University of Cambridge > > Nonlinear Waves > Getting a Grip on the Grid: Physics in Electrical Power Systems

Getting a Grip on the Grid: Physics in Electrical Power Systems

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Prof Natalia Berloff.

Today’s electric power grids, the largest engineered systems ever built, already demonstrate complex nonlinear dynamics where, e.g., localized collective effects of thousands of small consumer appliances may produce serious malfunctions of sections of the grid. These collective dynamics are not well understood and are expected to become more complex in tomorrow’s grids as consumer appliances become more intelligent and autonomous. Tomorrow’s will have to integrate the intermittent power from wind and solar farms whose fluctuating outputs create far more complex perturbations. Guarding against the worst of those perturbations will require taking protective measures based on ideas from probability and statistical physics.

In this talk aimed at applied mathematicians, physicists and network scientists I briefly review the history of electrical grids and then introduce a few of the physical, optimization and control principles and phenomena in todayís grids and those that are expected to play a major role in tomorrowís grids.

I illustrate the new science of the grid on two example: (a) discussing an efficient and highly scalable Chance Constrained Optimal Power Flow algorithm providing risk-aware control of the transmission system under uncertainty associated with fluctuating renewables (wind farms); and (b) discussing ODE and PDE modeling of the power distribution system, in particular explaining effects of many inductive motors and distributed photo-voltaic generators on the grid stability.

This talk is part of the Nonlinear Waves series.

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