ou are not alone when you experience that sinking feeling when your smartphone battery is low; “ Nomofobia” is actually a new field of medical research. However, the far more serious problem that consumers like you face is assuring the reliability of the grid that ultimately supplies electricity to your charger—along with power for more and more of the daily products you use as everything is digitized and electrified. In fact, it is a matter of national security.
It will take a new generation of advanced energy solutions to reduce the magnitude and duration of disruptive events—whether malicious attacks or natural disasters.
The vulnerabilities of our electric grid are well documented. In 2017, the Council on Foreign Relations released a report on the vulnerability of the U.S. power grid, noting the electrical system’s central role to the economy and in the smooth functioning of society.
In general terms, Americans are also aware of the major threats; for example, a recent Gallup poll indicated that cyberterrorism, the use of computers to cause disruption or fear in society, was among the most critical threats perceived.
And our grid’s capability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and rapidly recover from disruptive events is not merely a theoretical exercise. Considering Russia’s recent hacking of the electrical grid, some fears are justified. On a recent trip to Russia, Energy Secretary Rick Perry addressed the issue head on, expressing “ disappointment and concern ” to Russia’s energy minister about Moscow’s continued attempts to hack America’s power grid.
We have also already witnessed natural disruptions to the grid. Hurricane Florence devastated lives and livelihoods in the Carolinas; thankfully, through the storm and immediately after, solar power proved reliable and quick to restart the next day.
Additionally, the electric grid is a critical artery of American commerce—the place where traditional power plants and transmission lines intersect with a growing number of new, distributed energy resources that fuel growth in the private sector. Accordingly, leading corporate consumers have effectively established their own utilities to generate 100 percent renewable energy and they are using advanced technologies like Bloom Energy fuel cells for sustainable and interruption free service.