Current U.S. grid modelling inadequate to meet challenges


Argonne, IL, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — May 27, 2009 – The current efforts and capabilities on power grid modeling at United States universities and national laboratories are inadequate for addressing important national-scale grid challenges, according to a new report on the national power grid simulation capability.

This is despite the many ongoing quality electric power grid modeling projects, as individual projects have been narrow in scope and have not provided an integrated, comprehensive capability.

The report, which is based on a December 2008 workshop sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate at the Argonne National Laboratory, says that modeling and simulation are an integral part of management, planning, and stewardship of the grid system. Providing a computerized representation of the behavior of the grid system, modeling and simulation are used for developing an understanding of the interaction of the parts of an electric grid and of the system as a whole. Applications include operations, planning, training, and policymaking.

With the evolution to a smart grid, the national power grid is changing in ways that its designers never anticipated, forcing scientists and engineers to re-examine its operations, efficiency and security.

Some of the important national-scale grid challenges are wide area disruptive events, including natural events, cascading accidents, and coordinated cyber and physical attacks, the interdependencies of the power grid system and critical infrastructures, improvement of existing simulation methods, and planning and design scenarios for the power grids, including wide-scale deployment of intermittent, distributed generation.

In particular, understanding the interdependencies of the electric power grids with other critical infrastructures represents a serious unmet need. Disruptions in one infrastructure, such as the electric grid system, can have severe consequences for other infrastructures, such as the natural gas and water supply systems. Modeling and simulation are needed to understand the full impact of a regional or national scale incident and would help improve recovery measures.

A national power grid simulation capability would be a key element toward filling these gaps to help ensure a resilient U.S. electric infrastructure, the report says. Such a capability would provide an advanced, scalable simulation environment that is open to federal, state, municipal, and industry users. It would provide an advanced user environment to simplify data and model integration, scenario construction, analysis, and report generation.

“We need to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach that will enable us to better understand the full implications of an evolving power grid as we plan for future demand and power sources,” commented Mark Petri, Argonne’s technology development director and one of the workshop’s organizers.

“Implementing smart grid technologies on a large scale will not be trivial – the challenges go beyond technical and economic issues. The smart grid technologies could fundamentally change how national power grid systems operate and respond to disruptions.”