March 23, 2023

Blockchain for Fault-Tolerant Grid Operations


Radial topology and vast geographic coverage make distribution systems prone to widespread power outages upon the failure of a single (or multiple) upstream component. Fault-handling algorithms depend heavily on correct estimations of the system’s state to effectively isolate the affected area and reduce the number of affected customers while maintaining operational safety. The work described here leverages the core features of distributed, consensus-based decision-making processes and the immutability of blockchain, and demonstrates their value in improving fault-tolerant grid operations. In this work, blockchain was used to create a trusted data-sharing platform that enables independent actors to reconstruct the system state; this enables distributed resources to make intelligent decisions with limited knowledge. Although the process requires data sharing, its algorithms have been designed to limit the amount of private information that is exchanged, which helps preserve business-sensitive data and maintain customer privacy. In addition, by reducing the information that must be shared, the communication requirements are also reduced; (however, an in-depth analysis of the communication requirements is beyond the scope of this project). The proposed use cases are intended to represent a foundational basis for third parties to develop functional solutions that can eventually be deployed in the field. To further provide guidance, the envisioned use cases have incorporated design requirements that consider the blockchain characteristics and a need to limit information from surrounding resources, which preserve the assumption and the possibility that such resources could belong to different entities. This report presents a detailed design of the three use cases with the tools needed to enable the analysis being tested. The implemented gross error detection method can detect mismatches when the error exceeds 3.8 times the sensor’s rated accuracy. Detection of the circuit breaker state successfully identified the correct states across all simulation tests. A distribution-system power-flow solution in the simulator OpenDSS generally possesses a convergency tolerance of 0.01% on the voltage magnitude. The evaluation of possible reconnection using voltage magnitude—preserving the data ownership—has a voltage magnitude difference smaller than 0.001% from the OpenDSS result. The results preserving data ownership have a difference within the expected power flow tolerance with full knowledge of the system, which surpasses expectations.

Published: March 23, 2023


Bereta dos Reis F., D.J. Sebastian Cardenas, M.I. Borkum, H.M. Reeve, and M. Mukherjee. 2023. Blockchain for Fault-Tolerant Grid Operations Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Research topics