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Mobile communication is nowadays taken for granted. Having started
primarily as a service for speech communication, data service and
mobile Internet access are now driving the evolution of network
infrastructure. Operators are facing the challenge to match the
demand by continuously expanding and upgrading the network
infrastructure. However, the evolution of the customer's demand is uncertain.
We introduce a novel (long-term) network planning approach based on
multistage stochastic programming, where demand evolution is considered as
a stochastic process and the network is extended as to maximize the
expected profit. The approach proves capable of designing large-scale
realistic UMTS networks with a time-horizon of several years. Our
mathematical optimization model, the solution approach, and computational
results are presented in this paper.

The recently imposed new gas market liberalization rules in Germany lead to a change of business of gas network operators.
While previously network operator and gas vendor where united, they were forced to split up into independent companies.
The network has to be open to any other gas trader at the same conditions, and free network capacities have to be identified and publicly offered in a non-discriminatory way.
We show that these new paradigms lead to new and challenging mathematical optimization problems.
In order to solve them and to provide meaningful results for practice, all aspects of the underlying problems, such as combinatorics, stochasticity, uncertainty, and nonlinearity, have to be addressed.
With such special-tailored solvers, free network capacities and topological network extensions can, for instance, be determined.

The recently imposed new gas market liberalization rules in Germany lead to a change of business of gas network operators. While previously network operator and gas vendor were united, they were forced to split up into independent companies. The network has to be open to any other gas trader at the same conditions, and free network capacities have to be identified and publicly offered in a non-discriminatory way. We discuss how these changing paradigms lead to new and challenging mathematical optimization problems. This includes the validation of nominations, that asks for the decision if the network’s capacity is sufficient to transport a specific amount of flow, the verification of booked capacities and the detection of available freely allocable capacities, and the topological extension of the network with new pipelines or compressors in order to increase its capacity. In order to solve each of these problems and to provide meaningful results for the practice, a mixture of different mathematical aspects have to be addressed, such as combinatorics, stochasticity, uncertainty, and nonlinearity. Currently, no numerical solver is available that can deal with such blended problems out-of-the-box. The main goal of our research is to develop such a solver, that moreover is able to solve instances of realistic size. In this article, we describe the main ingredients of our prototypical software implementations.

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.

Perspectives
(2015)

The different approaches to solve the validation of nomination problem presented in the previous chapters are evaluated computationally in this chapter. Each approach is analyzed individually, as well as the complete solvers for these problems. We demonstrate that the presented approaches can successfully solve large-scale real-world instances.

Since 2005, the gas market in the European Union is liberalized and the trading of natural gas is decoupled from its transport. The transport is done by so-called transmissions system operators or TSOs. The market model established by the European Union views the gas transmission network as a black box, providing shippers (gas traders and consumers) the opportunity to transport gas from any entry to any exit. TSOs are required to offer maximum independent capacities at each entry and exit such that the resulting gas flows can be realized by the network without compromising security of supply. Therefore, evaluating the available transport capacities is extremely important to the TSOs.
This paper gives an overview of the toolset for evaluating gas network capacities that has been developed within the ForNe project, a joint research project of seven research partners initiated by Open Grid Europe, Germany's biggest TSO. While most of the relevant mathematics is described in the book "Evaluating Gas Network Capacities", this article sketches the system as a whole, describes some developments that have taken place recently, and gives some details about the current implementation.