Multiagent technology — a new approach to a common technological infrastructure management

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DIGEST, February, 2014


Multiagent technology — a new 

approach to a common technological 

infrastructure management

 The development strategy for the Unified National Electric Grid 
(UNEG) approved April 3, 2013, as one of the ways to ensure long-
term reliable, quality and affordable energy to consumers, involves 
creation of a smart energy system with an active-adaptive electric 
power grid — grid of new generation, customer-oriented and based 
on multi-agent management principle of operation and development. 
This approach seems reasonable in terms of the need for a unified 
technical policy, availability, reliability, efficiency, viability and 
sustainable development of power systems related to critical 


 Deputy Minister of Energy, the Russian Federation

Network management


Wide development of digital communication and in-

formation technologies has made it possible to tighten 
regulations for production ef


 ciency and transition to an 

economy based on knowledge and high technologies. To-
day new requirements for adaptability of support infra-
structure are speci


 ed under changing conditions to main-

tain reliability of industries.

Conventional schemes for distributed infrastructure 

management are built in a hierarchical manner. This ap-
proach, together with the development of process control 
systems increases the number of elements of technologi-
cal systems, their dynamism, mutual in


 uence which en-

tail the need to control multiple parameter modes, element 
and environment state. A need for technology manage-
ment in an uncertain and incomplete information environ-
ment appears.

The growing complexity of creation and maintenance 

of a large-scale information management systems as well 
as the threshold of possibility to collect, provide integri-
ty and ef


 cient processing of information necessitate to 

overhaul and adjust management systems.

In the modern information environment security issue 

becomes critical, since the intrusion to management pro-
cess can result in serious consequences.

Response to global challenges was rethinking of man-

agement principles and their focusing on the broader use 
of the possibility of self-organization, which was re



in the new technological approach — multi-agent systems, 
modern conceptual direction of informatics, emerging at 
the intersection of automata theory, complex systems and 


 cial intelligence. Primarily they found use in the or-

ganization of complex socio-technical systems, and criti-
cal infrastructure, for which the criteria of reliability and 
survivability are in the 


 rst place.

This type of system has the following characteristic 

•  adaptability to changes in the environment, structure 

and state of the control object; 

• self-development;
•  agent self-decision fastness;
•  high survivability systems;
•  the ability to modify as parameters as the structure of 

management system directly in the course of its opera-

•  reducing dependence on human factor.

In the power industry this direction began developing 

since the advent of Smart Grid ideology. In addition to on-
going R&D by such major companies as Siemens, ABB, 
IBM, Cisco Systems, and others, there are already exam-

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ples of real multi-agent systems for solving 
variety of practical problems in power man-
agement in the United States, Japan, India, 
China, the European Union.

 Japanese developed a multi-agent sys-

tem for the safe operation of the switching 
equipment. The system includes Facilitator-
Agents, Equipment-Agents and Switch-
Box-Agents. They monitor the operational 
status, service time and the use of equipment 
elements. Switch-Box-Agents represent the 
breakers or groups of breakers, carrying out 
operations to recon


 gure the main circuit of 

the switchgear substation. 

 The European market offers Power-

Matcher (Sweden) multi-agent system for 
optimizing power distribution. The system 
contains a number of agents, devices, endpoints represent-
ing consumers and service agents that participate in the 
auction mechanism for buying and selling electricity. The 
PowerMatcher pilot is implemented as a control system 
for the Danish city Hoogkerk power grid.

 A number of U.S. and Canadian networks use dis-

tributed multiagent system IntelliTEAM II (S & C Elec-
tric Company, USA) to control the distribution network 
recovery after failures.

 In Australia at the demonstration site “intelligent 

building» CSIRO Energy Centre deployed multiagent 
system GridAgents (Paci


 c Controls, USA) in order to 

automate power management. Also with the implemen-
tation of the system in Manhattan electricity network 
ConEd (Consolidsted Edison) an objective to integrate 
“smart building” management system and the distribution 
network control was achieved. 

IEEE is working on the standardization of multi-agent 

systems, IEEE PES MAS working group is elaborating 
standard requirements applied to the electric power industry.

We can state that this trend is at the forefront of re-

search, development and pilot implementation in power 
industry and thus forms the mainstream of future energy 
technologies in general.



In addition to the advantages of multi-agent approach 

already described a substantial interest in it in the uni



power grid is associated with problems of technological 
development of the industry.

With the growth of small and alternative energy, dis-

tributed generation there are new elements of the system 
— active consumers and “digital energy” customers, tech-
nologies based on energy storage systems (high power 
rechargeable batteries, electric cars, etc.). As a result of 
liberalization of the electric power industry different en-
ergy facilities were owned by entities pursuing different 
objectives and de


 ne speci


 c requirements to operation 

of these facilities.

All this raises challenges to adapt electric networks 

to consumer demands, to task-oriented development and 


 ed technological management.

The primary task for distribution networks is to over-

haul the architecture of process control systems from the 
unidirectional power 


 ow architecture of distribution net-

works to bidirectional.

The following challenges emerge into prominence 

for the bulk power complex: improvement of control re-

sponse, ef


 ciency and capacity of net-

work equipment under possible abrupt-
changing loads. In the long term prob-
lems of energy system functioning and 
development will be addressed more and 
more through the development of infor-
mation and communication technologies 
and new approaches related to produc-
tion management.

All of the above trends and solutions 

are important to Russia. Understanding 
this, JSC FGC UES in 2010 prioritized 
transition to smart grid in its strategy to 
innovation and technological develop-
ment. For the Russian power industry 
due to its characteristics intellectualiza-

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DIGEST, February, 2014


Network management

tion of all network management as the basis of the com-
mon technical policy and the availability of utility infra-
structure is feasible.

Under “intellectualization” must be understood not just 

improvement or even deep informatization of individual 
units and subsystems but new effective “digital” organiza-
tion of data and equipment management at all stages of the 
life cycle that require a rethinking of the processes and ap-
proaches to ensure effective organization and technology.

The Table below shows the results of important tech-

nologies applied in power grid.

Multiagent approach involves solution of the follow-

ing groups of tasks:

•  creation of self-organizing technology information 

collection systems;

•  creation of structured IT environment;

•  development of a package of interacting data process-

ing applications;

•  implementation of adaptive systems for technological 

control and regulation.

Objectives of the 


 rst three groups are currently well-

proven and widely used in the information 


 eld, which 

is re


 ected in the implementation of such concepts and 

methods of work as self-organizing “cellular” MESH ra-
dio access network, RFID-technology, GRID-and Cloud-
Technology, Data mining.

Creation of process control systems of a new type is 

a problem related to energy security. Here there are no 
ready answers from related 


 elds and only successful 

analogy can be used and only mathematical and analytical 
framework can be developed including those on the basis 
of multi-agent approach.

Table. Process control issues




Synchronized and 

phasor measurements 


• The complexity of operating model 
and switching circuit maintenance to 
obtain real time parameters 
 • Low observability and data 
• Coordination of remote backup 

• De


 nition of real time operating parameters of adjacent network 

• Online calculation of generator load characteristics 
• Determination of trajectory and mode change in normal and 
emergency conditions 
• Implementation of a fundamentally new starting elements for 
emergency control 
• Realization of high precision traveling wave fault location 
algorithms on the wave principle 
• The implementation of new types of unit  relay  protection with 
absolute selectivity without need to agree the settings and the 
opportunity to work at one end of the line 

Wireless sensor tags 


• Manual collection of information on 
the operation of the equipment and 
power transmission lines 
• Electromagnetic compatibility
• The need to deploy a low-cost and 
effective monitoring and Diagnostics 
• Security and staff errors 
• Electricity theft 

• Automatic asset management systems 
• Self-organizing MESH network sensors to monitor parameters of the 
• Line objects and substation monitoring and diagnostics system 
• Staff work with the identi


 cation tags, access levels, augmented 

• Realization of indicative self-organizing networks to measure 
operating parameters in low and medium voltage networks 
• Development of high-reliability accounting and control system 

Optical measurement 


• Nonlinear characteristics and low 
accuracy of electromagnetic devices 
• Low electromagnetic compatibility 
• Hardware robustness, material 
intensity of use
• Mode constraints 

• Creation of digital sensors, current and voltage transformers
• The use of standard 61850 


 exible technologies to implement digital 

• The use of devices for a whole range of measurements, the RP, EA, 
accounting and quality control 
• Creation of digital bus to reject copper lines between




• The complexity of manual assembly 
and maintenance of the process model 
• Different architecture
• The problem of uniform 
• Complexity of disembodied data 
• Necessity to work with multiple 
applications of different vendors 

• Provision of automatic assembly and network topology testing and 
formation of process model 
• Automatic evaluation and network clustering into management zones 
based on connectivity and mode 
• Development of standard CIM classes entailing spreading agent 
range and use of their data and functions 
• Educate and con


 gure networks to generate data streams and 

minimal ways of delivery 
• Creating applications for processing and collecting poorly structured 

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In general, the use of power engineering decentralized 

management is not something new. Speed requirement 
processes in power have always determined the need for 
extensive use of local control with overall coordination 
through set parameters (settings) and algorithms of auto-
matic devices.

So a relay system with mutual redundancy, automatic 

load shedding system and voltage regulation system with 
local regulators, etc. were built. In the meantime recon-


 guration and local regulator resetting process is related 

with long-term analytical tasks and parameterization pro-
cess operations.

This often becomes the cause of power system distur-

bances, but because of a long cycle of adaptation schemes 
to operation conditions, network diagram is often far from 
optimal in terms of reliability or losses control. Also this fact 
can be a critical constraint in the implementation of active 
network elements which altering the electrical network pa-
rameters lead to changes in load 


 ow, short circuit currents, 

which require real-time adjusting of local regulators settings.

Creation of an extensive system of centralized adjust-

ment of relay protection and control devices settings faces 
a huge informational, process problem; moreover, this ap-
proach is extremely vulnerable to outside interference.

It should be also noted that to adopt appropriate and 

sustainable solutions a huge number of technological pa-
rameters characterizing equipment state should be deliv-
ered to the control center, as well as standardization of 
information transmitted from objects of different legal 
status is needed. This work is extremely time consuming 
and costly, and in some expert estimates — impossible in 

An alternative target-oriented approach is the use of a 

system adaptive to the on-site management mode logic. 
At each of the objects need to update the scheme-mode 
model of the adjacent zone, and global coordina-
tion is carried out under coordination of behavior 
strategies of individual agents representing the 
interests and objectives of the network elements 
and objects within the information and physical 
interaction through the electrical environment. 
By physical interaction is meant a calculated 


 nition of local measurement adjacent objects 

state using the current scheme-mode model and 
the further implementation of control actions.

Multiagent approach allows a much wider 

use of new measurement technologies and facil-
ity management. For example, the use of devices 
synchronized phasor measurements in central-
ized systems management requires the transfer of 
large data 


 ow to the control center.

Substation agents can process and use measur-

ing instantaneous values   of voltage and current in 
full for more accurate recovery of mode dynam-
ics and trajectories of change, sharing with other 
facility agent only subscription samples related to 
electrical connectivity and mutual in




Currently pilot projects on network intellectualization 

are implemented in East and Siberia IPS.

For the energy cluster “Elgaugol” included in East IPS 

and elected as one of the 


 rst “pilot” a multi-agent con-

trol system has been developed, the 


 rst stage of which is 

aimed to realize the function of voltage and reactive pow-
er control. In addition to providing targeted functionality, 
this system is intended to demonstrate the possibility of:
•  reliable operation of control system at weak ties;
•  “zero redesign” of control systems in restructuring of 

an energy cluster (in particular, the emergence of new 

•  easy integration of various control systems, including 

systems of different generations;

•  implementation of open source solutions that provide 

access to third-party development or modernization of 
control systems.
One of the project tasks is to de


 ne the zone of ef-

fective and ef


 cient sharing of traditional and multi-agent 

systems. Multi-agent systems do not fully replace the ex-
isting systems of process control, but supplement them by 
automating those activities that used to make operating 
personnel and control system support engineers. There-
fore, the pilot multi-agent system was tasked with volt-
age level optimal control of several substations, while the 
tasks of operational planning are dealt with at the network 
control center. According to expert assessment, ful



of voltage regulation tasks will permit to generate more 
accurate requirements for auxiliary systems and subsys-
tems of agent-based environment to ensure the integration 
into the existing system of centralized management. From 
a hardware perspective the substations are equipped with 
redundant head-end equipment with specialized software 
running on FIPA standards. It supports standard methods 

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DIGEST, February, 2014


Network management

of agent-to-agent interaction, with the co-
ordinator agent agency network, and also 
provides access to communication with ex-
ternal systems.

Multi-agent system to interact with ex-

ternal information environment employs the 
most common information exchange stand-
ards — Common Information Model CIM, 
IEC 60870-5-104 for communication with 
control center information systems and IEC 
61850 for communication with substations 

Solving the problem of optimal voltage 

control substation agents receive from the 
network control center ranges within which 
they are able to change their voltage sub-
stations. Based on the given ranges, facility modes and 
load assessment, admissibility of modes including single 
faults on adjacent sites, and based on history of applica-
tion of management strategies and technical status of own 
devices, agents form and transmit commands and settings 
to automatic control system of (auto) transformer OLTCs 
and substation reactive power compensation means.

Today the most actively studied issue is sustainabil-

ity in obtaining optimal solutions from group of agents in 
terms of commands execution delays and mode changes, 
nonlinearities inherent to electric networks, asynchronous 
execution of commands at different objects. To ensure 
the stability of the solutions the introduction of addition-
al feedback, selection of optimal behavior of agents and 
strategies that currently is one of the basic questions of the 
study and to the development and testing of technology 
will be required.

Such a control system is planned to develop and test at 

JSC FGC SEC ground to the end of the year, and in 2014 
providing that the results are satisfactory to evaluate the 
implementation at “Elgaugol” power cluster.


In backbone networks is promising to use multi-agent 

voltage control in power supply of abrupt load chang-

ing extended objects, which include electri


 ed transport 

systems, such as pipelines and railways. Even more sig-


 cant is potential of multi-agent approach in the intel-

lectualization of distribution networks, where the factors 
that require new approaches to management are expressed 
at the most. In particular the possibility to implement the 
approach to automate the supply of industrial parks, dis-
tributed generation control, demand and production assets 
is under discussion. Due to the integration of companies in 
the Russian power grid complex, developments resulting 
from the innovative activity of JSC FGC UES can be used 
in IDGC projects.

Currently, a reference architecture that will specify the 

technical requirements for control systems and interfaces, 
interaction, and also form the agent foundation classes is 
under development. Polygon, i.e. system to support solu-
tion life cycle for the intelligent network that will provide 
researchers and developers with access to knowledge bas-
es, test models, simulations of different control systems is 
created. To attract a wide range of researchers and devel-
opers to the aforementioned problems all-russian compe-
tition for innovative projects and developments in the 



of smart energy “Energoproryv” started. This contest will 
form a community and ecosystem actors capable and in-
terested in the creation of new generation process control 


For all who want to develop and discuss together 

these issues Internet sites and Gridology.
ru operate. It is worth to note an important task and the 
need to create accessible and understandable terms and 


 nitions in the 


 eld of intellectual energy. This is es-

pecially due to the multi-agent technology and new in-
formation technologies in general, where there are still 
no established terms despite the fact that information 
technology is steadily stepping in our technological re-

Implementation of the above initiatives, develop-

ment and implementation of new systems based on 
open architectures and multi-agent approach rank high 
on the list of medium-and long-term goals of Russian 
grid development.

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The development strategy for the Unified National Electric Grid (UNEG) approved April 3, 2013, as one of the ways to ensure longterm reliable, quality and affordable energy to consumers, involves creation of a smart energy system with an active-adaptive electric power grid — grid of new generation, customer-oriented and based on multi-agent management principle of operation and development. This approach seems reasonable in terms of the need for a unified technical policy, availability, reliability, efficiency, viability and sustainable development of power systems related to critical infrastructures.


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