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CEIC-02-05

"Electricity and Conflict: Advantages Of A Distributed System."

Hisham Zerriffi, Hadi Dowlatabadi, and Alex Farrell.

Abstract:
In times of war, attacking infrastructure is a common military tactic and electric power systems are obvious targets. Moreover, the rise of organized and systematic global terrorism has demonstrated that an attack on an electricity system is an issue for all countries, not just those undergoing conflict or at war. This paper details a quantitative comparison of the reliability of an electricity system based on distributed natural-gas fired units to a traditional system based on large centralized plants. The model shows that the distributed system can be significantly more reliable under stress. The cost of electricity for the centralized and distributed systems was calculated. The cost calculation includes a heat credit for cogeneration in the distributed case and the social costs due to reliability degradation. Even without considering the benefits of robustness under conflict conditions, a DG can result in cost savings of up to 16% with moderate cogeneration. Under the conflict conditions considered, the cost of electricity can be up to 50% lower with a DG system as compared to a centralized system. These savings increase if more cogeneration is
used. These findings suggest that distributed systems can provide electricity more reliably and at a cost savings both under normal operating conditions and under conditions of stress, such as in a conflict area.
For a copy of this paper please contact Hisham Zerriffi