UK power outages report lists plans for system improvement

uk power outages
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The UK’s Energy Emergencies Executive Committee (E3C) has produced a series of proposals to shore up the country’s energy network following severe power outages in 2019.

The E3C released its comprehensive report, which was requested by Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom in the wake of a widespread UK power outage on 9 August 2019, last week; and the government has confirmed it intends to implement all actions recommended in the report. The 9 August power outage was occasioned by a combination of generation failures at Hornsea, an offshore wind farm, and Little Barford, a gas power station; and affected more than a million UK residents – while power was restored nationwide in 45 minutes, travel disruption related to the blackout continued for several hours afterwards as rail operators had to manually reset trains and signals.

Hornsea One and Little Barford have agreed to make voluntary contributions to UK energy regulator Ofgem in recognition of the institutional failings which led to the power outages. Energy distribution network operator UK Power Networks, which began reconnecting customers to the energy grid before it received authorisation to do so – thereby putting the system’s recovery at risk – has also agreed to pay into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund.

The action plans detailed in the E3C’s report include:

  • Conducting a full investigation into the need for tighter governance of energy generation, taking into account lessons learned from the 2019 power outages and the need for wider contingency planning;
  • Examining the potential of implementing additional backup generation facilities for the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator;
  • Supporting owners and operators of essential services to improve the resilience of their business continuity plans; and
  • Deploying improved communications protocols in order to ensure the public can receive regular updates in the event of future outages.

Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “The disruption caused to people and businesses by the power cut in August was unacceptable. However, customers can be confident that we have one of the most robust energy systems in the world; and today’s report will help us reduce the risks of it happening again and ensure our energy sector is better prepared in the future.”

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