Front Lines Against the Darkness: Enhancing the Resilience of the Electricity Grid Through Microgrid Facilities

Power grids are supposed to be fault-tolerant, but you doubt the premise when you consider daily outages in more populated parts of the world and more recent brownouts and blackouts globally.Power engineers have been pushing forward the frontiers of power systems, and the hard-fought battle against the darkness is supposed to have been won, but the struggle is by no means over. Indeed, the electricity grid today is faced more intensely with challenging issues concerning cyberand physical system security. The recent blackout in Turkey on 31 March 2015, which knocked out the transportation infrastructure in major cities, causing massive traffic jams, is a testimony to this claim. It also shut down vital services to thousands of offices for several hours, inflicting business and social losses (see Figure 1). Although widespread blackouts are regarded as low-probability events, they carry immense socioeconomic costs. In such events, the burden of responsibility often lies with extreme weather events, cascading failures, or similar low-probability, high-impact incidents. According to a report from the White House Council of Economic Advisors, severe weather is the major cause of power grid outages in the United States. Meanwhile, it is estimated that weather-related power outages cost the American economy more than US$300 billion between 2003 and 2012. The report calls for increased investment to enhance the resilience of the power grid against rising incidences of extreme weather such as thunderstorms, hurricanes, and blizzards predicted by climate models.

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IEEE Electrification Magazine  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 1 )