Solar Storms are Destroying Industrial Electrical Equipment

This weekend’s series of Coronal Mass Ejections from the sun warn of fragile electrical infrastructure

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A Statistical Study of Insurance Claim Data Shows Hidden Damage From Solar Storms

In June this year, leading space weather scientists released new data in Space Weather Journal on the effect of solar weather on the North American electrical grid.  Scientists have long warned that a large Coronal Mass Ejection could have a similar effect as a High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse Attack.  That is because the sun regularly is shooting off geo-magnetic storms in every direction. It is only a matter of time before one of those flares hits the earth straight on with exactly the same EMP – type of effect as if it were a nuclear bomb detonated above the earth’s atmosphere.  The resulting waves could take down most of the nation’s electric grid permanently.

The new data shows that even lower scale solar weather has a great cost to consumers and investors. 

What’s interesting about these claims is that they are not just related to the high-voltage networks associated with transmission grids. Instead, much of this equipment is connected to the low voltage power distribution network. “The claims statistics thus reveal that large-scale geomagnetic variability couples into the low-voltage power distribution network,” they say. That has never been revealed before.

Authors of the report include William Murtagh, program co-ordinator for the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado and Carolus Schrijver at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto.  

The study can be found here:

arxiv.org/abs/1406.7024 : Assessing The Impact Of Space Weather On The Electric Power Grid Based On Insurance Claims For Industrial Electrical Equipment

The Secure the Grid Coalition promotes protecting the electrical grid from all hazards.  Measures required to harden the grid from EMP and solar weather are similar.  Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy and a member of the Secure the Grid Coalition made comments in regard to this weekend’s solar storms as well.

The united states and, indeed planet earth, are facing potentially catastrophic destruction as a result of an intense solar storm.  it is a certitude that it will happen yet we have not taken steps to protect our electric grid against such effects.  the only question is when.  Both this weekend’s solar storms and the insurance claims report from the Space Weather Journal remind us that the grid is not hardened to protect customers and investors from the effects of even regular solar weather.  Hopefully this will be a catalyst for the sorts of protection that is already long overdue.”  That is the determined purpose of the Secure the Grid Coalition.

The Secure the Grid Coalition is an ad hoc group of policy, energy, and national security experts, legislators, and industry insiders who are dedicated to strengthening the resiliency of America’s electrical grid. The Coalition aims to raise awareness about the national and international threat of grid vulnerability, and encourage the steps needed to neutralize it.