Disaster and Grid Resiliency

As we watch scenes of unspeakable tragedy and devastation in Japan, it’s right that we revisit questions of energy security and resiliency in the event of attack or disaster. Just how resilient is our current electrical grid? Could a smarter grid mitigate the effects of a similar disaster here at home? Most U.S. states have some risk of earthquakes. A malicious cyber attack could indiscriminately damage or disable generation, transmission, distribution and/or storage infrastructure.

According to the Smart Grid Library, “Regardless of where you live, a glaring vulnerability of our current grid configuration is that we are all dependent on a relatively few centralized sources of generation.”

But smart grid technologies make a different configuration possible – a distributed energy model that supports and potentially encourages smaller, independent, on-site power generation and storage.

Policies and regulations could encourage:

  • Microgrids that can disconnect from the larger grid in the event of damage or attack
  • Local use of community-based renewable resources, regardless of disruptions elsewhere
  • Decentralized power generation and storage facilities, spreading out and diminishing risk from disaster or attack
  • Greater voluntary involvement in reduced energy consumption through the use of demand-response programs, potentially reducing the need for rolling blackouts in the event of a disaster

A smarter grid can’t prevent a disaster, but it can mitigate harm and increase our options for responding and rebuilding.

Photo credit: DigitalGlobe