Grids become highly vulnerable
Jul 12, 2018
Increasingly violent weather, probably caused by global warming, is increasingly taking down electricity distribution lines and poles and cyberattacks are increasingly taking out electricity, apparently just as trials for major terrorism of this sort. Little wonder that the price of grid electricity is so often rising, further aggravated by the chronic intermittency of solar and wind power being added to save the planet. In countries such as the USA, the trillions of dollars needed to maintain and upgrade the national grid do not seem to be forthcoming but help is at hand from micro and minigrids. These tend to be attached to grids but capable of working independently. As a next stage most of them will not even be attached to grids.
We are starting to purchase self-powered cars, boats and aircraft and solar windows and there are 110 solar road projects. Some cities already have water turbines making electricity in their water supply pipes. That is all zero emission and the change is extending to replacing cooking, air conditioning and heating by fossil fuels with locally generated solar, wind and water power. See the IDTechEx reports, Distributed Generation: Minigrid Microgrid Zero Emission 2018-2038, Self Powering Smart Cities 2018-2028 and Structural Electronics 2018-2028: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts. A new and welcome development is tidal and wave power now on sale without infrastructure like dams and tidal barriers, the tidal form even being suitable for rivers. Often these compact units are mobile. See IDTechEx report, Wave, Tidal and Hydro Power 1W-10MW 2018-2038. In all cases you can make electricity where you use it without the vulnerability of long power lines over the horizon or internet or grid connection.
A cyberattack took down power in Kiev, December 2016. ISSC linked it to a winter hack and blackout in 2015 harming 225,000 and more recent attacks. President Poroshenko says Russia is waging a cyber-war against Ukraine: criminal groups work together testing techniques for sabotage wordwide. "The investigation of a number of incidents indicated the complicity directly or indirectly of Russian security services."
U.S. officials note Russian hackers targetting the US energy grid as part of penetrating the economy. "Since at least March 2016, Russian government cyber actors ... targeted government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors," announced the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI."
Energy Secretary Rick Perry warns, "Cyberattacks are literally happening hundreds of thousands of times a day." Bloomberg reports the group responsible breaches systems to facilitate a more advanced wave of attacks targeting industrial control systems that, if disabled, leave millions without power or water."
Lloyd's and the University of Cambridge's Centre for Risk Studies calculate that a major attack on the US grid could cost the economy $0.24 - $1 trillion, equivalent to 40 to 50 major hurricanes.
Nathan Sproul, Lincoln Strategy Group, warns, "At the same time, the electrical grid is becoming less reliable and less prudent—and not just because of vulnerability to hacking. As innovation spurs the development of renewable energy in America, consumers have more choice in how they power their lives than ever before. The rise of distributed energy sources like solar panels, home batteries and electric vehicles has some questioning whether we ought to reimagine the grid all together".
Top image: Edison International