Press Release: Powerworld Develops Software for Studying Impact of Solar Storms on the Power Grid

June 26, 2012 — Champaign, Illinois, USA — PowerWorld Corporation has developed an innovative software modeling tool to help electric utilities determine the impact a solar storm could have on the electric power grid.

Usually originating from coronal mass ejections from the sun, geomagnetic disturbances (GMDs) have the potential to cause major blackouts and severe damage to the high voltage transformers that form the backbone of the electric power grid. For example, in 1989 a GMD caused a widespread power outage in Quebec, Canada, but this event was much smaller and less intense than the 1859 Carrington Event that struck prior to modern electrification, caused telegraph failures across North America and Europe, and made the Northern Lights visible as far south as Hawaii. The need for the electric utility industry to plan for a GMD was highlighted by a special reliability assessment from the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) in February 2012.

However, prior to the release of the PowerWorld product, electric utilities had few options for assessing vulnerability to a GMD and mitigating risk. “Solar super-storms are low probability, high impact events, much like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The odds of a major solar storm in any given year are slim, but they do occur. If a storm the magnitude of the 1859 Carrington Event strikes today’s power grid, the consequences could be devastating. Not preparing in advance is like not purchasing fire insurance for your home,” said PowerWorld President Mark Laufenberg. “With this new product, we’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for utilities to start this important planning process before it is too late.”

PowerWorld Corporation, based in Champaign, Illinois, USA, is a power systems software developer and consultant. Its products include PowerWorld Simulator, PowerWorld Retriever, PowerWorld Trainer, and PowerWorld OPS-X software tools for power systems modeling and simulation, real-time visualization, and system operator training. For more information and free evaluation software, visit http://www.powerworld.com.


PowerWorld Corporation
Scott R. Dahman, Director of Business Development
2001 South First Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820
Tel: +1 (217) 384.6330 x19