Big Data

Future shock: Big-data capability predicts electrical grid needs

Shutterstock image: businessman weathering a data storm.

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory said new techniques allow them to pinpoint, down to the neighborhood substation level, where the nation's electrical grid will show the most strain from coming population and climate changes.

In a July 29 statement, lab officials said they developed an integrated approach that makes such precise predictions possible by using the Titan supercomputer, new algorithms, and detailed datasets on infrastructure and population.

They added that Oak Ridge is the only Energy Department national laboratory that has a computational research group focused on advancing the theory and applications of geospatial science and technology. And the new capability could help cities and utility providers hone adjustments or upgrades to local electrical infrastructure.

"These results can affect how future services are defined and where new substation capacity within the national grid may need to be located," Oak Ridge researcher Melissa Allen said.

Allen co-authored a paper that details the research, titled "Impacts of Climate Change on Sub-regional Electricity Demand and Distribution in the Southern United States." The paper was published July 25 in the journal Nature Energy.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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