Repair Strategies for Minimizing the Risk of Cascading Failures in Electricity Networks

author: Christian Balderer, Department of Mathematics, Institute for Operations Research, ETH Zurich
published: Nov. 26, 2007,   recorded: October 2007,   views: 3143


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In industrialized countries, a reliable supply of electrical energy is taken for granted. In order to guarantee a stable energy supply also in case of non-serious failures of electrical equipment, the underlying electric power network has been designed with redundancies. Nevertheless, major blackouts of the transmission grid occur all over the world. They are typically caused by a sequence of cascading failures and may be evidence of a critically loaded transmission system. Furthermore, the increasing trade in electricity { a consequence of the liberalization of the energy markets { has led to an additional load of the existing infrastructure. As a consequence, the reliable operation and maintenance of the electric power grid at minimum cost is an increasingly demanding task. The goal of our work is to develop repair strategies that minimize the risk of cascading failures. A power operator has generally not enough time to repair failed lines once a cascade has started, because cascading failures typically evolve in time scales of seconds and minutes. Consequently, we focus on repair strategies during normal operation. Even during normal operation, there are typically some lines that are not operating due to random failures or maintenance work. While the system may still have enough capacity to transmit the power demand, the average loading, and therefore the blackout risk, increases with every failed line.

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