Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


ORNL-led study analyzes electric grid vulnerabilities in extreme weather areas


Climate and energy scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to pinpoint which electrical service areas will be most vulnerable as populations grow and temperatures rise.

A new ORNL-developed method pinpoints electrical service areas across the southern United States most vulnerable to climate change and predicted population growth, which could inform decision makers about future substation needs.

Credit: ORNL

"For the first time, we were able to apply data at a high enough resolution to be relevant," said ORNL's Melissa Allen, co-author of "Impacts of Climate Change on Sub-regional Electricity Demand and Distribution in the Southern United States," published in Nature Energy.

Allen and her team developed new algorithms that combine ORNL's unique infrastructure and population datasets with high-resolution climate simulations run on the lab's Titan supercomputer. The integrated approach identifies substations at the neighborhood level and determines their ability to handle additional demand based on predicted changes in climate and population.

The new, high-resolution capability can explore the interconnections in complex systems such as critical infrastructure and weather and determine potential pathways to adapt to future global change.

"These results can affect how future service areas are defined and where new substation capacity within the national grid may need to be located," Allen said.

The authors note the study could inform city leaders and utilities when planning for adjustments or upgrades to existing infrastructure. The analysis also helps decision makers prepare resources needed for population movement in response to future extreme weather events, particularly in the Gulf Coast region. After a natural disaster, such as a high intensity hurricane, tens of thousands could be displaced to areas ill-equipped to handle the sudden influx of people for an unknown period of time.

For this analysis, the research team examined impacts of population and temperature changes through 2050 in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, but Allen said that the method could be applied to other regions.


Co-authors of the study were ORNL's Mohammed Olama and Joshua Fu and Steven Fernandez from the University of Tennessee. Fu has a joint appointment at ORNL. This research was supported by DOE's Office of Science. Additional power data for this project was provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

The Titan supercomputer is part of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, which is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the DOE's Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit


Cutline: A new ORNL-developed method pinpoints electrical service areas across the southern United States most vulnerable to climate change and predicted population growth, which could inform decision makers about future substation needs.

NOTE TO EDITORS: You may read other press releases from Oak Ridge National Laboratory or learn more about the lab at Additional information about ORNL is available at the sites below:

Twitter -
RSS Feeds -
Flickr -
YouTube -
LinkedIn -
Facebook -

Media Contact

Sara Shoemaker


Sara Shoemaker | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>