Routing gas around Europe using the same decentralised control techniques developed for the internet could reduce the way energy crises cascade, say network and complexity theorists.
One of the biggest challenges facing modern society is energy security: how to guarantee a safe and secure supply of energy in an increasingly networked world where incidents on one side of the planet can have a significant impact on the energy supply on the other.
In the last few years, disputes between Russia and Ukraine over gas pipelines have cut off the supply to parts of Europe. Hurricane Katrina had a significant impact on the energy supply in the US and a terrorist attack on an Algerian gas facility earlier this year reduced the supply to Europe by 10 per cent. In March, the UK was left with just 6 hours’-worth of stored gas as a buffer for the entire country.
These kinds of crises are an inevitable part of the modern world. Preventing them simply isn’t possible. Instead, energy specialist have begun to think about mitigating their effects. The question is: how?
Today, we get an answer of sorts thanks to the work of Rui Carvahlo from Queen Mary University of London in the UK and a few pals who have studied how problems in the gas supply cascade through the network of pipelines that carry the stuff across Europe.