Prestigious grant for scientists from Świerk

Dr Karol Wawrzyniak. Naukowiec ze Świerku laureatem prestiżowego stypendium
Dr Karol Wawrzyniak (photo NCBJ)

Dr. Karol Wawrzyniak from NCBJ has won a prestigious grant from the AXA Research Fund. The grant will be supporting research on estimation of risks related to unstable states in national power grid and on blackout prevention.

The idea of that research topic was born within the Complex System Team  headed by Eng. Wawrzyniak, PhD (one of the research teams set up in NCBJ within the framework of the CIŚ Świerk Computer Centre project under accomplishment since 2009). The project is an answer to dynamically growing demand for IT solutions needed by the power industry sector, both conventional and nuclear. To be capable to deliver the solutions, one of the four most powerful supercomputers in Poland has been installed in Świerk. Several teams of the centre conduct also their own research. Complex System Team gathers scientists and engineers of interdisciplinary background and various professional profiles. Team members are involved in research on such topics as production/transmission/distribution of electric power, modelling/optimization of energy markets, and the like.

Starting the CIŚ project we have decided that to be able to offer some real added value to science and national economy, we must develop our own competent research teams simultaneously to installing a powerful supercomputer. Present successes of our young scientists are a strong testimony that the selected approach was right – said Professor Grzegorz Wrochna, NCBJ Director General.

Winning a grant from the AXA Research Fund is not the first significant success of the Complex System Team.  Świerk scientists have been making up one of the two expert task forces that officially support European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity in design and evaluation of possible configura­tions of the planned zoned European electric power market already since April 2015.

The AXA Research Fund grant is for us a great distinction and simultaneously a strong motivation for further work. Reliability of power delivery in abnormal conditions is among the most important issues related to power grid operation. Proper evaluation of the related risks is a big challenge both in terms of correct estimation of probabilities of various evens/conditions (such as strong winds or terrorist attacks), as well as in terms of proper evaluation of their consequences. Objectives of our research include such issues as how to optimally prevent cascade effects, which might occur in power system after a failure of one or a few of its elements. Such cascades may result in some wide-scale blackouts potentially painful for large parts of the society and dangerous for critical electricity users like hospitals, airports, or telecommunication companies – explains Dr. Wawrzyniak. – Nowadays power grid operators have at their disposal a number of tools that help them to control their power systems, including solutions capable to match the demand side and the supply side to power grid restrictions. Last summer draught in Poland was an occasion to demonstrate application of such tools: the operators were forced to limit electric energy consumption in view of short supplies. Since future power systems are expected to be supplied by more weather-dependent power sources (renewable energy), such issues are expected to only grow in the future, so we have to learn how to effectively cope with them. The AXA project is going to be a framework within which we will try to find out how to best adapt our systems to such challenges, balancing adaptation costs with costs of possible adverse consequences for the society.

As a laureate of the Top 500 Innovators programme run by Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education Dr. Wawrzyniak spent several weeks as fellow at Stanford University. The programme is addressed to the best scientists in Poland engaged in research on subjects of a large commercialization  potential.

The AXA Research Fund grant is another sign of recognition of expertise and skills of the Complex System Team built in Świerk – points out Professor Wojciech Wiślicki, the CIŚ project Head. – I sincerely congratulate Dr. Wawrzyniak and all members of his team. I am convinced that the grant will be used very well.

Every year 30 proposals submitted by the best scientists involved in studies on various risks encountered in diverse fields and areas are financed from the AXA Research Fund. Up to now the Fund has spent almost €131 million to support almost 450 projects accomplished in 32 countries.

Dr. Karol Wawrzyniak