Sandia National Laboratories
Exceptional service in the national interest
Sandia’s resilience research assists in the understanding and technology development of infrastructure protection and infrastructure disruption mitigation, response, and recovery options.
Grid reliability, which the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) defines as a combination of grid adequacy (having sufficient generation to meet load) and grid security (having the ability to withstand disturbances), is a conceptually sound but incomplete framework for the nation’s 21st century smart grid. Instead, our nation requires a grid that adapts to both large-scale environmental and unnatural events and remains operational in the face of adversity—minimizing the catastrophic consequences that affect quality of life, economic activity, national security, and critical-infrastructure operations. The concept of reliability must be augmented with a resiliency approach—one that looks at the grid not strictly as a flow of electrons but as a grid that services, interfaces with, and impacts people and societies. Put another way, it is the consequences, not the outages per se, that matter.
To help grid operators make effective, defensible decisions about protecting local and regional communities from catastrophes related to grid damage, Sandia has developed the Resilience Analysis Process (RAP), a comprehensive methodology for quantifying resilience and evaluating competing alternatives to improve resilience.
This multi-step method, which is based on Sandia’s extensive experience with critical energy infrastructure security, calls for working closely with stakeholders to identify the most crucial potential threats and high-level consequences in their region. Sandia analysts then create a detailed system model and evaluate the model against the specified threats to determine system consequences. Finally, the analysts apply stochastic optimization algorithms to identify both planning and operational improvements to the system that minimize consequences and achieve the greatest system resiliency.
Sandia has invested substantially in the development of analytic methods that can quantify and improve resilience using risk based, probabilistic methods as it relates to geomagnetic disturbances (GMD). In the case of this work, the high consequence events take the form of voltage stability margin or specific critical load lost. The threat vector is made of specific GMD scenarios. This framework, using an extended version of an AC optimal power flow, enables decision makers to optimally invest in resilience improvements, preventing voltage collapse and widespread blackout.
Sandia is working with several utilities and agencies to enhance the resilience of the grid to minimize the negative economic and community impacts of extreme weather events and physical security threats. For example:
Sandia’s grid modernization research relies on partnerships with a range of stakeholders, including other national laboratories, electric utilities, industry, federal and state agencies, universities, and international advanced grid consortia. These partnerships help the lab apply jointly developed tools and solutions, broaden technical capabilities, and gain insight into policy and regulatory issues. Learn more about partnering with Sandia.