Seminar: Network theory, statistical physics, and power grids

November 16, 2011

Where: CII 3051, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Network theory has its roots in mathematics and the social sciences, but over the last decade, it has been a big growth area in statistical physics. In this Colloquium I will first give a brief overview over some of the key concepts and techniques of network theory. Following that, I will demonstrate how they can be useful to tackle a particular problem in power engineering: the so-called Intentional Intelligent Islanding of a power grid. This is a code word for finding "good" ways to separate a power grid into "islands" that are strongly connected internally, but only weakly connected to each other. Such a partitioning of the grid can be used to limit the extent of cascading power failures, which may result from weather, equipment or computer failures, or sabotage, by isolated the affected islands. As a concrete example, I will use the Floridian high-voltage grid.