EnCortex: A General, Extensible and Scalable Framework for Decision Management in New-age Energy Systems

Under Review in USENIX NSDI, 2023

With increased global warming, there has been a significant emphasis to replace fossil fuel-dependent energy sources with clean, renewable sources. These new-age energy systems are becoming more complex with an increasing proportion of renewable energy sources (like solar and wind), energy storage systems (like batteries), and demand side control in the mix. Most new-age sources being highly dependent on weather and climate conditions bring about high variability and uncertainty. Energy operators rely on such uncertain data to make different planning and operations decisions periodically, and sometimes in real-time, to maintain the grid stability and optimize their objectives (cost savings, carbon footprint, etc.). Hitherto, operators mostly rely on domain knowledge, heuristics, or solve point problems to take decisions. These approaches fall short because of their specific assumptions and limitations. Further, there is a lack of a unified framework for both research and production environments at scale.

In this paper, we propose EnCortex to address these challenges. EnCortex provides a general, easy-to-use, extensible, and scalable energy decision framework that enables operators to plan, build and execute their real-world scenarios efficiently. We show that using EnCortex, we can define and compose complex new-age scenarios, owing to industry-standard abstractions of energy entities and the modularity of the framework. EnCortex provides a foundational structure to support several state-of-the-art optimizers with minimal effort. EnCortex supports both quick developments for research prototypes and scaling the solutions to production environments. We demonstrate the utility of EnCortex with three complex new-age real-world scenarios and show that significant cost and carbon footprint savings can be achieved.