Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Future Eruptions Could Pose Threat To Power Supply

Future Eruptions Could Pose Threat To Power Supply, Says UC Researcher

October 25, 2012

Future volcanic eruptions could pose threats to New Zealand’s power supply, a University of Canterbury (UC) researcher said today.

UC doctoral student Johnny Wardman said the 1995 Ruapehu volcanic eruption severely disrupted power and a similar eruption could pose a problem again in the future.

Wardman has been looking into the effects of volcanic ash on electric power systems. Several problems arise from volcanic ash contamination on power equipment but the most common problem is insulator flashover.

``Flashover is the, unintended discharge around or across the surface of an insulator. It can be thought of as a large short-circuit. If the resulting short circuit current is high enough to trip the circuit breaker, disruption of service will occur.

``An example of this happening was in 1995 when Ruapehu erupted, raining ash on some 220 kV power lines which lie close to the volcano. This caused voltage fluctuations and problems for electrical equipment throughout the North Island.

``Fluctuations in supply tripped the emergency power at Wellington Hospital, causing non-essential supplies to be shed. Included in this, by accident, was a water pump in one of the hospital's dialysis wings.’’

Wardman said to better understand the problem of ash-induced insulator flashover, he has been running laboratory tests in UC’s high voltage lab to see how high voltage insulators perform when subjected to varying degrees of volcanic ash contamination.

He has been trying to identify the physical, environmental and electrical conditions which contribute most to the flashover mechanism. Results from these tests will strengthen knowledge on the vulnerability of electric power supply to volcanic ash fall hazards.

While there were no concrete solutions to ash fall contamination, there were a number of potential mitigating strategies. The most effective strategy against ash fall impacts was shutting down critical parts of the system such as sub-station and generation facilities until the ash was effectively removed from the immediate area.

Additionally, heightened operational readiness, efficient monitoring and impact assessment of any disruption or damage were key elements of good risk practice. Wardman’s research has been funded by Transpower New Zealand.

Wardman’s supervising lecturer Tom Wilson said there was a huge number of multi-disciplinary natural hazards studies at UC. Collaboration between geological sciences and electrical engineering was a great example, he said.

``With our College of Engineering and College of Science, we can investigate the consequences of natural hazards on critical components and systems.

``This particular research is highly relevant as all of New Zealand's national grid is sited only a few kilometres away from active volcanoes - Ruapehu, Tongaririo and Taranaki. Johnny Wardman is leading the world with his research, with interest from major power companies in the USA and Scandinavia,’’ Dr Wilson said.

Photo: UC student researcher Johnny Wardman

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Housing Policy: Auckland Densification As Popular As Ebola, English Says

Finance Minister Bill English said calls by the Reserve Bank Governor for more densification in Auckland’s housing were “about as popular in parts of Auckland as Ebola” would be. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: NZ Government Deficit Smaller Than Expected In First Half

The New Zealand government's operating deficit was smaller than expected in the first six months of the financial year, as the consumption and corporate tax take rose ahead of forecast in December, having lagged estimates in previous months. More>>

ALSO:

Fruit & Veg Crackdown: Auckland Fruit Fly Find Under Investigation

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating a find of a single male Queensland fruit fly in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn... MPI has placed legal controls on the movement of fruit and some vegetables outside of a defined circular area which extends 1.5km from where the fly was trapped in Grey Lynn. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Westpac NZ Reaches $2.97M Swaps Settlement

Westpac Banking Corp’s New Zealand unit has agreed to pay $2.97 million in a settlement with the Commerce Commission over the way the bank sold interest rate swaps to farmers between 2005 and 2012. More>>

ALSO:

Going Dutch: Fonterra Kicks Off $144M Partnership With Dutch Cheese Maker

Fonterra Co-operative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has commissioned a new dairy ingredients plant in Heerenveen, in the north of the Netherlands, its first wholly-owned and operated ingredients plant in Europe. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Retail Sales Beat Estimates

New Zealand retail sales rose more than expected in the fourth quarter, led by vehicle-related transactions, food and beverages, adding to evidence that cheap credit and a growing jobs market are encouraging consumers to spend. More>>

ALSO:

Delivery Cuts Go Ahead: 'Government Money Grab' From NZ Post

"It's a money grab by the Government as the shareholder of New Zealand Post" says Postal Workers Union advocate Graeme Clarke about the changes announced by NZ Post. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news