A new study by the National Research Council of the National Academies provides yet another strong argument for widespread deployment of solar panels and other types of renewable energy: enhanced security against potential terrorist attacks on the nation's power grid.
According to the report, "Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System," the U.S. power delivery system is currently vulnerable to terrorist attacks because a "system that carries electricity from large central generators to customers could be severely damaged by a small number of well-informed attackers." That's especially the case given that U.S. "transmission lines may span hundreds of miles, and many key facilities are unguarded." Finally, "most power is generated by large central generating stations that are located far from the customers they serve," opening up physical, cyber, and personnel vulnerabilities.
The report makes a number of recommendations for making the U.S. power grid more robust and resilient to potential terrorist attacks. One way to counter physical vulnerability, for instance, could be through "[g]reater use of distributed generation and micro-grids," which would help "make end uses more resilient, as well as capable of operations when disconnected from the grid." In other words, making our power system more decentralized, dispersed, and on-site lessens the risk of a single, devastating terrorist attack on the entire network.
Thus, the report note: "Distributed energy resources could also play a significant role in minimizing power disruptions to customers, powering critical services and facilities, and facilitating restoration." Put it this way: if everyone had their own solar panels on their roof, a well-insulated and super-energy-efficient home, a geothermal heat pump system, etc., it would be pretty tough for a terrorist group to knock most of us, let alone all of us, offline. For that matter, the system would be a great deal more resilient in the event of a hurricane or other extreme weather event, like "Superstorm" Sandy. Just add those reasons on to all the other arguments for clean energy...