In this example, we’ll solve the problem of how to minimize the cost of laying underwater cables to collect electricity produced by an offshore wind farm.
We’ll construct a mathematical model of the business problem, implement this model in the Gurobi Python interface, and compute and visualize an optimal solution.
Although your own business may not involve operating a wind farm, the same basic techniques used in this example can be used for other applications like the planning of communication and transportation networks.
An offshore wind farm is a collection of wind turbines placed at sea to take advantage of the strong offshore winds. These strong winds produce more electricity, but offshore wind farms are more expensive to install and operate, than those on land.
We will use integer programming to reduce part of the cost of building an offshore wind farm. We will compute a plan for how to lay the underwater cables that connect the turbines. These cables are necessary to transfer the power produced by the turbines to land. The plan we compute will minimize the cost to install the underwater cables, while ensuring that each turbine is connected to the shore and each cable has sufficent capacity to handle the electrical current generated.
In our example, a wind farm is being built off the west coast of Denmark. There is a power station on the coast where all the electricity must be transferred to be distributed to the electric grid. There are also transfer stations in the wind farm where the power from several turbines can be collected and transferred along a single cable to the shore.
There are two factors we must consider when installing the cables. First, there is a fixed cost to lay a cable on the sea floor. This cost is proportional to the distance between the two stations the cable connects. Second, we must consider how much current will flow through the cables. Connections that carry large currents need thick cables. Thick cables are more expensive than thin cables.
To access the offshore wind farming demo application and create your scenario using your own data from a blank template or to play with existing default scenarios, you must first register for a Gurobi website account and then view the demo.
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