Strategy Learning for Autonomous Agents in Smart Grid Markets
Prashant Reddy and Manuela Veloso
Distributed electricity producers, such as small wind farms and solar installations, pose several technical and economic challenges in Smart Grid design. One approach to addressing these challenges is through 'Broker Agents' who buy electricity from distributed producers, and also sell electricity to consumers, via a 'Tariff Market'--a new market mechanism where Broker Agents publish concurrent bid and ask prices. We investigate the learning of pricing strategies for an autonomous Broker Agent to profitably participate in a Tariff Market. We employ Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) and reinforcement learning. An important concern with this method is that even simple representations of the problem domain result in very large numbers of states in the MDP formulation because market prices can take nearly arbitrary real values. In this paper, we present the use of derived state space features, computed using statistics on Tariff Market prices and Broker Agent customer portfolios, to obtain a scalable state representation. We also contribute a set of pricing tactics that form building blocks in the learned Broker Agent strategy. We further present a Tariff Market simulation model based on real-world data and anticipated market dynamics. We use this model to obtain experimental results that show the learned strategy performing vastly better than a random strategy and significantly better than two other non-learning strategies.