UK’s critical infrastructure hit by large-scale power outage

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Major power failures were reported across the UK, today, leaving passengers stranded at locations across the UK rail network, knocking out traffic lights in London, and leaving a major hospital in the East of England without power. At the height of the Friday rush hour, all trains out of King’s Cross were suspended and blackouts were reported across the South East, Midlands, South West, North East and Wales. Newcastle Airport also reported being without power for 15 minutes.

National Grid issued a statement that the major outage was caused by “issues with two power generators” and said that the problem “had now been resolved”.

The widespread impact of the incident raises serious questions about the resilience of critical national infrastructure – not only in terms of the National Grid, but also the contingency plans of key critical sites across the UK. In the event of a power cut, critical facilities, such as hospitals, must have uninterrupted power supply to ensure the safety of patients, in the form of backup generators and UPS technology.

However, Ipswich hospital’s backup generation failed to work, during this latest power outage. Other mission critical facilities across the the UK have also failed to properly address the known risk posed by a major power outage, leading to widespread chaos and disruption. The incident should serve as a warning to sites across the UK to assess the resilience of their backup power strategies and ensure generators and UPS are tested at regular intervals.

A new report, discussed in the latest edition of Mission Critical Power, considered the implications of a large-scale power outage and highlighted the vulnerabilities in the UK’s power network. The recently published Blackout Report stated that the government calculated that there is a “1-in-200 chance of the UK power grid experiencing a complete shutdown in the next five years.”

1 COMMENT

  1. A simple result of a privatised utility with insufficient spinning reserve to cover for a strong wind power outage. Unless we get more nuclear baseload generation in place this will happen again – although not necessarily more often, unless climate change provides more wind power capacity..

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