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Emergence of scale-free blackout sizes in power grids

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Document pages: 27 pages

Abstract: We model power grids as graphs with heavy-tailed sinks, which representdemand from cities, and study cascading failures on such graphs. Our analysislinks the scale-free nature of blackout sizes to the scale-free nature of citysizes, contrasting previous studies suggesting that this nature is governed byself-organized criticality. Our results are based on a new mathematicalframework combining the physics of power flow with rare event analysis forheavy-tailed distributions, and are validated using various synthetic networksand the German transmission grid.

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