Hidden Power System Inflexibilities imposed by traditional unit commitment formulations

G. Morales-Espana, Laura Ramirez Elizondo, Benjamin F. Hobbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
177 Downloads (Pure)


Approximations made in traditional day-ahead unit commitment model formulations can result in suboptimal or even infeasible schedules for slow-start units and inaccurate predictions of actual costs and wind curtailment. With increasing wind penetration, these errors will become economically more significant. Here, we consider inaccuracies from three approximations: the use of hourly intervals in which energy production from each generator is modeled as being constant; the disregarding of startup and shutdown energy trajectories; and optimization based on expected wind profiles. The results of unit commitment formulations with those assumptions are compared to models that: (1) use a piecewise-linear power profiles of generation, load and wind, instead of the traditional stepwise energy profiles; (2) consider startup/shutdown trajectories; and (3) include many possible wind trajectories in a stochastic framework. The day-ahead hourly schedules of slow-start generators are then evaluated against actual wind and load profiles using a model real-time dispatch and quick-start unit commitment with a 5 minute time step. We find that each simplification usually causes expected generation costs to increase by several percentage points, and results in significant understatement of expected wind curtailment and, in some cases, load interruptions. The inclusion of startup and shutdown trajectories often yielded the largest improvements in schedule performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-238
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Energy-based unit commitment
  • Power-based unit commitment
  • Reserves
  • Stochastic programming
  • Unit commitment (UC)
  • Wind power


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