The Next Peak Cycle of Sunspot Activity is Predicted for 2012-2014

SDO image of coronal mass ejection on 06.07.2011.

The next peak cycle of sunspot activity is predicted for 2012-2014, bringing with it a greater risk of large geomagnetic storms that can generate powerful rogue currents in transmission lines, potentially damaging or destroying the large transformers that manage power flow over high-voltage networks.

“Geomagnetically-induced currents on system infrastructure have the potential to result in widespread tripping of key transmission lines and irreversible physical damage to large transformers,” a 2009 report (pdf) by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) and the Energy Department says.

Agreement on the seriousness of the threat, but not the solution

In the worst-case scenario, the stockpile of spare transformers would fall far short of replacement needs. Urban centers across the continent would be without power for many months or even years, until new transformers could be manufactured and delivered from Asia. The transformers are not made in the United States.

 

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