How could the Aurora Borealis affect energy grids when renewables are added to the mix?

University of Oklahoma engineer will use an NSF CAREER award to better understand how geomagnetic storms can impact energy infrastructure.

Grant and Award Announcement


Paul Moses



As the world transitions toward more renewable energy resources and deals with the consequences of a changing climate, the resiliency of energy infrastructure is becoming ever more urgent. University of Oklahoma researcher Paul Moses, Ph.D., has received a Faculty Early CAREER Development award from the National Science Foundation to better understand how chaotic grid disturbances from events like solar storms impact energy infrastructure.

In one of the first documented incidents, the 1859 Carrington Event, an extreme solar flare caused telegraph systems to go haywire worldwide. Likewise the magnetism generated during Aurora Borealis events can damage electrical power grids and space satellites, as it did on March 1989 in Quebec, Canada.

“Solar events like the Aurora Borealis are created by what we call geomagnetic storms, which are caused by solar flare activity and solar winds. When that hits the atmosphere, it creates electromagnetic disruptions, which in turn affect the power grid,” Moses said. “That has been well studied for a long time, but not when we combine renewable energy systems, like solar and wind power, and battery storage, into those systems. There are a lot of knowledge gaps in how those disturbances affect the power grids in a renewable energy rich environment.”

Moses, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering, will use the five-year CAREER award to advance the study of these kinds of chaotic grid disturbances – their underlying physics and characteristics, considering high volumes of renewable energy added to legacy power grid infrastructure, to improve mitigation strategies that could help prevent grid failure.

“A lot of the components in our power grid are based on century-old design principles like the transformer, which is the device that changes voltages. The transformer is everywhere, and it is not going away for decades to come, so we’re stuck, in a way, with these legacy components. We want to learn how they respond to this renewable energy rich environment coupled with all these disturbances like geomagnetic storms and that presents new burdens and stressors,” he said.

Moses anticipates three phases to the project. To begin, he is developing models and software to simulate geomagnetic storms and their impact on the grid. By modeling the aging of legacy energy infrastructure components and the impacts of geomagnetic storms, he hopes to better understand potential impacts to the lifespan and performance of critical components to improve grid resiliency and rapidly recovery.

“When you have solar, wind and battery storage, it has to be connected to the grid through what we call inverters, or solid-state power converters,” Moses said. “That presents a new uncertainty because this is something that’s cropped up in recent years. How does this new technology associated with renewables work with the old technology – the archaic infrastructure? The grid fundamentally was not designed to operate with these devices, so it raises new uncertainties.”

Whereas the first phase of the project is aimed at understanding ways in which to mitigate or prevent grid failure, the second phase is to improve detection of electrical transients from geomagnetic storms or other chaotic grid disturbances.

“A lot of these phenomena are very difficult to detect and go unnoticed until it’s too late, so the next phase is to look at better detection of these disturbances and try to anticipate a problem before it causes irreversible damage,” he said.

The third phase moves the research from computer simulations to the lab, aiming to validate the modeling with experimental testing, which will also provide opportunities for Moses’ students to contribute to the experimentation.

“Ultimately, this project is aimed at de-risking the integration of sustainable energy technologies to realize a more robust, resilient and self-healing energy infrastructure for greater economic prosperity, health and living standards for society,” he said.

Woven throughout each stage of the project is educational outreach, including the development of STEM-oriented educational resources for K-12 students to gain access to electrical energy-related curriculum.


About the Project
The project, “CAREER: Untangling Chaotic Electromagnetic Transient Phenomena in Power Systems Mixed with Volatile Inverter-Based Renewable Energy Resources,” is funded by the National Science Foundation, award no. 2237527. The project began Feb. 15 and is expected to conclude Jan. 31, 2028.

About the University of Oklahoma Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships 

The University of Oklahoma is a leading research university classified by the Carnegie Foundation in the highest tier of research universities in the nation. Faculty, staff and students at OU are tackling global challenges and accelerating the delivery of practical solutions that impact society in direct and tangible ways through research and creative activities. OU researchers expand foundational knowledge while moving beyond traditional academic boundaries, collaborating across disciplines and globally with other research institutions as well as decision makers and practitioners from industry, government and civil society to create and apply solutions for a better world. Find out more at

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit

From EurekAlert!

4.6 10 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 23, 2023 10:05 am

if they don’t toss out real world data in favor of modeled data this very well, in my uneducated (for this) opinion, could be useful.

michael hart
Reply to  Dmacleo
February 23, 2023 3:31 pm

Yes. It is always encouraging to see that there are still people trying to do genuinely useful work. He has my best wishes.

Reply to  Dmacleo
February 23, 2023 8:13 pm

For systems whose components are well understood, models can be quite useful.
Try building a car or airplane without them.

Rejecting all models because GCMs are misused is as misguided as anything the so called climate scientists do.

February 23, 2023 10:24 am

As the Earth’s magnetic field strength weakens over the coming years, the Sun will influence our grid and even ourselves (health) even more. We are going for a wild ride in the next decade or two.

Reply to  rbabcock
February 23, 2023 11:35 am

I hope that we never experience a Carrington event.

Frank from NoVA
February 23, 2023 10:35 am

Sounds like a useful project given the direction the alarmists want to take the grid. In the past, I’ve replaced some expensive house-hold equipment like a generator control board and transfer switch, boiler control, routers, etc. due to mostly storm-related transient currents over my utility connection. Subsequently, I have installed some serious surge protection around the big-ticket items, which I hope will afford some protection in future.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
February 23, 2023 1:46 pm

My building was on a hospital substation, an advantage in that it was kept up longest when there were grid problems. However, there were nasty spikes on the line necessitating serious serge protection. “They” said it was from electrocautery used in surgery. I complained bitterly to the uni that it guaranteed functional facilities to granting agencies, so that I should not have to charge the surge protection to my grants.

Len Werner
February 23, 2023 10:36 am

Should we not just measure it, rather than model it? Is it too inconvenient to actually connect sensors and measure what geomagnetic storms do to the grid, rather than infer reality from computers? I know geophysicists who measure those effects in the crust (E-Scan resistivity regularly; they’re often a pain to deal with, but some even use them as a primary source (magnetotellurics).

Just go out to the grid and measure it, and extrapolate. What a novel idea–‘real world experience’; it used to be a prerequisite for graduation, even at the Batchelor’s level.

I know, ‘the thinking has changed’. The physics hasn’t, but the thinking has.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Len Werner
February 23, 2023 12:42 pm

From 2009: “The project, VORTEX2 (V2), is the largest attempt in history to study tornadoes,”
Researchers got ready and the season was a bust, see:
Tornadoes of 2009 – Wikipedia

If dynamic Earth doesn’t cooperate, what does one do? 😒

Reply to  John Hultquist
February 26, 2023 8:18 am

Call Gore.

Reply to  Len Werner
February 23, 2023 8:25 pm

In the real world, you have to wait for a storm before you can collect data.
Also every storm is different and will affect the system.
Using models lets them try to understand how a system will behave in many different types of storms, and with many different combinations of components.

Also, enough sensors to adequately monitor an entire grid would be very, very expensive.

Reply to  MarkW
February 24, 2023 9:35 am

The first question that comes to mind is, if you don’t know the effects of something on another thing, how do you model it accurately? It is then just more conjecture given credibility by calling it a (scientific?) Model.

Reply to  slowroll
February 24, 2023 10:58 am

We do know how input changes impact individual components of a system.
What we don’t know is how these changes impact a complex system made up of many components.
We could calculate it by hand, but the number of equations means it will take many years to finish the calculations for even simple systems with small changes.
By modeling the system you can give it thousands of differing input conditions in order to predict how the system will respond to varying inputs.
You can also replace components with new ones. Say replace a transformer with a different one that has a different frequency response. Or adding a circuit breaker to one location. If that doesn’t work, try moving the circuit breaker to the other side of the yard.

Another excellent example is designing electronic circuits.
We understand with a great deal of accuracy how transistors, resistors, capacitors, etc work.
It’s very easy to design a circuit that in theory, should work. However when you lay it out, it doesn’t. This is usually because of some factor you forgot to include when you came up with the design. The more complex the system the easier it is to forget something. Or dismiss it because you thought it doesn’t apply.
Most design houses have software that models circuits. Everybody uses them, because these models find your mistakes faster and more cheaply than breadboarding your design.
Of course only a fool would go directly from model to production.
After you get your design to work in the model, you go prototype it. If the prototype works, great. If it doesn’t, you take what you learned in the prototype and go back to the model.

Len Werner
Reply to  MarkW
February 24, 2023 5:04 pm

MarkW, I see nothing wrong with modelling–but Step One should be to go out and first get real-world measurements, and the extrapolation I then suggest is the modelling that extends the known world into the unknown. Instead, the receiver of this grant stated that the first thing he’s going to do with it is develop a computer model.

I expect that we’ve already got a lot of sensory equipment attached to the grid; use it first. What we don’t appear to have is an understanding of just when to react to a geomagnetic storm before it takes the grid down, and how to protect it from being taken down. I’d start there. Maybe we already do and neither I nor the researcher here know about it.

The model-first approach has already been used to cost us (waste?) trillions by modelling climate–and forcing ‘scientists’ to ludicrously state that ‘data is not particularly useful’ when the models all tend to diverge seriously from the real world. If we want to model the effects of geomagnetic storms on electrical grids, I want to see the input to those models figuratively (if not physically) wired directly to sensors on the grid or measurements of magnetic flux, so that the model simply cannot diverge from reality–just as a climate model needs to be connected to thermometers (etc) so it can’t make wild predictions. We need computer models that respond to ridiculous keyboard inputs by displaying ‘I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that’.

My opinion is that the only reason climate ‘scientists’ can make such a claim about the uselessness of data that doesn’t fit their model is because Richard Feynman is no longer around to deliver the scathing response of a real and respected scientist that such silliness deserves.

The grid already exists, and geomagnetic storms are an existing geophysical system analogous to a gold orebody; this constitutes a difference from an electronic circuit not yet built where your example of the usefulness of a model is most appropriate and correct. Every time I’ve modelled an orebody the input has been actual gold values from drilling and assays; they were not pulled out of the air or from previous models of/or hypothetical orebodies. As the model evolves it cannot disconnect itself from the real world data of how much gold has been determined is there–unlike a climate model that ignores data when it doesn’t fit the model, and which this grid/geomagnetic field model is in danger of doing if it is not from the start tied to real grid and flux measurements. Maybe that’s what the researcher actually intends; I hope so.

After that–I do agree that a model would be most valuable, and for the anticipated expansion of the grid into the unknown, necessary. The point I was making is that the model needs to start with real-world data, not with ‘Let’s say that…’

February 23, 2023 10:55 am

Hum…the military needs to give some serious thought to EMP warfare in addition to natural electromagnetic events before they jump on the EV bandwagon.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  PMHinSC
February 23, 2023 12:08 pm

one of the concerns over those Chinese balloons- probably why they didn’t shoot it down right away- to see what it’s doing or could do

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 23, 2023 12:41 pm

A balloon cannot create an EMP.

EMP as a weapon only works if a very large nuclear warhead (on the order of 10 MT) is detonated extremely high above the earth (about 200 miles), well above the atmosphere, generating a large gamma ray field that in turn interacts with air molecules within the atmosphere that generates the EMP. It has to be very high and very big to give it sufficient areal coverage to be more than a very localized event.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2023 12:46 pm

OK, glad to know that. So, what defense do we have against such a thread from what you describe? Other than intimidate other nations to not try it or we’ll utterly destroy them. If such an event happens, would it stop all EVs as PMHinSC suggested above?

Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2023 2:39 pm

No, altitude only effects the area involved. So a large number of small EMPs can have the same effect as one large one. One, two, three or three hundred dispersed at the same altitude but over wide latitude are even more devastating.

Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2023 6:55 pm

Yep . That was Starfish Prime test

as seen from Honolulu 1500 km away

Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2023 9:44 am

You lack imagination. One could hang a missile or three from underneath the balloon, and have it release & burn upward to get the right altitude.

Reply to  beng135
February 24, 2023 11:00 am

Much easier to simply launch the missile from your country.

Kevin Kilty
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 23, 2023 2:38 pm

An EMP can be generated at low altitude, but the affect is over a smaller region than would be so from a high altitude blast. Nonetheless, depending on the region a low EMP could present significant problems for people — consider, say, the northeastern U.S.

Reply to  Kevin Kilty
February 23, 2023 8:28 pm

If that were the case, every nuclear blast should have created an EMP, only explosions outside the atmosphere create EMPs.

Reply to  MarkW
February 24, 2023 9:39 am

That’s correct. There is a certain altitude where the EMP effect is greatest — can’t remember for sure, but the one above-atmosphere nuke test (Starfish prime?) was about that altitude.
Edit. Well I see someone above already mentioned Starfish prime. I was working upward in the post, not downward.

Kevin Kilty
Reply to  MarkW
February 24, 2023 12:37 pm

If what you say were true then why would there be any concern over what is called a “surface burst EMP”?

Reply to  PMHinSC
February 23, 2023 12:37 pm

The US military has been hardening sensitive defense electronics against EMP for the last 60+ years. That is not to say an EMP event won’t damage military electronics at all, but that is something that has been part of military electronics design for many decades.

Civilian electronics, I don’t know whether sufficient attention has been paid to that … probably not.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2023 6:15 pm

No, sufficient attention has not been paid to securing the grid against EMP.

A couple of years ago a government commission studied EMP and the U.S. grid and recommended that the U.S. spend about $3 billion to manufacture spare parts now, that would take months or years to replace if replacement started from scratch, and to do other things to harden the national grid.

The last I heard, the government and private industry were arguing over who should pay for this $3 billion.

And nothing has been done about it to date.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 24, 2023 6:42 am

Well Ukraine got it instead.

Reply to  PMHinSC
February 25, 2023 1:53 pm

Well, the U.S. military is laser focused in ensuring proper pronouns are used at all times, even when those pronouns are fluid and change weekly.

Peta of Newark
February 23, 2023 10:59 am

Am giving myself brainache trying to figure what this guy’s gonna do..

As best I see, nearest equivalent = normal lightning, he’s looking to guess

where lightning will hithow big the bolt will bewhat it hits when it does come down
iow: There’s perfectly Sweet FA anyone can do but assume they will get hit, that it be the Muthafugga Bolt from Hell to end AllBoltsFromHell when it does come and to take precautions depending how sensitive your stuff is..

Peta of Newark
February 23, 2023 11:32 am

Found it, There’s certainly a solid climate connection to this and, heaven forbid your neep harvest gets zapped by an AurialBorealAllilis, so here’s something useful for this guy to.

I start with a Trick Question.
You will see a picture, in the grauniad, and what I’d like to know,
Which is The Turnip – is it in the left of the photo or the rightside of the photo

Keep an open mind and don’t worry – there is NoWrongAnswer

The Bright New Future:

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 23, 2023 12:03 pm

When somebody says turnip I think neeps. A far better addition, to stews and accompaniment for Haggis than the one shown by the Guardian

John Hultquist
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 23, 2023 12:45 pm

Left vs right side: are they the same scale?

February 23, 2023 11:38 am

While auroras can be caused by solar activity, they alone do not affect the grid. Forrest M. Mims III.

Reply to  Forrest Mims
February 23, 2023 8:36 pm

Large solar flares perturb the Earth’s magnetic field and also cause an increase in aurora intensity.
It is the perturbed magnetic field causing eddy currents in the wires of the grid that is the cause of the problem.

Joseph Zorzin
February 23, 2023 12:05 pm

So when we get back to good old fashioned New England winters- sooner or later- I can envision a day when we’re net zero (assuming that could happen though I doubt it could) that we get a blizzard dropping 3 feet of snow and knocking down power lines all over the region- so we lose power for several days. How will the snow plows recharge their batteries to keep the trucks moving? And the power company trucks? how will they get out to fix the power lines when they can’t even charge the batteries in their trucks? Oh, the giant industrial battery installations will keep everything going for several days? Does anyone believe that?

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 23, 2023 1:55 pm

Since pre-industrial seems to be the general goal, the pre-industrial solution should also be applied. Wait until sunshine clears the landscape enough for the horses to get through.

Reply to  AndyHce
February 26, 2023 8:29 am

“Shovel-ready ” jobs?

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 24, 2023 7:11 am

If lots of power lines are down the batteries will probably be isolated too and unable to supply anything. 🙂

Smart Rock
February 23, 2023 12:24 pm

Not to derogate what Dr Moses is doing, but it’s a bit like studying the seating plan in the dining lounge of the Titanic.

The really big issues to be faced by the net zero promoters are (in my simplistic geologist’s interpretation) are (a) how to maintain synchronicity and (b) how to manage intermittency.

Being moderately familiar with the non-fossil fuel mineral industry, I’m moderately confident that the critical mineral supply problem – much hyped by the skeptics – could fade away if commodity prices were high enough for long enough. After that, it’s Economics 101. There are a lot of low-grade mineral deposits that are sub-economic at traditional price levels, and there are novel deposit types that are well known but have not traditionally been regarded even as potentially economic. For an evolving example in the nickel business, see [Disclaimer, I am a shareholder]

I’m prepared to believe that, if enough real engineers were put to work on it, that there could be a practical solution to the synchronicity issue, and I can even conceive of one possible way to do it with existing technology. It would involve collecting supply from a large group of wind/solar farms and using it to power an electric motor which turned a “spinning reserve” generator that would then feed into a synchronized grid. It would need a supplementary source of power just to keep it spinning freely in the absence of wind and sun. Just an idea, and I’ve no doubt other, better concepts could be devised.

But the intermittency issue – that’s the big one. Of course, we already know how it will be solved. It will be handled by “demand management” carried out by smart meters at the consumer level. Alternatively by chaotic rotating blackouts. I suspect that either of these solutions will lead to a level of grass-roots anger and hostility that hasn’t been seen since the French Revolution, possibly even leading to a similar outcome (now there’s fodder for my next daydream).

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Smart Rock
February 23, 2023 1:03 pm

Not sure I agree with your minerals conclusion.

”Prices High enough” could be ruinous.
“for long enough” means certainly no net zero by 2050. The average time to bring on a new mine is 16 years per the previous WUWT post.
And two proposed copper mines in the US (Pebble at Bristol Bay in Alaska and Boundary Waters in MN) just got ‘permanently’ nixed. And the first US lithium mine (a clay in Nevada) is being opposed on grounds of some desert flower that only grows there, so likely nixed in the future.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 23, 2023 5:46 pm


Dave Andrews
Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 24, 2023 7:39 am

Not only is it the time to bring a new mine to fruition but the sheer scale of the amount of new mines that will be needed.

In their Global EV Outlook (May 2022) the IEA looked at the ‘Stated Policies’ (SP) and ‘Announced Pledges’ (AP) Scenarios for respectively 200m EVs(SP) and over 250m EVs (AP) by 2030.

For the SP it would require 30 new lithium mines, 41 new nickel mines and 11 new cobalt mines – total 82 new mines.

For the AP 50 new lithium mines, 60 new nickel mines and 17 new cobalt mines – total 127 new mines.

If the AP went ahead as planned there would still be fewer than 300m EVs worldwide. There are currently over 1.4 billion ICEVs in the world.

February 23, 2023 12:34 pm

Wind turbines generate AC power just like any other turbine, regardless of how it’s powered. Photovoltaic cells generate DC current, and that goes through an inverter to create AC power that can be fed into the grid at the correct voltage via transformers. Is there another technology coming on line that replaces transformers? This guy seems to suggest something that will supersede transformer technology.

Long distance power transmission requires high AC voltages to minimize current losses. That was the original struggle in developing electrical power plants between Edison and his DC plants and Tesla back at the turn of the 20th century.

Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2023 1:16 pm

Making high voltage DC is common. You can generate high DC levels using the original generator or you can generate them from a lower potential using a switching circuit and an inductor, feeding the higher potential to a capacitor bank.

With high voltage DC you can directly synthesise high voltage AC using a switching circuit, you switch the DC on and off, reversing the phase as required to create a balanced high voltage AC voltage. Smarter units would also approximate a sine wave by pulse width modulation and similar.

But here is the crunch. WHY? It is much easier to use a transformer and lot cheaper and safer. The inverter and step up transformer are all short cable length connections and are NOT affected by external WEAK fields like aurora. However, the discharge end of the transformer IS affected. To protect that you have a DC current sense installed which isolates the transformer when the current gets too high. These already exist and work just fine.

So tell me again, if a protection circuit already exists, why do we need to get rid of transformers? If you want to get rid of the potential for blackouts, (due to the isolated system when protected), then you need to go for DC transmission of power. It costs more but it works.

And that’s the problem, solutions exist, you just have to pay more.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Eng_Ian
February 23, 2023 2:42 pm

AC has limitations for longer distances and also for subsea connections, which is why you see increasing numbers of HVDC links being built. AC makes sense in local distribution at lower voltages. DC conversion costs, but the actual cabling required is cheaper because it carries more current per area of cross section at a given voltage. Also, DC avoids a number of sources of transmission losses which improves the economics as distance increases.

Reply to  Eng_Ian
February 23, 2023 8:42 pm

AC causes eddy currents in anything close to the line. All of those eddy currents are lost energy.

Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2023 9:12 pm

So does DC. Current causes magnetism. DC can result in permanent magnets, all aligned. Remember, even DC pulses up and down in current, it’s just pulsing in one direction and at a lower frequency.

Reply to  Eng_Ian
February 24, 2023 11:05 am

Not correct. You need a varying magnetic field to induce currents.
DC does not create varying fields. The DC interties don’t pulse their current.

Kevin Kilty
Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2023 3:06 pm

Long distance trasmission requires high voltage to minimize the I^2R losses (joule heating losses), but can be AC or DC. The advantage for DC is that it evades problems of reactance of the transmission line (for example the parasitic losses in low resistivity earth below the lines or the skin effect in conductors). The disadvantage of DC is that it is more expensive to employ DC to DC or DC to AC conversion all over the system. AC transformers are relatively cheap and easy to adjust to control load flow.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2023 5:30 pm

Older style wind turbines were AC, basically induction generators, but they needed wind to reach a certain speed before they could be connected to the grid.

Newer ones are DC and then are connected via inverter output.
So they can produce usable electricity at lower wind speed but they then no longer provide inertia to the grid.

Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
February 23, 2023 9:17 pm

Well that’s plain wrong. To be a synchronous AC generator you need to have well controlled rotation speeds, wind does not do this. Imagine the variable gearing or constantly adjusting feathering required to keep the rotation speed at the same constant rate.

If you got the rate wrong, ie windmill trying to spin too slow, then it would drain power from the grid as it acts like a motor. If you try to spin it too fast it generates a lot of power and probably trips an over current breaker, failing that, it goes out of phase and then smoke comes out.

Windmills ARE often AC generators and that AC is rectified to DC and then converted to AC at the correct frequency and phase. This is common and is now cheap. It has been for some time.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
February 24, 2023 8:28 am

Inertia of a wind turbine is severely limited by the slow speed of rotation. Remember that it goes as the square of angular velocity. 3600rpm vs under 20 rpm.

February 23, 2023 12:53 pm

Stop building wind and solar, they can not replace fossil fuel, hydro or nuclear. All they do is bung up the system we have in place, which actually works, unlike wind and solar.

Reply to  Bob
February 23, 2023 5:54 pm

If only. They waste funds that could otherwise increase the overall wealth of a “society”.

Humanity is poorer overall due to the insanity of unreliable wind and solar.

Some crony capitalists are wealthier.

Critters are far worse off, just ask an East Coast of the US whale.
Or a Midwest bat or raptor.
Or a 12YO minor miner in Africa.

Reply to  Bob
February 25, 2023 1:51 pm

That’s no good. The entire point of wind and solar “power” is to create opportunities for skimming off money to the politicians and shell corporations that push this nonsense. 10% for the ‘Big Guy’ … just like funds going into Ukraine.

David Dibbell
February 23, 2023 2:14 pm

“The grid fundamentally was not designed to operate with these devices [inverters feeding power from wind and solar – dd], so it raises new uncertainties.”

Then why this insane push for more of what “the grid” was not designed for??

And this:

““Ultimately, this project is aimed at de-risking the integration of sustainable energy technologies to realize a more robust, resilient and self-healing energy infrastructure for greater economic prosperity, health and living standards for society,” he said.”

I have no idea what he just said. We were fine until the push for the poorly named “renewables.”

Martin Brumby
Reply to  David Dibbell
February 23, 2023 2:45 pm

My interpretation is that he’s been set on to ensure that plenty of padding (around the nether regions), is available for the GangGreen promoters of Net Zero Energy when, as has long been predicted, the Grid inevitably crashes and burns.

So this geezer will have lots of lovely Computer Model Prognostication which will show conclusively that it was The Aurora Borealis Wot Dunnit.

And that, if we’d stuck with all that antiquated fossil fuel gear, it would have been ten times worse.

The Grauniad and BBC, Joe Biden and the EC will all clap like demented sea lions at feeding time.

Rusty from the West
February 23, 2023 2:39 pm

He has used all the “correct” language so will probably spend the 5 years navel gazing and coming up with the “correct” answers to get more funding and so it goes on as well as indoctrinating his students.

“Ultimately, this project is aimed at de-risking the integration of sustainable energy technologies to realize a more robust, resilient and self-healing energy infrastructure for greater economic prosperity, health and living standards for society,”

All will be blamed on the “old technology – the archaic infrastructure? ”

He writes as though this wonderful new technology, “renewables”, that should be correctly labeled as “Unreliables” or “Intermittents” will operate without transformers – archaic infrastructure he calls it.
The guy is a woke disgrace.

It doesnot add up
February 23, 2023 3:21 pm

This kind of research is very much needed. The August 2019 partial blackout in the UK was caused because of an unmitigated frequency response at the offshore substation for Hornsea wind farm to the effect of a lightning strike on the onward transmission line toward London. It caused wildly oscillating voltages and a trip of the whole wind farm. It is also important to test out the findings in real world situations.

It has to be said that this whole area is one where National Grid excels, and they have their own testing station for new devices that can be subjected to full grid scale events. Modern power electronics are opening up new possibilities, but also introducing new hazards that need to be understood and managed.

February 23, 2023 4:39 pm

An aurora can’t cause electrical issues, in spite of the headline. Eureka Blurt editors and writers are apparently unaware that the aurora and terrestrial electrical events are categories of effects caused by a solar flare electromagnetic storm. At least they quoted Paul Moses correctly — too bad they didn’t understand what he said.
Also too bad that this National Science Foundation grant is awarded to repeat years of research already accomplished by the DOE. We’ll probably just have to do it again until we can create evidence to blame solar flares on CH4, CO2 or maybe on capitalism.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  dk_
February 23, 2023 5:24 pm

Yes, its better language to say that auroras are created by the same phenomena as causes these grid issues..
The electromagnetic field moves past inducing voltage in all these metallic items allowing currents to flow.
And pop.

Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
February 23, 2023 7:20 pm

Prof Moses is a good grant proposal writer. OU is a good engineering school. EurekAlert posts University, government, and commercial news releases without much of any editing. The same writers often create climate panic/pseudoscience articles for popular consumption.

From the NSF proposal:

Ultimately, this project is aimed at de-risking the integration of sustainable energy technologies to realize a more robust, resilient and self-healing energy infrastructure for greater economic prosperity, health and living standards for society

NSF is spending tax money to repeat research already conducted by at least one (and probably five) other government agencies, commercial generators and balancing authorities, and multiple generations of ham radio operators. All that prior research and experiance no doubt failed to

3) reinvigorate much needed STEM-oriented educational resources to stimulate participation of K-12 and minorities into electrical energy related fields.

as stated in the same source. The project is

deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Translation: Boondoggle.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  dk_
February 24, 2023 7:51 am

Yeah, but they’ve lost the key to the filing cabinet where that earlier research is stored. 🙂

Reply to  Dave Andrews
February 24, 2023 8:37 am

For a half million dollar grant (60% of which already has gone to OU administration), they ain’t gonna find the key. But they may just have a couple students write up that publicly available research, have a couple grad students rewrite it and put their names on it, and have Doctor Paul sign off on the report so that they can get the remaining 30% (and 10% more for admin).

Pat from Kerbob
February 23, 2023 5:21 pm

Love it when they use terminology to show how new sexy stuff like wind and solar connect with inverters, to the “archaic grid”.
Language tells you one is new and good, the old one is bad just because.
Progress is good, but not all progressive ideas move us forward. Some are beyond awful.

That archaic grid works pretty good because archaic coal, gas, and nuclear generators have a large spinning mass of iron and copper providing inertia and elasticity to the grid, these machines have prime and sub-prime reactances which dictate how much fault current they can supply to the grid in case of fault or starting large motors without which the voltage collapses and “bad” things happen.

I love inverters running motors as the output of a VFD but in a grid they provide power from the renewables but they cannot provide any inertia/fault current.

So the question isn’t about that old fuddy duddy archaic grid, its how to prevent the new kids from collapsing and destroying the functioning grid we depend upon for our survival.
I don’t think it can be done, renewables fed through inverters will remain a threat.

February 23, 2023 5:43 pm

Most of the localized equipment, inverters chargers banks and stuff, are thousands to millions of times more powerful in their bailiwick than a bunch of hot protons groping the ozone layer.

The only way aurora events are gonna have an effect on the systems is if someone runs their solar panel banks with a “first light” timer that turns on all the systems with local sunrise.

Additionally the kind of renewables that work anywhere near aurora bor. and aurora aus. are going to be pretty tough little monsters because they’re also having to deal with temp ranges of -25 to +65C on a yearly basis (internal function temperatures) and they’re gonna be local generation systems that if properly wired will be hard pressed to even detect any such an effect. Even the worst case scenario we’ve experienced had ZERO effect on localized power systems.

If the grid is built and programmed correctly, the power generation source will be isolated and immune to any activity anyway.

Volumetric electron saturation really only effects spark-gap systems like laid rail lines that are basically long enormous capacitors that then drive telegraph wires built a short distance away by induction. The number of actual reports about the telegraphs in the Carrington event are very greatly exaggerated.

The damage from the March 1989 event was incompetent maintenance and the retention of very old systems that were exceptionally poorly designed.

D Boss
February 24, 2023 6:07 am

Bah humbug! Well meaning – I suppose, but the language used to describe existing and “new” technology belies a false belief or narrative.

Saying things like “A lot of the components in our power grid are based on century-old design principles like the transformer, which is the device that changes voltages. The transformer is everywhere, and it is not going away for decades to come, so we’re stuck, in a way, with these legacy components.”

And things like “(inverters, or solid-state power converters) … presents a new uncertainty because this is something that’s cropped up in recent years. How does this new technology associated with renewables work with the old technology – the archaic infrastructure? The grid fundamentally was not designed to operate with these devices, so it raises new uncertainties.”

This is just plain stupid thinking, or is attempting to form a false narrative to the ignorant public in general. Transformers are not “archaic” they are fundamental elements of any and all electromagnetic systems. Those “new” devices -solid state inverters and power converters, all must use transformers in their circuitry! You cannot manipulate electrical energy much at all without inductors, or transformers. Just because we discovered these as fundamental building blocks of manipulating electrical energy some 150 years ago, does not make them obsolete or “archaic”.

All the end users of electrical power also use transformers. Your home A/C system uses one to transform mains voltage to 24V for the controls. Your washing machine, your dishwasher, and of course all of your wall wart chargers for all your personal electronics, your computer power supply, your TV power supply – ALL have a transformer as part of their circuits!

Furthermore, the “grid” functions because of alternating current, which makes transformers the primary means of manipulating that power. The new stuff, i.e. inverters et al, need to conform to the frequency and waveform of the grid, or everything the grid powers can suffer.

Is this attitude arrogance, ignorance or nefariously trying to sell a false narrative that we can eventually abandon all the “archaic” electrical power systems for some new smartphone running on fairy dust and unicorn farts?

But yes, the new stuff – switched mode power supplies, inverters (DC to AC) and power converters (DC to DC),(which all still need a transformer to operate, just a smaller one) are more prone to failure by geomagnetic storms than the simple and ubiquitous transformer. So the reliability argument should be against too much reliance on new tech, not the rather robust and somewhat failsafe old tech of transformers.

Heck almost no automobile built after 1995 will survive a Carrington event, or an EMP. And by the way even the most new fangled car with direct injection and computer control – gasoline engines all still must use a transformer to create the spark! It’s now one small transformer per spark plug, instead of one bigger transformer on older engines.

And last, the hubris or ignorance of the tone of this article against the fundamental principle of induction via transformers has missed the fact electric cars have rotary transformers as their motive power and generating elements – the motors driving the wheels and recharging the batteries with regenerative braking are in fact “transformers” of electrical energy to mechanical and vise versa using induction and most are 3 phase AC motors.

The opening quote here in this comment should read “transformers are not going away, EVER – as they are fundamental building blocks which are required to manipulate electromagnetic energy and convert it to mechanical or to convert mechanical to electrical energy!” “Adding all manner of solid state control functions to the mix, increases vulnerability to geomagnetic storms and EMP events”

Rant over, I suppose some measure of a reality check on putting too much reliance with “new” tech has drawbacks is a good thing… but still the undertone is somewhat alarming by sending a message that “someday” we can rid ourselves of this “archaic” technology of inductors and transformers. (they are integral to all old and new tech, not archaic)

Reply to  D Boss
February 24, 2023 9:27 am

I agree. Transformers, inductors, capacitors, etc will always be necessary in an electrical grid, even down to your small appliances. Of course, better & smarter protective devices can and should be installed on electrical grids like more effective grounding systems, isolation schemes and quicker/smarter circuit breakers. We KNOW how to do these things, but the utilities don’t want to bother (cost) other than their basic, current protections.

February 24, 2023 8:27 am

Much more relevant questions would be how EMP weapons or, more likely, software viral attacks on the generating/transmission infrastructure going to affect the energy grid.

February 24, 2023 1:25 pm

To begin, he is developing models and software to simulate geomagnetic storms and their impact on the grid.”

Says it all right there.

geomagnetic storms, which are caused by solar flare activity and solar winds. When that hits the atmosphere, it creates electromagnetic disruptions, which in turn affect the power grid,” Moses said. “That has been well studied for a long time, but not when we combine renewable energy systems, like solar and wind power, and battery storage, into those systems. There are a lot of knowledge gaps in how those disturbances affect the power grids in a renewable energy rich environment.”

My bolding.
From ignorance this character believes he can design models that improve knowledge. Pure leftist thinking.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights