Reliable power for a sustainable world

  Riello Connect   

 

Call: +44 (0)1978 729 297
10 July, 2019
Our major new investigation explores the likelihood – and consequences – of a UK-wide electricity grid failure.

Just a couple of weeks ago (16 June), virtually the entire power network in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay went down, leaving 50 million people without electricity.  

The failure to correctly reconfigure an emergency system following the upgrade of a transmission line meant what should have been a localised issue with the Yacyretá hydroelectric plant triggered a complete grid collapse described by Argentine President Mauricio Macri as “unprecedented”. 

Could something similar ever happen here in the UK? That’s the fundamental question our new document the Blackout report attempts to answer. 

An entire grid shutdown has never occurred in Britain. But official risk assessments reveal there is just a 1-in-200 chance of one happening within the next five years. For comparison, the lifetime risk of dying in a road accident in the UK is 1-in-240.  

At more than 50 pages and 15,000 words long, the Blackout report examines the probable causes of such an incident.  

These include extreme weather like flooding or strong winds that can take down transmission lines, terrorists targeting electrical infrastructure such as substations, and geomagnetic space weather storms that play havoc with global satellite systems.  

It also highlights how, as society shifts towards smart grids and is increasingly dominated by internet-connected devices, there are far more cybersecurity vulnerabilities for hackers to try and exploit.  

Electricity grids are now seen to be a legitimate target in a new ‘Cyber Cold War’ – a Russian cyber-attack shut down 30 substations in Ukraine just before Christmas 2015, leaving 250,000 residents without power.  

Did you know that the UK experienced its own power grid cyber-attack on 8 June 2017, the same day the country voted in the General Election? 

 

What Happens If The Grid Goes Down? 

As well as investigating the threats to the nation’s power supply and the contingency plans in place to mitigate the risk, the Blackout report also examines the process for restarting power generation if a complete system failure ever occurs. 

This is known as a ‘Black Start’, with the worst-case contingency planning suggesting it could take up to 5-7 days for power to be 100% restored.  

If a Black Start is required, it’s likely to be accompanied by Rota Disconnections, basically the rationing of power by limiting electricity to certain postcodes for three hours at a time. The most obvious previous example of this in the UK is the infamous “Three-Day Week” in 1974. 

the Blackout report by Riello UPS outlines some of the potentially catastrophic consequences of a world without power, such as: 

  • Mobile phone coverage lost within a couple of hours 
  • Transport systems grind to a halt 
  • Hospitals and care homes overwhelmed as electrical devices stop working 
  • Businesses crippled with electronic payment systems offline 
  • Breakdown of law and order as panic spreads 

 

Download your copy of the Blackout report for FREE from www.theblackoutreport.co.uk  

And follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates and to join in the conversation!