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Solar Events

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 164461, tabled on 8 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the oral contribution of the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth of 18 November 2020, Official report, col 437, what steps have been taken to protect the National Grid from a solar storm.

Answered on

16 March 2021

Great Britain has one of the most robust energy systems in the world and maintaining a secure electricity supply is a key priority for the Government.

The Department works extensively with National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) and other infrastructure operators, to ensure that the impacts of a severe space weather event are well understood, and the appropriate steps are taken to ensure the sector’s preparedness for major space weather events.

NGESO has robust plans in place, which are constantly reinforced based on the latest science and information, to mitigate against high impact risks, including solar storms. In recent years, National Grid has increased the number of spare transformers that they hold so that damaged equipment can be promptly replaced, continue to introduce a new design of transformers which are operationally more resistant to the effects of space weather and undertaking emergency exercises aimed at improving knowledge, resilience, and response capability.

In order to improve our ability to predict and mitigate the hazards of space weather, in October 2019 the UK Government announced a £20m boost to predict severe space weather events. This nearly quadruples investment from government into research that can improve systems at the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre. This will further build the UK’s knowledge on how to forecast and better prepare for these space weather events.