In the US daily economic losses from solar storms causing power outages can be more than $ 40 billion, with more than half of them represent the indirect costs outside off, according to a new study.
Previous studies focused on direct economic losses in the area of the outage, not taking into account the indirect domestic and international losses from extreme space weather. On average, scientists estimate that direct economic losses from interruptions in the supply of electricity accounted for only 49% of the total number of potential macroeconomic costs.
According to a worst-case scenario, in the event of a power outage, affecting 66 % of the U.S. population, the daily internal economic losses could reach $ 41.5 billion, plus an additional 7 billion at the expense of international energy supplies.
Electrical experts differ in their views on the possible scale of the blackouts caused by coronal mass ejections. Some believe that the outages could last a few hours or a few days, as electrical systems are protected from electrical collapse. According to other experts, they can take up to several weeks or months because the equipment can be virtually destroyed and need to be replaced.
Extremes of space weather occur frequently, but only occasionally have an impact on the Ground. The most famous geomagnetic storm that hit Quebec in 1989 caused the collapse of the electrical grid of Hydro-Quebec, responsible for the production, transmission and sales of electricity in the region, and at nine o’clock left without electricity for many villages.
In 1859 there was a massive solar storm, known as the “Carrington event” (in honor of the British astronomer). In 2012, the likelihood of recurrence of such a storm in the next decade is estimated at 12 %. After a year the insurance company Lloyd’s in cooperation with Atmospheric and Environmental Research conducted a study which States that the probability of extreme solar storms at this time is relatively small, but in the end it will inevitably happen.
Extreme space weather can affect domestic production of the USA in various sectors of the economy, including manufacturing industry, government and the financial system as well as cause economic harm to other countries by communication through a network of international energy supplies, according to a new study.
“It is surprising that there has been a lack of studies of these direct and indirect costs, given the uncertainty of the vulnerability of electrical infrastructure to the solar incidents,” said co-author Edward Woton of Kemijski business school, on the conclusions of the conference which founded the study.
The work considers three geographical scenario of a power outage caused by extreme space weather, depending on the geographical latitude of the areas affected by different types of incidents.
If you pass only the extreme Northern States, where 8 % of the U.S. population, the economic losses per day can be 6.2 billion dollars with an additional 0.8 billion from international losses. If in the affected area are 23% of the population, these figures will amount to 16.5 billion and 2.2 billion, respectively. If 44 % of the population is 37.7 billion, plus $ 4.8 billion. (The calculations were made considering the price and the dollar exchange rate as at 2011).
Industry is a sector of the U.S. economy most affected by these trips, then there is a government, financial and insurance systems, as well as property. Outside the US most strongly from such incidents can hurt China, then Canada, and Mexico, as these countries provide most of the raw materials and intermediate goods and services used in the production of American firms.
“The first time we have reviewed the space weather from an economic point of view. As it turned out, its potential impact on this area is enormous. Our work will help governments to plan scenarios and to take measures in advance to mitigate the effects,” said co-author Professor Richard Horne of the British Antarctic service.