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The Electrical Grid Is Becoming Increasingly Vulnerable To Catastrophic Failure

The Electrical Grid Is Becoming Increasingly Vulnerable To Catastrophic Failure

Future electricity systems must be made more resilient

Prolonged blackouts in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida are a reminder the power grid needs to become more resilient as well as reliable if even more services such as electric vehicles are going to depend on it in future.

The electricity system is already directly responsible for providing a wide range of energy services in homes, offices and factories, including space heating, air-conditioning, cooking, refrigeration and power. The grid is also at the heart of a collection of other critical systems, including oil and gas supply, water and sewerage, transport, communications, public safety and healthcare, which cannot function properly without it.

In future, the grid is likely to be responsible for the provision of even more energy services as policymakers push to electrify many remaining services as part of the strategy for achieving net zero emissions.

But in the rush to electrify the entire energy system, policymakers may be inadvertently increasing the vulnerability of the economy and society in the event of a large-area, long-duration power failure.

Rather than several closely connected but separate systems for electricity, gas, oil, and transport, in future there will increasingly be only one very tightly integrated system, increasing its vulnerability to catastrophic failure.

The risk created by linking formerly separate systems into a central system prone to a single point of failure has been understood for decades (“Brittle power: energy strategy for national security“, Lovins, 1982). In particular, the more tightly coupled systems become, the greater the risk an unanticipated problem in one part could cascade through the whole (“Normal accidents: living with high-risk technologies“, Perrow, 1999).

At present, blackouts render some services unavailable (lighting, power), but households and businesses may be able to use others (gas heating, gasoline vehicles). In future, blackouts could disrupt substantially all energy services.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why every state is vulnerable to a Texas-style power crisis

Why every state is vulnerable to a Texas-style power crisis

“The infrastructure we have built right now really isn’t ready.”

Workers repair a power line in Austin, Texas, on February 18, 2021.
Power outages in Texas after Winter Storm Uri left millions in the dark. Such outages are a growing threat throughout the country.
 Thomas Ryan Allison/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The blackouts that gripped parts of Texas for days as temperatures dipped to record lows last month were stunning for a state that prides itself on its diverse and abundant energy supplies. Texas is the country’s largest oil producer, largest lignite coal producer, largest natural gas producer, and largest wind energy producer.

Yet despite its bountiful resources, every electricity source — natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar — fell short just as Texans needed to warm up the most.

Now that Texas has thawed out after an icy freeze left more than 4 million people in the cold and dark, heads are rolling.

This week, Texas Public Utility Commissioner Shelly Botkin resigned, leaving just one commissioner of the three-member group remaining. This follows a wave of resignations at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the group that oversees the state’s power grid.

It’s not yet clear how many Texans died amid the cold, but several people died after they lost power, including an 11-year-old boy. Others died from carbon monoxide poisoning as they burned fuel indoors or ran their cars in desperate attempts to stay warm. Millions lost drinking water for days.

The blackouts cost the state economy upward of $130 billion in damages and losses, and some people who did have power saw their bills spike by thousands of dollars. Grid operators say that the situation could actually have been a lot worse, with the system minutes away from a months-long blackout.

Texas politicians have not earned much sympathy from the ordeal. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz derided California’s “failed energy policies” when the Golden State suffered blackouts last year. Gov. Greg Abbott went on television to erroneously link the power outages to the Green New Deal. Other Texas politicos blamed iced-up wind turbines for the electricity shortfall when the majority of the power losses were from natural gas.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Vulnerable Are America’s Power Grids?

How Vulnerable Are America’s Power Grids?

America’s electricity grid powers our lives, but, as The Epoch Times’ Chris Chappell points out, because it was never built with attacks in mind, it has plenty of vulnerabilities. 

Everything from malware cyber-attacks, to geomagnetic storms, to nuclear detonations in the atmosphere above the US, even sophisticated electronic weapons from Russia and China – all these threaten to shut down our grid and sow chaos. 

So what, if anything, is being done to counter this threat?

“This Has Never Happened Before”: Millions Without Electricity After Massive Blackout Cripples Argentina And Uruguay

“This Has Never Happened Before”: Millions Without Electricity After Massive Blackout Cripples Argentina And Uruguay

Millions of people and entire cities descended into darkness as a massive, unprecedented power failure kept Argentina and Uruguay in the dark on Sunday morning, the same day as provincial elections were to be held in parts of Argentina. Parts of Brazil and Paraguay also were affected, according to the BBC.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Ahora en Boedo se ve como CABA está sin luz, aún no hay información oficiall de @OficialEdesur . Estoy esperando al medicio a domicilio por mi hija de 2 años con 39 de fiebre. Vivo en un 9° piso. #SINLUZ #APAGON

According to Buenos Aires-based electricity supplier company Edesur, Argentina suffered a “nationwide” blackout, which also affected neighboring Uruguay, said the company’s spokesperson, Alejandra Martinez, adding that “Something like this has never happened before.”

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Replying to @carlosrsucho @OficialEdesur

Absolutamente todo sin luz!!! Increíble

The company had earlier explained that the massive power outage happened due to a failure in the electrical interconnection system. The blackout itself started at 7:07am local time on Sunday, according to Argentinian officials.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Solar Storm Alert: Earth to be Bombarded by Solar Particles in a Few Days

SOLAR STORM ALERT: EARTH TO BE BOMBARDED BY SOLAR PARTICLES IN A FEW DAYS

There is an upcoming solar storm expected this weekend. Researchers have noticed a sunspot that will bombard the Earth with solar particles on Monday.

Sunspots are patches of darkness on the Sun which are caused by an underlying magnetism beneath the surface. A solar storm occurs when that magnetism bubbles up and is released in the form of solar flares, which spew cosmic particles into space. Earth is in the path of these particles, so we can expect an exceptional aural display at the poles soon!

Auroras are caused when solar particles hit the atmosphere. These include the northern lights, or aurora borealis and southern lights, or aurora australis.  Both are expected to put on incredible shows thanks to this solar storm. The light show will appear when the magnetosphere gets bombarded by solar winds and that layer of the atmosphere deflects the particles.

According to the Express, a cosmic forecasting website called Space Weather said: “A minor hole in the sun’s atmosphere is turning toward Earth and spewing a stream of solar wind in our direction. The estimated time of arrival is April 22nd. Geomagnetic unrest and polar auroras are possible when the gaseous material arrives.”

Solar particles have been responsible for power grid failures and disruption in communications systems on Earth when they’ve been strong enough. A surge of particles can lead to high currents in the magnetosphere, which can cause a higher than normal level of electricity in power lines.  The results could be devastating, especially considering Earth’s magnetic field is weakening.  Eventually, as a solar storm could cause electrical transformers and power stations blowouts and a loss of power. Solar storms can also affect satellites in orbit, potentially leading to a lack of GPS navigation, mobile phone signals, and satellite TV.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Catastrophic Destruction by Michael, Millions Without Power, Towns Destroyed

Hurricane Michael destroyed entire towns. The electric grid won’t need to be restored, it will need to be rebuilt.


primer on this thread just so those outside state understand a little bit about NW part of the state. It is a place we fell in love with as a family years ago & have spent many long weekends enjoying :

Panama City is a vibrant seaside city. Popular vacation spot for both families & college students. Early reports from locals is catastrophic devastation. As it was described to me, the electric grid won’t need to be restored, it will need to be rebuilt.


Destruction for Miles and Miles

Mexico Beach

Search and Rescue Begins Amid Ruins of Florida Coast

Some people elected to ride the hurricane out.

That was not a good move. At least six are dead. More will come.

A Search and Rescue Effort Begins amid ruins of Florida Coast.

Search-and-rescue teams rushed on Thursday to reach communities that Hurricane Michael leveled, hoping to find survivors of the powerful storm after its rampage through the Florida Panhandle and beyond left buildings collapsed and splintered, hospitals damaged, roads and water systems compromised and more than a million homes and businesses without electricity.

Although it was clear by afternoon that the storm had caused widespread damage, some areas remained largely cut off, and the authorities were trying to deploy rescuers by helicopter and boat.

“This is a very dense part of the state, so it’s going to be a lot of work to get to everybody,” Gov. Rick Scott of Florida said. “But we will get to everybody.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Solar Storm Will Strike Earth Tonight, ‘Weak Power Grid Fluctuations’ Possible

Solar Storm Will Strike Earth Tonight, ‘Weak Power Grid Fluctuations’ Possible

emfsolarstorm

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center forecasts an aurora could light up the sky above areas in the United State including Michigan and Maine.  A solar storm, which occurred Monday, is expected to strike Earth tonight.

On Monday, the sun spit out a slew of charged particles in a moderate solar flare. These particles are now making their way towards Earth. The planet’s magnetic field will block most of the particles, but some will make it into Earth’s atmosphere. The particles collect at the north and south poles and interact with atmospheric gases to create the aurora borealis or the Northern Lights. And some say this show could be quite spectacular.

Solar flares have been known to cause power grid failures, but it looks like we’ll only get the light show this time. Although a grid failure is possible, it is unlikely.

According to Seeker, the forecast calls for a high probability of a G-1 or “minor” storm, which could strengthen to a G-2 or “moderate” storm depending on how the stream of particles hit the Earth. Geomagnetic storms are ranked on a scale, with G at the bottom, R in the middle, and S as the most severe. Forecasts now say the particles will give our planet a glancing blow.

Although this storm has been categorized as “G-1,” which means it is minor, it could still cause some havoc down on Earth. Solar flares and particle ejections are associated with sunspots — dark areas on the sun’s surface — that host intense magnetic activity. As the magnetic fields in a sunspot cross, NASA stated, this can cause a sudden energy explosion, also known as a solar flare. This sends radiation out into space, and that radiation can be hurled toward the Earth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Would Actually Happen In a Magnetic Pole Shift?

What Would Actually Happen In a Magnetic Pole Shift?

What would happen if the Earth’s magnetic poles literally flipped upside down? If north was south and south was north? Would it just be our compasses going awry or would this result in a catastrophic end for the citizens of Planet Earth? Would a pole shift be the end of humanity?

It depends on who you ask.

For example, the UK Daily Mail describes this horrific scene:

This sounds like the plot for a disaster movie: an invisible magnetic force-field that defends life on Earth against killer rays from space goes awry. Blasts of radiation destroy our satellite communications and bring the world’s electricity supplies crashing down.

Chaos reigns. Human cancer cases multiply as unshielded radiation from the sun devastates people’s DNA. Billions of creatures the world over die because their ability to migrate becomes fatally confused by changes in our planet’s magnetic field.

Ultimately, Earth’s atmosphere itself could be blown away by fierce solar winds, as happened long ago to our sister planet Mars when its magnetic field dissipated.

But hold the popcorn. This is not a sci-fi movie. Leading scientists warn that this may really happen, because of an imminent revolution at the Earth’s core. (source)

Meanwhile, Science 20 rebuts the doomsday scenario.

If we get a magnetic pole reversal, then from studies of previous reversals and modeling, the main risk is increased UV as a result of the ozone layer damaged by repeated solar storms. It would mean that you need to wear more sunblock cream on sunny days…

…The risks from solar storms are always present, whether it’s a magnetic reversal or not. The main risk of a solar storm is of GPS satellites glitching for hours, recovering once it is over – and of power cuts. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will Technology Kill Us?

WILL TECHNOLOGY KILL US?

The Digital Revolution along with nuclear weapons and artificial intelligence are examples of technology that can result in human extermination. The reports below from the London Telegraph illustrate how technology has become the Black Plague of today.

Note: The solar storm of  of 1859 named the “Carrington Event”  only affected   the telegraph  system. Imagine what would happen if such a solar blast occurred today. — RH

Telegraph
The truth about Hard Sun’s solar apocalypse: just how scared should we be?

Tristram Fane Saunders
7 JANUARY 2018 • 7:00AM

You might not have noticed it, but two years ago an event took place which might just have brought about the collapse of modern civilisation.
In July 2012, an enormous flare burst from the far side of the sun. Had it happened just one week earlier, it would have been pointing directly towards the Earth, causing the worst geomagnetic storm in over 400 years.

As Reuters reported at the time, the resulting magnetic disruption could have “fried the world’s electricity grids and left hundreds of millions of customers without power for months or even years”.

Next time, we might not be so lucky. A new BBC series, Hard Sun, imagines a similar solar phenomenon. Two London coppers (played by Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn) stumble across a USB drive containing a secret digital dossier, counting down towards an “extinction level event” in five years time.
In early episodes, there is some doubt about the cause – “Did it refer to a meteor, or a comet?” one character asks – but it doesn’t take Scotland Yard’s finest to figure out the truth: the drama begins with the sight of giant flares leaping from the surface of the sun.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Grid Narrowly Escapes Apocalyptic Attack

U.S. Grid Narrowly Escapes Apocalyptic Attack

Power

The American grid security story grows increasingly grim. Last week, security consulting firm Symantec warned that recent cyberattacks gave hackers direct access to the nation’s power grid on multiple occasions, according to a new report by Wired.

This time, not only the United States was exposed, said Symantec. Europe also experienced similar vulnerabilities, proving the hackers could have induced blackouts on both sides of the Atlantic. Thankfully, this apocalyptic scenario didn’t happen.

In spring and summer 2017, the Dragonfly 2.0 hacker group—a primary culprit featured in cybersecurity reports from many experts lately—launched campaigns against energy companies. They succeeded 20 times, hacking their way into full access to their target companies’ corporate servers and operations controls. This meant they could turn off circuit breakers that control the direct flow of electricity to homes and businesses.

“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage… being able to flip the switch on power generation,” Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst, told Wired. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the U.S., and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.” Related: Venezuela Just 24 Hours Away From Formal Declaration Of Default

The Ukrainian grid power blackouts of 2015 and 2016 are generally considered the firstinstances of cyberattacks wreaking havoc on a nation’s power supplies. Analysts believe that the perpetrator of the first attack on Ukraine’s power back in December 2015 was the Sandworm team, a group of hackers who previously targeted Europe and the United States. An updated version of their most lethal software, Blackenergy 3, was at the root of Ukraine’s initial power crisis.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Puerto Rico Without Electricity, Wifi, ATMs Shows Importance of Cash, Gold and Silver

– Most of Puerto Rico remains in the dark and without power three weeks after storm
– With widespread power failures, Puerto Rico remains cash only with retailers only accepting cash and few consumer having cash

– Shortages of food, fuel and medicine with infrastructure repairs delayed
– Power could be ‘out for months’ as 85% of people remain off the grid
– Around 75% of ATMs disconnected
– Electronic forms of payment including bitcoin have been rendered non viable
– Puerto Rico’s accidental ‘cashless society’ shows risks of cashless society and importance of holding cash, gold and silver out of the financial and digital systems

Aerial photo of flooding in Puerto Rico. Washington Post

Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two savage hurricanes which have plunged the island into darkness and despair. The landscape of ruined homes and entire towns resembles Hiroshima after the man made disaster of a nuclear  bomb being dropped on the city.

More than three weeks since Hurricane Maria hit the island, 3.7 million American citizens are on the precipice of a humanitarian disaster.  The majority of these people are desperate for food, water, electricity and shelter. They are desperate for cash that will allow them to secure these basic necessities.

Over 84% of the island remains without power and 37% of people are without access to water. Without power, much of the population is does not have electricity to charge their phones and iphones. Very few have wifi and this is severely impacting their ability to communicate and conduct their lives.

Inevitably, the future of Puerto Rico now lies in the wrangling hands of government and financial organisations, all of which seem to be pointing the finger of blame at one another.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Report: Hackers can now cause blackouts on US electrical grid

Report: Hackers can now cause blackouts on US electrical grid

It was inevitable that someday, hackers would have the ability to exert control over the U.S. electrical grid.  According to the computer security firm Symantec, someday is today.

Hacking attacks over the last several months that targeted U.S. energy companies have been able to gain “operational control” over systems, thus threatening blackouts across the U.S., says Symantec.  The hacker group known as DragonFly 2.0 was able to gain control in at least 20 places, according to the firm.

Wired:

Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year. In more than 20 cases, Symantec says the hackers successfully gained access to the target companies’ networks. And at a handful of US power firms and at least one company in Turkey – none of which Symantec will name – their forensic analysis found that the hackers obtained what they call operational access: control of the interfaces power company engineers use to send actual commands to equipment like circuit breakers, giving them the ability to stop the flow of electricity into US homes and businesses.

“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage … being able to flip the switch on power generation,” says Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the US, and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Will EV’s Break The Grid?

Will EV’s Break The Grid?

EV

While the UK government has vowed to end the sale of all new conventional gasoline and diesel cars by 2040, as part of a wider plan to fight air pollution, there is talk that electricity demand will lead to a fast and dirty response to a strained power grid.

But here’s what everyone’s missing in that debate: While EV sales are going to rise and electricity demand to power them will strain the grid and lead to less-than-ideal power generation solutions, the whole plan will help clean power generation to increase its market share.

Nothing is black and white. And big transformations are never immediate. We’re not talking about an overnight elixir that will magically clean up the air; we’re talking about a step-by-step process that is gradually less dirty.

Overloading the Grid (Mind the Gap)

The UK’s National Grid anticipates peak demand from electric vehicles alone being around 5 GW, which represents an 8 percent increase from today’s peak demand.

This peak demand forecast assumes what the National Grid calls the “Two Degrees” scenario, in which most cars would be EVS, with only 6 percent of them hybrids. But by 2045, only pure EVs would be on sale.

According to Wood Mackenzie, the UK plan to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2040 “will have a massive impact on the refining sector and the oil markets.”

To handle the extra peak demand, the most flexible way is to build open-cycle gas power plants.

One of the options for a “rapid response” plug-in capacity to make up for shortfalls could come from certain open-cycle gas-fired plants that are more polluting and less efficient.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russian Hackers Said To “Penetrate US Electricity Grid” Using Outdated Ukrainian Malware

Russian Hackers Said To “Penetrate US Electricity Grid” Using Outdated Ukrainian Malware

Two days after the DHS and FBI released a report revealing what the US agencies alleged was the government-controlled Russian operation behind the “hacking of the US election” which they dubbed “Grizzly Steppe”, and which had a peculiar disclaimer according to which nothing contained in the report should be taken at face value or was even credible after the DHS said it “does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within”

 … overnight the crusade against “Russian hackers” continued following news that Russian cyberspecialists had managed to penetrate the Vermont electric grid, after a state utility, Burlington Electric, announced it had found a notebook computer containing the same malware code that the FBI and DHS had touted as linked to the Russian hackers.

According to WaPo, “Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.” On Friday night, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) called on federal officials “to conduct a full and complete investigation of this incident and undertake remedies to ensure that this never happens again.”

As a reminder, this Thursday when Obama unveiled sanctions against Russia and announced the expulsion of Russian state workers in the worst diplomatic clash between the two nations since the cold war, concurrently the FBI and DHS released a joint report on the “Grizzly Steppe” a hacking operation which was supposedly linked to the Russian government, and alleged that it had targeted “US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

An east-west power grid, Canada’s elusive national dream

An east-west power grid, Canada’s elusive national dream

Inter-provincial strategy would help environment, but political will could be lacking

The price tag for transmission lines can be hefty. The longer the distance, the bigger the sticker shock.

The price tag for transmission lines can be hefty. The longer the distance, the bigger the sticker shock. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Constructing an east-west electricity grid in Canada is far from a novel idea. Politicians and other leaders have openly mused about the idea throughout the last decade.

Sharing power between provinces is once again on the discussion table, as B.C. Premier Christy Clark pushes the federal government to consider a national grid. The idea is being pitched as a way to combat climate change and to help Canada achieve its latest environmental goals, which are currently under development.

At first blush, an east-west power grid seems like a no-brainer. While some provinces are blessed with an abundance of hydroelectricity, others are still burning coal to keep the lights shining, cellphones charging and coffee makers gurgling.

The east-west grid is again a discussion point in the country, largely as a solution to combat climate change and as a way to help Canada achieve its latest environmental goals, which are currently under development.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is pushing the federal government to consider a national grid. She will host a meeting with environmental ministers from across the country in early March to figure out how Canada can reach the commitments it made at the UN climate conference in Paris.

BC LNG 20151014

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is asking the federal government to help build new electrical infrastructure that would allow B.C. to sell hydro to Alberta. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Clark is asking for help from the federal government to build new electrical infrastructure that would allow B.C. to sell hydro to Alberta, which is in the midst of a massive shift away from coal-fired energy.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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