Title: Knowing power grids and understanding complexity science

Authors: Martí Rosas-Casals; Sandro Bologna; Ettore F. Bompard; Gregorio D'Agostino; Wendy Ellens; Giuliano Andrea Pagani; Antonio Scala; Trivik Verma

Addresses: Sustainability Measurement and Modelling Lab, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-Barcelona Tech., EET – Campus Terrassa, 1, Colom St., 08222, Barcelona, Spain; ICREA-Complex Systems Lab, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 80, Dr. Aiguader St., 08003, Barcelona, Spain ' Associazione Italiana Esperti in Infrastrutture Critiche (AIIC), 29, P.zza dell'Esquilino, 00184, Rome, Italy ' European Commission, Directorate-General Joint Research Centre, Institute for Energy and Transport, P.O. Box 2, NL-1755 ZG Petten, The Netherlands ' National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, Via Anguillarese 301, 00123, S. Maria di Galeria, Rome, Italy ' Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research – TNO, Oude Waalsdorperweg 63, NL-2597 AK, The Hague, The Netherlands; Delft University of Technology – TU Delft, Postbus 5, 2600 AA, Delft, The Netherlands ' University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 9, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands ' ISC-CNR Physics Department, Università 'La Sapienza', Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185, Roma, Italy; London Institute of Mathematical Sciences, 35a South St, Mayfair, London W1K 2XF, UK ' Delft University of Technology – TU Delft, Postbus 5, 2600 AA, Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract: Complex networks theory has been well established as a useful framework for studying and analysing structure, dynamics and evolution of many complex systems. Infrastructural and man-made systems like power grids, gas and water networks and the internet, have been also included in this network framework, albeit sometimes ignoring the huge historical body of knowledge surrounding them. Although there seems to exist clear evidence that both complexity approach in general, and complex networks in particular, can be useful, it is necessary and profitable to put forward some of the limits that this scheme is facing when dealing with not so complex but rather complicated systems like the power grid. In this introductory paper, we offer a critical revision of the usefulness of the complexity and complex networks' approach in this latter case, highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses. At the same time we emphasise the disconnection between the so called complex and the more traditional engineering communities as one of the major drawbacks in the advent of a true body of understanding, more than simply knowing the subtleties of this kind of complex systems.

Keywords: complex networks; complexity science; electrical engineering; power grids; critical infrastructures.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCIS.2015.067399

International Journal of Critical Infrastructures, 2015 Vol.11 No.1, pp.4 - 14

Received: 02 Sep 2013
Accepted: 02 Sep 2013

Published online: 08 Feb 2015 *

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