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Southern Company Transmission

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1 Southern Company Transmission
Geomagnetic Disturbances (GMD) Causes and Effect on the North American Grid Warren Whitson Southern Company Transmission NERC GMD TF Member IEEE Member April 16, 2012

2 Sunspots During solar minimum the Sun's magnetic field, like Earth's, resembles that of an iron bar magnet, with great closed loops near the equator and open field lines near the poles. We call the Sun's magnetic field the "Interplanetary Magnetic Field" or “IMF." The Sun's dipolar field is about as strong as a refrigerator magnet, or 50 gauss. Earth's magnetic field is 100 times weaker. During the years around solar maximum (2000 and 2001 are good examples) spots pepper the face of the Sun. Sunspots are places where intense magnetic loops -- hundreds of times stronger than the ambient dipole field -- poke through the photosphere. Sunspot magnetic fields overwhelm the underlying dipole; as a result, the Sun's magnetic field near the surface of the star becomes tangled and complicated.


4 11 year cycle Entering more active phase Max in May 2013 Increased media attention

5 Types of Space Weather Storms
Solar Flares: These are intense temporary releases of energy, which cause burst of radio and X-ray wavelengths, lasting from minutes to hours. They travel at the speed of light, but generally they do not cause impact to the electrical grid. They can result in Radio Blackouts which can affect critical systems like GPS. Radiation Storms: Typically occur during a solar flare, they shower the earth, generally within 30 minutes of the flare, with solar particles, typically protons which penetrate the earth’s atmosphere. They are a threat for satellite and space operations, but typically do not affect the grid. Geomagnetic Storms: These are caused by a Coronal Mass Ejection, which is a cloud of solar material and magnetic fields, which, if they contact the earth, creates a disruption in the earth’s magnetic field. Timing is usually one to four days after the solar flare. This is the condition which can affect our transmission grid.

6 Graphic Depiction of a Coronal Mass Ejection

7 Magnets and Electricity
Magnetic Fields Electromagnets Electric Generator (Reverse input/output for motors)

8 How Does this Impact the Grid?
Ionized particles bombard the Earth Earth’s magnetic field disrupted Electric potential induced on earth’s surface DC current (GIC) induced in neutral of transmission lines Transformer saturation Overheating -> damage (especially older equipment) Produce harmonics Increased reactive power requirements SVCs, Caps, etc… tripped by protection Potential for system collapse - blackouts

9 Power Transformer Saturation
GIC can increase exciting current 3x during saturation leakage flux also increases dramatically, causing overheating Produces harmonics Increased Var (reactive power) demand Distorted AC current on nearby line

10 Effects of GIC in an HV Transmission Network

11 The U.S. Grid High Voltage Grid
U.S. is split into three separate grids

12 Latitude and Orientation
Impact is greater at more northern latitudes Magnetic field lines are closer together near the poles Hence stronger GIC Historically below 35th parallel considered safe In 1989 storm GIC at Mississippi coast was equal to those in Hydro Quebec blackout Orientation of storms vary Direction of transmission lines determines GIC mag.

13 Percent Probability of Occurrence of Hourly Peak dB/dt greater than 300 nT/min

14 Transmission Line Susceptibility
Long high voltage lines are more susceptible Potential difference is a function of distance High voltage lines have low impedance

15 Major Historical Events
Sept “Super Storm” Largest GMD event ever recorded 2x stronger than 1921 storm May 1921 10x stronger than 1989 storm Northern lights seen from Puerto Rico “100 year storm” - debatable March 1989 Significant grid impacts Hydro Quebec blackout

16 Hydro Quebec Blackout - 1989
Hydro Quebec’s (TransE’nergie) electric transmission system collapsed in 92 seconds Seven of seven SVC’s tripped within the first few seconds At the same time reactive demand increased by 1600 MVAR Long HV lines - generation far from load The storm left six million people without service for nine hours or more Several transformers failed (cause of failure is disputed) A GSU transformer failed at a nuclear plant in the USA Two large network transformers failed in the UK Two additional transformers failed on the HQ system due to load rejection NERC, in their post analysis, attributed over 200 significant anomalies across the continent to this one storm Many capacitors tripped due to harmonics Low voltages

17 Geomagnetic intensity – March 1989 Storm

18 Mitigation Methods GIC Reduction Device (GRD) Operational
Resistor or capacitor in transformer neutral or in series on line Unproven technologies Operational Increase awareness Increase import capabilities Increase real & reactive reserves Decrease loading on susceptible equipment Robust spare equipment program Specification of transformers with better GIC immunity Shielding and hardening of our relay and control devices Backup communication systems

19 NASA’s Solar Programs STP, STEREO, SOHO, MMS, Solar-B, TIMED, ACE etc…
Several satellites in various orbits Provide images and video Warning of earth directed CME a day or more ahead Accurate projection minutes ahead Magnitude Polarity Location

20 Location of NASA Satellites between Earth and Sun

21 Space Weather Prediction Center

22 Occurrence of Kp values
from 1932 to 1991 ~1700 per cycle ~600 per cycle ~200 per cycle ~100 per cycle ~4 per cycle


24 FERC Activity Study by Storm Analysis Consultants (SAC)
Congressional EMP Commission Worst-Case results: 100,000 MVARs of increased reactive demand Widespread blackouts in eastern U.S. 350 transformers damaged or destroyed $1-$2 Trillion in damage in 1st year Up to 10 years for full recovery Impacts shown at southern latitudes Previously only at more northern latitudes FERC becomes concerned about GMD Prompting NERC to take action

25 Storm Analysis Consultants
Source: The Vulnerability of the US Electric Power Grid to Severe Space Weather Events and Future Outlook, John G. Kappenman, Metatech Corp. Storm Analysis Consultants

26 Storm Analysis Consultants

27 Location of At-Risk Transformers
4800 nT/min at 45o (GIC > 90 Amps/phase) Storm Analysis Consultants

28 The SHIELD Act In response to the EMP Commission Report
“To amend the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system and electric infrastructure critical to the defense and well-being of the United States against natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse (‘‘EMP’’) threats and vulnerabilities.” In response to the EMP Commission Report 60% casualty rate for ‘prolonged’ power outage HR668 – Proposed by Rep. Franks : Arizona (Feb, 2011) Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act Different from Senate’s SHIELD Act (classified info) Still waiting for vote Mandates FERC to develop standards and enforce compliance

29 NERC Activity GMD Task Force formed - 2010
Industry Advisory issued on GMD – May 2011 Information only No response required Preliminary Report released – Spring 2012 Space weather prediction/detection Mitigation options Operational practices FERC pressure for further action (Level 2 alert?) Recommended actions

30 NERC GMD TF’s Proposed GMD Risk Mitigation Strategy
Components Phased Approach

31 EPRI GIC Project Assumptions: Steps:
Maxwell’s equations instead of Earth Surface Potential (ESP) DC model 500 kV lines + autos (for now) 100 year storm (~1921) Steps: Model GIC flows (DC amps) VAR demand Harmonic production System protection (CT saturation, relays) Blocking options and effectiveness

32 The EPRI SUNBURST Project
Near Real - Time SUNBURST Web Site Geomagnetic Monitoring Database SUNBURST Web Server Internet Your Grid Xfmr 1 DC View GIC Data at any location: System Operations Engineering Power Plants Substations Corporate Office Power System Data NOAA Solar Wind Data 2000 International Utility Sites Data Sent to Electric Research Web Pages Utility Site Utility Site SUNBURST Center Electric Research EPRI SUNBURST is an EPRI Collaborative R&D project SUNBURST’s objectives are: Monitor actual transformer neutral currents at SUNBURST member sites Provides a local & global view of GIC impacts in near real-time Conducts critical research on behalf of the project members

33 Summary Increased focus on GMD in power industry
Congressional EMP Commission Storm Analysis Consultants’ study Solar storm/sunspot cycle FERC is pushing for action NERC alert and report has been issued Still vetting SAC study Developing study realistic scenarios/assumptions Developing modeling expertise/capabilities Determining potential for damage to transformers EPRI is heavily involved There is still much uncertainty and little consensus, but we are making great progress

34 Acknowledgements and Recommended Reading
Some of the material in this presentation was obtained from the following sources: NERC, Effects of Geomagnetic Disturbances on the Bulk Power System February 2012 NERC, High Impact, Low-Frequency Event Risk to the North American Bulk Power System dated June 2010. NERC, Report on the March 13, 1989 Disturbance US Department of Defense, Low latitude auroras; The Magnetic Storm of May 1921 EPRI, Approaches for Minimizing Risks to Power System Infrastructure EPRI – Presentation titled “Research into GIC’s” Wikipedia, articles on GIC, GMD, Electromagnetic Pulses, and the K Index NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center ( Space - Various information and references FERC EMP-GIC Metatech Reports Alton Comans, Chief Engineer, Southern Company Services

35 Questions?

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