PowerNet: Multi-agent Deep Reinforcement Learning for Scalable Powergrid Control

Dong Chen, Zhaojian Li, Tianshu Chu, Rui Yao, Feng Qiu, Kaixiang Lin

This paper develops an efficient multi-agent deep reinforcement learning algorithm for cooperative controls in powergrids. Specifically, we consider the decentralized inverter-based secondary voltage control problem in distributed generators (DGs), which is first formulated as a cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) problem. We then propose a novel on-policy MARL algorithm, PowerNet, in which each agent (DG) learns a control policy based on (sub-)global reward but local states from its neighboring agents. Motivated by the fact that a local control from one agent has limited impact on agents distant from it, we exploit a novel spatial discount factor to reduce the effect from remote agents, to expedite the training process and improve scalability. Furthermore, a differentiable, learning-based communication protocol is employed to foster the collaborations among neighboring agents. In addition, to mitigate the effects of system uncertainty and random noise introduced during on-policy learning, we utilize an action smoothing factor to stabilize the policy execution. To facilitate training and evaluation, we develop PGSim, an efficient, high-fidelity powergrid simulation platform. Experimental results in two microgrid setups show that the developed PowerNet outperforms a conventional model-based control, as well as several state-of-the-art MARL algorithms. The decentralized learning scheme and high sample efficiency also make it viable to large-scale power grids.

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