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EDF R&D: Simulating energy generation and consumption

This five-year strategic partnership was agreed in early 2010. It is the natural successor to a series of collaborative projects carried out over many years. The projects relate to the optimisation of electricity generation systems and the management of energy, both topics of strategic importance for EDF.

Economic and scientific challenges

  • To supply clean energy at the lowest possible cost.
  • To make full use of all sources of renewable energy.
  • To optimise the complex systems at the heart of electricity generation. 

Research topics and projects

  • Stochastic modelling and visualisation of uncertainties.
  • Numerical analysis (solvers applicable to EDF software).
  • Visualisation and Collaborative Working (computerisation of industrial plants).
  • Data processing tools (in particular, mesh generation) for intensive simulation.
  • Management of large volumes of data while maintaining respect for privacy.
  • Simulation of smart grids.

Main results obtained to date:

  • Ranking of sources of uncertainty in reliability calculations, and application to the assessment of the risk of sudden failure of reactor vessels.
  • Estimation of marginal costs in the normal generation of electricity.
  • Functional approach to time series predictions.
  • Data mining while maintaining confidentiality in a P2P environment.

Interview with Jean-Yves Berthou

What are the stakes in the collaboration between Inria and EDF R&D? Meet Jean-Yves Berthou , information technology program manager at EDF R&D.

Jean-Yves Berthoux

Jean-Yves Berthou:  They are quite simply essential tools. We have used numerical simulation for many years. It allows us to provide long-term support for the performance of the 58 nuclear reactors and hydroelectric and thermal power plants that we operate. Simulation helps us to resolve operational problems but also allows us to optimize the balance between the production and consumption of energy.

Jean-Yves Berthou:  We have been working with Inria for many years. The institute is part of the major international organizations of reference in the field of applied mathematics and scientific computing. This strategic partnership allows us to reinforce simulation and supercomputing at EDF R&D. Today, we are collaborating on fifteen projects that mobilize approximately one hundred researchers from 17 Inria research teams, three start-ups, and six departments of EDF R&D. They revolve around the major computing codes in which EDF capitalizes its know-how. This involves, for example, developing innovative tools for the multi-resolution viewing of large volumes of data or programming models of hybrid multicore architectures.

Jean-Yves Berthou:  A shared strategic view on many topics. Our new industrial issues are also new major scientific challenges for Inria's researchers.

Interviewed in 2010