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EIOC at PNNL

Visualization in Power

Visualization conveys complex information to system operators

Screenshot of Power Grid Visualization application
Force directed representation of the Western Power Grid. Click for a larger image.

Historically, the visualization of power system data has not kept pace with state-of-the-art visualization techniques. Work performed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center (EIOC) leverages techniques and tools previously developed by the National Visualization and Analytics Center (NVAC), located at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, for applications not related to power systems. By collaborating with NVAC it has been possible to apply new technologies to power system applications with a significantly reduced lead time.

When power system operators are provided with inadequate system information, their situational awareness begins to deteriorate and the actions they take may not be beneficial to the electricity infrastructure. In fact, they could be detrimental. In the final analysis of the 2003 East Coast Blackout, a lack of situational awareness was cited as one of the contributing factors which aggravated the severity of the event. If the proper information can be conveyed to the operators in a timely manner, they will be better equipped to make the decisions necessary to ensure the system is operated in a manner that reduces the frequency of blackouts and mitigates their severity when they do occur. The need to convey this complex data in an intuitive manner is the focus of visualization. If visualization can be done effectively and in a way that is accessible to planning engineers and operators, the nation's electricity infrastructure will be more reliable and secure.

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