Effect of Solar Storms on the Grid and Nuke Plants?

  • Thread starter docneil88
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24
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bonjour/ good day
In 1989 hydro quebec electrical grid was shut down by solar flare inducing current voltage on high voltage ( 735 KV) distribution line.
Current can be induce in ground pad of transformer by high magnetic field generated by solar storm going across /distording earth magnetic field.
Specially very large distribution tx are sensitive to voltage variation.
Time to have these transformer are counted in year ; even if gouv. asked utilities to keep replacements but they are not complying ( not event forecasted data )
 

jim hardy

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thanks for those links, agape... and al...

looks like the mechanism is current induced in the loop formed by transmission line in air and return through either earth or the neutral wire that's usually just above. that loop would have substantial area so the nanoteslas, tiny as they are, add up to a significant number.

i think the power engineers call such current "zero sequence" . any power folks here?

to harm a winding it had to distort the 60hz wave form, and that should be readily detectable.
will be interesting to see if new protective schemes are developed to protect transformers.


if grid collpases from a geo storm anyway it'd be better to do it early, before equipment is wrecked. That allows a more graceful recovery.


thanks again - i learn something most every day.
 
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in 3 phases system you run all 3 phase wire through current transformer and it is called Zero sequence CT .
The sum of these 3 wire should be equal to Zero ; if not there is current returning via ground . You can use this current to activate relay for alarm or special shunt trip to trip breaker
 
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my feeling about transformer damage is : i will consider to be more likely from over voltage induce by magnetic field than by ground current .
i had read somewhere than in the Carrington event there was about 10 volt/KM induce in wires and with distance measured in thousand of Kilometer the end result can be enough if added to nominal voltage to start arcing between phases or casing ending with heat damage to coil
 

Dotini

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Those transformers pictured do not look small or easy to replace. I would like to know where these sorts of transformers are manufactured - especially to know if they are made domestically or would have to be ordered from abroad?

Respectfully submitted,
Steve
At the 2011 Space Weather Workshop last April a review talk was given on the power grid and it was stated in the talk that there are typically 4 transformers per station (don't know if station is the correct term here, but lets go with it). Only 3 of the transformers are required, this allows for one of them to be worked on or replaced without the 'station' going down.

But, more to your question, the speaker said that each of these huge transformers was a custom piece of equipment that took a year or longer to design and build. This lead to an estimate that a Carrington-like event would lead to portions of the US power grid to be down for 10 or more years. This was quite startling to me and my colleagues (we are involved in space weather and have zero knowledge of EE or power engineering). I will try and find the references when I find a few minutes later this evening.

EDIT: I did not even click on the link that agapemom posted, but those were some of the slides I saw in 2011. The talk was not given by Bill Murtagh, though. I believe it was given by Tom Bogden (current director of SWPC)
 

jim hardy

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when DC passes through a transformer winding it can cause something called "saturation" which will let the current depart from a sinewave and have very sharp peaks that overheat the conductors.. it'll also cause the magnetic field to not all stay inside the transformer's iron core and that'll heat the internal structure.

a real low frequency induced current would have similar effect.

those photos showed both kinds of damage.

those conditions should be detectable.
protection schemes could be changed to detect and disconnect..
power grid would still crash but system recovery would be more graceful, days instead of years..

thanks again
 
I imagine the simplest solution is to shut down most of the grid when ultra-powerful solar flare is detected. Carrington event had ~6 hours gap between the flare and the onset of geomagnetic storm.
 
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yes but grid operator will be reluctant to do that because of all impacts on customer and on grid . If it is planned or announce before people /industry can take necessary measure needed ; but people in general are not informed enough to understand . Keep in mind a global blackout through any country will take days upon to restoration of grid .
 

jim hardy

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you should hear the outcry when weather bureau misses a hurricane forecast and businesses lose revenue !

first false alarm there'd be armies of tort lawyers on the utility companies.
 
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you can foreseen what will be immense disaster from grid destruction , most running tap water is produce by treatment station , quantity of NPP will goes as Fukushima , most of cities population will be dying , we are so much dependent of electricity , it will take years to restore power and replace transformer
 
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Nuclear plants are designed to shutdown when they lose connection to the grid. The decay heat is not sufficient to provide the turbine-generator with appropriate power to generate electricity. Instead, plants have backup or emergency diesel generators. Some NPPs may have fossil units nearby.
Some Canadian Nucs have been uniquely designed to have the capability to continue to operate after a grid disconnection/upset. At the moment of loss of grid, they immediately "step back" to ~ 75%FP . The tubine/generator continues to supply internal power and the remaining steam energy is dumped directly into the condenser. After the 2003 blackout, 4 CANDU reactors stayed operational and were a big factor in helping get the Ontario grid back in operation.
 
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were they located at Bruce power ?
 
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were they located at Bruce power ?
Three units at Bruce and one at Darlington survived the grid upset and stabilized at ~ 60% FP awaiting approval to resync with the grid.
 
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i do not know if this was tried at point lepreau or gentilly they are Candu as well
at Gentilly GE had build back-up power with 2 or 3 jet turbine to supply NPP if needed
 
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i do not know if this was tried at point lepreau or gentilly they are Candu as well
at Gentilly GE had build back-up power with 2 or 3 jet turbine to supply NPP if needed
Pt Lepreau and Gentilly II both have this capability of high power condenser dump. They are a "CANDU 6" design and the same design is used in the export reactors in China, Romania, South Korea and Argentina.
Gentilly is somewhat unique in that there is a 382 MW gas turbine plant built beside it that is used for grid peaking as well as a backup power source for G2. There are 4, 82Mwe GE gas turbines there.
 
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i had gone to both place in regard with motor control centers (Klockner Moeller )
 
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Three units at Bruce and one at Darlington survived the grid upset and stabilized at ~ 60% FP awaiting approval to resync with the grid.
The CANDU design can stay in operation after a grid disconnect. They stay at high power at first to avoid problems with Xenon instability. The generator is only making enough power to meet the needs of the auxiliaries and the rest of the thermal energy is dumped into the condenser by steam bypass valves. If left disconnected for long enough they would eventually make it to 5% reactor power as the Xenon levels in the fuel dropped.

All current US plants trip the reactor on a loss of grid. The GE BWR plants could very easily be made to operate like the CANDU units but it would require extensive regulatory changes. At PWR plants there would have to be some level of modifications to the plants to let it happen.

The new plants being built in the US can continue to operate after a loss of grid (Westinghouse AP1000).
 

jim hardy

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""All current US plants trip the reactor on a loss of grid. ""

a true enough statement in practice, though by design some of them could island.

something called "degraded grid protection" might automatically cause a plant to trip on loss of grid if not implemented thoughtfully.
or if it relies on grid for its internal power...

if the plant is supplying its own power and the control system handles the transient as described for the Candu, there's no reason my old plant couldn't "island".
Internal power was tapped right off main generator, before it went out to grid, for that reason.
 
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I imagine the simplest solution is to shut down most of the grid when ultra-powerful solar flare is detected. Carrington event had ~6 hours gap between the flare and the onset of geomagnetic storm.
But that would hit profits and bonuses and dividends ,risky.
 
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yes there will be some impacts but what is consequence to do nothing ?
 
24
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large CME from sun today , expected disturbance by Saturday
 
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second punch , one more solar flare cat M8 effect S3 supposed to touch us tomorrow Jan 24
 
Last edited:

Dotini

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second punch , one more solar flare cat M8 effect S3 supposed to touch us tomorrow Jan 24
Often these CME's take 2-3 days to reach us. This one has apparently accelerated to Earth in under 32 hours, a little slower than expected. The magnetosphere was compressed and satellites briefly exposed to solar wind plasma.

Respectfully submitted,
Steve
 

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