Thursday, February 25, 2016

Vulnerability of the power grid

New article, on the vulnerability of the grid to power failure due to climate change and corporate cost-cutting just published. You can access it here. Here is the first paragraph:

The lights went out. In the late evening of Friday June 29, 2012 electric power went out all over the Washington metro area. As the power failed television screens went blank, email links were lost, air conditioning units simply stopped and traffic lights ceased to function.  More than 1.4 million people lost power, some of them for almost a full week, in the oppressive humidity of midsummer. Without power the area was no longer a functioning modern city. The anonymous reliability of modernity was replaced by the improvisation and inventiveness of individuals, family support systems, neighborhood alliances and community connections. The vital necessity of readily available power that defines contemporary urban living was made acute by its absence. The lack of power highlighted the dependence on it. The taken for granted was revealed as the absolutely essential and the urban fragility of modernity was brutally exposed. Critical infrastructure is only experienced as vital when it fails.

Derecho storm downs power lines in Washington metro, 2012