Inderscience Publishers

Agents controlling the electric power infrastructure

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The electric power grid is evolving from a centrally controlled grid with only a handful of regulated monopolies to an open, liberalised electricity market. In addition, more and more small-scale dispersed generators are deployed in distribution nets. This puts extra stress on the power grid, in an era when electricity is one of the most important commodities for economic, industrial and everyday activities. Therefore, new control strategies are proposed to maintain the desired degree of availability. This paper proposes a general multi-agent approach to cope with these changes, and presents a scheme for distributed control of dispersed generators in a low-voltage distribution net. Based on a thorough investigation of this scheme, we underline the importance of understanding the interdependencies between the power grid and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure controlling it, which may introduce new or amplify existing vulnerabilities. Some mitigation strategies are presented to avoid or deal with these vulnerabilities.

Keywords: critical infrastructures, protection, security, interdependencies, agent-based systems, multi-agent systems, control systems, autonomous electricity networks, microgrids, electric power grid, ICT, information technology, communications

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