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Houston Advanced Research Center Receives $600,000 Grant to Examine the Resilience of Power Systems to Climate Change

Press Releases

04.14.2021

Funds will support team of multidisciplinary researchers to develop a climate risk modeling framework to improve resilience of power systems.

Houston, TX – The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) received a two-year $600,000 grant award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to develop a modeling framework that advances systems-level understanding of the impacts of climate change on electrical power infrastructure.

The funded project is part of HARC’s clean energy research portfolio, which identifies and supports cost-effective, practical energy solutions to speed the transition to a resilient, decarbonized energy system. HARC’s research guides communities, policymakers and industry leaders towards improvements in areas such as electric power resilience, energy efficiency, and distributed energy resources.

“Earlier this year, Texas showed the world what happens when power and water infrastructure systems are not built to withstand extreme weather events and climate change,” said Lisa Gonzalez, HARC’s President and CEO. “With the support of the Sloan Foundation, our team has an exciting opportunity to establish a new model for power planning that takes climate change into account and has potential applications for other types of infrastructure systems.”

Dr. Gavin Dillingham, HARC’s Program Director of Clean Energy, and the research project’s principal investigator explained that “our ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive modeling decision framework that integrates water, energy, socioeconomic, and agent-based models to create resilient, reliable, and cost-effective power systems for people in the face of climate uncertainty.”

The team, consisting of researchers from HARC, the University of Houston, and Lehigh University, will develop a novel modeling framework, called the Pythias framework. The Pythias framework will analyze the impact of climate risks such as extreme weather events, accelerating temperatures, and water scarcity on power systems. Pythias will integrate that information with complex physical and socioeconomic models, and a state-of-the-art decision-making model.

The research will result in a novel approach to power system planning and management that addresses how climate change will affect the long-term planning and management of power systems and needed steps to mitigate climate-related risks.

“Gaining a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on energy system infrastructure will be critical in the years ahead. We are so pleased to support the exceptional research and practitioner team assembled by HARC to address some of the most pressing open questions in this area,” said Evan Michelson, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Through this grant, HARC, will also quantify climate-related risks and transform the ways in which the power industry understands and accounts for climate risks in planning. Texas is an ideal location to develop and test the Pythias framework. The state has experienced all six types of extreme weather events tracked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and has endured more billion-dollar disasters than any other state in the US, totaling more than $124 billion since 1980.

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 Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC)
Founded in 1982 by George P. Mitchell, HARC is a nonprofit research hub providing independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers. HARC research activities support the implementation of policies and technologies that promote sustainability based on scientific principles. HARC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization building a sustainable future in which people thrive and nature flourishes. For further information, contact HARC at (281) 364-6000 or visit www.HARCresearch.org. You can also connect with us via Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Like or follow @HARCresearch.

For more information on the Pythias framework, please email gdillingham@harcresearch.org. For more information on HARC’s climate and sustainability research please email lgonzalez@harcresearch.org.

Our ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive modeling decision framework that integrates water, energy, socioeconomic, and agent-based models to create resilient, reliable, and cost-effective power systems for people in the face of climate uncertainty.

Dr. Gavin Dillingham, Program Director of Clean Energy