Electric power grid resilience - possibility of households and buildings to contribute to a more resilient electric power network

Large Group of Power Lines in City

Aim and goals

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the goal of this dual PhD project is to provide unique and novel knowledge of how the energy system of buildings can contribute to an electric power system that is resilient, i.e. has an ability to adapt and quickly recover from disturbances, as well as to support the power network during disturbances. Focusing on households and utilities, the social science part explores the social resiliency, i.e., the preconditions, ability and will to avoid and adapt to a potential deficit in the power supply. The technical part focuses how a building/household can reduce its power intake under shorter and longer durations, and what consequences this might have for residents as well as the benefit for the electric power system. The technical and social science disciplines come together in exploring questions such as the intersection between the technical potential and the reality of the households. The project is a cooperation between Chalmers, RISE and Högskolan Väst.

Background

Climate changes pose fundamental challenges to society and climate adaption is key to increase the resiliency in society, i.e., “the capability to prepare, handle, and recover from climate-related changes.” Climate and energy political goals in Sweden state that we should have 100% renewable energy production by latest 2040. In such a future, with an increasing and finally total share of renewable energy, plus climate changes, storage solutions and load flexibility will play key roles. The renewable energy cannot be regulated at all times; we will also have situations with production capacity shortages. This will heavily impact the energy system, in particular during long periods of time with extreme weather or other types of disturbances. 

Research approach

 Taking a social science approach, we explore how households could be impacted by, but also respond to a limitation in energy supply. We will also investigate how organizations, in particular energy companies, could develop their competence, work proactively, and strengthen their communication with households to support and collaborate with households during both short and long-term limitations in energy supply. 

Taking a technical approach, we also explore what measures could be done to increase the technical resilience, for example decreasing the power temporarily in order to mitigate a larger disturbance in the electric grid, as well as reducing the energy consumption during a longer period of time in order to offload the electric grid.

In the interdisciplinary part of the project, the two approaches will come together, and based on different scenarios explore how Swedish households’ capability and acceptance to change everyday energy practices could be understood as a benefit for the electric grid.

 

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