Machine Learning and Quantum Computing for Optimization Problems in Power Systems

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Virginia Tech

While optimization problems are ubiquitous in all domains of engineering, they are of critical importance to power systems engineers. A safe and economical operation of the power systems entails solving many optimization problems such as security-constrained unit commitment, economic dispatch, optimal power flow, optimal planning, etc. Although traditional optimization solvers and software have been successful so far in solving these problems, there is a growing need to accelerate the solution process. This need arises on account of several aspects of grid modernization, such as distributed energy resources, renewable energy, smart inverters, batteries, etc, that increase the number of decision variables involved. Moreover, the technologies entail faster dynamics and unpredictability, further demanding a solution speedup. Yet another concern is the growing communication overhead that accompanies this large-scale, high-speed, decision-making process. This thesis explores three different directions to address such concerns. The first part of the thesis explores the learning-to-optimize paradigm whereby instead of solving the optimization problems, machine learning (ML) models such as deep neural networks (DNNs) are trained to predict the solution of the optimization problems. The second part of the thesis also employs deep learning, but in a different manner. DNNs are utilized to model the dynamics of IEEE 1547.8 standard-based local Volt/VAR control rules, and then leverage efficient deep learning libraries to solve the resulting optimization problem. The last part of the thesis dives into the evolving field of quantum computing and develops a general strategy for solving stochastic binary optimization problems using variational quantum eigensolvers (VQE).

Power systems, deep learning, constrained learning, chance constraints, OPF, quantum computing, VQE