Sun’s geomagnetic blast could cost trillions of dollars

A handout picture shows Coronal Mass Ejection as viewed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 7, 2011. The Sun unleashed an M-2 (medium-sized) solar flare, an S1-class (minor) radiation storm and a spectacular coronal mass ejection (CME) on June 7, 2011 from sunspot complex 1226-1227. (REUTERS/NASA/SDO/Handout)




This is the sort of thing that I mentioned above about a very active sun storm activity that is going on right now. We should be reaching the peak of this cycle in 2013.

Meanwhile, it is very important to be prepared for a loss of electricity, especially if you live in a region that has cold winters. In future postings, we will discuss specific steps that you can take to be properly prepared.


Solar superstorm could knock out U.S. power grid: Experts

Sun’s geomagnetic blast could cost trillions of dollars


Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters

First posted: Friday, August 03, 2012 11:08 PM EDT | Updated: Friday, August 03, 2012 11:28 PM EDT


WASHINGTON - U.S. weather has been lousy this year, with droughts, heat and killer storms. But a solar superstorm could be far worse.

A monster blast of geomagnetic particles from the sun could destroy 300 or more of the 2,100 high-voltage transformers that are the backbone of the U.S. electric grid, according to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Even a few hundred destroyed transformers could disable the entire interconnected system.

There is impetus for a group of federal agencies to look for ways to prepare for such a storm this year as the sun moves into an active period called solar maximum, expected to peak in 2013.

Some U.S. experts estimate as much as a 7% chance of a superstorm in the next decade, which seems a slight risk, but the effects would be so wide-ranging - akin to a major meteorite strike - that it has drawn official concern.

Although the likelihood of this kind of geomagnetic storm, like a big hit from a space rock, is extremely low, its impact would be great. By comparison, the probability of a large meteorite hitting Earth is at some fraction of 1%.

Power blackouts can cause chaos, as they did briefly in India when more than 600 million people lost electricity for hours on two consecutive days in July. However, the kind of long-duration outage that might happen in the case of a massive solar storm would have more profound and costly effects.

There is disagreement on how costly the damage would be, but experts in the U.S. government and industry acknowledge it is a complex problem requiring a coordinated solution.

A report by the NAS estimated that about 365 high-voltage transformers in the continental United States are at risk of failure or permanent damage requiring replacement in the event of a solar superstorm.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, or NERC, which oversees North America’s power grid, disputed the academy’s estimate that hundreds of high-voltage transformers could be lost in a solar superstorm.

In a report earlier this year, NERC said a more likely result would be voltage collapse, which would take out power but not destroy transformers. Any power outage would be less protracted in that event.

NO POWER FOR A YEAR?

The academy’s report noted that replacements for transformers might not be available for a year or more, and the cost of damage in the first year after a storm could be as high as $2 trillion....


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I highly recommend that you read the rest of this article in order to fully understand the nature of what we are up against!


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