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Mon Dec 30, 2013, 02:02 PM

SOLAR STORM RISK TO THE NORTH AMERICAN ELECTRIC GRID

SOLAR STORM RISK TO THE NORTH AMERICAN ELECTRIC GRID
The report, which was produced in collaboration with the Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), examines the impact of solar storms on North America’s electric grid. By developing a model with the latest information on surface disturbances from geomagnetic storms and using storm simulations, the report quantifies the risk of space weather to North America.
http://preview.tinyurl.com/pgupgpr


Solar Storm Risk to the North American Electric Grid (753.57 KB, pdf)
http://preview.tinyurl.com/puyav8n

Sample content:
7 Awareness and Preparation
Given the extensive impact geomagnetic storms can have on the electric grid and power supply, preventative measures that may mitigate the effect of these storms are important. The JASON Defense Advisory Panel Report42 recommends establishing a space weather monitoring program for CMEs and ensuring the safety of vital grid components with protective installations.

Currently, four space satellites (SOHO - Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, ACE – Advanced Composition Explorer, and STEREO A/B – Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) monitor the Sun. Situated between the Sun and Earth or along Earth’s orbit, these satellites can provide warnings of incoming CMEs on a timescale of a few days to hours. These warnings allow electric grid operators to take protective measures (i.e., decrease the electric load in the grid and increase reactive power production) before the storm hits. However these satellites are all several years past their planned mission lives43 and only one has a replacement scheduled to launch in 2014.

Additionally, several steps can be taken to harden the electric grid against geomagnetically induced currents: neutral-current-blocking capacitors can be installed to block GIC from flowing into at-risk transformers, series-line capacitors can be installed on autotransformers, improvements can be made to the tripping techniques to avoid false tripping from GIC harmonics, and the utilisation of GIC monitors at transformers will ensure that current levels remain stable.

Since the 1989 Quebec storm and power outage, the Canadian government has invested $1.2 billion (about $34 per person) into protecting the Hydro-Quebec grid infrastructure, installing numerous blocking capacitors44. While these mitigation strategies can be expensive up front (estimated cost of $100k per blocking capacitor for a total of $100 million to protect the 1,000 most vulnerable transformers45), the cost of prevention is much smaller than the cost of the damage a single storm can create.

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Reply SOLAR STORM RISK TO THE NORTH AMERICAN ELECTRIC GRID (Original post)
kristopher Dec 2013 OP
bananas Dec 2013 #1
2naSalit Dec 2013 #2
2naSalit Dec 2013 #3
Searay60 Dec 2013 #4
kristopher Dec 2013 #5
Searay60 Dec 2013 #6

Response to kristopher (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 02:55 PM

1. related...

May 2013: Feds Want Power Grid Plans for Solar Flares
http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014496745

Dec 2012: NRC to consider solar flare petition by Foundation for Resilient Societies
http://www.democraticunderground.com/112732094

Foundation for Resilient Societies NRC dockets
http://www.resilientsocieties.org/docketfilings.html
(note: the one dated Dec 24, 2013 is actually from 2012,
the webpage has the wrong year.)

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 02:59 PM

2. Yesterday

I noticed my radio reception was crackly and when I looked at the earthquake events page I saw several 5+Magnitude quakes in a short time frame. So I looked at this page: http://solarimg.org/artis/ to discover that an M Class flare had occurred. It seems that moderate to large quakes takes place when M and X Class flares happen... so there was one yesterday. Also, my Internet and my computer off-line were pretty slow too.

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 03:22 PM

3. And then there's this...

http://iswa.gsfc.nasa.gov:8080/IswaSystemWebApp/iSWACygnetStreamer?timestamp=2038-01-23%2000:44:00&window=-1&cygnetId=40 Which shows the solar wind effects and intensity over time... in 2011 the radiation belt was not so close in to the planet and the solar wind was rarely pushing on it but since late 2012 it has been a constant pressure on the radiation belt and sometimes it is pushed way inside the orbit of the satellites. We're getting fried with solar elements, some pass through matter and, therefore, through the mass of the entire planet. These elements (for lack of a better term, gamma rays, nutrena-sp? etc. ) also heat up the planetary core and is probably the most likely explanation for the increase in volcanic activity as well... some dozen or more volcanoes erupting over the past few years, and five at one time along the Pacific coast of Russia, not to mention three going one the Aleutian Peninsula all this year.

Weee!

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 04:04 PM

4. Neutral Blocking Is a Bad Idea

Much of the Article is a recap of the NERC GMD task force which has a transformer fetish. Many of the statements on transformer configuration and type of transformers are not accurate. Single phase transformers are not the most susceptible and most single phase transformers have three 3 transformers and a spare on site that can be energized in less than 24 hours. I cringe on the thought of neutral blocking caps as the meds are worse than the sickness. Only in a few cases are neutral caps able to work with out causing transformer bushings or windings to be damaged. The failure and reliability track record of neutral blocking caps is not great since there are currently no IEEE or IEC standards. Series capacitors look like a possible mitigation but are relatively expensive. Right now the Hydro Quebec solution looks like the most mature.

All this being said GMD's are less of a threat than extreme weather but there is no governmental push for better designs or construction standards. Most of the hype is geared toward selling solutions to make a quick buck. First rule of mitigation is to do no harm.

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 06:15 PM

5. 20-40 mil. people at risk - duration 16 days to 1-2 years

From PDF
Executive Summary

A Carrington-level, extreme geomagnetic storm is almost inevitable in the future. While the probability of an extreme storm occurring is relatively low at any given time, it is almost inevitable that one will occur eventually. Historical auroral records suggest a return period of 50 years for Quebec-level storms and 150 years for very extreme storms, such as the Carrington Event that occurred 154 years ago.

The risk of intense geomagnetic storms is elevated as we approach the peak of the current solar cycle. Solar activity follows an 11-year cycle, with the most intense events occurring near the cycle peak. For the current Cycle 24, the geomagnetic storm risk is projected to peak in early 2015.

As the North American electric infrastructure ages and we become more and more dependent on electricity, the risk of a catastrophic outage increases with each peak of the solar cycle. Our society is
becoming increasingly dependent on electricity. Because of the potential for long-term, widespread power outage, the hazard posed by geomagnetic storms is one of the most significant.

Weighted by population, the highest risk of storm-induced power outages in the US is along the Atlantic corridor between Washington D.C. and New York City. This takes into account risk factors such
as magnetic latitude, distance to the coast, ground conductivity and transmission grid properties. Other high- risk regions are the Midwest states, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, and regions along the Gulf Coast.

The total U.S. population at risk of extended power outage from a Carrington-level storm is between 20-40 million, with durations of 16 days to 1-2 years. The duration of outages will depend largely on the
availability of spare replacement transformers. If new transformers need to be ordered, the lead-time is likely to be a minimum of five months. The total economic cost for such a scenario is estimated at $0.6-2.6 trillion USD (see Appendix).

Storms weaker than Carrington-level could result in a small number of damaged transformers (around 10-20), but the potential damage to densely populated regions along the Atlantic coast is
significant
. The total number of damaged transformers is less relevant for prolonged power outage than their concentration. The failure of a small number of transformers serving a highly populated area is enough to create a situation of prolonged outage.

A severe space weather event that causes major disruption to the electricity network in the US could have major implications for the insurance industry. If businesses, public services and households are
without power for sustained periods of time, insurers may be exposed to business interruption and other claims.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #5)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 07:15 PM

6. Great Recap

Most of this report is based on information gathered by Keppenman's study after the 1989 Blackout. Power companies in the North East have made a lot of changes that negate many of the concerns. Foe the most part with FERC collaboration we have settled on 5000 nano tesla's as our worst case event. We are using the Carrington event as the base line but like the Great Japanese earth quake there could always be a storm larger than what we think. The current transformer designs can withstand these events as normal service conditions. Its the older units that may be susceptible. As these units are replaced the grid is hardened. The one to two years outage part is a stretch too but a month is possible for some companies that do not have enough generation to match their load. The push of neutral capacitors is bad and will cause more harm than good. Its not a one size fits all solution.

A point of use PV looks better and better every day.

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