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US & UK plan power cuts to beat solar storm

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posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:25 PM
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Just noticed this link on David Seredas facebook ...


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.

Thomas Bogdan, director of the US Space Weather Prediction Centre, said that controlled power "outages" will protect the national electricity grids against damage which could take years to repair should a solar storm collide with the Earth without any precautions being taken.

Dr Bogdan is in discussions with scientists in the UK Met Office to set up a second space weather prediction centre in Britain to co-ordinate a global response to a threat viewed seriously by the US and UK governments.

One of the subjects is how to protect electricity grids from the immense power surges caused by the geomagnetic storms which happen when highly energetic solar particles collide with the Earth's magnetic field


From here: www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk...

Its about time they started to think about this ...

My preference would have been to have contigency tranformers ready for the national grids.
Is that the right terminology ?
The transformers, that when they blow, costs thousands of pounds / dollars to replace .. and takes months to build ...

In the mean time .. As David Sereda suggests ... May be a good idea to invest in one, or some, of those solar panel battery chargers ..

I was thinking of getting a few anyway .. for when / if tshtf ...

edit on 13-6-2011 by Segenam because: (no reason given)




posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:33 PM
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hasn't the scuttlebutt for over a decade now been that there will be some massive solar disruption of everything on the planet?

This isn't anything new is it.



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:34 PM
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I dont see anything on spacewheather to indicate this??


www.spaceweather.com...



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:36 PM
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I think a cheaper route still is cutting off power. Isnt a shut off generator safer from blowing up then a turned on one? Prevention seems a bit better in the interim, but back ups im sure are being put on the table to make up for any controlled and uncontrolled outages.



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:39 PM
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Oh dear, Oh dear, dear, dear! We are going to be relying on the UK Met Office for predicting the weather????
They haven't got it right ever.

Takinhg heart though its only the sun they will be peeking at.

I did understand that were a grid to go down because of the loss of no end of smaller businesses over the last 30 years, we actually don't have the manufacturers to produce some parts of the gridk, so they are doing the right thing.

But will it be On, Off, On, Off, On, Off, again and again.



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:41 PM
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Originally posted by grey580
hasn't the scuttlebutt for over a decade now been that there will be some massive solar disruption of everything on the planet?

This isn't anything new is it.


The idea of a devastating CME or the likes is not anything new .. No

The article i refer to .. is about people starting to take the repercussions of how it can affect the power grid into account .. and realistically look to minimise any damage / down time ...


Originally posted by camaro68ss
I dont see anything on spacewheather to indicate this??


www.spaceweather.com...

Although Thomas Bogdan is teh Director of the US Space Weather Prediction Centre ... I dont find it overly surprising that he has not put a headline on the page you linked me to .. with regards to the article that appeared in that teh belfast telegraph today ..

This is about trying to avoid the national grid being taken out .. not about spreading news of doom and gloom ...



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:47 PM
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reply to post by Segenam
 


Do you have any idea how much it would cost to keep "contigency tranformers" in storage in an adequate variety of capacities and numbers to bring the grid up to something even resembling crippled?



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:51 PM
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Found this article here .. which is what we were talking about, with regards to contigency transformers.




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. The transformers are not made in the United States.

"If the solar storm of 1921, which has been termed a one-in-100-year event, were to occur today, well over 300 extra-high-voltage transformers could be damaged or destroyed, thereby interrupting power to 130 million people for a period of years," Joseph McClelland, director of the Office of Electric Reliability at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a May 31 House Energy subcommittee hearing on the issue.

www.scientificamerican.com...

So yeah ... Even if they start building all the transformers today, to stockpile 100% contingency ... We should be covered in about, say, 20 years ? ... Fine so long as we don't get frazzled in mean time ..

You'd think, with what's at stake ... that countries would be able to use their own resources to whip some of these up quickly ... But i guess that's easy for me to sit here and say ...



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:54 PM
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reply to post by SirMike
 


No SirMike .. No Idea ...

But when i consider how easily they acquire military weapons .. where tax payers money is almost of no issue ..
Well .. thats to win a war . or to defend a nation ..

I think the repercussions of the possible disaster they are addressing ... a war that 'would' bring whole nations to their knees ...

I'm sure the massive undertaking would be no larger than arming a military force ...



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 12:57 PM
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Originally posted by Segenam
Found this article here .. which is what we were talking about, with regards to contigency transformers.




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. The transformers are not made in the United States.

"If the solar storm of 1921, which has been termed a one-in-100-year event, were to occur today, well over 300 extra-high-voltage transformers could be damaged or destroyed, thereby interrupting power to 130 million people for a period of years," Joseph McClelland, director of the Office of Electric Reliability at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a May 31 House Energy subcommittee hearing on the issue.

www.scientificamerican.com...

So yeah ... Even if they start building all the transformers today, to stockpile 100% contingency ... We should be covered in about, say, 20 years ? ... Fine so long as we don't get frazzled in mean time ..

You'd think, with what's at stake ... that countries would be able to use their own resources to whip some of these up quickly ... But i guess that's easy for me to sit here and say ...


yes, This is a major problem and would bring us back to the stone age. millions with out food and water/



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 01:13 PM
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My take is:-

a) Surge protectors are built into the network to guard against just such events

b) Large transformers are usually custom-designed for efficiency over their lifetime, and take about a year to build.

c) Might be a good idea to check you have surge protection at home for computers, laptops, TV's etc. These are now quite affordable and built into a plu block. At home I use four of these around the house.

d) I can only see this one story on the web, being passed around verbatim by crank news sites and mainstream ones alike.

e) Sounds like just talk about talks. No timescales presented.

f) More important in the UK is the renewal of a large proportion of the existing transformer estate, which is nearing the end of it's design life.



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 01:26 PM
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Originally posted by ommadawn
My take is:-

c) Might be a good idea to check you have surge protection at home for computers, laptops, TV's etc. These are now quite affordable and built into a plu block. At home I use four of these around the house.



Excellent point, ive experienced this last week. A lightning strike fried out our router and security camera monitor but luckily all our computers and tvs and everything else was fine.

Its good for us to be prepared at home as well.



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 01:29 PM
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reply to post by ommadawn
 


Yes ...
But i think the disaster they have to plan for .. would be a Carrington Type Event ..

In which case .. im not sure surge protectors would help ... domestic, or industrial ...

My understanding is, the transformers, are what provide the grid ... so having surge protectors within the grid would not help if the transformer takes a direct hit ... which it will .. in fact it, and the whole grid would be hit simultaneously ...

Its also speculated, that domestic appliances, disconnected from the grid, would likely still short out with enough EM build up on the circuit tracks, and components ...

So we can perhaps take measures to protect our valuable domestic technology .. but depending on the hit .. it may be in vein ...

A DIY Faraday Cage would likely be a more effective alternative at protecting your electronics ... But some believe, even that would be futile against some CMEs ... due to the wavelengths of the Electromagnetic radiation ...

The transformers however .. are a different matter ... they are the difference between a nation going back to the dark ages or not .. and although it would be prudent to try protect them ... it would be far more prudent, to have backups made .. and should have been done prior to the sun even acting up ...

The back-up transformers would also be prone to the same hit ... But I think, for their value .. they would be quite well protected, underground, within thick lead housing or the likes ...

edit on 13-6-2011 by Segenam because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 02:52 PM
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interesting that they are finally talking about this... although not in the msm yet, or not that I can find.

Interesting times!



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 04:18 PM
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what make me sick is we bail out the banks with trillions of dollars instead of spending it on a smart grid system that they been talking about for a decade like a politcal football
makes me sick



posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 04:59 AM
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science.nasa.gov...

Getting Ready for the Next Big Solar Storm

June 21, 2011: In Sept. 1859, on the eve of a below-average1 solar cycle, the sun unleashed one of the most powerful storms in centuries. The underlying flare was so unusual, researchers still aren't sure how to categorize it. The blast peppered Earth with the most energetic protons in half-a-millennium, induced electrical currents that set telegraph offices on fire, and sparked Northern Lights over Cuba and Hawaii.

This week, officials have gathered at the National Press Club in Washington DC to ask themselves a simple question: What if it happens again?

"A similar storm today might knock us for a loop," says Lika Guhathakurta, a solar physicist at NASA headquarters. "Modern society depends on high-tech systems such as smart power grids, GPS, and satellite communications--all of which are vulnerable to solar storms."

She and more than a hundred others are attending the fifth annual Space Weather Enterprise Forum—"SWEF" for short. The purpose of SWEF is to raise awareness of space weather and its effects on society especially among policy makers and emergency responders. Attendees come from the US Congress, FEMA, power companies, the United Nations, NASA, NOAA and more.

As 2011 unfolds, the sun is once again on the eve of a below-average solar cycle—at least that’s what forecasters are saying. The "Carrington event" of 1859 (named after astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the instigating flare) reminds us that strong storms can occur even when the underlying cycle is nominally weak.

In 1859 the worst-case scenario was a day or two without telegraph messages and a lot of puzzled sky watchers on tropical islands.

In 2011 the situation would be more serious. An avalanche of blackouts carried across continents by long-distance power lines could last for weeks to months as engineers struggle to repair damaged transformers. Planes and ships couldn’t trust GPS units for navigation. Banking and financial networks might go offline, disrupting commerce in a way unique to the Information Age. According to a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences, a century-class solar storm could have the economic impact of 20 hurricane Katrinas.

As policy makers meet to learn about this menace, NASA researchers a few miles away are actually doing something about it:

"We can now track the progress of solar storms in 3 dimensions as the storms bear down on Earth," says Michael Hesse, chief of the GSFC Space Weather Lab and a speaker at the forum. "This sets the stage for actionable space weather alerts that could preserve power grids and other high-tech assets during extreme periods of solar activity."

They do it using data from a fleet of NASA spacecraft surrounding the sun. Analysts at the lab feed the information into a bank of supercomputers for processing. Within hours of a major eruption, the computers spit out a 3D movie showing where the storm will go, which planets and spacecraft it will hit, and predicting when the impacts will occur. This kind of "interplanetary forecast" is unprecedented in the short history of space weather forecasting.

"This is a really exciting time to work as a space weather forecaster," says Antti Pulkkinen, a researcher at the Space Weather Lab. "The emergence of serious physics-based space weather models is putting us in a position to predict if something major will happen."

Some of the computer models are so sophisticated, they can even predict electrical currents flowing in the soil of Earth when a solar storm strikes. These currents are what do the most damage to power transformers. An experimental project named "Solar Shield" led by Pulkkinen aims to pinpoint transformers in greatest danger of failure during any particular storm.

"Disconnecting a specific transformer for a few hours could forestall weeks of regional blackouts," says Pulkkinen.

Another SWEF speaker, John Allen of NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate, pointed out that while people from all walks of life can be affected by space weather, no one is out on the front lines quite like astronauts.

"Astronauts are routinely exposed to four times as much radiation as industrial radiation workers on Earth," he says. "It's a serious occupational hazard."

NASA keeps careful track of each astronaut's accumulated dosage throughout their careers. Every launch, every space walk, every solar flare is carefully accounted for. If an astronaut gets too close to the limits ... he or she might not be allowed out of the space station! Accurate space weather alerts can help keep these exposures under control by, e.g., postponing spacewalks when flares are likely.

Speaking at the forum, Allen called for a new kind of forecast: "We could use All Clear alerts. In addition to knowing when it's dangerous to go outside, we'd also like to know when it's safe. This is another frontier for forecasters--not only telling us when a sunspot will erupt, but also when it won't."

The educational mission of SWEF is key to storm preparedness. As Lika Guhathakurta and colleague Dan Baker of the University of Colorado asked in a June 17th New York Times op-ed: "What good are space weather alerts if people don’t understand them and won’t react to them?"

By spreading the word, SWEF will help.



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