Threats to Electricity Supply

Threats To The Mains Electricity Supply

Threatening situations that could readily and extensively interrupt our electricity power supply from the mains grid electricity infrastructure are indeed numerous. Modern societies are far too reliant on the electricity generation power stations and the infrastructure that distributes electrical power. We extensively take these utilities for granted, until quite literally the power goes out.

In today’s global situation, not only are these threats becoming more realistic, but they may possibly be more enduring. Emergencies from power outages are caused by both natural phenomenon and man-made risks. As recent history has shown, power outages all too readily not only create inconvenience and financial loss, but indeed threaten and take lives.

Extreme Weather Threats To Electricity Supply

Power outage

Threats to domestic and business electrical supply, as already experienced in modern times, include extreme temperature weather events. Adverse intense extremities in both cold and heat create significantly increased demands on electricity generation utilities. We are yet to see the risks of global warming on the electrical power supply.

During such events, demand exceeds that of which can be generated. Electrical grids fail as there simply isn’t enough power to go around. Sometimes, in such cases, electrical authorities will conduct ‘load shedding’ or ‘brown-outs’, which are coordinated network outages across multiple regions when usage exceeds peak demand.

Extreme weather events all too readily damage electricity power grids. Strong winds from storms, cyclones, tornadoes and hurricanes can damage and knock down powerlines, usually caused by falling trees. Lightning strikes are a common origin of power grid damage, which are a common cause of bush fires and life threatening wildfires. Incidentally, bush fires are a threat to electricity supply infrastructure that can potentially destroy large parts of the grid.

electricity failures

Heavy rains and flooding can knock down trees and power poles, and cause intensive damage to underground power cables. Threats from natural causes may be on the rise, and the damage can be extensive and, as usual, located in remote and somewhat inaccessible regions. Damage to power supplies from severe weather events can potentially endure lengthy repair times, often weeks if not months.

Natural Occurrences Risking Electrical Power Supply

Electricity power supply can be interrupted by relatively benign natural causes. Damage by animals does occur, namely birds, bats and arboreal animals that prefer to climb trees. Animals that come into contact with over-head powerlines are electrocuted instantly, causing the power to trip or short-out. In Australia, the main culprits are large birds, fruit bats and possums.

power line damage

Large and ageing trees falling on powerlines and dropping limbs often cause power interruptions. Less common are power outages caused by lightning strikes, which can strike a powerline pole and/or transformers. Lightning strikes often directly knock out the electrical grid. Fortunately, as far as power supply goes, these benign natural causes are not overly common and interruptions are usually repaired quite quickly.

Severe natural phenomena posing immense risks to the electrical power supply include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and land-slides. Damage induced by these acts of nature can not only directly threaten lives, but too are the indirect consequences of extensive power outages. Catastrophic damage to electrical power infrastructure could endure very lengthy repair times.

Potentially, however, one of the greatest threats to electricity supply are from coronal mass ejections (CME’s). CME’S are massive eruptions of magnetised plasma from the Sun, such as solar flares. They literally have the power and intensity to wipe out most of the world’s electrical appliances including vehicles, communications and all of the planets electrical supply infrastructure. The damage would be immense and could take decades to repair.

Coronal Mass Ejection CME

Earth is quite simply overdue for another significant coronal mass ejection, exactly like the one that hit the planet in 1859, known as the Carrington Event. An example of a relatively minor solar storm occurred in Quebec, Canada, in 1989, completely shutting down power for the entire province. The Earth narrowly missed a major coronal mass ejection in 2012, which was not disclosed to the world by the authorities until 2017. Why the delay in this notification if they did not want to raise concerns?

Man-Made Threats To Mains Electricity Supply

Non-natural damage to power grids are often caused by cars, trucks, heavy machinery, people using ladders without looking and even dodgy people cutting down trees, though these types of electrical mains grid damage can be repaired relatively quickly. As electricity powerline poles and underground power cables are often within urban regions and most roads, they are often involved in car collisions and damaged during excavations.

Downed power line

Power-lines do generate and exacerbate wildfires, and in turn wildfires often take down the grid’s electrical distribution infrastructure. Deliberate arson seems to be an ever-increasing risk. Threats to our power supply are increasingly generated by ageing infrastructure, regarding both the distribution grid and power generation stations, where maintenance becomes insufficient. Inadequate tree maintenance would additionally belong to this category. Always remember though that downed power lines are always extremely dangerous.

Power utility authorities and providers do, however, undertake regular maintenance and emergency repairs on the electrical grids, and this often necessitates switching off sections of the network to allow technicians to work safely. Sometimes equipment within the electrical generation and supply infrastructure will simply fail, and such faults inevitably result in power outages. Faults will even inevitably occur with home and business electrical systems.

An emerging threat to our electrical power supply is the premature decommission of traditional coal fired power-stations, and even nuclear power stations in some countries. There seems to be a lack of planning and foresight during the transitioning to renewable energy sources, predominantly wind and solar. Inevitably during new processes and lack of testing, failures can and do occur.

Vandalism to the electrical infrastructure always threatens power supply by deliberately starting fires which then take out parts of the electrical grid, not to mention destroying ecosystems, animals, farms, livestock, businesses, homes and destroying people’s lives. Vandals have also been known to directly attack parts of the grid.


Then there are the extreme threats to our electrical power supply in terms of terrorism by radical groups and rogue countries. Such malevolent groups may intentionally target power utilities to cause maximum power outages, including from the ever-increasing risk of cyber-attacks, or, worse still, aim to deploy electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons to destroy all electronic equipment within entire regions. The intention is to create as much damage and disruption as possible to an entire society’s municipal services and economy.

Solutions To Electricity Supply Threats

Contact your electricity provider if any interruption to the supply would be life threatening, such as where life support equipment is imperative and where business will be subjected to exceptionally high financial losses and costs. Consider purchasing and implementing your own power generation systems including generators, photovoltaic systems, battery banks and portable power stations.


Taking these very potential threats into consideration, the concept of preparedness could include protecting your electrical equipment from CME’s and EMP’s. This introduces us to the value of Faraday cages. These are basically metal boxes, appropriately sealed to exclude pulsed electrical radiation. Ideally they do need to be earthed or grounded to help assist the electrical discharge.

We purchased the EcoFlow River Max to test it out!

Wild Earth Battery

For greater portability, read Wild Earth's Blog on - 'Best Portable Solar & Power Banks'


People need the electrical power system for numerous reasons including to help stay warm, support health care, supply food and in general to allow comfortable living conditions. Businesses need electrical energy to help provide goods and services, and governments need electricity to provide all municipal services. Life as we know it could be drastically impaired if for any reason the energy supply systems are interrupted and fail.

Threats to the electricity supply infrastructure include severe weather events like storms and floods, from other natural phenomena such as lightning strikes and wildfires, and from pernicious threats of vandalism and terrorism. Our governments and utility power companies are grossly unprepared for the threat of a coronal mass ejection which has the very real potential to destroy all electrical equipment and power supply systems.

The current threats and future risks, potentially compounded by world instability, climate change, increasing natural disasters and more severe weather events, could all readily result in more frequent and longer lasting disruptions to our power supply. The consequences may be catastrophic for many, directly and indirectly destroying and taking people’s lives. However, there are solutions to help protect yourself, family and businesses from such threats.

electricity grid
Solar storm