# Self-Organized Dynamics of Power Grids: Smart Grids, Fluctuations and Cascades

by Benjamin Schäfer

Date of Examination:2017-11-16

Date of issue:2017-12-18

Advisor:Prof. Dr. Marc Timme

Referee:Prof. Dr. Marc Timme

Referee:Prof. Dr. Annette Zippelius

Referee:Prof. Dr. Joachim Peinke

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## Abstract

### English

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and mitigating it requires a reduction of CO2 emissions. A big step towards achieving this goal is increasing the share of renewable energy sources, as the energy sector currently contributes 35% to all greenhouse gas emissions. However, integrating these renewable energy sources challenges the current power system in two major ways. Firstly, renewable generation consists of more spatially distributed and smaller power plants than conventional generation by nuclear or coal plants, questioning the established hierarchical structures and demanding a new grid design. Restructuring becomes necessary because wind and solar plants have to be placed at favorable sites, e.g., close to coasts in the case of wind. Secondly, renewables do not provide a deterministic and controllable power output but introduce power fluctuations that have to be controlled adequately. Many solutions to these challenges are build on the concept of smart grids, which require an extensive information technology (IT) infrastructure communicating between consumers and generators to coordinate efficient actions. However, an intertwined power and IT system raises great privacy and security concerns. Is it possible to forgo a large IT infrastructure in future power grids and instead operate them purely based on local information? How would such a decentrally organized system work? What is the impact of fluctuation on short time scales on the dynamical stability? Which grid topologies are robust against random failures or targeted attacks? This thesis aims to establish a framework of such a self-organized dynamics of a power grid, analyzing its benefits and limitations with respect to fluctuations and discrete events. Instead of a centrally monitored and controlled smart grid, we propose the concept of Decentral Smart Grid Control, translating local power grid frequency information into actions to stabilize the grid. This is not limited to power generators but applies equally to consumers, naturally introducing a demand response. We analyze the dynamical stability properties of this framework using linear stability methods as well as applying numerical simulations to determine the size of the basin of attraction. To do so, we investigate general stability effects and sample network motifs to find that this self-organized grid dynamics is stable for large parameter regimes. However, when the actors of the power grid react to a frequency signal, this reaction has to be sufficiently fast since reaction delays are shown to destabilize the grid. We derive expressions for a maximum delay, which always desynchronizes the system based on a rebound effect, and for destabilizing delays based on resonance effects. These resonance instabilities are cured when the frequency signal is averaged over a few seconds (low-pass filter). Overall, we propose an alternative smart grid model without any IT infrastructure and analyze its stable operating space. Furthermore, we analyze the impact of fluctuations on the power grid. First, we determine the escape time of the grid, i.e., the time until the grid desynchronizes when subject to stochastic perturbations. We simulate these events and derive an analytical expression using Kramer's method, obtaining the scaling of the escape time as a function of the grid inertia, transmitted power, damping etc. Thereby, we identify weak links in networks, which have to be enhanced to guarantee a stable operation. Second, we collect power grid frequency measurements from different regions across the world and evaluate their statistical properties. Distributions are found to be heavy-tailed so that large disturbances are more common than predicted by Gaussian statistics. We model the grid dynamics using a stochastic differential equation to derive the scaling of the fluctuations based on power grid parameters, identifying effective damping as essential in reducing fluctuation risks. This damping may be provided by increased demand control as proposed by Decentral Smart Grid Control. Finally, we investigate discrete events, in particular the failure of a single transmission line, as a complementary form of disturbances. An initial failure of a transmission line leads to additional load on other lines, potentially overloading them and thereby causing secondary outages. Hence, a cascade of failures is induced that propagated through the network, resulting in a large-scale blackout. We investigate these cascades in a combined dynamical and event-driven framework, which includes transient dynamics, in contrast to the often used steady state analysis that only solves static flows in the grid while neglecting any dynamics. Concluding, we identify critical lines, prone to cause cascades when failing, and observe a nearly constant speed of the propagation of the cascade in an appropriate metric. Overall, we investigate the self-organized dynamics of power grids, demonstrating its benefits and limitations. We provide tools to improve current grid operation and outline a smart grid solution that is not reliant on IT. Thereby, we support establishing a 100% renewable energy system.**Keywords:**Nonlinear Dynamics; Power Grids; Synchronization; Cascading Failures; Fluctuations; Smart Grid