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Sci Rep. 2014 Jan 15;4:3694. doi: 10.1038/srep03694.

Abruptness of cascade failures in power grids.

Author information

1
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS Mayfair London W1K 2NY, UK.
2
1] ISC-CNR Physics Dept., Univ. "La Sapienza" Piazzale Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy [2] IMT Alti Studi Lucca, piazza S. Ponziano 6, 55100 Lucca, Italy [3] LIMS the London Institute of Mathematical Sciences, 22 South Audley St.

Abstract

Electric power-systems are one of the most important critical infrastructures. In recent years, they have been exposed to extreme stress due to the increasing demand, the introduction of distributed renewable energy sources, and the development of extensive interconnections. We investigate the phenomenon of abrupt breakdown of an electric power-system under two scenarios: load growth (mimicking the ever-increasing customer demand) and power fluctuations (mimicking the effects of renewable sources). Our results on real, realistic and synthetic networks indicate that increasing the system size causes breakdowns to become more abrupt; in fact, mapping the system to a solvable statistical-physics model indicates the occurrence of a first order transition in the large size limit. Such an enhancement for the systemic risk failures (black-outs) with increasing network size is an effect that should be considered in the current projects aiming to integrate national power-grids into "super-grids".

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