May 25, 2009
from TheExaminer Website
In a severe solar storm, electrical transformers can be melted causing power blackouts for extended periods.
Repairs to the damaged electrical grid, according to a New Scientist article published in March 2009, would take weeks if not months. Also, there is no guarantee that repaired electrical grids would not again succumb to new solar storm activity as Solar Cycle 24 reaches its maximum over a several year period around 2012.
There was some good news in NASA scientists recently revising estimates of solar activity for Solar Cycle 24 to the lowest levels since 1928.
Nevertheless, a giant breach in the magnetosphere reported by NASA in December 2008 makes it far easier for solar plasma to enter into the Earth’s atmosphere. For the full 11 year period of Solar Cycle 24 (approx. 2008-2019) the Earth will be vulnerable to any Coronal Mass Ejections directly aimed at it from the sun.
The risks of solar storms bombarding the Earth and repeatedly taking down the electrical grid for extended periods has never been greater. In addition to physical and health risks posed by extensive and repeated electrical blackouts, the economic costs would be enormous.
Now is the best time to take
preventative action and develop off-the-grid (stand alone) energy
systems using renewable energy sources.
The author, Ben Damsky, estimated the financial cost of moderate, large and very large space storms disrupting the electrical grid of an American city with a population of one million. Damsky’s approach was based on a city losing 80% of its share of the U.S. Gross National Product for the number of working days lost when a very large storm hit.
To get a more accurate idea of the
financial cost for the period in question, I will use an economic
forecast for the state of Hawaii from 2009-2012
using figures cited by the Hawaii
State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, issued
on May 18, 2009.
The revenue lost over a month would be a staggering 4 billion dollars. Hawaii would be worse hit than other U.S. states due to its reliance on tourism. Over 7 million visitors are expected to visit Hawaii in 2012 and spend 13 billion dollars. If Hawaii’s electric grid were to go out, few tourists would visit leading to a loss of most if not all of the tourist revenue for the black out period. Consequently, businesses would experience severe financial losses, revenue from state sales and accommodation taxes would decline greatly, etc.
Hawaii, like most U.S. states, would be
very severely hit by prolonged and/or repeated black outs. What’s
the solution for Hawaii and other government authorities in the U.S.
and the world?
In Hawaii and other U.S. states a number of small companies have begun developing off the grid capacities. One Maui based company, Smart Roof Systems, specializes in solar and wind off-the grid energy systems.
The law led to rapid development in photovoltaic technology despite the generally cloudy weather in Germany. Large solar energy companies and a smaller cottage industry were created where solar energy is sold back to utility companies through the electric grid at a profit.
Around 90% of solar
energy production in Germany is
grid-tied while 10% is off-the grid. Feed-in tariff laws have been
passed in other countries, and led to growth in the development and
use of solar panels for energy generation.
On November 5, 1901, Tesla was granted his first patent for an off-the grid energy device which he called: "Apparatus for The Utilization of Radiant Energy."
Other off-the grid systems are literally
out of this world and are related to
the UFO phenomenon, and classified
Feed-in tariff laws and other incentives need to be offered to developers and customers who face high start-off costs in purchasing off-the grid systems. Private citizens can help by lobbying legislators or initiating local referenda to pass laws/ordnances which stimulate the use of solar and other renewable energies for off-the grid systems.
Developing off-the grid technologies for as many businesses and homes as possible will mitigate whatever economic downturn occurs in the future as Solar Cycle 24 unleashes solar storms during its peak activity around the year 2012.
The human and financial cost of inaction is too great, and off-the grid energy solutions are now too viable to ignore any further.