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GO-SNIP Wins Second Place at Grid Optimization Competition

Atlanta, GA

A multi-institutional team known as GO-SNIP, which included representation from the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), took second place and earned a $400,000 prize in the recent Grid Optimization (GO) Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This competition, managed through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, involved 27 teams from across the United States.

With support from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the GO Competition is a series of challenges to develop software management solutions for challenging power grid problems. The competition’s intent is to create a more reliable, resilient, and secure American electricity grid. The winners were teams that placed in the top 10 in the competition. They shared a total of $3.4 million in prizes, which are to be used to further develop their respective approaches and pursue industry adoption of their technologies. 

For the last year, the GO Competition focused on one of the key problems in the optimization of electric power grids, specifically, the so-called "security-constrained optimal power flow" problem. This problem seeks the minimum cost operating point for an electric grid that respects physical laws and operational constraints, while ensuring reliability with respect to failures of the individual components. The problem is challenging both due to its large size and nonlinearity.

Georgia Tech ECE Assistant Professor Daniel Molzahn is a member of GO-SNIP, which is made up of faculty and students from three additional institutions. Those individuals include Frank Curtis, associate professor of industrial engineering at Lehigh University; Andreas Waechter, professor of industrial engineering and management sciences, Ermin Wei, assistant professor of ECE and industrial engineering and management sciences, and industrial engineering Ph.D. student Ruby Tu, all from Northwestern University; and Elizabeth Wong, assistant project scientist in the Department of Mathematics at the University of California, San Diego.

A second team from Georgia Tech, known as GMI-GO, was led by Andy Sun, an associate professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and came in third place. A third Georgia Tech team, known as GatechPSCAL, was led by ECE Professor Sakis Meliopoulos and came in 21st place. Due to placing among the top ten teams, GO-SNIP and GMI-GO will both receive $400,000 prizes in new research funding from ARPA-E to extend this work.  

Future GO Competition challenges are expected to build on the models used in this first challenge and may include complicating factors such as solving larger network models, optimizing power flows over both transmission and distribution systems, and stochastic optimization.

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Pictured left to right are the members of the GO-SNIP team: Daniel Molzahn of Georgia Tech; Kory Hedman, who is the program manager at ARPA-E overseeing the Grid Optimization competition; Frank Curtis of Lehigh University; Elizabeth Wong of the University of California, San Diego; and Andreas Waechter of Northwestern University.

Last revised July 15, 2020