Fully Decentralized Reinforcement Learning-Based Control of Photovoltaics in Distribution Grids for Joint Provision of Real and Reactive Power
03 May 2021
Rayan El Helou, Dileep Kalathil, and Le Xie
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In this paper, we introduce a new framework to address the problem of voltage regulation in unbalanced distribution grids with deep photovoltaic penetration. In this framework, both real and reactive power setpoints are explicitly controlled at each solar panel smart inverter, and the objective is to simultaneously minimize system-wide voltage deviation and maximize solar power output. We formulate the problem as a Markov decision process with continuous action spaces and use proximal policy optimization, a reinforcement learning-based approach, to solve it, without the need for any forecast or explicit knowledge of network topology or line parameters. By representing the system in a quasi-steady state manner, and by carefully formulating the Markov decision process, we reduce the complexity of the problem and allow for fully decentralized (communication-free) policies, all of which make the trained policies much more practical and interpretable. Numerical simulations on a 240-node unbalanced distribution grid, based on a real network in Midwest U.S., are used to validate the proposed framework and reinforcement learning approach.