Gas Network Topology Optimization for Upcoming Market Requirements
- Gas distribution networks are complex structures that consist of passive pipes, and active, controllable elements such as valves and compressors. Controlling such network means to find a suitable setting for all active components such that a nominated amount of gas can be transmitted from entries to exits through the network, without violating physical or operational constraints. The control of a large-scale gas network is a challenging task from a practical point of view. In most companies the actual controlling process is supported by means of computer software that is able to simulate the flow of the gas. However, the active settings have to be set manually within such simulation software. The solution quality thus depends on the experience of a human planner. When the gas network is insufficient for the transport then topology extensions come into play. Here a set of new pipes or active elements is determined such that the extended network admits a feasible control again. The question again is how to select these extensions and where to place them such that the total extension costs are minimal. Industrial practice is again to use the same simulation software, determine extensions by experience, add them to the virtual network, and then try to find a feasible control of the active elements. The validity of this approach now depends even more on the human planner. Another weakness of this manual simulation-based approach is that it cannot establish infeasibility of a certain gas nomination, unless all settings of the active elements are tried. Moreover, it is impossible to find a cost-optimal network extension in this way. In order to overcome these shortcomings of the manual planning approach we present a new approach, rigorously based on mathematical optimization. Hereto we describe a model for finding feasible controls and then extend this model such that topology extensions can additionally and simultaneously be covered. Numerical results for real-world instances are presented and discussed.