Helio Solar Storm Scenario

Helio Solar Storm Scenario


In this report, we provide a catastrophe scenario for a US-wide power system collapse that is caused by an extreme space weather event affecting Earth: the Helios Solar Storm scenario. This scenario is a stress test for managers and policy- makers. Stress tests are important for understanding risk exposure across a spectrum of extreme systemic shocks such as those proposed in the Cambridge Taxonomy of Threats, which encompasses a dozen major classes of catastrophes. A suite of scenarios can be used as a basis for calibrating an organisation’s inherent risk, vulnerability and resilience. This scenario describes how an extreme space weather event can cause direct damage and indirect debilitation of high voltage transmission grids in the USA, resulting in power blackouts along with consequential insurance claims and economic losses. Over the past decade, there have been a number of analyses of the potential effects of extreme space weather on the electricity transmission network. This report adds to this literature by providing a transparent economic analysis of the potential costs associated with such an event.

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Resource Details

Cambridge Center for Risk Studies,

November 2016

67 pages

Black Sky
Economic Impacts
Power Outage

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
Introduction to Space Weather
Ground-effects of Extreme Space Weather
Defining the Scenario
The Scenario
Direct Scenario Impacts
Indirect Supply Chain Impacts
Macroeconomic Analysis
Insurance Impacts
Investment Impacts

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