Statistical classification of cascading failures in power grids

René Pfitzner, Konstantin Turitsyn, Michael Chertkov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Scopus citations


We introduce a new microscopic model of the outages in transmission power grids. This model accounts for the automatic response of the grid to load fluctuations that take place on the scale of minutes, when the optimum power flow adjustments and load shedding controls are unavailable. We describe extreme events, initiated by load fluctuations, which cause cascading failures of loads, generators and lines. Our model is quasi-static in the causal, discrete time and sequential resolution of individual failures. The model, in its simplest realization based on the Directed Current description of the power flow problem, is tested on three standard IEEE systems consisting of 30, 39 and 118 buses. Our statistical analysis suggests a straightforward classification of cascading and islanding phases in terms of the ratios between average number of removed loads, generators and links. The analysis also demonstrates sensitivity to variations in line capacities. Future research challenges in modeling and control of cascading outages over real-world power networks are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2011 IEEE PES General Meeting
Subtitle of host publicationThe Electrification of Transportation and the Grid of the Future
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
Event2011 IEEE PES General Meeting: The Electrification of Transportation and the Grid of the Future - Detroit, MI, United States
Duration: Jul 24 2011Jul 28 2011

Publication series

NameIEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting
ISSN (Print)1944-9925
ISSN (Electronic)1944-9933


Conference2011 IEEE PES General Meeting: The Electrification of Transportation and the Grid of the Future
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDetroit, MI


  • Power system dynamics
  • Power system faults
  • Power system reliability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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