How microgrids could boost resilience in New Orleans

phys.org | 6/14/2018 | Staff
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During Hurricane Katrina and other severe storms that have hit New Orleans, power outages, flooding and wind damage combined to cut off people from clean drinking water, food, medical care, shelter, prescriptions and other vital services.

In a year-long project, researchers at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories teamed up with the City of New Orleans to analyze ways to increase community resilience and improve the availability of critical lifeline services during and after severe weather.

Team - Hurricane - Scenarios - Storms - Flooding

The team used historical hurricane scenarios to model how storms cause localized flooding, disrupt the electrical system and cut off parts of the community from lifeline services. Sandia researchers then developed a tool to analyze and identify existing clusters of businesses and community resources in areas less prone to inundation—such as gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies that could be outfitted with microgrids to boost resilience.

A microgrid is an area of hardened electrical infrastructure that connects multiple buildings through a system of localized power generation and automatic control, ensuring access to electricity for these buildings even if the bulk of a city's power grid goes down. Sandia calls these microgrid hubs "resilience nodes" because they improve the availability of essential services to nearby neighbors by enabling enhanced adaptation, response and recovery from electric grid disruptions.

Majority - Cases - Breakdown - Services - Weather

"I would say that in a large majority of the cases, the breakdown in providing services during and after severe weather can be traced back to localized flooding and a loss of electrical power," Robert Jeffers, a Sandia systems scientist, said. "When you figure out how to keep the power on, you also enable all the other services the facilities could provide."

The City of New Orleans' primary community resilience goal, subject to a major storm event, is to safely provide citizens with critical infrastructure services as quickly and reliably as possible. The...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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