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International Experts Convene to Discuss Carrington Effect and Regional Grid Resilience

Addressing Solar Storm Threats and Strengthening Power Networks Globally

Leading international experts gathered today for a webinar organized by the International Solar Innovation Council (InSIC) and the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to discuss the potentially catastrophic impacts of the Carrington Effect on regional power grids.

The Carrington Effect refers to a powerful geomagnetic storm triggered by a massive solar coronal ejection, similar to the one experienced in 1859. Experts warn that a contemporary Carrington-level event could cause widespread power grid failures, satellite communications disruptions, and trillions of dollars in economic losses globally. The webinar featured keynote presentations from Dr. Minna Palmroth of the University of Helsinki and the European Carrington project, and Dr. Antti Pulkkinen, Director of the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Dr. Palmroth provided insights into the science behind space weather events like the Carrington Effect, their potential impacts on critical infrastructure, and mitigation strategies based on the European Carrington project's findings. Dr. Pulkkinen discussed the United States' regulatory framework for utilities to assess geomagnetic disturbance risks and develop operational response plans, which could serve as a model for other nations.

"This is a global challenge that requires international collaboration and knowledge sharing," said Prof. S.P. GonChaudhuri, Vice-Chairperson of InSIC, in his welcome remarks. "By leveraging the expertise of pioneers like Finland and the work done by space agencies, we can forge a path toward resilient global power grids."

The panel discussion and Q&A session involved power grid operators from India's Grid-India, West African Power Pools, and others, highlighting regional concerns and the need for preparedness protocols tailored to local conditions.

Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General of ISA, encouraged further dialogue and potential workshops involving grid operators, solar plant developers, and global institutions to enhance awareness and develop standards for Carrington Effect resilience as renewable energy capacity grows rapidly worldwide.

The webinar underscored the urgency of addressing low-probability but high-impact events like the Carrington Effect through international cooperation, knowledge dissemination, and strategic investments in grid resilience to safeguard critical energy infrastructure.

22 Mar 2024

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