Looming energy and grid security problems will be the focus of the three-day EnergyTech2015 conference in Cleveland, November 30 to December 2. More importantly, the conference will address solutions to the problems. “Our civilization depends on the continuous availability of critical resources such as clean, sustainable, and affordable electrical power, clean water, secure food, and related services,” said Conference Chair John Juhasz.
In this post-9/11 world, it is not hard to imagine foreign agents working to damage U.S. infrastructure. The FBI recently admitted that ISIS has tried unsuccessfully to penetrate the national grid. “In fact, three carefully placed electromagnetic pulse or EMP weapons detonated about 80 miles up can damage most of the exposed electronics in the U.S., and big parts of the grid,” Juhasz added.
To secure the energy needed for a civilized future, a comprehensive systems approach is essential. “The grid has been evolving since the early 1900s and designers have done a good job so far, but there has been insufficient systems attention to its design until recently. Readers will recall the 2003 blackout that disabled a large part of the U.S.,” he said. While the utilities are doing a good job keeping the grid functioning, we are at risk from events such as severe weather and even cosmic events such as geomagnetic disruptions – solar outbursts.
A comprehensive end-to-end approach to grid design is essential. This is what the conference sponsor International Council of System Engineers, INCOSE, is about. It is a 10,000-member international society with an entire focus dedicated to understanding systems behavior and characterizing systems in terms of architecture, their function, and interfaces to their I/O system. “If we take this approach, it lets us do a comprehensive study of the grid and other critical infrastructures that depend on the grid. We can identify vulnerable points and strengthen them,” said Juhasz.
As for new technology, the conference will introduce hybrid aircraft electrical systems as a solution, and more. “There is a lot of development in aerospace, and this is NASA’s contribution to the conference. A lot of technology has been developed for hybrid electric aircraft, which we believe has terrestrial application in micro grids and elsewhere. We need a systems approach so that in case of a fault or attack, damaged segments of the grid are rapidly isolated from the rest of it so we don’t have cascading failures. Switching devices in micro grids will provide useful and applicable developments,” he said.
Juhasz also suggested that a wind farm could power an isolated micro grid. In the event of a massive grid outage, wind power could be a source of standalone generation for a community. “Of course, there is no one solution to grid problems so we have to consider a comprehensive, all-of-the-above approach for the best results.”
There are four different themes for the event with an overarching one of Securing our energy future. Track one is about the global dynamics of energy and identifying the megatrends in this area. “We are shifting away from coal and must bring on new sources of energy, and the right mix of the sources. Track 2 will introduce new technology. Track 3 will cover a great deal of systems work in building models and comprehensive system models. Track 4 deals with managing risk factors, recognizing vulnerabilities, lessening the vulnerabilities, understanding the kind of risks, and making sure we have sustainable and safe power sources.”
For a more detailed schedule: www.energytech2015.com/overview/
Solutions to such enormous challenges demand the best in human ingenuity coupled with efficient, sophisticated computing tools and rigorous methods to managing system risk and life-cycle decision support.
Now in its 5th year, EnergyTech 2015 seeks the convergence of the best minds in policy, systems engineering and applied technology to address some of the critical issues of our time. Experts from Industry, Academia, and Government will present a wide range of perspectives on these challenges.
Paper authors, panelists, and tutorial presenters are encouraged to address ways in which Systems Engineering principles, processes and perspectives are performed today and how the critical infrastructure sectors such as energy will benefit from these practices.
Register here: www.energytech2015.com/registration/