Cascading Events in the Aftermath of a Targeted Physical Attack on the Power Grid
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This work studies the consequences of a human-initiated targeted attack on the electric power system by simulating the detonation of a bomb at one or more substations in and around Washington DC. An AC power flow based transient analysis on a realistic power grid model of Eastern Interconnection is considered to study the cascading events. A detailed model of control and protection system in the power grid is considered to ensure the accurate representation of cascading outages. Particularly, the problem of identifying a set of k critical nodes, whose failure/attack leads to the maximum adverse impact on the power system has been analyzed in detail. It is observed that a greedy approach yields node sets with higher criticality than a degree-based approach, which has been suggested in many prior works. Furthermore, it is seen that the impact of a targeted attack exhibits a nonmonotonic behavior as a function of the target set size k. The consideration of hidden failures in the protective relays has revealed that the outage of certain lines/buses in the course of cascading events can save the power grid from a system collapse. Finally, a comparison with the DC steady state analysis of cascading events shows that a transient stability assessment is necessary to obtain the complete picture of cascading events in the aftermath of a targeted attack on the power grid.
General Audience Abstract
The modern day power system has been identified as a critical infrastructure providing crucial support to the economy of a country. Prior experience has shown that a small failure of a component in the power grid can lead to widespread cascading events and eventually result in a blackout. Such failures can be triggered by devastating damage due to a natural calamity or because of a targeted adversarial attack on certain points in the power system. Given limited budget to avoid widespread cascading failures in the network, an important problem would be to identify critical components in the power system. In this research an attempt has been made to replicate the actual power system conditions as accurately as possible to study the impact of a targeted adversarial attack on different points in the network. Three heuristics have been proposed to identify critical nodes in the network and their performance has been discussed. The case studies of cascading events have been performed on a synthetic power system network of Washington DC to achieve the actual system conditions of an operating power grid.
- Masters Theses