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Ph. D. Thesis information

Multicriteria methodologies for the appraisal of smart grid projects when flexibility competes with grid expansion

Matteo Troncia

Supervised by F. Pilo

Università degli Studi di Cagliari. Cagliari (Italy)

April 8th, 2021


The severe consequences of the increased frequency and intensity of the expected extreme weather events call for improving the environmental sustainability of our society. The electricity sector is pivotal in the path toward a climate-neutral society. Nowadays, the massive use of renewable energy sources requires that electricity demand follows energy production. Demand has to be flexible, as well as the renewable generation and the grid infrastructures. The power system has to assume a decentralised structure and integrate the transportation and cooling & heating sectors. All customers connected to the electrical grid have to contribute to the power system management and participate in the related markets. The power system has to become smart; all technical and market processes have to be digitalised to enable new functionalities and services.
The power system transformation requires rethinking planning and operation practices to accommodate the changes and take advantage of the related opportunities. The novel features and services available in the active and flexible power system will influence the customers' daily habits; therefore, the impacts generated by planning initiatives will cross the power system borders by impacting society as a whole.
This thesis addresses the ongoing power system transformation by focusing on the distribution system, which will face unprecedented changes. This thesis concerns novel approaches for appraising the project initiatives based on the use of the users' flexibility connected to the grid. Traditional appraisal tools are no longer effective; therefore, decision-makers have to be supported with tools capable of capturing the complexity of the future power system in which flexibility measures compete with grid expansion.
This thesis proposes an assessment framework for smart grid initiatives that combines cost-benefit analysis and multi-criteria analysis. Based on international guidelines, the proposed framework allows for a systematic and simultaneous assessment of tangible and intangible impacts considering conflicting criteria. To complete the assessment framework, a novel methodology that combines Regret Theory and multi-criteria analysis is proposed. The proposed method represents one of the main contributions of this dissertation. It supports the decision-maker to identify the most valuable option by decomposing the complex decision-making problem of smart grid planning and rejecting personal biases by avoiding the need for defining specific evaluation criteria relevance. However, the stakeholders’ perspective can be included in the appraisal in terms of constraints for the minimax optimisation problem.
In conclusion, the contribution of the thesis is to provide decision-making support tools for strategical power system planning, particularly in the context of smart grids. The research activities described in this document have been aimed at supporting system operators and regulatory bodies by providing smart grid project appraisal tools to consider the novel context characteristics.

M. Troncia (2021), Multicriteria methodologies for the appraisal of smart grid projects when flexibility competes with grid expansion. Università degli Studi di Cagliari. Cagliari (Italy).

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