Economic Load Dispatch (ELD) is a key issue in power systems and its goal is to achieve minimum economic costs by allocating the output of generator units when satisfying the load demands and the operating constraints. As the dimension of the variables and the constraints increase, the traditional mathematical method is gradually not suitable for the ELD. This paper proposes an Improved Bird Swarm Algorithm (IBSA) to solve the ELD problem of a power system. By introducing the nonlinear cognitive and social coefficients, the proportion of individual learning and social learning of birds can be dynamically adjusted. In addition, the Levy flight strategy is added to the group between producers and beggars to increase the randomness. The performance of IBSA is verified via two systems consisting of 6 and 15 units, respectively, that take into account generation limitation, ramp rate limit, and prohibited operating zones. From the simulation results, the IBSA has shown excellent performance and robustness, which can be considered as a reliable solution for the ELD.
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