Prepare for geomagnetic disturbances, NERC says
Loss of reactive power is the most likely outcome from a severe solar storm centered over North America, a report released by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) finds. Significant losses of reactive power could lead to voltage instability and, if not identified and managed appropriately, power system voltage collapse could occur. The report – 2012 Special Reliability Assessment: Effects of Geomagnetic Disturbances on the Bulk Power System – takes a comprehensive look at multiple, complex issues to evaluate geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) effects. The report outlines the most likely outcomes, while offering short- and long-term recommendations for industry.
“The effect of GMD on the reliability of the bulk power system remains an important consideration,” said Gerry Cauley, NERC’s President and CEO. “NERC’s report identifies grid vulnerabilities from GMDs and highlights solutions to mitigate risk to bulk power system reliability.”
While loss of reactive power was found to be the most likely outcome from a severe solar storm, the Geomagnetic Disturbance Task Force also assessed the vulnerability of high-voltage transformers. While some transformer types were found to be at risk from geomagnetically induced currents, they tend to have certain design characteristics that increased their vulnerability, or were transformers nearing their end-of-life.
The group also made long-term recommendations, which include:
Developing additional open source tools and models to develop GMD mitigation strategies. Improving tools for system operators to manage GMD impacts. Educating and sharing information between researchers and industry. Reviewing the need for enhanced NERC Reliability Standards.
The reports "2012 Special Reliability Assessment: Effects of Geomagnetic Disturbances on the Bulk Power System" and "2010 High-Impact, Low-Frequency Event Risk to the North American Bulk Power System" are available on line.