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Analytical Research Foundations for the Next Generation Electric Grid



Electricity is the lifeblood of modern society, and the vast majority of people rely on obtaining electricity from large, interconnected power grids. However, the grid that was developed in the 20th century is no longer adequate to meet the needs of the 21st century. The next-generation electric grid must be flexible enough to accommodate intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, and it must be resilient enough to withstand disturbances caused by attacks or disasters. While present-day mathematical models can predict the behavior and interaction of hundreds of thousands of components—a capability that is needed daily to match power generation to demand and to keep utility-scale operations profitable—these models break down for larger, more complex systems. At the request of the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Academies undertook a study on the long-term critical research areas in the mathematical sciences that should be given priority in order to advance the analytic foundations needed to make the next-generation electric grid a reality. The report advises DOE to increase research in mathematical optimization and in dynamical system theory in order to more accurately model the next generation grid. It recommends improving data availability and usage through the creation of synthetic data and the development of open-source software. It also recommends that DOE broaden its coordination of research in its National Laboratories to include academic and industrial researchers and that it establish a National Electric Power Systems Research Center.


Download the full report

Download the report highlights (4-page summary)



To gather input for the study committee, the National Academies organized a workshop to bring together experts and stakeholders from across disciplines to identify critical areas of mathematical and computational research that must be addressed for the next-generation electric transmission and distribution system.


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Download the workshop proceedings


Committee Members

JOHN GUCKENHEIMER, Cornell University, Co-Chair

THOMAS J. OVERBYE, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Co-Chair

DANIEL BIENSTOCK, Columbia University

ANJAN BOSE, Washington State University

TERRY BOSTON, PJM Interconnection, LLC

JEFFERY DAGLE, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

MARIJA D. ILIC, Carnegie Mellon University

CHRISTOPHER K. JONES, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

FRANK P. KELLY, University of Cambridge

YANNIS G. KEVREKIDIS, Princeton University

RALPH D. MASIELLO, Quanta Technologies

JUAN C. MEZA, University of California, Merced

CYNTHIA RUDIN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

ROBERT J. THOMAS, Cornell University

MARGARET H. WRIGHT, New York University