The Electrical Grid Is Becoming Increasingly Vulnerable To Catastrophic Failure, by John Kemp

The matter-of-fact tone of this article in no way belies its message: if a lot of money isn’t effectively spent on electric grid upgrades we’re all in trouble. Count on that message being ignored until there is some sort of catastrophic failure. From John Kemp at zerohedge.com:

Future electricity systems must be made more resilient

Prolonged blackouts in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida are a reminder the power grid needs to become more resilient as well as reliable if even more services such as electric vehicles are going to depend on it in future.

The electricity system is already directly responsible for providing a wide range of energy services in homes, offices and factories, including space heating, air-conditioning, cooking, refrigeration and power. The grid is also at the heart of a collection of other critical systems, including oil and gas supply, water and sewerage, transport, communications, public safety and healthcare, which cannot function properly without it.

In future, the grid is likely to be responsible for the provision of even more energy services as policymakers push to electrify many remaining services as part of the strategy for achieving net zero emissions.

But in the rush to electrify the entire energy system, policymakers may be inadvertently increasing the vulnerability of the economy and society in the event of a large-area, long-duration power failure.

Rather than several closely connected but separate systems for electricity, gas, oil, and transport, in future there will increasingly be only one very tightly integrated system, increasing its vulnerability to catastrophic failure.

The risk created by linking formerly separate systems into a central system prone to a single point of failure has been understood for decades (“Brittle power: energy strategy for national security“, Lovins, 1982). In particular, the more tightly coupled systems become, the greater the risk an unanticipated problem in one part could cascade through the whole (“Normal accidents: living with high-risk technologies“, Perrow, 1999).

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