Project 2: Robust operations planning under risk

This project focuses on the analytics of agile and resilient manufacturing. The aim is to use diagnostic and descriptive analytics to model and build software that could be used to respond optimally to volatilities in the input and output processes in New Zealand (large) manufacturing. We will start by building models for intensive users of electricity in the manufacturing sector to respond to electricity scarcity through demand response; this sector consumes about 35% of electricity in New Zealand. We will engage with members of the New Zealand Major Electricity Users Group (MEUG), and in particular with New Zealand Steel to ensure that the software is meeting the needs of the electricity intensive manufacturing sector.

In parallel, we will look at the question of demand response in farm irrigation. The agiculture sector is one of the few places where steady growth in electricity demand is observed mainly due to increasing utilization of pumping for irrigation. Irrigation has significant implications for the New Zealand electricity market as the majority of New Zealand electricity is produced through hydroelectric generation.

If successful the software developed in the project will be taken up (in versions tuned to individual needs) by the electricity-intensive manufacturers in New Zealand. This will enable manufacturers to utilize their flexibility in the manufacturing process to respond to periods of electricity scarcity. It would make their operations more efficient and profitable, enable offering of reserve (through interruptible-load reserve offers) into the electricity market and would lead to increased electricity efficiency. Enabling demand response will lead to more sustainable use of resources for electricity generation and enable integration of renewable sources of generation into the electricity market.

Demand response in the agricultural sector will not only help the efficiency of that sector but it will also help to alleviate the water-related problems in a dry year where the scarcity of water impacts hydroelectricity generation as well as irrigation.

Project 2 is led by Dr Golbon Zakeri from the University of Auckland Department of Engineering Science.