What’s The Connection Between Electricity Use And Wildfires? Find Out Here
Record-breaking wildfires have recently exploded globally, owing to several climatic and human causes, including an unprecedented drought, which has converted an array of forests into brushwood landmasses.
The energy infrastructure, according to researchers and experts, poses a huge threat, leading to massive wildfire risks.
Evidence shows that power lines, transmission, and distribution lines trigger wildfires, especially those that traverse the wilds. Also, high winds can cause sparking fires by blowing trees and branches into power grids.
The other theory is that wooden line poles are the reason behind live wires falling onto dry grass and setting it on fire.
Whether you get your power from Stream Energy or any other company, your electricity use may be connected with the spike in wildfires.
Identification Of Connection Between Electricity Use And Wildfires
Lately, electricity has been attributed to many cases of wildfires:
- The massive wildfire in Northern California, which resulted in several deaths, was mainly due to the power lines encountering the trees and branches.
- Other examples like the Redwood and Atlas Fire resulted in massive deaths, destruction of land, and structures.
- The CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) initially estimated only 10% of wildfires erupting from electrical uses.
- But in light of recent events, they have been triggered to conduct a deep probe into power line safety and thorough research on the frequency of wildfires.
- These findings have proved major fires sparked by electrical issues like the Thomas Fire, which resulted in enormous obliteration of buildings and people.
- Campfire, which destroyed so many homes and families, was originated near transmission lines and started just 15 minutes.
- Also Read: What Are Surge Protectors For? Uses and Advantages
How Electrical Uses Cause Wildfires
Electrical connections using metal poles or wooden ones can easily ignite a fire if flying wreckage in a windstorm strikes a wire.
High-impedance fault can be easily gauged using power distribution systems like circuits or fuses.
These circuits remain energized for an arbitrarily long period, often multiple tens of minutes, during which they produce high energy and temperature, which can be a major cause of fires.
Vegetation, trees, and branches can easily cause wildfires if there is any interaction with power lines.
A branch, tree, or any kind of vegetation spanning two electric conductors can ignite the same, producing high energy fires.
Normally, electric conductors are placed at a safe distance to avoid any intervention. But under unusual circumstances, there could be a slap together between two conductors.
If the conductors are made of aluminum, the results could worsen as articles eject and cause more damage.
Electrical faults resulting from animal contact, cracked insulators, or multiple errors caused in the system can be disastrous.
In such instances, the underlying problem should be quickly identified and immediately worked upon.
Many electrical components like insulators, transformers, switches can work hassle-free for years without causing any failure.
Eventually, it goes through various issues like the pre-failure period, progressive deterioration in utility, and finally, complete failure of the product.
This can eventually result in energized wiring on the ground and ignite combustibles, thereby leading to wildfires.
How Can Electrical Issues That Cause Wildfires Be Rectified?
We can avoid wildfires when using electricity by following these best practices:
Bury The Wires
Underground wiring is one of the best solutions to avoid wildfires, but this is a highly costly and over-priced exercise that depends on the geography of the location.
As per recent reports published by San Diego Gas & Electricals, changes have been made to the wiring system, including rural areas, wherein 60 percent of its lines prone to wildfires are now underground.
Any other wiring pertaining to a high fire risk area comes in its service territory and will be undergrounded.
Wildfires and accidental fires can be reduced by burying power lines, particularly the transmission lines that navigate heavily forested areas.
However, there is a deep concern about digging in environmentally sensitive areas.
Utilities can spark wildfires, and so efforts have been made to insulate the power lines within them. This will result in fewer chances of triggered sparks and fires that can result in bushfires later.
Identify High-Risk Areas
There is also a dire need to manage vegetation and remove dead trees as these can be a cause of immediate fires.
Resultantly, there is a mandatory need to apply technology and advanced computer science pedagogy using Tomorrow Energy to strategize the electrical activity and keep it far away from trees and branches.
A more aggressive approach is required to identify remote disturbances across the grid if vegetation is too close to electrical surfaces.
Use Backup Solar Energy
There is a need to develop a microgrid system where household solar panels should be installed from where multiple homes on a city block can share energy.
This strategy will enable many households to function independently during power outages.
Monitor Weather Changes
Constant monitoring of the weather stations and keeping track of environmental issues is a must.
Sensors should be installed along power lines to monitor any kind of storms, climatic changes, or environmental conditions that can be a sign to cause wildfires.
Tracking wind and air temperature and frequently checking on alarms may prevent wildfires from occurring.
Replace Utility Poles
Replacement programs of poles or meters from wood to steel or to more sturdy metals which can avoid wildfires are also the need of the hour. Copper conductors should be replaced, too.
Power line inspections should be rigorous, which can be manually conducted or automated. Any equipment that energizes a line after identifying a fault should be immediately disabled and discarded.
Proactive line de-energization should be diligently conducted. Power lines should be remote-controlled, and data should be critically examined every now and then.
Keep A Close Eye On Animals
Animal abatement and their activity or movement across electrical surfaces, resulting in wildfires, need to be pro-actively monitored.
Wildfires have been rapidly increasing and are mainly attributed to climate change, leaving the land parched due to mass power disruptions.
As per a proper survey and research, electrical reasons come in third for causing wildfires. Still, any kind of inconsistency on the same cannot be ignored.
Following relevant steps and humans doing their bit to avoid such accidents can save many lives, houses, wealth, and time.