Solar Systems Effect on Power Grid

Modeling, Validating, and Mitigating the Risks of Solar Storms on the Nation’s Power Grids

Geomagnetic disturbances (GMDs) occur when the sun every so often emits an explosive burst of charged particles towards Earth. In some cases, they can wreak havoc on the nation’s high-voltage transmission grid, by causing geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) which potentially cause severe and permanent damage to the transformers essential for grid operation. Such disastrous instances include the 1989 Quebec  blackout, which damaged transformers as far south as New Jersey. Since the solar activities are impossible to suppress, ICSEG aspires to protect the power grid from solar storms in a three-step approach. First, we have offered thorough analysis of the GMD’s effects on the key components of the power grid, especially the transformers, with a comprehensive software toolbox to support this function numerically for electric utilities. Second, this analytical model and toolbox is validated and enhanced with extensive GIC data recorded by several utility companies, aiming to capture the possible modeling mismatch. Finally, optimal strategies are needed in order to allocate the limited resources available to block the GICs flowing through the transformers. The goal of ICSEG is to assist the nation’s electricity providers to fully study and address the risks of GICs to the power grid, as well as help them to be confidently prepared such that the possibility of widespread power outage can be significantly reduced in case of potential solar storms.