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Unit Commitment

• The total load of the power system is not constant but varies
throughout the day and reaches a different peak value from one day to
another. It follows a particular hourly load cycle over a day.
• So, it is not advisable to run all available units all the time, and it is
necessary to decide in advance which generators are to startup, when
to connect them to the network, the sequence in which the operating
units should be shut down, and for how long.
• The computational procedure for making such decisions is called unit
commitment (UC), and a unit when scheduled for connection to the
system is said to be committed.
Unit Commitment Problem
• The problem of UC is nothing but to determine the units that should
operate for a particular load.
• To ‘commit’ a generating unit is to ‘turn it on’, i.e., to bring it up to
speed, synchronize it to the system, and connect it, so that it can
deliver power to the network.
• However, the UC problem plans for the best set of units to be available
to supply the predicted load of the system over a future time period.
• The plant commitment and unit-ordering schedules extend the period of
optimization from a few minutes to several hours.
• Weekly patterns can be developed from daily schedules. Likewise, monthly,
seasonal, and annual schedules can be prepared by taking into consideration the
repetitive nature of the load demand and seasonal variations.
• A great deal of money can be saved by turning off the units when they are not
needed for the time.
• If the operation of the system is to be optimized, the UC schedules are required for
economically committing units in plant to service with the time at which individual
units should be taken out from or returned to service.

There are many constraints to be considered in solving the Unit

Commitment problem.
1. Spinning reserve
• It is the term used to describe the total amount of generation available
from all synchronized units on the system minus the present load and
losses being supplied.
• Here, the synchronized units on the system may be named units
spinning on the system.

• Let
PGsp : be the spinning reserve,
th:the power generation of the i th synchronized unit,
PD :the total load on the system, and
PL :the total lossn of the system
• Then: PGsp   th
i 1
PGi  ( PD  PL )

• The spinning reserve must be maintained so that the failure of one or more units
does not cause too far a drop in system frequency.
• Simply, if one unit fails, there must be an ample reserve on the other units to
make up for the loss in a specified time period.

2. Thermal unit constraints:

• A thermal unit can undergo only gradual temperature changes and this translates into a
time period (of some hours) required to bring the unit on the line.
• Due to such limitations in the operation of a thermal plant, the following constraints
are to be considered.
a. Minimum up-time: During the minimum up-time, once the unit is operating (up state), it
should not be turned off immediately.
b. Minimum down-time: The minimum down-time is the minimum time during which the unit
is in ‘down’ state, i.e., once the unit is de-committed, there is a minimum time before it can be
c. Crew constraints: If a plant consists of two or more units, they cannot both be turned on at
the same time since there are not enough crew members to attend to both units while starting

3. Hydro-constraints
• As pointed out already that the UC problem is of much importance for
the scheduling of thermal units, it is not the meaning of UC that
cannot be completely separated from the scheduling of a hydro-unit.
• The hydro-thermal scheduling will be explained as separated from the
UC problem.
• Operation of a system having both hydro and thermal plants is,
however, far more complex as hydro-plants have negligible operation
costs, but are required to operate under constraints of water available
for hydro-generation in a given period of time.

4. Must run Constraints:

• It is necessary to give a must-run status to some units of the plant
during certain events of the year, by which we yield the voltage
support on the transmission network.
5. Fuel constraints:
• A system in which some units have limited fuel, so there should have
fuel constraints that require them to burn a specified amount of fuel in
a given time.