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Keeping the Lights On

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A new approach to keeping the lights on.

Researchers say the Koopman Mode Analysis can make power outages a thing of the past, by predicting future instabilities in the electric power grid.

Credit: Noe LeCocq/Wikimedia/Creative Commons

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) researchers have developed the Koopman Mode Analysis (KMA), an algorithm they say can predict future massive instabilities in the power grid and make power outages a thing of the past.

"If we can get these instabilities under control, then people won't have to worry about losing power, and we can put in more fluctuating sources, like solar and wind," says UCSB professor Igor Mezic.

Current power grid methods rely on a steady, abundant supply, producing enough energy to flow through the grid at all times, regardless of demand. However, should part of a grid already operating at capacity fail, widespread blackouts all over the system can occur. The algorithm promises to prevent the cascade of blackouts and their subsequent effects by monitoring the entire grid for early signs of failure in real time.

The researchers say KMA is a dynamic approach based on a concept related to chaos theory, and is capable of monitoring seemingly innocuous fluctuations in measured physical power flow. KMA uses data from existing monitoring methods to track power fluctuations against the greater landscape of the grid and predict emerging events, resulting in the ability to prevent and control large-scale blackouts and the damage they can cause.

From The UCSB Current
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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