Industry Collaboration Powers New Generation of Grid Emergency Control Technology

Grid operators face big challenges and big opportunities when it comes to managing through emergency conditions that disrupt power service. The increasing number of power outages in the United States cost an estimated $30-50 billion and affect millions of customers each year. The challenge and the opportunity both lie in optimizing power system responses when the unexpected happens. Optimization can minimize the effects of these events.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are collaborating with partners at Google Research, PacifiCorp, and V&R Energy to develop a real-time adaptive emergency control system to safeguard the grid against costly disturbances from extreme weather and other disruptive events. The technology significantly improves on existing methods, which require grid operators to rely on offline studies to determine appropriate system responses during real events.

However, these events do not always unfold as we expect, and grid conditions can change in fractions of a second. Some online tools considered by current standards to operate in “real time” can trail behind actual events happening in the system by five to 15 minutes.

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