Sparsity-promoting optimal wide-area control of power networks

Florian Dorfler, Mihailo R. Jovanovic, Michael Chertkov, Francesco Bullo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


Inter-area oscillations in bulk power systems are typically poorly controllable by means of local decentralized control. Recent research efforts have been aimed at developing wide-area control strategies that involve communication of remote signals. In conventional wide-area control, the control structure is fixed a priori typically based on modal criteria. In contrast, here we employ the recently-introduced paradigm of sparsity-promoting optimal control to simultaneously identify the optimal control structure and optimize the closed-loop performance. To induce a sparse control architecture, we regularize the standard quadratic performance index with an ℓ1- penalty on the feedback matrix. The quadratic objective functions are inspired by the classic slow coherency theory and are aimed at imitating homogeneous networks without inter-area oscillations. We use the New England power grid model to demonstrate that the proposed combination of the sparsity-promoting control design with the slow coherency objectives performs almost as well as the optimal centralized control while only making use of a single wide-area communication link. In addition to this nominal performance, we also demonstrate that our control strategy yields favorable robustness margins and that it can be used to identify a sparse control architecture for control design via alternative means.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6740090
Pages (from-to)2281-2291
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Power Systems
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternating direction method of multipliers
  • inter-area modes
  • sparsity-promoting control
  • wide-area control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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