David Kirkpatrick

June 16, 2010

Massive space storm coming in 2013 according to NASA

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:46 pm

Via Kurzweil.net — This news a little daunting. NASA isn’t typically known for hyperbolic statements. OF course if we’re wiped out by “Planet X” in 2012 it’s a moot point anyway.

Nasa warns solar flares from ‘huge space storm’ will cause devastation
Telegraph, June 14, 2010

In a new warning, NASA said a super storm in 2013 would hit like “a bolt of lightning” and could cause catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services, and national security unless precautions are taken.

According to Dr. Richard Fisher, director of NASA‘s Heliophysics division, it could damage everything from the power grid, GPS navigation systems, major satellites, emergency services systems, hospital equipment, banking systems, and air traffic control devices, to everyday items such as home computers, and iPods.

Also see: How to survive a solar storm
Read Original Article>>

June 3, 2010

The US power grid and cyberattacks

A cyberattack is seen as the top current threat to the United States’ power grid. And given the mis-mash of legacy systems and out-dated infrastructure in places, the idea of a cyberattack isn’t all that hard to imagine.

From the link:

Cyber attacks, pandemics and electromagnetic disturbances are the three top “high impact” risks to the U.S. and Canadian power-generation grids, according to a report from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC).

“The specific concern with respect to these threats is the targeting of multiple key nodes in the system, if damaged, destroyed or interrupted in a coordinated fashion, could bring the system outside the protection provided by traditional planning and operating criteria,” states the report, “High-Impact, Low-Frequency Risk to the North American Bulk Power System.”

The contents of the 118-page report are largely the result of closed-door discussions held since November by NERC (which plays a key role in setting security standards for the U.S. power grid), power providers and U.S. government officials.

The report, which calls for better coordination between U.S. power-grid providers and the government, sets the stage for what may be new guidelines and processes required to combat the major threats identified, according to NERC officials.

May 27, 2010

Renewable power and the US electric grid

Seems like a bit more compatible than once thought. At least for the western power grid.

From the link:

More than a third of the electricity in the western United States could come from wind and solar power without installing significant amounts of backup power. And most of this expansion of renewable energy could be done without installing new interstate transmission lines, according to a new study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO. But the study says increasing the amount of renewables on the grid will require smart planning and cooperation between utilities.

The NREL findings provide a strong counterargument to the idea that the existing power grid is insufficient to handle increasing amounts of renewable power. As California and other states require utilities to use renewable sources for significant fractions of their electricity, some experts have warned that measures to account for the variability of wind and solar power could be costly. At the extreme, they speculated, every megawatt of wind installed could require a megawatt of readily available conventional power in case the wind stopped blowing. But the NREL findings, like other recent studies, suggest that the costs could be minimal, especially in the West.

“The studies are showing the costs are a lot lower than what people thought they were going to be,” says Daniel Brooks, project manager for power delivery and utilization at the Electric Power Research Institute. Even if wind farms had to pay for the necessary grid upgrades and backup power themselves, they could still sell electricity at competitive rates, he says.

October 29, 2009

Stimulus money going to the power grid

Almost three and half billion dollars of stimulus money in fact. This ARRA cash will be stretched by a requirement for matching private investment.

From the link:

President Obama on Tuesday announced a $3.4 billion federal investment to modernize the country’s outdated power grid.

The money will go to 100 projects in 49 states to add automated substations, digital transformers, electric meters in homes and other high-tech equipment to create a “smart” grid.

“We’re going to create an energy superhighway,” Mr. Obama said when making the announcement at Florida Power & Light Co.’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Fla., one of the country’s biggest solar-power facilities.

October 13, 2008

EMP-safe micro power grids

An answer for a vexing issue.  In the event of the unthinkable, or anything else, generating an electromagnetic pulse, these microgrids might offer a solution.

The release from last week:

Providing Power When There is None: Instant Access Networks, Frostburg Faculty Developing Renewable-Energy-Fueled Power Grids Safe From Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Imagine if electronic devices in the U.S. were disabled. Your car would not run. You couldn’t make a phone call. Television, radio, GPS, computers and their related financial and military systems could be down. Power could be out for as long as two years.

Sound far-fetched? A one-megaton nuclear bomb detonated 250 miles over Kansas could cripple many modern electronic devices and systems in the continental U.S. and take out the power grid for a long time.

“A rogue state or terrorist organization could easily acquire nuclear material for a smaller weapon for $20 million,” says Charles Manto, president of Instant Access Networks LLC (IAN). “That weapon could be fitted onto a Scud missile for as little as $100,000, fired and detonated 80 miles into the air and affect the entire U.S. east coast, causing up to $10 trillion in damage before you spend a nickel to fix anything.”

A solar storm similar to the one that occurred in 1859, which shorted out telegraph wires in the United States and Europe, could wreak havoc on electrical systems. Each of the above scenarios can create a powerful electromagnetic pulse that overloads electronic devices and systems.

IAN staff and Frostburg State University physics and engineering professor Hilkat Soysal are teaming — through a $165,000 project recently approved by the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program — to create renewable energy-powered, electromagnetic pulse (EMP)-protected microgrids that could provide electricity for critical infrastructure facilities in the event of a disaster.

“The MIPS award enhances our commitment to renewable energy research,” says Frostburg State University President Jonathan C. Gibralter. “It builds upon the $738,000 Sustainable Energy Research Facility (SERF) award we just received from the Department of Energy and illustrates our interest in supporting workforce and economic development in western Maryland.”

IAN has developed a patent-pending shielding technology that encloses a room or similar structure and protects it from EMP events. IAN’s shielding, which includes electrically isolated layers of steel and aluminum, is up to 70 percent lighter than materials traditionally used by the military and other sources for EMP protection. This enables EMP-safe rooms to be portable.

IAN’s shielded rooms can protect mission-critical fiber optic network nodes and data or communication centers. They can also house generators, which, when several are connected, create a micro power grid, or microgrid, that can provide power to a campus or entire communities.

“A microgrid could easily power the city of Annapolis, a hospital, or the University of Maryland campus,” says Manto. “The idea is to create islands of power to reduce the cascading effects of a wide-scale failure.”

The challenge is finding a long-term energy source for microgrids, as it could take years to rebuild power infrastructure after a strong EMP event. That is where the MIPS project comes in.

Soysal’s research team will evaluate wind and solar solutions and the optimal locations for them in western Maryland and the surrounding region. “FSU physics and engineering faculty Oguz Soysal and Eric Moore will guide a group of students to evaluate the energy consumption profile of mission-critical facilities and infrastructures, identify the wind and solar energy potential of possible sites, and develop an optimal design for the sustainable energy supply units and microgrid,” says Hilkat Soysal. FSU senior research fellow David Blank will provide prototype computer simulations for a next-generation multi-flex fuel generator that is 40 percent more efficient than traditional engines. The FSU team and IAN staff together will investigate additional renewable energy subsystems that the company can integrate into the EMP-protected microgrid.

“Long-term, renewable energy is critical for powering back-up electrical systems,” says Manto. “What’s more, in EMP scenarios the cost model for renewable energy changes because you have to eliminate the cheap, non-renewable fuels and the availability of the present electric grid. Renewable energy, even at a higher price, becomes cost-justified. We are effectively jump-starting alternative energy development.”

FSU is acquiring a residential-scale wind turbine for the project, which will be used to develop models for powering the microgrid. University researchers and IAN staff will also create designs to protect a wind turbine from an EMP attack.

FSU and IAN are also planning to build the nation’s first EMP-protected business continuity park. It will be located next to the FSU Renewable Energy Center at the university and include input from the Public Technology Institute (PTI). The park will give urban area businesses and government agencies a remote place to backup their data and an alternative place to work in the wake of a disaster, in keeping with a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). Federal Agencies are required to have COOPs as part of Federal Preparedness Circular 65. Businesses and other entities are recommended to do the same through the National Fire Protection Agency’s code 1600 for business continuity. PTI plans to review the EMP-protected business continuity concept among local governments nationwide.

“Assisting local governments in creating COOP plans that protect them from natural and human-caused disasters requires innovation and support from a variety of entities,” says PTI Executive Director Alan Shark. “We are excited to be part of this team working on this groundbreaking project.”

Based in Frostburg, IAN was founded in 2004 through $1 million in seed money from IAN staff and private investors. The company received a $70,000 TEDCO Maryland Technology Transfer Fund grant in July, 2007 to develop prototypes of lightweight shielding systems that can be mass-produced and offer critical infrastructure protection from electromagnetic interference.

For photos of IAN staff and mobile EMP-protected rooms, visit http://www.mtech.umd.edu/IAN. More information about renewable energy related activities at FSU can be found at http://www.frostburg.edu/renewable/.

  More information
  --  Instant Access Networks: http://stop-emp.com/
 -- Initial Economic Assessment of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)Impact upon the
    Baltimore-Washington-Richmond Region by The Sage Policy Group: http://stop-emp.com/econimpact.pdf
 -- CRS Report for Congress: High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP)
    and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments: http://stop-emp.com/crs.pdf
 -- Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States
    from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack: http://stop-emp.com/EMPCExecRpt_Final072204.pdf
 -- Frostburg State University: www.frostburg.edu About MIPS (www.mips.umd.edu)

The Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program, an initiative of the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), brings university innovation to the commercial sector by supporting university-based research projects to help Maryland companies develop technology-based products. Through MIPS, faculty members engage in research that furthers the development of high-tech products for Maryland companies. Projects must be technology-focused and possess commercial potential. Both the company and the University of Maryland contribute funding for each project. All funding goes to the participating faculty.

ABOUT PTI (www.pti.org)

Public Technology Institute is a national, member-supported organization based in Washington, D.C. As the only technology organization created by and for cities and counties, PTI works with a core network of leading local government officials — the PTI membership — to identify opportunities for research, share best practices, offer consultancies and pilot demonstrations, promote technology development initiatives and present educational programming.

Source: University of Maryland


Web Site: http://www.mips.umd.edu/