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Earthquake Resilient Energy Services

August 14, 2018

EARTHQUAKE RESILIENT ENERGY SERVICESEnergy Planning for a Cascadia Subduction Zone EarthquakeChris Robertson, American Solar Energy Society, August, 2018 (PDF download

January 26, 2018 was the 318th anniversary of “…an estimated magnitude 9.0 earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone Fault (CSZ), which runs offshore and dips under Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. It is one of the world’s most dangerous faults…” (Source: Cascade Regional Earthquake Workgroup.)

The CSZ fault generates very large earthquakes on average every 300 years. More than 15 million people in the Pacific Northwest are in harms way. In the aftermath of an M-9 quake the electric grid will be down, probably for many months in some locations.

“… a CSZ earthquake would simultaneously damage power, natural gas, and petroleum lines, roads and bridges, water and sewer systems, critical buildings, and communications over large parts of California, Oregon, Washington (and British Columbia). … Restoration of communication service would require that electric power be restored, which would require that roads and bridges be repaired, which in turn would require that the petroleum delivery and distribution system be repaired.” (Source: “Oregon Resilience Plan” 2013)

Resilience was a key theme of the American Solar Energy Society Conference in Boulder, CO August 5-8, 2018. Energy resilience projects are growing in the US, but none are focused systematically on design for neighborhood-scale energy system resilience across a highly populated multi-state area.

Pacific Northwest energy and emergency management stakeholders should consider adopting a strategy of Design for Resilience to guide future growth of the electric utility system. Over the next 20 years PNW utilities will be building a lot of renewable energy projects, buying green energy from independent power producers, and installing a vast array of battery energy storage capacity.

Neighborhood Design for Resilience can be enabled by building a fleet of  small solar power plants, densely distributed across the PNW, so that residents would be no more than a ten minute walk away. They would be seismically designed, include PV plus battery energy storage, and plug-ins where critical devices can be recharged. These micro-grids would provide valuable services to the electric grid during normal operations. In emergency operation they would drop off the grid and provide emergency neighborhood energy services until the recovery is complete.

This ASES presentation examines issues of scale, ownership, economic value, community and neighborhood development, emergency services, and the potential for collaboration among a diverse set of stakeholders. A high level research and development agenda rounds out the presentation.

Download here:

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