J. Space Weather Space Clim.
Volume 4, 2014
Space Weather and Challenges for Modern Society
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Published online||07 January 2014|
Reducing uncertainty – responses for electricity utilities to severe solar storms
University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 23 December 2013
Until recently, electricity utilities in mid- and low-latitude regions believed that solar storms had no (or only insignificant) effect on their power systems. Then it was noticed that the onset of damage in several large transformers, leading to their failure, correlated very closely with the Halloween storm of 2003. Since then engineers have started to appreciate that a very severe storm could have serious consequences outside the high-latitude regions. There are many uncertainties in predicting the effects of solar storms on electrical systems. The severity and time of arrival of a storm are difficult to model; so are the geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) expected to flow in the power networks. Published information about the responses of different types of transformers to GICs is contradictory. Measurements of the abnormal power flows in networks during solar storms generally do not take into account the effects of the current distortion and unbalance, potentially giving misleading signals to the operators. The normal requirement for optimum system management, while allowing for the possibility of faults caused by lightning, birds and other causes, limits the capacity of system operators to respond to the threats of GICs, which are not assessed easily by the N − 1 reliability criterion. A utility’s response to the threat of damage by GICs depends on the expected frequency and magnitude of solar storms. Approaches to formulating a response are located in a system model incorporating space physics, network analysis, transformer engineering, network reliability and decision support and the benefits are identified. Approaches adopted in high-latitude regions might not be appropriate where fewer storms are expected to reach damaging levels. The risks of an extreme storm cannot be ignored, and understanding the response mechanisms suitable for low-latitude regions has the capacity to inform and reduce the uncertainty for power systems planners and operators worldwide.
Key words: geomagnetically induced currents / power systems / reliability / transformers / condition monitoring
© C.T Gaunt, Published by EDP Sciences 2014
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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