Thunderstorms 101

Learn how thunderstorms form, what causes lightning and thunder, and how these violent phenomena help balance the planet’s energy and electricity.


Research Study: Transformer failure seriously impacts Business Continuity

Six in 10 respondents had experienced transformer failure in the last five years, and five in 10 said transformer failure would significantly impact or halt their business operations.

This failure puts business continuity at risk, according to the studyTransformers are critical components of our electricity infrastructure, but the impact and extent of transformer failure is not widely documented,” says Barry Menzies, managing director global of MIDEL.

The MIDEL Transformer Risk Report shines a light on transformer failure and the findings are clear: it has a significant and prolonged impact on businesses. An interruption to business operations can be very expensive, demonstrate poor corporate social responsibility and impact business continuity.

The good news, however, is that many of the causes of transformer failure are largely within the operators’ control, he says.

Read entire article Research Study: Transformer failure seriously impacts Business Continuity | T&D World

Volvo announces end of gas-only engine production by 2019

All Volvo car models launched after 2019 will be electric or hybrids, making it the first major traditional automaker to set a date for phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

Volvo will begin producing electric motors on all its cars from 2019, becoming the first traditional automaker to forgo the combustion engine altogether.

The Swedish company, which has been making cars since 1927 and has in recent decades become famous for its station wagons and safety features, said Wednesday that the decision was prompted by the wishes of customers, describing it as “one of the most significant moves by any car maker.”

This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” CEO Hakan Samuelsson said. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs.”

Volvo, which since 2010 has been owned by Chinese firm Geely, will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021. Three of them will be Volvo models and two will be electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars’ performance car arm. It also plans to supplement them with a range of gasoline and diesel plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid, or 48-volt, options on all models, which the company said would be one of the “broadest electrified car offerings of any car maker.”

Volvo Cars has said it is committed to help improve the environment and make cities cleaner by reducing carbon emissions, aiming to have climate neutral manufacturing operations by 2025.

Source: Maclean’s

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ISO 52000 leads the way on clean energy building solutions

If you want to find major emitters of global carbon dioxide, look no further than your city’s skyline.

Buildings account for more than one-third of all final energy consumption and half of global electricity use. And they’re responsible for approximately one-third of global carbon emissions.

According to the International Energy Agency, energy consumption in buildings needs to be reduced by 80 % by 2050 if we want to limit the world’s temperature rise to under 2 °C. But now there’s a solution to making our building stock more energy-efficient. Here’s introducing the new ISO 52000 series of standards!

With ISO 52000-1, Energy performance of buildings – Overarching EPB assessment – Part 1: General framework and procedures, as its leading document, the ISO 52000 family will accelerate energy efficiency in the world’s building market. From heating, cooling, ventilation and smart controls, to energy-using or -producing appliances, the series will help architects, engineers and regulators assess the energy performance of new and existing buildings in a holistic way – without overheating budgets – as the temperature rises.

Buildings account for more than one-third of all final energy consumption and half of global electricity use. And they’re responsible for approximately one-third of global carbon emissions.

ISO 52000 contains a comprehensive method of assessing energy performance as the total primary energy used for heating, cooling, lighting, ventilation and domestic hot water of buildings. It will help accelerate progress in building energy efficiency utilizing new materials, technology and approaches to building design, construction and management.

High-quality design and craftsmanship are prerequisites in energy-efficient construction. Buildings will be made energy-efficient by using high-quality building fabric materials and products, combined with high-quality technical building systems and renewable energy technologies. The key is the systemic approach that assesses the energy performance taking into account the dynamic interactions between the systems, the users and variable outdoor climate conditions.

The overarching EPB standard – ISO 52000-1 – is complemented by a set of standards comprising calculation methods for heating and cooling, performance of building elements, as well as aspects regarding energy performance indicators, ratings and certificates, for example. And additional ingredients to expand the holistic approach for energy-saving buildings are expected to be added in the near future.


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Industroyer: Biggest threat to industrial control systems since Stuxnet

The 2016 attack on Ukraine’s power grid that deprived part of its capital, Kiev, of power for an hour was caused by a cyberattack. ESET researchers have since analyzed samples of malware, detected by ESET as Win32/Industroyer, capable of performing exactly that type of attack.

Industroyer is a particularly dangerous threat, since it is capable of controlling electricity substation switches and circuit breakers directly. To do so, it uses industrial communication protocols used worldwide in power supply infrastructure, transportation control systems, and other critical infrastructure systems (such as water and gas).

These switches and circuit breakers are digital equivalents of analogue switches; technically they can be engineered to perform various functions. Thus, the potential impact may range from simply turning off power distribution, cascading failures and more serious damage to equipment.

Industroyer’s dangerousness lies in the fact that it uses protocols in the way they were designed to be used. The problem is that these protocols were designed decades ago, and back then industrial systems were meant to be isolated from the outside world. Thus, their communication protocols were not designed with security in mind. That means that the attackers didn’t need to be looking for protocol vulnerabilities; all they needed was to teach the malware “to speak” those protocols.

The recent power outage occurred on December 17th, 2016, almost exactly one year after the well-documented cyber attack that caused a blackout that affected around 250,000 households in several regions in Ukraine on December 23rd, 2015.


Structure and key functionalities

Industroyer is modular malware. Its core component is a backdoor used by attackers to manage the attack: it installs and controls the other components and connects to a remote server to receive commands and to report to the attackers.

What sets Industroyer apart from other malware targeting infrastructure is its use of four payload components, which are designed to gain direct control of switches and circuit breakers at an electricity distribution substation.

Each of these components targets particular communication protocols specified in the following standards: IEC 60870-5-101, IEC 60870-5-104, IEC 61850, and OLE for Process Control Data Access (OPC DA).

The malware contains a few more features that are designed to enable it to remain under the radar, to ensure the malware’s persistence, and to wipe all traces of itself after it has done its job.


For example, the communication with the C&C servers hidden in Tor can be limited to non-working hours. Also, it employs an additional backdoor – masquerading as the Notepad application – designed to regain access to the targeted network in case the main backdoor is detected and/or disabled.

While in principle it’s difficult to attribute attacks to malware without performing an on-site incident response, it’s highly probable that Industroyer was used in the December 2016 attack on the Ukrainian power grid.

Thanks to its ability to persist in the system and provide valuable information for tuning-up the highly configurable payloads, attackers could adapt the malware to any environment, which makes it extremely dangerous.

For more details read the ESET white paper (PDF).

Source: We Live Security

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Energy scandal: misleading efficiency claims leading to huge bills for homeowners

Homeowners and companies are being hit with unexpectedly high energy bills because planners continually make false promises about the ‘green’ credentials of new buildings, a major study has found.

Thousands of new homes, schools and offices are using double the energy that they should because planners are massively overestimating their efficiency, the University of Bath has found.

Britain’s buildings account for nearly half of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions through heating, cooking and lighting, but a new study suggests that carbon dioxide levels could be slashed if structures acted as they did on paper.

Experts at Bath University likened the scandal to the VW emissions debacle, where thousands of cars were fitted with defeat devices to beat rigorous pollution testing.

The government is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020, and 80% by 2050, but researchers say targets will be missed if builders continue to misinform clients about how efficient their homes and offices will be.

The difference between how much energy a building is predicted to use and how much it uses in reality has been known in the industry for decades, and is dubbed the ‘performance gap.’ But architects and engineers have traditionally blamed the problem on faulty construction, or unexpected use after completion – such as owners leaving too many lights on.

Half of Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by buildings, but they are using double the amount of energy than they should

However David Coley, Professor of Low Carbon Design at the University of Bath, said the real problem stemmed from the practice of building modelling, which is not ‘fit for purpose.’

It’s a serious scandal,” he said. “It affects all new buildings as well as the refurbishment of older ones. When one school in Plymouth was rebuilt, the energy bills for a month ended up costing the same as for an entire year in the old 1950s building.

“The problem is nobody checks that the building is performing as promised. There is very little regulation. They can’t be sued. It’s like a surgeon not being bothered about whether their patient lived or died.”

New homes are often not as efficient as older houses

In the first research of its kind, a team from Bath’s Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering and Department of Psychology interviewed 108 building modelling professionals about 21 common design energy-related aspects of a building, from the insulation in the walls to the temperature the heating was set to.

The questioning was based on a real building in which detailed energy, occupancy and temperature data had been recorded, and provided a comparison with the answers of those surveyed.

Source: The Telegraph

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High-end music festival turns into disaster area and mass chaos

This weekend was the inaugural Fyre Festival. It was supposed to be the Coachella of the Bahamas. It was supposed to be a VIP experience.

Instead it was Millennial Armageddon.

Tickets cost anywhere from $1,000 to $12,000 and promised a flight from Miami, activities like kayaking and yoga, and a stay in a geodesic dome. What actually happened was anything but, and now the Internet buzz with horror stories.

Festival-goers discovered the plush villas they were promised were more like “disaster relief tents”.

No food, no water, no luxury tents

First, those “luxury tents” that were promised turned out to be…not that at all. As Thomas Pierce, owner of entertainment marketing company PMA told E! News about his friends who are still stuck in what they described as a first-world apocalypse, “When they landed, they saw emergency tents with wet mattresses. The so-called private plane was a retired commercial airplane.”

According to Taylor Wiederhorn, an unlucky festival goer, the weekend’s organizers first tried to distract attendees from the lack of luxury tents by providing free alcohol. “Six hours later, they took us to the festival grounds,” he told E! News. “The tents had no floors, it was just dirt. No beds and port-a-potties. Everyone’s luggage was being held in these 20-foot shipping containers. I had to physically fight my way to the cargo containers to get my luggage, which they had been holding. I then tried getting a hotel room but every hotel was booked out because there is a separate festival going on for locals. So there isn’t anywhere else to stay.”

The food, was terrible. The food they could get their hands on, that is. A paparazzi photographer, who was in possession of a VIP pass for the weekend, said that food was “slow and scarce.” All they were offered initially was bread and cheese, and then all that was left was Doritos. There was talk of the occasional mystical sightings of chicken and pasta, “but you had to fight for it.”

Once darkness fell on the first night, it got even worse. Reports began flooding in that there was no electricity, no lighting, and that the camp descended into total anarchy. As you can see in the below video, attendees were practically screaming for food, swarming trucks in the darkness. Those who hadn’t escaped immediately upon seeing the disaster tents began to run for the hills—or, rather, the airport.

“Once I got my bags, I paid a local to drive me to the airport where 100 people were sleeping on the floor,” Wiederhorn told E! “I was fortunate enough to realize early on I needed to get my stuff and get out of there. There was just no organization. Once we saw the tents—which were FEMA tents—and the port-a-potties, I knew it was time to get out of there.”

But getting out would prove to be far more difficult. The lucky members of the first wave of evacuations waited about 12 hours for a flight back to the mainland, but plenty others are live-Tweeting from a waiting hell at the airport. There are reports of passengers being kept on the tarmac for hours, or being stuffed into tiny rooms with access to the open bars and upscale snacks they expected to be indulging in during the weekend.

And Pierce tells E! News that there are “thousands” of people still on the festival grounds. “The employees are working under stressful conditions with no sleep,” he said. “It’s hot and humid and rainy and I’m worried for my friend who’s still there working.”

Wiederhorn echoed that sentiment: “I still have friends stranded. They’re trying to figure out how to get to the airport and get home. I can’t even tell you how many people are still stuck there. It was the biggest disaster I’ve ever seen.”

Source: E! News

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