Blackout Watch

System Power Outages

Author: Clare Duffy, ESBI, Ireland

Analysis of system power outages can help us learn and avoiding similar events in the future. If you have information on any blackouts, please e-mail to editor@pacw.org.

Sousse, Tunisia: A short blackout swept across the country in the late afternoon after a breakdown in the transmission network. A problem in the Sahel region spread through the interconnected national electricity transmission network that spans more than six thousand kilometers. Power was restored in several areas after only 15 minutes, with total power restored within 3 hours.

Mumbai, India: India's financial capital and home to nearly 12 million residents was hit by a large power outage that lasted for several hours. Most of the city and several suburbs were offline after the tripping of a unit at a local power station just before 10am. Blackouts have increased across the country, which relies on coal for two thirds of their production. Despite sitting on the world's fifth largest reserves, India imports vast quantities of coal and its current supplies are running dangerously low.

Cairo, Egypt: The largest blackout in several years caused a lot of headaches across the country. Cairo's 20 million residents were hit right before the peak of morning rush hour at 6am. The outage was caused by a malfunctioning circuit west of the city that crippled the metro lines and caused a traffic nightmare. It also affected local telecommunications and water delivery systems.

Darwin, Australia: A technical issue that disrupted the flow of gas through a pipeline led to blackouts across the city of Darwin and parts of the Northern territory. The blackouts started in the late afternoon and lasted roughly an hour in most of the more than 50 suburbs it affected. Officials said a communications problem with an unmanned platform over 280 kilometers from the city automatically shut down the gas supply, which reduced the amount of power they could produce. Even with diesel backups running, they could not handle the entire power load and outages rolled through the area until about midnight.

Auckland, New Zealand: Nearly 85,000 customers were hit with a power blackout after a massive fire at a substation in the morning. At least half of those affected had their power restored by morning, with the remainder back online by the end of the day. Roughly 1,500 of those customers lost power again later in the day due to pressure on the system. The local utility was investigating the cause of the blaze.

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