Release Date: February 18, 2021
BUFFALO, N.Y. — University at Buffalo energy infrastructure expert Sayanti Mukherjee is available to discuss the ongoing power outages in Texas, and what can be done to build more resilient energy infrastructure systems.
She studies how extreme shocks, such as the cold weather system that has enveloped Texas and much of the country, affect the electrical grid.
“The winter storm and the disastrous impact is a wake-up call for the utilities to take proactive actions to make their grid climate-resilient. Otherwise we will be seeing many more of these infrastructure failures and human suffering in the face of climate change and shifts of climate patterns,” says Mukherjee, PhD, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering in School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Mukherjee recently developed a predictive model that improves energy demand forecasting by examining the interdependencies among different energy sectors and end users such as single-family households or factories.
In New York State, the model improved the accuracy of residential natural gas demand forecasts by 15% during previous spring and fall months.
“Presently, most of the electricity forecasting models do not account for climate as an exogenous factor, and thus often underestimates energy forecasting under deep uncertainties of the future. Moreover, the present models do not account for the interdependencies of the different energy types while predicting such energy demands,” she says.
“To combat this situation, risk-informed investment and incentivization strategies are needed to improve the resilience and efficiency of the grid. Adequate weatherizing of the power plants and diversifying the energy options by introducing microgrids, batteries and efficient energy storage systems will help minimize the extent of such cascading power outages, as well as make the households more independent,” she says.