In addition to dreading global warming, terrorist attacks and economic disaster, we can also starting worrying about zombies. At least 14% of the American public thinks World Was Z is coming soon to their home towns.
Extraordinary weather events, such as hurricanes Sandy and Irene, linked to global climate change, have inspired the state of Connecticut to invest $18 million in 9 projects for building microgrids across the state. An additional $30 million has been approved by the legislature.
Nine states in the Midwest will be collaborating in a Mid-West Energy Research Consortium for economic development and new jobs initiatives that are linked to microgrid systems. East Coast states such as New York are considering similar defensive microgrids.
After 9/11, the US Department of Defense began developing various types of microgrids for domestic military bases and remote outposts in hostile regions such as Afghanistan.
There are more than 300,000 miles (482,803 kilometers) of transmission lines across the United States. The U.S. Department of Energy gives the power system a 99.97% reliability rating. However because of the size of the system, a few outages cost $150 billion per year.
Since electricity has to be used the moment it is generated and cannot be stored, and the populace increasingly draws on the grid for gadgets and appliances, there is a question about how long the power structure can continue without collapsing.
Microgrids or “smart microgrids” are small-scale versions of the centralized electricity system. Like the bulk power grid, smart microgrids generate, distribute, and regulate the flow of electricity to consumers, but on a local basis. They are not only a defense against massive power failures, but allow for carbon emission reduction, diversification of energy sources, and cost reduction.
But the mentality now is reminiscent of the craze for bomb shelters or “fallout shelters” in the 1950s and 1960s. A November 1961 issue of Fortune magazine included an article outlining plans for an enormous network of concrete-lined underground fallout shelters throughout the United States, sufficient to shelter millions of people in the event of thermonuclear war. Americans invested millions of dollars in nuclear fallout shelters during the Cold War, and some 200,000 were built by 1965. American fallout shelters in the early 1960s were sometimes funded as part of other federal programs, such as urban renewal projects of the Federal Housing Authority.
In the early 1960s, Lincoln, Nebraska built one of the biggest fallout shelters in the country, converting a 23,000-square-foot water reservoir into a space for 1,500 people.
The frenzy for a survivalist self-sufficient power infrastructure does only arise solely from apprehension over climate change. There are also terrorists to consider. And zombies.
According to a YouGov survey, 14% of the U.S. public believes a zombie apocalypse could happen in the next several years.
The latest worries about zombies may originate from World War Z, a film starring Brad Pitt and based on the bestselling novel of the same name. Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, an ex-United Nations employee trying to stop a worldwide zombie apocalypse. A contagious virus (naturally) turns people into the undead.
A viral plague seems to be the favored means of making people into zombies. In 28 Hours Later (2002), starring Cillian Murphy, the accidental release of a highly contagious virus causes the transformation. In the five (so far) installments of Resident Evil, (2002 and counting) which stars Mia Jovovich, a T-virus is unleashed from an underground facility owned by the Umbrella Corporation that renders citizens into lumbering killers. In the AMC series “The Walking Dead,” zombies like to devour humans and their bites are infectious.
Underground shelters do not have to be Spartan. A Colorado company called Sustainable Energy Systems has gone to Kansas to construct the “Kansas Survival Condo” in an abandoned Atlas-F missile silo 200 feet below the earth’s surface. It will incorporate microgrid technology in relying upon diesel generators (200 kW), wind power (100 kW) and advanced lead acid batteries (200 kW) and will not be interconnected with any utility grid. It will include a spa, pool, movie theater and aquaculture food system.
Concern over global warming, terrorists, and weather are good reasons for states to incorporate defensive strategies, but the thought of being eaten alive by zombies would inspire anyone to build a self-contained shelter powered by a smart grid.
By: Tom Ukinski