Living without electricity in today’s technological world may be difficult to imagine.
Yet the reality of living without computers, mobile phones and entertainment systems, and managing a transport system thrown into chaos by an absence of traffic lights, trains and subways, may become increasingly common, according to a new academic study.
New research by Hugh Byrd, Professor of Architecture at the University of Lincoln, UK, and Steve Matthewman, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, reveals that today’s occasional blackouts are dress rehearsals for the future, when they will occur with greater frequency and increased severity.
According to the study, power cuts will become more regular around the globe as electrical supply becomes increasingly vulnerable and demand for technology continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.
Professor Byrd said: “Electricity fuels our existence. It powers water purification, waste, food, transportation and communication systems. Modern social life is impossible to imagine without it, and whereas cities of the past relied on man-power, today we are almost completely reliant on a series of interlocking technical systems. Our research therefore explores what happens when the power goes off, and explains why the security of fuel supply is such a pressing social problem.”
Electrical power has been defined as a ‘critical infrastructure’ by the International Risk Governance Council, in that it is a ‘large-scale human-built system that supplies continual services central to society’s functioning’. However, electricity supply is less robust than commonly supposed.
Guaranteed electrical power is under threat because of resource constraint, with the depletion of fossil fuel reserves and the transient nature of renewable energy sources. The Western world also relies on ageing systems, with almost three quarters of American transmission lines more than 25 years old.
Professor Matthewman said: “Infrastructural investment across Europe and the USA has been poor, and our power generation systems are more fragile than most people think. The vulnerability of our electricity systems is highlighted by one particular blackout which took place in Italy in 2003, when the whole nation was left without power because of two fallen trees. This reality is particularly alarming when you consider the world’s increasing dependency on electricity.”
While many blackouts occur due to system faults, the researchers reveal that network failure due to inadequate energy is also a growing concern. The study explains that US household electricity usage increased by 1,300% between 1940 and 2001, and looks ahead to the future when demand for electric vehicles and air conditioning systems is expected to rocket.
In the last few decades, air conditioning has been the greatest factor in increased electrical consumption and one of the greatest sources of systematic strain, with considerably more blackouts occurring in the summer months than during winter. The electricity used to fuel America’s air conditioning is currently a similar volume to its entire energy consumption in the 1950s, and countries such as China and India are following a similar pattern.
Professor Byrd added: “Western societies are becoming ever more dependent upon electrical power yet supply will struggle to meet demand, especially if you consider the current rate of population growth and the continuing sophistication and prevalence of electrical appliances.
The Latest on: Power outages
via Google News
The Latest on: Power outages
- California businesses at risk amid fires, power outageson November 14, 2019 at 3:50 pm
NEW YORK (AP) — The California wildfires are taking a toll on small businesses, including those that are miles away and safe from the flames. Smoke, ash and power outages force companies to shut down ...
- Contractor's mistake led to gas outage in Shakopee, utility sayson November 14, 2019 at 1:03 pm
Faulty installation of new equipment by a contractor caused the gas outage that hit 562 CenterPoint customers earlier this week in Shakopee, the utility said Thursday. The outage started Monday ...
- Computer outage affects all Arizona motor vehicle services statewide, says ADOTon November 14, 2019 at 10:18 am
Computer outage affects all Arizona motor vehicle services statewide, says ADOT Technicians discovered a malfunction with a fiber optic line which connects to numerous state agencies. Check out this ...
- Earhart K-8, Western High in Detroit dismiss students due to power outageon November 14, 2019 at 7:10 am
Detroit — Two Detroit schools will dismiss students early Thursday because of a power outage. Detroit Public Schools Community District officials said Amelia Earhart Elementary-Middle School and ...
- California regulators order inquiry into power outageson November 13, 2019 at 7:50 pm
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California regulators opened a formal investigation Wednesday into preemptive power outages that blacked out large parts of the state in October, drawing strong rebukes from ...
- California regulators to open inquiry into power outageson November 13, 2019 at 7:29 pm
California regulators will vote Wednesday on whether to open an investigation into pre-emptive power outages that blacked out large parts of the state for much of October as strong winds sparked fears ...
- California opens investigation into power outageson November 13, 2019 at 5:05 pm
California regulators voted Wednesday to open an investigation into a dozen preemptive outages that blacked out large parts of the state for much of October as high winds sparked fears of wildfires.
- California regulators open investigation into power outages means to prevent wildfireson November 13, 2019 at 2:53 pm
Power outages caused by PG&E in an effort to prevent wildfires believed to have been caused by the company's power lines lasted for several days last month, affecting nearly a million residents. "This ...
- Power outage at Rutgers forces evacuation of 6 buildings on College Avenue campuson November 13, 2019 at 1:13 pm
Six building on Rutgers University’s College Avenue Campus were evacuated Wednesday morning due to a power outage, officials said. The following buildings in the area of Voorhees Mall are closed until ...
- California regulators open inquiry into PG&E power outageson November 13, 2019 at 11:42 am
California regulators have unanimously ordered an investigation into a dozen deliberate Pacific Gas & Electric power outages that plunged millions of people into the dark last month. The California ...
via Bing News