Reinventing the Grid: Designing Resilient, Adaptive and Creative Power Systems

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April 13-17, 2015

Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe NM

The world’s electric power grids are among the most complex engineered systems, and one whose companies, regulators, and basic architectures are under pressure to evolve. These evolutionary pressures stem from threats associated with climate change, concern over more localized environmental impacts and the emergence of economic alternatives to purchasing power from the grid (e.g., low-cost solar photovoltaics and energy storage). Despite this evolution, fundamental social demands from the power grid have not changed - society demands electricity that is affordable, environmentally benign and resilient to interruptions both large and small. Whether the existing system architecture and actors can (or should) continue to provide the same level of service as it has over the past decades is an important question that cuts across multiple dimensions and highlights the inherent complexity of power grid planning and operations as inherently socio-technical systems. Our workshop was held as a follow-up to previous SFI power grid workshops, as a venue to gather a diverse group of academics and practitioners to focus on defining concepts of resilience and adaptive capacity, and the discovery of the relative advantage of highly centralized versus highly distributed power systems.

The workshop was sponsored by SFI Science, NIST and the MITRE Corporation.