Stable Reinforcement Learning for Optimal Frequency Control: A Distributed Averaging-Based Integral Approach

1 May 2022  ·  Yan Jiang, Wenqi Cui, Baosen Zhang, Jorge Cortés ·

Frequency control plays a pivotal role in reliable power system operations. It is conventionally performed in a hierarchical way that first rapidly stabilizes the frequency deviations and then slowly recovers the nominal frequency. However, as the generation mix shifts from synchronous generators to renewable resources, power systems experience larger and faster frequency fluctuations due to the loss of inertia, which adversely impacts the frequency stability. This has motivated active research in algorithms that jointly address frequency degradation and economic efficiency in a fast timescale, among which the distributed averaging-based integral (DAI) control is a notable one that sets controllable power injections directly proportional to the integrals of frequency deviation and economic inefficiency signals. Nevertheless, DAI do not typically consider the transient performance of the system following power disturbances and has been restricted to quadratic operational cost functions. This manuscript aims to leverage nonlinear optimal controllers to simultaneously achieve optimal transient frequency control and find the most economic power dispatch for frequency restoration. To this end, we integrate reinforcement learning (RL) to the classic DAI, which results in RL-DAI. Specifically, we use RL to learn a neural network-based control policy mapping from the integral variables of DAI to the controllable power injections which provides optimal transient frequency control, while DAI inherently ensures the frequency restoration and optimal economic dispatch. Compared to existing methods, we provide provable guarantees on the stability of the learned controllers and extend allowable cost functions to a much larger class. Simulations on the 39-bus New England system illustrate our results.

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