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

Phuket, Thailand: The largest power blackout in Thailand’s history hit the southern part of the nation around 7 pm local time. The outage affected 14 provinces and lasted nearly two hours in some areas, with others not seeing service restored until the following day. According to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, lightning struck a 500 kV line linking two substations, which was followed five seconds later by a malfunction in the HVDC system that links their power supply from Malaysia. These two incidents cut the southern part of the country from the national power grid.

Hanoi, Vietnam: A crane operator accidentally knocked down a tree onto a 500 kV high voltage power transmission line, which led to a major power outage across 22 of Vietnam’s 63 provinces. It was not clear how many customers were affected, but the loss of power forced many factories and shops to close and led to major traffic problems in the major cities. It is estimated that up to one third of the country was without power for nearly 10 hours.

Nairobi, Kenya: The entire power grid of Kenya collapsed after two transmission lines carrying 400 megawatts from a geothermal power source failed. This then caused a ripple effect, which knocked out the national interconnected grid and generating system and led to a power outage across the nation. Kenya Power currently supplies roughly 1250 megawatts of power to over two million customers, but has a demand of around 1700 megawatts.

Kuching, Malaysia: The Sarawak area was hit with its worst ever blackout after circuits at the Kemena-Bintulu transmission power line tripped. Power was out for approximately seven hours in many areas and affected over two million people. Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) CEO Torstein Sjotveit said it may have been triggered by a frequency drop originating from the Bakun hydro-electric plant. He claimed that prior to the incident, Bakun had a load of 884 MW, but within 10 seconds dropped to 456MW, causing a serious frequency drop to below 47.5Hz in the system. Safety tripping activated automatically, which led to a shutdown of all power stations in the grid.

Samokov, Bulgaria: A massive failure at a major power distribution station left most of the town of Samokov and the nearby Borovets mountain resort without power for several hours. The area is a popular tourist attraction and is home to nearly 29,000 residents.

Abuja, Nigeria: The Nigerian power grid collapsed, leaving most areas of the nation without power for several days. The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said that the outage was caused by system over-voltage, which caused transmission equipment to explode at several locations. Nigeria is home to over 160 million people.

Sydney, Australia: Power was cut to about 25,000 homes and businesses in Sydney’s western areas for more than an hour after a fault on a high-voltage power line that supplies a substation in the Drummoyne area.

Sao Paulo, Brazil: A major blackout left more than 2 million people in Brazil's biggest city without power for at least one hour. Sao Paulo Electric Power Transmission Company says the blackout hit 10 neighborhoods in Sao Paulo and two suburbs on the city's outskirts. They claimed the outage occurred when three transformers in an electrical substation shut down. The cause of the shutdown is currently under investigation.

Time and location of the System & Power Disturbances in 2013


BeijingSifang June 2016