A concise, approximate representation of a collection of loads described by polytopes

Suhail Barot, Josh A. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Aggregations of flexible loads can provide several power system services through demand response programs, for example load shifting and curtailment. The capabilities of demand response should therefore be represented in system operators' planning and operational routines. However, incorporating models of every load in an aggregation into these routines could compromise their tractability by adding exorbitant numbers of new variables and constraints. In this paper, we propose a novel approximation for concisely representing the capabilities of a heterogeneous aggregation of flexible loads. We assume that each load is mathematically described by a convex polytope, i.e., a set of linear constraints, a class which includes deferrable loads, thermostatically controlled loads, and generic energy storage. The set-wise sum of the loads is the Minkowski sum, which is in general computationally intractable. Our representation is an outer approximation of the Minkowski sum. The new approximation is easily computable and only uses one variable per time period corresponding to the aggregation's net power usage. Theoretical and numerical results indicate that the approximation is accurate for broad classes of loads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Demand response
  • Linear programming
  • Load aggregation
  • Minkowski sum
  • Polytope


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