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Protecting the Power Grid From Solar Storms

A unit of NASA has teamed up with the Electric Power Research Institute on an initiative to protect the U.S. power grid from solar storm activity.

A unit of NASA has teamed up with the Electric Power Research Institute on an initiative to protect the U.S. power grid from solar storm activity. The project, Solar Shield, monitors solar eruptions that emit ionized gas, which can wreak havoc on the magnetic field and high-voltage transmission systems. It gives utilities two days’ notice to prepare.

The Sun has an 11-year cycle with peaks and valleys, and “right now we are starting to climb away from the solar minimum,” says Antti Pulkkinen, project leader. The next solar storm maximum is slated for 2014. A 1989 solar storm knocked out the Hydro-Québec grid for nine hours.

— Power Financing and Risk