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    HOW TO STOP SOLAR FLARES DISRUPTING OUR FUTURE ELECTRIC POWER GRID


    May 6, 2022 - Scottish Business Insider

     

      EVER heard of the Carrington Event of 1859 and the G scale? It is the largest recorded account of a geomagnetic storm and it knocked out the telegraph systems creating fires, electrical shocks and widespread disruption.

      Such geomagnetic storms happen when gigantic bubbles of superheated plasma gas are ejected from the surface of the Sun and fired across the Solar System before hitting the Earth's magnetosphere. Scientists are watching the Sun's behaviour and the disruption caused by solar particles with increasing interest and knowledge. The Carrington Event was one of the strongest storms to hit the Earth. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration measured the strength of solar eruptions with a G-scale of one being minor and five being extreme.

      76 INSIDER May 2022

      Carrington was rated a G5.

      A geomagnetic storm of the same intensity as the Carrington Event today would affect far more than telegraph wires and could be catastrophic, says David Wallace, an electrical engineering professor at Mississippi State University. He says with the ever-growing dependency on electricity and emerging technology, any disruption could lead to trillions of pounds of monetary loss and risk to life dependent on the systems.

      "It is only a matter of time before the Earth is hit by another geomagnetic storm. A Carrington Event-size storm would be extremely damaging to the electrical and communication systems worldwide with outages lasting into the weeks."

      " "I believe it is critical to continue researching ways to protect electrical systems against the efects of geomagnetic storms, for example by installing devices that can shield vulnerable equipment like transformers and by developing strategies for adjusting grid loads when solar storms are about to hit.

      Edinburgh-based Ash Gupta, who is an authority on electric vehicle (EV) systems, set up Gupta Smart Energy in 2015 to act as a broker for the commercialisation of low-carbon energy projects. He points to the Carrington Event as a 'known known' for our integrated systems, and he is working with a team of Norwegian electrical engineers who have been building a solution.

      Gupta spent an early part of his www.insider.co.uk where he worked on advanced transport systems and was part of the small team behind "Project Bobcat", which generated the iconic Ford Fiesta.

      Ash Gupta then created his own media agency, The Gupta Partnership. In 2000, he worked on the successful launch in Edinburgh of the Think Electric car for Ford and was later appointed as a consultant in sustainable automotive transport to the Scottish Government.

      In 2014, he worked with BMW's Brand on the promotion of its electric vehicle.

      He is about to launch a new entity, Net Zero Solutions Technology, offering a palette of technologies to deal with power quality mitigation, energy storage systems with ride thru, smarter EV recharging and sustainable LED lighting for hazardous and industrial areas such as ports and utilities.

      ""he electric vehicle revolution is literally on our door-step but we face number of issues requiring robust solutions. In Norway today, with over 70% EV penetration, they suffer the voltage imbalance and harmonic problems on their power network distribution systems. These are the same issue that dog energy networks around the world - including the UK. We have solutions which can resolve this but we also need to plan for a Carrington Event scale issue knocking out the EV transport grid."

      " Gupta is working with EM Energy Solutions, a global company with its home base in Trondheim in Norway and ffices in Edinburgh, the US and South Korea. Gupta is its exclusive distributor in the UK.

      "We are planning to launch a new UK company, Net Zero Solutions Technology to offer a palette of net zero technologies including power quality mitigation, smarter EV recharging equipment for cars, buses and HGVs, and sustainable LEDs for hazardous and industrial areas such as ports and utilities," he says.

      To crack the scepticism and resistance of the generation of doubting petrol-heads and diesel drivers, the EV revolution still requires a spate of technological solution along the road.

      Nigel Ellis, a former SSE innovation director and now an investor with Edinburgh company, Dunelm, understands this clearly.

      "I've had an electric vehicle for eight years. Now my neighbour is thinking of getting one too. I'm down a lane with four houses. If he gets his new car, and his neighbour joins him in buying an EV too, then we'll have a problem," he says.

      The EV voltage distribution network across Scotland is still unable to handle such a local issue.

      ""his is the kind of problem we are looking at and we are keen to invest in early-stage technology companies in the energy sector. We look for the smaller solutions that are ultimately part of the bigger picture."

      T" his is a bottom-up technology, rather than a top down approach. It is important because Ellis says the major energy companies are ften slow to embrace emerging technologies.

      The National Grid announced it was investing another £323m in ten projects across Scotland which will enhance the long-term stability of the electricity grid as it becomes increasingly dependent on onshore and offshore wind.

      In Norway, the grid's voltage imbalance causes frequent outages as the three-phase grid struggles with EV recharging at home during peak times and starts to over-heat.

      Vidar Groset, the founder of EMES, who has recently been in Scotland speaking with energy companies, says his engineers have developed an advanced technical solution.

      "Our vision is that our technology, based on electromagnetism, will pave the way in the future for voltage balance, surge suppression, harmonic filtration, transient removal and more across a wide range of industries."

      Groset says that if we are to scaleup the usage of electric vehicles, including commerical EVs, then it is essential to keep the grid frequency and voltage within strict limits to maintain the stability of the grid.

      ""his requires the instantaneous response of electrical infrastructure and EM Energy Solutions ESS operation can start to store or deliver energy with a few microseconds," he explains.

      For Gupta, this collaboration with the Norwegians can play a vital part in enhancing Scotland's own next zero credentials.

      "Whatever way you look at the future, the security and safety of the electrical supply, be that from local outages or a major issue such as G5 solar flares, is paramount."

      IN FOCUS: Funding for electric Munro A Glasgow-based electric 4X4 manufacturer has secured a £750,000 investment from Elbow Beach Capital, a social impact investor. Munro Vehicles is planning to build its fully-electric Mark 1 vehicle in Glasgow, creating 300 manufacturing jobs. The robust 4X4 is designed for carbonintensive industries such as mining, forestry and farming. Farming is responsible for around 10% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. The Mark 1 can carry a 1,000kg payload and has a range of 280km per charge. Munro was established in 2019 by founder Russ Peterson and Ross Anderson who came up with the idea on a Highland camping trip.

      Peterson, the chief executive officer, said: "We're very excited to have Elbow Beach Capital's support, particularly as we feel that their passion and enthusiasm matches our own."

      Jon Pollock of Elbow Beach has joined the Munro board. With the ever-growing dependency on electricity and emerging technology, any geomagnetic disruption could lead to trillions of pounds of loss We are planning to launch a new company, Net Zero Solutions Technology to offer a palette of technologies including power quality mitigation Ash Gupta, Net Zero Solutions Technology (above)

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