Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Solar storm power cut planning

The British press is far from perfect, but it does seem strange that you pick up so many interesting stories in the U.S. from foreign correspondents, rather than our own home press.

Steve Connor, Science Editor in Boulder, Colorado, The Independent (U.K.), 13 June 2011, (Hat Tip: NC).
Officials in Britain and the United States are preparing to make controlled power cuts to their national electricity supplies in response to a warning of a possible powerful solar storm hitting the Earth.
The most vulnerable parts of the grid are the hundreds of transformers connected to power lines many miles long that can experience sudden current surges during a geomagnetic solar storm, Dr Bogdan said. "It points to a potential scenario where large parts of either North America or northern Europe may be without power from between days or weeks, to perhaps months and, in extreme cases, there are estimates that it could last years," Dr Bogdan said.
In 1989, a solar geomagentic storm knocked out the electricity grid across large parts of Canada. The loss cascaded across the United States and caused power problems as far away as California. The greatest fear is a massive storm as big as the one documented by astronomer Richard Carrington in 1859, which burnt out telegraph wires.
Given a choice of what to quote, I went for the scary parts.  It is a short but informative report, and the precautions being investigated appear to be reasonable.  It was refreshing to see officialdom acknowledge the problems and take actions to address it.  Nice to know there are some adults in charge.

Note that this story is cross-talking with a very recent one on how the expected surge in solar activity, based on the usual solar activity cycle, has not occurred, and now they are worried about the reverse being true.

No comments: