A massively parallel interior-point solver for linear energy system models with block structure

Linear energy system models are often a crucial component of system design and operations, as well as energy policy consulting. Such models can lead to large-scale linear programs, which can be intractable even for state-of-the-art commercial solvers---already the available memory on a desktop machine might not be sufficient. Against this backdrop, this article introduces an interior-point solver that exploits common structures of linear energy system models to efficiently run in parallel on distributed-memory systems. The solver is designed for linear programs with doubly-bordered block-diagonal constraint matrix and makes use of a Schur complement based decomposition. Special effort has been put into handling large numbers of linking constraints and variables as commonly observed in energy system models. In order to handle this strong linkage, a distributed preconditioning of the Schur complement is used. In addition, the solver features a number of more generic techniques such as parallel matrix scaling and structure-preserving presolving. The implementation is based on the existing parallel interior-point solver PIPS-IPM. We evaluate the computational performance on energy system models with up to 700 million non-zero entries in the constraint matrix---and with more than 200 million columns and 250 million rows. This article mainly concentrates on the energy system model ELMOD, which is a linear optimization model representing the European electricity markets by the use of a nodal pricing market clearing. It has been widely applied in the literature on energy system analyses during the recent years. However, it will be demonstrated that the new solver is also applicable to other energy system models.



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