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The Water Energy Nexus: Improved Emergency Grid Restoration with DERs

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Water networks as critical infrastructures typically feature emergency electricity generators for bridging short power blackouts. We propose to combine these black start capable generators with available distributed energy resources (DERs) in the power grid, often photovoltaic generation, to jointly restore both the electricity and the water grid after blackouts. This is mutually beneficial for both networks since common grid- following inverters of DERs cannot supply power without a grid- forming nucleus. We model both grids as a coupled graph and formulate a stochastic mixed-integer linear program to determine optimal switch placement and/or switching sequences. Limited fuel and power availabilities, grid-forming constraints, storages, and an even distribution of available resources are considered. By minimizing the number of switching devices and switching events we target manual operability. The proposed method extends the time that can be bridged until a full restoration of the main power grid is achieved. For a small example, we demonstrate that given enough solar radiation our solution can double the water supply duration compared to using the generators only for the water network, while additionally resupplying almost half of the electricity demand. Algorithmic scaling is validated with a combination of the IEEE 123-bus test feeder and the D-Town water network.


Martin Pietsch    
Technische Universität Darmstadt

Florian Steinke    
Technische Universität Darmstadt


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