The project, called “MAG-GIC: currents induced by the geomagnetic field in Portuguese territory”, aims to “calculate, measure and monitor the amplitude of these induced geomagnetic currents in Portugal”, says the UC.

The study brings together experts from two research centres of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) - the Earth and Space Research Centre (CITEUC) and the Laboratory for Instrumentation, Biomedical Engineering and Radiation Physics (LIBPhys- UC).

The project also has the collaboration of researchers from Instituto Dom Luiz, in Lisbon, and engineers from REN (Redes Energéticas Nacionais).

For two years, the team analysed the currents called GICs (geomagnetic induced currents), in order to collect information on the “characteristics of the energy transport network and make geophysical measurements that allowed to calculate the conductivity of the lithosphere in the region of mainland Portugal”, the note reads.

Later, to test the calculated GIC values, the researchers compared these indicators with observations.

For this, the LIBPhys-UC researchers developed a system for the acquisition, analysis and recording of data, with remote access.

This system installed at the Paraimo substation, in the district of Aveiro, allows the monitoring of networks in real time and remotely, in order to “understand the effect of disturbances in the terrestrial magnetic field, caused by solar storms, on the managed electricity grid by REN”, explains the leader of the study team, Alexandra Pais.

Throughout the project, researchers calculated the distribution of GICs in the substations of the REN electricity grid and identified “the factors to which the estimated values ​​are especially sensitive”.

The measurements now carried out serve to confirm the effects of space weather on the national energy transport network.

The next step in the investigation is “to understand how these currents individually affect the different elements of the electrical circuit, in particular the transformers at REN's substations”, concludes Alexandra Pais.

In the future, researchers intend to install more sensors in other REN substations, in order to continue the investigation.