Research Objectives and Approaches: The objective of this research is to develop a fundamental understanding of the properties of electro-mechanical waves that propagate as frequency and voltage disturbances over the electrical grid. These waves reveal much about the short-term dynamics and stability of the electrical grid and will become increasingly important in the future as time-intermittent renewable generation resources are incorporated into the grid. The approach is to leverage the new, wide-area, high-resolution phasor measurement unit monitoring and apply methods and approaches from the fields of nonlinear systems, applied mathematics, statistical physics, and signal analysis to study the dynamics of voltage, power flow, and frequency disturbances on large-scale transmission grids.
Intellectual Merit: Studying electro-mechanical wave phenomena in large power systems is a promising new approach that draws on numerous disciplines and will rapidly advance the frontiers of the physics-based understanding and data-driven inference of electrical grid states and fast dynamics. This new understanding will enable the design of smart grid controls to prevent economically-costly cascading grid failures.
Broader Impacts: New time-intermittent renewable resources create a need for effective ways of discovering how an event in one location is manifested in the rest of the grid. Electro-mechanical waves provide one such relationship and will be key to early detection of problematic grid behavior and design and activation of advanced control systems to restore reliable operation. Our project will develop a better fundamental understanding of electrical grid behavior, which will ultimately translate into improved operation, better control, and lowered cost.