5 February 2024


Media Updates, News, Space

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  • Our UK office is leading development of a web application modelling the impact of severe space weather on power grids across Europe.
  • The ‘EuroGIC’ project for the European Space Agency will enable electricity grid operators to assess the risk to their transformers and, ultimately, avoid blackouts.

Our space weather experts have recently commenced an important project for the European Space Agency (ESA) to advance Europe’s resilience to space weather. In the 2-year project, we will lead an international consortium to develop EuroGIC, a web application for electricity transmission operators that will model geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) in power grids across Europe, providing information to users in near-real time.

The Sun’s activity manifests itself as solar flares, radiation storms and coronal mass ejections. When these are directed at Earth, they drive geomagnetic storms that can cause a range of impacts of varying severity, depending on location, including disruption to terrestrial, maritime and space systems. Geomagnetic storms are rapid changes in the Earth’s magnetic field that generate strong currents in long and conductive infrastructures such as powerlines and railway tracks.

Dr Matt Allcock, RHEA Space Weather Consultant, explains: “Without power, many critical infrastructures that people rely on every day will cease to function, causing serious problems. Through the EuroGIC project, we will support electricity transmission operators by designing and engineering a web application that models GICs in real time, using data from existing stations across Europe that measure the Earth’s magnetic field. The web application will be integrated with ESA’s Space Weather Portal and be available for electricity grid operators to assess the risk to their transformers and, ultimately, avoid blackouts.”

British Geological Survey, GeoSphere Austria and University KU Leuven complete the EuroGIC project consortium.

This project complements the work performed by RHEA, together with and Northumbria University, on severe space weather impacts in critical infrastructures as part of the UK Research and Innovation organization’s Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk (SWIMMR) programme, for which the final report will be published in early 2024.