The Power of Mathematics: Delivering Reliable Renewables

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Without safety mechanisms, excess production of renewable energy could overburden existing Australian power infrastructure resulting in major blackouts, according to stochoastic processes and operations expert, Associate Professor Maria Vlasiou.

Renewable energy is just one example of the application of layered or interactive networks, which the Eindhoven University of Technology researcher will explore along with queuing theory, during her national Australian tour from 13-22 February.

“Using application inspired models, my research aims to understand these often non-standard networks and develop mathematical tools to manage them,” Associate Professor Vlasiou explains.

Associate Professor Vlasiou’s research could provide critical insights essential to assist Australian engineers in responding to this challenge.

“By studying structures with interactive networks, I hope to identify configurations that provide engineers with the mathematical insights to address emerging challenges such as building systems capable of delivering reliable, sustainable energy,” she says.

In countries such as Australia, where sunshine makes solar power attractive the risk of oversupply is real. This mathematics is essential to equip networks to respond to the challenges of renewable energy supply and avoid increasingly frequent blackouts resulting from natural disasters, weather events, and overloading.

“When consumers generate solar power any excess is sent back to the grid. On a very hot sunny day, if demand isn’t high enough supply could end up too great for the power lines leading to overheating and blackouts,” she explains.

Stochastic processes can also be applied to explore models that investigate efficient and fair electric car recharging within the limits of cable infrastructure and power supply.

“When you plug in your phone to charge, it simply draws power as fast as it can. Electric cars do the same. In a large car park there is a risk this would overburden cables leading to overheating. I hope to provide insights that allow engineers to develop systems responsive to this challenge,” she says.

Associate Professor Vlasiou’s talk will touch on a broad range of areas within stochastic processes and operations, as well as the application of queuing theory to healthcare.

Sponsored by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) and Australian and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ANZIAM), Associate Professor Vlasiou’s tour will take in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.

AMSI’s annual lecture tour programs provide an important platform to strengthen Australia’s engagement with the global mathematical and statistical research community.

AMSI Director Professor Geoff Prince said engagement with international researchers such as Associate Professor Vlasiou was essential to build Australia’s global mathematical and statistical profile.

“An essential platform to strengthen research ties, these events highlight mathematics and statistics as an innovation driver,” says Professor Prince.

About the Tour

Associate Professor Vlasiou will present public lectures in Adelaide (13 February 2017), Perth (15 February 2017) and Melbourne (17 February 2017). For full details and to register, visit

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