Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Smart grid dangers

Whilst smart grids seem to be moving ahead, there have been reservations expressed by various parties.

One danger, raised in a US House Science subcommittee meeting on smart grids (according to ScienceNews), is the impact of electromagnetic pulses (EMP). These are are often associated with nuclear weapons or a major explosion and effectively knock out all electrical and electronics systems through a voltage surge. It would 'only' take a small, nuclear warhead detonated overhead to knock out a vast power system, it was claimed by one Republican congressman at the hearing.

A different issue is around the privacy of smart grid users. reports the concerns of Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's information and privacy commissioner, after 179,000 Toronto Hydro e-billing accounts were illegally accessed last week. Cavoukian, commented that it is a warning to utilities who are beginning to modernise their networks.

Her comments came in the light of Google's plan to work with Toronto Hydro to demonstrate PowerMeter, Google's residential energy management tool, and the need to ensure that personal information is protected.

Valid concerns, but it seems to be that they're no more relevant to smart grids than to any other aspect of systems that rely on ICT. For instance, if the analyst firms are to be believed we'll all be relying on cloud computing and the 'Internet of things' in a few years anyway, so you won't need to knock out the grid, just the internet.

© The Green IT Review

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