Emergent Failures and Cascades in Power Grids: A Statistical Physics Perspective

Tommaso Nesti, Alessandro Zocca, Bert Zwart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


We model power grids transporting electricity generated by intermittent renewable sources as complex networks, where line failures can emerge indirectly by noisy power input at the nodes. By combining concepts from statistical physics and the physics of power flows and taking weather correlations into account, we rank line failures according to their likelihood and establish the most likely way such failures occur and propagate. Our insights are mathematically rigorous in a small-noise limit and are validated with data from the German transmission grid.

Original languageEnglish
Article number258301
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the referees for many useful comments, in particular, for suggesting SciGRID. NWO Vici 639.033.413 and NWO Rubicon 680.50.1529 grants provided financial support. A. Z. acknowledges the support of Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Physical Society.


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