Power grids are complex systems and solar activity resulting in geomagnetic storms can wreak havoc on grid infrastructure. The current ability to forecast such storms exists, but it is not as mature as weather forecasting was 50 years ago. This makes clear communication between scientists, emergency managers and power grid officials essential. Such communications are often hampered by the lack of common vocabulary, technical focus and understanding between groups.

Orion Space Solutions (OSS) Ryan Mc Granaghan2 and his university and power grid collaborators are working to change that reality through the concept of convergence,3 or a radical fusion of innovative ideas, approaches and technologies from a wide range of sectors and expertise. Through a workshop funded by the National Science Foundation (award number: AGS-2131047) and knowing that to reimagine network resilience, data from diverse domains must be open and widely usable and traditionally disparate communities must be connected, McGranaghan brought together experts from various fields to share their expertise and leverage the range of innovations, knowledge and assets available within and between these groups. The group was led by three questions:

  1. What R&D and operational gaps emerge from a holistic view of the Sun-to-Power Grid system, and what solutions can we imagine to address them?
  2. What is the composition of the teams that can create these solutions?
  3. How do you connect these gaps to existing programs and build bridges between them?

“We have designed this event based on a convergence approach of resilience from the sun to the power grid, recognizing that societal challenges nationwide require cross-disciplinary collaboration and new ways to facilitate it,” says Dr. McGranaghan. “So we created a simulation game that allowed individuals from every part of the system to communicate, learn and understand.”

Interactions were facilitated by an extreme space weather simulation game – a tabletop exercise coupled with simulation and observational data in an interactive environment designed to reveal new research and development gaps for the system solar-electric network. The game identified connections between knowledge areas to better anticipate, understand and respond to the effects of space weather on the nation’s power grids.

The three-day workshop generated a new understanding of the complex solar-electric grid system by bringing together the range of communities involved, identifying gaps in research and development and operations, as well as proposing solutions for these shortcomings. In a close and unique partnership with RWI Synthetics,4 the group highlighted the human dimension of the socio-economic impacts of blackouts by summarizing the entire population washington d.c.including social, economic and medical details to model the individualized impacts of blackouts on an urban population.

The three days included: the simulation game, synthesizing lessons learned and identified gaps, and systems building, which brought together data scientists and field scientists and engineers to prototype solutions. Critical results include:

  • A “lessons learned” database that covers ways to achieve convergent interactions and guidance for future interactions between the sun and the power grid;
  • List and organize R&D gaps to guide the community in establishing policies, prioritizing and directing resources, and identifying new research projects; and
  • A knowledge base of simulation data, relevant publications, a community exchange platform and a model for running simulation games.

The workshop is the next step in NSF’s successful convergence accelerator project, the “Convergence Hub for the Exploration of Space Science (CHESS)”5 who pioneered the paradigm shifting convergent approach to Sun-to-power grid research, development and operations.

“Space weather is about societal resilience, multiphysics and multiscale. This simulation game embodied all three facets,” says Dr. Mangala SharmaDirector of the Space Weather Research Program at the NSF.

The community that Project CHESS has cultivated, as well as existing programs and projects in the field, includes representatives from the NSF, NASA, Department of Energy, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, North American Electric Reliability Corporation, United States Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, several national space weather programs, and numerous academic and private institutions.

About Orion Space Solutions: Orion Space Solutions (OSS) was born from the vision to apply fundamental knowledge of space physics to real-world problems. Founded in 2005, OSS is an industry leader in small “New Space” satellites. We leverage our scientific and technical expertise to develop unique solutions to address the complex disciplines of space physics, instrumentation, modeling capabilities and data analysis; The OSS transforms science into data, data into knowledge.

Contact:Bill Adams
Call: 949-547-8554
E-mail: [email protected]

1 https://assets.lloyds.com/assets/pdf-solar-storm-risk-to-the-north-american-electric-grid/1/pdf-Solar-Storm-Risk-to-the-North-American- Electric-Grid.pdf
2 http://www.ryanmcgranaghan.com/
3 https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/convergence/index.jsp
4 https://rwisynthetics.com/
5 https://www.chessscience.com/

SOURCE Orion Space Solutions