Monday, August 12, 2013

Whitehouse issues report on electric grid stability, but doesn't talk about space weather or terror

Today, the Obama White House released a blog entry “Protecting the electric grid from increasingly severe weather due to climate change,” main link here.  The report was mentioned briefly on NBC local news in Washington around 11 AM this morning but not on the national broadcasts.
The blog posting links to two important position papers: One from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, “Economic benefits to increasing electric grid resistance to weather outages”, and one from the President’s office, “A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid”. 
Both papers emphasize hardiness in view of severe storms like hurricanes and tornadoes.  The first report notes that many of the nation’s transformers are old.  It doesn’t go into the issue of being able to replace them quickly with manufacturing capacity at home.  The papers don’t go into space weather, which is not a function of climate change but which is capable of throwing out catastrophic coronal mass ejections from the Sun every hundred years or so. It also doesn’t mention terrorism and possibly EMP, or the idea of beefing up Faraday cage technology, which may be easier and more promising strategically than many observers think.
Last week I watched an old Discovery Channel film (described on my “cf” blog) which explained how a solar storm sends out several pulses, the last of which is the coronal mass ejection, whose size and speed is still difficult to predict (it usually takes two days or so to reach Earth). 

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