external environment quickly enough to manage the microgrid in a timely fashion. The ability of agents to disconnect the microgrid during emergencies should also be studied. These issues are identified as knowledge gaps that are of focus in this thesis.

The objective of this research is to design, develop and implement a multi-agent system that enables real-time management of a microgrid. These include securing critical loads and supporting non-critical loads belonging to various owners with the distributed energy resource that has limited capacity during outages.

The system under study consists of physical (microgrid) and cyber elements (multi-agent system). The cyber part or the multi-agent system is of primary focus of this work. The microgrid simulation has been implemented in Matlab/Simulink. It is a simplified distribution circuit that consists of one distributed energy resources (DER), loads and the main grid power supply. For the multi-agent system implementation, various open source agent building toolkits are compared to identify the most suitable agent toolkit for implementation in the proposed multi-agent system. The agent architecture is then designed by dividing overall goal of the system into several smaller tasks and assigning them to each agent. The implementation of multi-agent system was completed by identifying Roles (Role Modeling) and Responsibilities (Social and Domain Responsibilities) of agents in the system, and modeling the Knowledge (Facts), rules and ontology for the agents. Finally, both microgrid simulation and multi-agent system are connected together via TCP/IP using external java programming and a third party TCP server in the Matlab/Simulink environment.

In summary, the multi-agent system is designed, developed and implemented in several simulation test cases. It is expected that this work will provide an insight into the design and development of a multi-agent system, as well as serving as a basis for practical implementation of an agent-based technology in a microgrid environment. Furthermore, the work also contributes to new design schemes to increase multi-agent system’s intelligence. In particular, these include control algorithms for intelligently managing the limited supply from a DER during emergencies to secure critical loads, and at the same time supporting non-critical loads when the users need the most.

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