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Title: Complex systems analysis of series of blackouts: cascading failure, critical points, and self-organization

Abstract

We give an overview of a complex systems approach to large blackouts of electric power transmission systems caused by cascading failure. Instead of looking at the details of particular blackouts, we study the statistics and dynamics of series of blackouts with approximate global models. Blackout data from several countries suggest that the frequency of large blackouts is governed by a power law. The power law makes the risk of large blackouts consequential and is consistent with the power system being a complex system designed and operated near a critical point. Power system overall loading or stress relative to operating limits is a key factor affecting the risk of cascading failure. Power system blackout models and abstract models of cascading failure show critical points with power law behavior as load is increased. To explain why the power system is operated near these critical points and inspired by concepts from self-organized criticality, we suggest that power system operating margins evolve slowly to near a critical point and confirm this idea using a power system model. The slow evolution of the power system is driven by a steady increase in electric loading, economic pressures to maximize the use of the grid, and themore » engineering responses to blackouts that upgrade the system. Mitigation of blackout risk should account for dynamical effects in complex self-organized critical systems. For example, some methods of suppressing small blackouts could ultimately increase the risk of large blackouts.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [2];  [3]
  1. University of Wisconsin, Madison
  2. ORNL
  3. University of Alaska
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
Work for Others (WFO)
OSTI Identifier:
931128
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Chaos; Journal Volume: 17; Journal Issue: 2
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
24 POWER TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION; CRITICALITY; ECONOMICS; ELECTRIC POWER; MITIGATION; OUTAGES; POWER SYSTEMS; STATISTICS; SYSTEMS ANALYSIS

Citation Formats

Dobson, Ian, Carreras, Benjamin A, Lynch, Vickie E, and Newman, David E. Complex systems analysis of series of blackouts: cascading failure, critical points, and self-organization. United States: N. p., 2007. Web. doi:10.1063/1.2737822.
Dobson, Ian, Carreras, Benjamin A, Lynch, Vickie E, & Newman, David E. Complex systems analysis of series of blackouts: cascading failure, critical points, and self-organization. United States. doi:10.1063/1.2737822.
Dobson, Ian, Carreras, Benjamin A, Lynch, Vickie E, and Newman, David E. Mon . "Complex systems analysis of series of blackouts: cascading failure, critical points, and self-organization". United States. doi:10.1063/1.2737822.
@article{osti_931128,
title = {Complex systems analysis of series of blackouts: cascading failure, critical points, and self-organization},
author = {Dobson, Ian and Carreras, Benjamin A and Lynch, Vickie E and Newman, David E},
abstractNote = {We give an overview of a complex systems approach to large blackouts of electric power transmission systems caused by cascading failure. Instead of looking at the details of particular blackouts, we study the statistics and dynamics of series of blackouts with approximate global models. Blackout data from several countries suggest that the frequency of large blackouts is governed by a power law. The power law makes the risk of large blackouts consequential and is consistent with the power system being a complex system designed and operated near a critical point. Power system overall loading or stress relative to operating limits is a key factor affecting the risk of cascading failure. Power system blackout models and abstract models of cascading failure show critical points with power law behavior as load is increased. To explain why the power system is operated near these critical points and inspired by concepts from self-organized criticality, we suggest that power system operating margins evolve slowly to near a critical point and confirm this idea using a power system model. The slow evolution of the power system is driven by a steady increase in electric loading, economic pressures to maximize the use of the grid, and the engineering responses to blackouts that upgrade the system. Mitigation of blackout risk should account for dynamical effects in complex self-organized critical systems. For example, some methods of suppressing small blackouts could ultimately increase the risk of large blackouts.},
doi = {10.1063/1.2737822},
journal = {Chaos},
number = 2,
volume = 17,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2007},
month = {Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2007}
}