Challenge 3

June 10, 2022: Due to an unexpected delay in announcing Challenge 3 FOA awards, the timeline will be pushed back. Please check this website for updates.

The Grid Optimization (GO) Competition Challenge 3, which focuses on the security-constrained optimal power flow (SCOPF) problem, is a continuing effort first begun with Challenges 1 and 2, is associated to this broader pursuit to successfully discover, develop, and test innovative and disruptive software solutions for a variety of critical energy challenges and to overcome existing barriers. The broader goal of the existing and all future challenges of the GO Competition is to accelerate the development of transformational and disruptive methods for solving problems related to the electric power grid and to provide a transparent, fair, and comprehensive evaluation of new solution methods. In particular, the GO Competition seeks to identify innovative power system optimization and control methods that will accelerate the development and adoption of emerging technologies. Innovative solutions that are identified by the GO Competition will enable increased grid flexibility, reliability, and resilience while also significantly increasing energy security, providing greater energy efficiency, and substantially reducing the costs of integrating emerging technologies and resources into the electric power system in the United States.

The GO Competition consists of multiple challenges, with Challenge 3 focusing on multiperiod markets including advisory models with extreme weather events, day-ahead markets, and the real-time markets with an extended look-ahead. These problems will include active bid-in demand and topology optimization. Future challenges potentially focusing on a variety of topics: grid resilience, stochastic optimization, distributed energy resource management and coordination, transmission, and distribution integration challenges, as well as other grid challenges.

Overview of the Grid Optimization Competition Challenge 3 Problem:

  •   Multiperiod security constrained AC unit commitment
  •  Applications
    • Look ahead UC (Scoring Division 1; 10-minute compute time limit)
      • 1 to 6 hour horizon
      • 5 minute to 1 hour periods
    • Day ahead UC (Scoring Division 2; 120-minute compute time limit)
      • 24 to 48 hour horizon
      • 15 minute to 1 hour periods
    • Week ahead planning UC (Scoring Division 3; 240-minute compute time limit)
      • 24 to 168 hour horizon
      • 1 to 6 hour periods
  •   Base case plus credible contingencies
  •   Nonlinear AC power flow and balance in base case
    • Real and reactive power production, consumption, balance at each bus
    • Voltage magnitude and angle at each bus
    • Limits on bus voltage magnitude and branch apparent power flow
    • Continuous approximation of transformer winding ratio and phase difference
    • Discrete treatment of shunt steps
  • Branch contingencies use a linear real power flow and balance model 
  • Security to generator contingencies and ramping events handled by a suite of reserve products
  • Detailed modeling of dispatchable device characteristics
    • Generator startup and shutdown
    • Combined cycle hybrid unit/mode modeling (not in Trial Event 1, may be in later events)
    • Reactive power capability modeled with linear constraints depending on real power
  • Flexible loads modeled with same features as generators
  • Energy constraints for storage and load shifting across time (not in Trial Event 1, may be in later events)

The Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0002690, Support Grants For Participation in ARPA-E Grid Optimization (GO) Competition Challenge 3, closed 4/5/2022 9:30 AM ET. 

The purpose of this FOA is to fund research and development of solution techniques that will be used by awardees to compete in Challenge 3 of the Grid Optimization (GO) Competition. The GO Competition is a series of prize challenges to accelerate the development and comprehensive evaluation of grid software solutions. The GO Competition, Challenge 3, is an algorithm competition focused on the optimal power flow (OPF) problem for the electric power sector that includes AC power flow, optimal topology, bid-in demand, unit commitment, and N-1 reliability. Awardees under this FOA will be required to participate in Challenge 3. As described in detail in Appendix A to this FOA and on the GO Competition website (, Challenge 3 is anticipated to launch in the Spring of 2022. Participation in the GO Competition Challenge 3 will be open to anyone that satisfies the applicable requirements in the Rules Document, not just those awarded under ARPA-E DE-FOA-0002690.

The purpose of the FOA is to provide grants: (i) to further incentivize and identify innovative research for solution methods applicable to Challenge 3, and (ii) to enable broader diversity in team domain expertise, i.e., to encourage teams to participate that do not traditionally focus on the particular problems that are targeted but otherwise have innovative approaches for this class of optimization problems. While Challenge 3 focuses on a power systems problem, the Challenge and this FOA target a much broader audience (e.g., those specialized in operations research, applied mathematics, optimization methods and algorithms, controls, etc.).

The S0 Sandbox dataset (50.3 MB) is available for download. It contains 5 networks consisting of  3-, 14-, 37-, 73- and 6049-buses. There are 27 scenarios, 9 for each division. Each scenario consists of a JSON file and a TXT file. The JSON file contains the data and the TXT file contains summary information about the dataset.