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Mission Statement

To establish an internationally-recognized, multidisciplinary, research, lep
education and innovation center of excellence in energy systems.

To engage with Russian industry to apply new developments in ICT and modern optimization and control tools to improve efficiency and resilience of the Russian power system.

Background

Power systems around the world are undergoing a period of unprecedented change. A typical 20th Century power system was characterized by unidirectional flow of power from a limited number of large controllable power stations to a highly predictable demand. There was no no energy storage (apart from very expensive pumped-storage hydro  plants) so that at any time generation had to be equal to demand and the infrastructure utilization rates were low (about 55% for generation, 30% for transmission and even lower for distribution). Generally planning and controlling such a system was relatively straightforward as it was based around principles of deterministic hierarchical control, usually based on (N-1) reliability criterion.

20th Century power system

On the other hand the emerging 21st Century power system is characterized by bi-directional flows between a very large number of uncontrollable and stochastic generators (usually, but not always, renewable ones such as wind or solar) and stochastic and often poorly-predictable demand. Demand ceases to be predictable as it consists of consumers equipped with smart meters and wind/solar generators hence possibly becoming net generators – so-called prosumers. Increased penetration of energy storage, both stationary and mobile due to a take-up of electric vehicles,  offers  buffering possibilities in dispatch (generation does not have to be equal to demand at any time). Controlling such a power system is the main research challenge in power systems and it is made possible by latest advances in ICT (Information and Control Technology), communication networks, Internet, GPS, sensors, etc. However it requires new tools and methodologies, developing of which is the main goal of Skoltech Center for Energy Systems.

Our research is not limited to power systems but rather it is aimed on energy systems due to close interactions between power, gas and heat networks (especially in Russia because of wide utilization of district heating).

21st Century power system1

Developing these new control tools and methodologies requires an interdisciplinary effort of scientists from many disciplines:

  • Mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists to address the challenges of stochastic and distributed control
  • Physicists as power systems are large-scale dynamic objects
  • Economists as any solutions may require regulatory changes and will have to be accommodated in the markets framework
  • Social scientists in order to understand customers
  • Political scientists to ensure the support of stakeholders for the changes
  • And last but not least, power engineers who understand the physical power system (and will have to keep the feet of other scientists firmly on the ground)

Such an interdisciplinary approach is the main principle of research followed in Skoltech Center for Energy Systems. We are employing, or collaborating with, researchers representing all the disciplines mentioned above in order to utilize advances in new technologies (ICT, communication networks and sensing) and algorithms (distributed control, networks science, complex systems) in order to create a cyber-physical energy system able to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century. We believe that in this respect Skoltech Center for Energy Systems is unique in the world and able to deliver a step, rather than incremental, change.

Russian energy system