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Space weather forecasts to protect power grid from solar storms

31 January 2014

A £4.6 million investment in this innovative system by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will help protect technologies from solar storms.

Severe solar flares, space storms and solar wind can disrupt  power grids, satellites, GPS and radio communications.

Space weather forecasts, running all day, every day from spring 2014, will allow government and businesses to take swift action to ensure services are maintained.

Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, said: "The sun is in constant flux, and the possibly damaging impact of this solar activity is growing as people become more reliant on satellite technology.

"Space is one of the Eight Great Technologies of the future and I’m pleased that this worthwhile project has received the funding it’s due.

"These forecasts will ensure that businesses can plan ahead, keeping us at the forefront of the global race.”

The £4.6 million investment, spread over the next 3 years, will allow the Met Office to build on its partnership with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service, sharing knowledge and expertise in space weather forecasting.

Andrew Richards, a Risk and Resilience Analyst for National Grid, said: "A round the clock UK forecasting service for space weather is essential as part of National Grid’s procedures for running the electricity transmission network securely and safely. It is great news for National Grid that the Met Office has secured funding for its space weather forecasting operations.”