Towards understanding the robustness of energy distribution networks based on macroscopic and microscopic evaluations

Jiming LIU*, Benyun SHI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Supply disruptions on one node of a distribution network may spread to other nodes, and potentially bring various social and economic impacts. To understand the performance of a distribution network in the face of supply disruptions, it would be helpful for policy makers to quantitatively evaluate the robustness of the network, i.e., its ability of maintaining a supply-demand balance on individual nodes. In this paper, we first define a notion of network entropy to macroscopically characterize distribution robustness with respect to the dynamics of energy flows. Further, we look into how microscopic evaluation based on a failure spreading model helps us determine the extent to which disruptions on one node may affect the others. We take the natural gas distribution network in the USA as an example to demonstrate the introduced concepts and methods. Specifically, the proposed macroscopic and microscopic evaluations provide us a means of precisely identifying transmission bottlenecks in the U.S. interstate pipeline network, ranking the effects of supply disruptions on individual nodes, and planning geographically advantageous locations for natural gas storage. These findings can offer policy makers, planners, and network managers with further insights into emergency planning as well as possible design improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-327
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Distribution robustness
  • Energy distribution network
  • Mitigation strategy


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