Do-a-thon: Modeling and optimization of flexibilities in power distribution systems

In this do-a-thon I would like to discuss challenges one faces when analyzing different flexibilities in power distribution systems, such as battery storages, flexible loads, or reactive power provision, and their impact on grid planning. These challenges are quite diverse and include amongst others

  • Open distribution grid data: Open distribution grid data or approaches to synthesize grid data, especially of urban grid structures where data is particularly rare
  • Assessment of flexibility: Open data and approaches to estimate available flexibility of e.g. battery electric vehicles
  • Optimization approaches: Finding the optimal combination of flexibilities through e.g. non-linear optimal power flow or heuristics
  • Complexity reduction: Choosing valid methods to reduce complexity on a temporal scale (e.g. through deriving relevant design cases for grid planning or probabilistic calculations), spatial scale (e.g. clustering of nodes) and/or with respect to the number of scenarios while still obtaining robust results

The topic is purposely kept quite broad as I would like to set the focus of the do-a-thon depending on the participants’ interests and backgrounds. Maybe we could even split up in focus groups or hold two consecutive do-a-thon sessions.
The format could be one where several people each have a chance to present their related work and discuss open questions. The desired outcome of this session is to have a good overview of relevant open data sources, helpful open source tools, and approaches to analyze flexibilities in distribution grids.
I could present two tools we developed in a former project that synthesize medium and low voltage grids [1] and implement heuristics on storage integration and grid supportive curtailment [2], as well as ongoing work on assessing flexibility of battery electric vehicles and non-linear optimal power flow using powermodels.jl.

[1] ding0
[2] eDisGo
[3] PowerModels


Quite a lot has been published on energy sector flexibility concepts. This position paper from Germany provides a good overview and might be a reasonable place to start?


acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion (February 2016). Flexibility concepts for the German power supply in 2050: ensuring stability in the age of renewable energies — Position paper. Germany: acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion. ISBN 978-3-8047-3549-1.

Edit: linkrotted URL repaired on 1 March 2020.

I just proposed a do-a-thon about pandapower/PowerModels that might fit well within this topic. Considering the broad nature of the topic it might still be worth it to split it up into several sessions. For example the topic about openly available networks (real/generic) might be specific enough for its own session?

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At TH Köln we are currently working on a little storage model (python-based with the aim to integrate/couple it to pypsa) to integrate and evaluate also different operation strategies, which are not optimized. We would be interested in a focus group (as proposed here by Birgit) regarding that topic. I think it would be nice to exchange in advance, to know where exactly to set the focus. Maybe open_bea is heading in a similar direction? Any other opinions/hints on this topic?

I’m sorry for replying so late, I hadn’t had time to prepare much for the session yet… I really like your proposal @cbrosig to focus on integrating battery storages with different operation strategies into grid analyses, as that is something we will have to tackle in open_BEA as well. My project partner Daniel is doing a do-a-thon on battery modeling where he will present the battery model SimSES developed by the Technical University of Munich. In open_BEA we want to couple their model to our tool eDisGo.
For the power flow analysis we are currently using pypsa, but we are also working on implementing an OPF for which we will either directly integrate PowerModels or use pandapower. The optimization will be something we can talk about in Leon’s session.
However, the OPF won’t suffice as for example our battery models will most likely be too complex and the time frames too large to do an optimization for. This is where this session could come into play. We could each shortly present our existing approaches as well as some approaches from literature on how storages were considered in distribution grid analyses and then present our ideas for our current projects and discuss them. Questions I would like to discuss are what options are there to couple battery models and grid analyses tools and what are their advantages and disadvantages, what time frames do we need to analyse, how to integrate a Q(U) control. @cbrosig what do you think?
@leon.thurner it sounds like openly available networks will be discussed in this session. Is the integration of battery models into grid analyses something you are working on and/or would be interested in as well?

Hi Robbie,

I can’t find the publication you suggested (also the provided link is 404). It would be very much appreciated if you could point me to a source to receive it.


Hi @DavidEnergie The link to the ESYS flexibility study is broken as you indicate. Acatech — the German Academy of Science and Engineering — who administer the ESYS website, have a habit of periodically reorganizing the site and linkrotting all their documents. I’ve pointed this out to them several times, recommended that they use DOIs instead of URLs, and explained that the Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) can provide an interface to the DOI database at no cost. But for some reason, Acatech don’t particularly value persistent references and it is the research community and the interested public who suffer as a result.

I’ll contact Acatech tomorrow and find out where they’ve hidden the PDF you require on this particular occasion. I note also that the link counter above reads 11 and that is not an insignificant number of retrievals.

On that note, the key climate protection policy document for the German government spanning 2010 to 2019 is now also 404’ed. Fortunately the document is still available on

  • Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) (28 September 2010). Energy concept for an environmentally sound, reliable and affordable energy supply. Berlin, Germany: Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). Superseded policy. Archive copy. Policy database.


If any content managers at scientific institutions and non‑government organzations are reading this post: please migrate to DOIs and please add Creative Commons CC‑BY‑4.0 licenses to your reports, unless there are good reasons not to do so.

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Thanks for your response and the effort you put in, to help Acatech to improve.

This seems to be the predecessor in German:

ESYS flexibility study

@DavidEnergie That is the underlying report (Elsner et al 2015) you found — that one had linkrotted too but at least the landing page remains on the project website and the PDF can still be located. There should be a position paper in German I guess (but I only logged the english version). The working language is German and sometimes the summaries and position papers are later translated into english. Here are those two references again:


acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion (February 2016). Flexibility concepts for the German power supply in 2050: ensuring stability in the age of renewable energies — Position paper. Germany: acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion. ISBN 978-3-8047-3549-1.

Elsner, Peter, Manfred Fischedick, and Dirk Uwe Sauer (editors) (December 2015). Flexibilitätskonzepte für die Stromversorgung 2050: Technologien — Szenarien — Systemzusammenhänge [Flexibility concepts for the power supply 2050: technologies — scenarios — system integration] (in German). Germany: acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion. ISBN 978-3-9817048-5-3.

ESYS sector‑coupling study

There was also a sector‑coupling study as part of the same umbrella project that might be of interest too?

Here are a some notes I made at the time on Ausfelder et al (2017):

  • figure 4 (p27) shows Sankey diagram for Germany using 2014 information
  • figure 5 (p30) shows a simplified flow chart for carbon dioxide emissions in the German energy system [upstream and indirect emissions omitted]
  • figure 23 (p112) shows Sankey diagram for Germany in 2050 under a 95% climate protection goal
  • figure 24 (p112) shows Sankey diagram for Germany in 2050 under greenhouse gas neutral (UBA 2013) [some agricultural emissions remain]
  • table 13 (p118) summarizes the analyzed or referenced scenarios in 2050 / the referenced scenarios are described in some preceding pages
  • caption: “Table 13: Key scenario sizes for the year 2050. a) 167 TWh refers to all renewable fuels based on hydrogen and biomass; b) 19 TWh refers to the use of hydrogen in the heating area; c) 130 GW is the sum of the capacities of wind power onshore and offshore.”
  • study scenarios on p132–134


acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion (editors) (August 2018). Coupling the different energy sectors: options for the next phase of the energy transition — Position paper. Germany: acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion. ISBN 978-3-8047-3673-3.

acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion (editors) (November 2017). Sektorkopplung: Optionen für die nächste Phase der Energiewende — Stellungnahme [Sector-coupling: options for the next phase of the Energiewende — Position paper] (in German). Germany: acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion. ISBN 978-3-8047-3672-6.

acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion (editors) (August 2018). Coupling the different energy sectors: options for the next phase of the energy transition — Summary of the position paper. Germany: acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion.

Ausfelder, Florian, Frank-Detlef Drake, Berit Erlach, Manfred Fischedick, Hans-Martin Henning, Christoph Kost, Wolfram Münch, Karen Pittel, Christian Rehtanz, Jörg Sauer, Katharina Schätzler, Cyril Stephanos, Michael Themann, Eberhard Umbach, Kurt Wagemann, Hermann-Josef Wagner, and Ulrich Wagner (November 2017). Sektorkopplung: Untersuchungen und Überlegungen zur Entwicklung eines integrierten Energiesystems [Sector-coupling: investigations and considerations for the development of an integrated energy system] (in German). München, Germany: acatech, Leopoldina, Akademienunion. ISBN 978-3-9817048-9-1.


I’m getting pretty familiar with these guys. And I have the feeling that some of these URLs have been broken twice but I’d need to go through my git logs to confirm that.

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