Skip to content

This week’s solar flare illuminates the grid’s vulnerability

June 13, 2011

The next peak cycle of sunspot activity is predicted for 2012–2014, bringing with it a greater risk of large geomagnetic storms that can generate powerful rogue currents in transmission lines, potentially damaging or destroying the large transformers that manage power flow over high-voltage networks.

In the worst-case scenario, the stockpile of spare transformers would fall far short of replacement needs. Urban centers across the continent would be without power for many months or even years, until new transformers could be manufactured and delivered from Asia. No comprehensive plan exists to retrofit the transmission grid with protective devices.

“The U.S. society and economy are so critically dependent upon the availability of electricity that a significant collapse of the grid precipitated by a major natural or man-made EMP [electro-magnetic pulse] event could result in catastrophic civilian casualties,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said at a May 31 House Energy subcommittee hearing on the issue.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: