Extreme Solar Storms Could Cost America Over $40 Billion Daily

Posted: Jan 21 2017, 4:09pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Extreme Solar Storms Could Cost America Over $40 Billion Daily
Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. A new study finds daily U.S. economic cost from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars. Credit: NASA
  • Extreme Solar Storms cause Damages of $40 Billion in the US on a Daily Basis

It look like extreme solar storms can cause damages of upto $40 billion in the US on a daily basis. This is pure wastage and a drain on the economy.

The economic burden on the US on a daily level from solar storms that cause electricity blackouts is more than $40 billion. Half of this amount is frittered away due to costs that lie on the fringes of the blackout zone.

The novel study on the matter points out that a lot needs to be taken into account in calculating the results. Erstwhile studies merely took the direct economic costs into their purview. It was the indirect costs that needed further analysis in order to gain an accurate picture of the whole scenario.

The direct costs due to electricity blackouts amount to merely 49% of the total average damages incurred. The most extreme blackout scenario would cause disruption in the lives of 66% of the population of the United States.

The daily loss in pecuniary matters will be $41.5 billion. Also $7 billion will be lost through the international supply chain. Solar storms and solar flares that cause blackouts are a topic on which the jury of experts is divided.

Coronal Mass Ejections, as these solar outbursts are called, tend to cause power outages that could last from a few hours to many days. This becomes a problem only when the power cuts remain in place and refuse to budge for weeks on end.

This process could last upto several months which is a worrisome trend indeed. The worst fears of the energy industry of the United States thus are not entirely unfounded. However, while extreme weather events occur often, they rarely affect the earth.

In 1989, the hydroelectric plant in Quebec underwent power failure due to a solar storm and the outage lasted for 9 hours. Even as far back as 1859, such a disturbance did take place and it was termed the Carrington Event.

Such an event may recur within the next decade. The chances are 12% which though small, nevertheless show that the threat remains intact. Extreme space weather has an impact on all human activities on earth.

It is not just a matter of the local electricity company undergoing a crisis of confidence. It is a game of chance with dollars being driven into the waste paper basket and power outages being (metaphorically speaking) like a society losing its mind temporarily thereby suffering a nervous breakdown.

The findings of this study described in a paper published in Space Weather, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The paper was co-authored by researchers from the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at University of Cambridge Judge Business School; British Antarctic Survey; British Geological Survey and University of Cape Town.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




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