National Electricity Grid

The Vulnerabilities of a National Electricity Grid

by Manish Singh

While traveling, you can see electricity lines crossing provincial state lines, lighting up homes, offices, industries, and businesses. The electricity poles are present wherever you go. The underlying scary truth is that this widespread operation is exceptionally vulnerable because of its grandeur. Let’s learn how this oxymoron concept is possible.

How Old are the Grid Stations?

The age of the grid should be a significant concern for the national utility bidder. Yet, many public authorities refused to admit it as a problem. Some of these national grids were installed as much as five decades ago. With the constant advancement of technology and cost reduction strategies, they have become severely outdated.

Part of the issue is financial restraints. Public taxpayers’ money is preferred to be spent on education, infrastructure, and medical services. Governments face extra pressure because of the ongoing pandemic, so the energy sector has been less of a priority. Moreover, many electricity grids run in losses, so debt financing is the only option.

Politics

The power sector has become immensely politicized. Many politicians debate its use or replacement but once in power, circumnavigate the issue. Power sectors provide employment and revenue. It needs to be kept for its economic contribution rather than a pawn in the political game.

The reality is creating a false hype to get the voters’ attention. Whether or not to invest in nuclear power, whether to stop coal electricity production? These are some of the questions that require a permanent stance to fight the rising global temperature and climate change.

Nuclear power is one the cleanest power sources available but has been torn with politics.

Frequent Blackouts

As we have been experiencing recently, power outages have been more frequent and severe. There have been more than 100,000 blackouts worldwide, with a 124% rise in customer complaints. These figures are scary. As the electric grid components are running longer than programmed to do, frequent blackouts become our new reality.

Moreover, the transmittance wires laid down underground or connected to the poles are old too. This results in faulty wiring and electricity sparks during heavy rainfalls. Such events instantly put major cities in blackout mode with no electricity in sight. Some of the blackout repairs can take up to a few days to repair.

Cyberwarfare

Digitalizing power grids has made power grids vulnerable to cyber espionage. Hacking attempts, breaking through firewalls, and extracting sensitive customer data without their consent is a constant fear. Few countries do not have the resources to install expert controls, so their economies are at risk.

Many countries can hack the electricity grid if taken to war and put their adversary’s entire war game to an instant halt. They can cross international boundaries without being detected and topple regimes using cyber-espionage apparatus.

Conclusion

Many of these modern electricity grids are password protected. However, expert hackers can hack entire grid stations using their personal computers in less than a few hours. With the evolution of artificial intelligence, it is up to us to use it wisely and for the right reasons.

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