The world of electrical system modeling is full of elegant math that manage electrons that flow through circuits obediently as dictated by the equations. These models match up relatively well with reality (even imaginary numbers work here). In contrast, real world ORMS projects usually begin with people's real and changing requirements, and culminates in finding lasting solutions for real people, using noisy and incomplete SmallData. Unlike widgets, packets, and electrons, the goal of accurately modeling human response largely remains an open challenge, and the temptation to simply ignore this component of the SmartGrid is strong. However, the empirical, perhaps paradoxical, lesson I've learned the hard way is that the more effectively we want to mechanize, automate, and optimize systems by reducing or eliminating manual intervention (i.e. save humans from humans, a la Asimov's robots), the more practically important it becomes for our optimization models to take into account the behavior of, and the implications for all the human stakeholders, upfront. Be it workforce scheduling, Big data analytics, or the SmartGrid, an ahimsa-based multi-objective approach that also minimizes harm or maximizes benefit to the human element and blends harmoniously with the environment is likely to be more sustainable. Which is another way of saying: SmartGrid is one heck of an OR opportunity and I'm glad to be a small part of this journey.
The next part of this series will review some interesting SmartGrid optimization problems.