More network fragility – this time it’s electricity

The chief executive of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) Audrey Zibelman, has described the effect of the bushfires on our eelectricity grid as similar to the effect of Hurricane Sandy in New York.

Again, from a systems perspective we are seeing another major national network suffering from a lack of redundancy. In this case the shortfall in redundancy is due to a lack of alternative network connections in the event of disruption. The good news is that:

…a series of proposed transmission upgrades and interconnectors joining state grids in dispersed locations would strengthen system-wide resilience against “predictable but uncontrollable” threats such as bushfires by ensuring stable electricity supply in the event one link was knocked out of service.

The map above is from the AEMO’s Draft 2020 Integrated System Plan (page 14) available here.

I am certainly no expert in this area, but from a systems perspective it would seem as though these weaknesses have been identified, and there is a some concerted effort underway to address them though building in extra interconnections to provide redundancy in the face of disruptions.

This is great – now can we do the same with our food and fuel supplies?

One thought on “More network fragility – this time it’s electricity”

  1. Diversification is another form of redundancy. Financial advisers always suggest investing in multiple different market sectors (finance, resources, tech, property, bonds) to protect yourself from a downturn in one. Yet we have an economy that hinges on very few exports mining, coal, tourism, education (where the irony doesn’t escape me as I watch our own population dumbing down). The interesting thing for me is how the wider system shows the result of one of these (fossil fuels CO2 emissions) exacerbating bushfires is also having a profoundly negative impact on another (tourism). So what looks like a diverse portfolio actually isn’t when you put all the system components into context.

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