North American Grid, the mammoth is once hailed as the world’s best and complex electric grid. However, its power outage and blackout issues have tarnished the legacy of this once-praised network.
Nowadays, North American Grid is plagued by frequent power outages that result from the out-of-the-pace infrastructure, long-distance transmission lines, and delayed repairs. Many of these issues are also due to aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced or rebuilt as soon as possible. North American Grid currently has the following issues:
- Intermittent connectivity between power and control facilities.
- Vulnerability in transmission lines due to outdated design, or lack of adequate protection systems.
- Inadequate monitoring of the grid’s entire network.
- Shortage of available capital that limits the development and implementation of new technologies.
- Limited manpower and limited expertise in maintaining the complex grid system.
- Old technology that limits data management capabilities.
- Inadequate analytic and strategic planning tools limit the network’s ability to improve efficiency.
- Inadequate framework of the maintenance organization, thus enabling bottlenecks in the system.
- Aging infrastructure that limits its effectiveness, particularly the transmission lines.
With these issues, North American Grid is seen to be a huge failure because it is unable to take care of itself. It lacks critical human resources needed to maintain technology with detailed information found in the grid’s operational and maintenance database. In addition, North American Grid lacks crucial analytic tools needed for planning and strategic analysis of its performance.
The North American Grid has many aging power lines that are no longer efficient and reliable. Transmission networks with weak structures are likely to fail. Aging infrastructure in North American Grid is more vulnerable to threats than its younger counterparts.
There is lack of a centralized and coordinated approach in monitoring the entire network. The absence of this approach results in a failure if not an interruption, particularly during unexpected events like thunderstorms and violent winds. Since there is no centralized monitoring, satellite technology has been employed since 2005 for over-the-top (OTT) monitoring, which makes it easier for grid operators to prevent and respond to emerging threats that may affect grid operations and reliability.
The grid utility has a resource shortage. The many North American States have experienced severe problems in sustaining sufficient staff, adequate expertise, and sufficient capital. With a limited amount of manpower, the grid has to rely on outside experts to help it tackle its problems. However, overextension of these resources limits the ability of grid operators to improve the grid’s performance and reliability.
It is also important to note that most of these problems are not a result of poor management and implementation decisions but rather due to the unplanned and uncontrolled nature of the system as it is currently being managed. If these issues are addressed in an appropriate manner, North American Grid will be able to sustain itself through its own strengths as well as its soft spots.
We can sense the absence of a coherent and coordinated network. The lack of a planned approach for maintaining the grid affects its ability to respond to emerging threats and improve its optimization. These issues are not addressed because there is no unified plan adopted in North American Grid. Instead, grid systems are run by individual utilities at state level, thus resulting in a fragmented approach to managing the grid system as a whole.
A main reason for this deteriorating fame is the lack of monitoring for power production levels also. In North American Grid, power production monitoring data requires sophisticated equipment for collecting data from various sources such as generators and transformers. With limited on-site resources, these data are not available to grid operators when needed. Monitoring for power production on a large scale is impossible without sophisticated monitoring hardware and software.
The network’s aged infrastructure limits its ability to maintain its desired level of operation. Maintenance in North American Grid focuses on maintaining the present level of operation instead of improving it. In this case, energy networks are not ready for new technologies because they have limited budgets while at the same time being vulnerable to emerging threats. New technologies also require a lot of investment that grid operators can only afford to do so if there is a stable and continuous supply of energy from power plants, where such plants are not entirely reliable in producing energy over long periods of time.
Also, the grid will continue to be vulnerable to threats as long as there are bottlenecks in its operation. North American Grid has many bottlenecks in its operation because it is unable to address all the issues discussed above. This situation will remain unless there are appropriate modifications and changes. With appropriate upgrades and modifications, the grid can become far more resilient and robust against emerging threats.
Accordingly, North American Grid is at risk of failure due to its vulnerability in the face of emerging threats such as cyber-attacks and terrorist attacks. With these issues, it risks becoming a failure very quickly if no action is taken by relevant stakeholders in determining how best to address these challenges. The solution to these issues is to effectively manage the grid system through a decentralized approach that will ensure proper information flow, creating a cohesive and coherent network.