It felt like someone had tried to reboot the UK on Friday when we experienced the first big blackout for 16 years.
Millions of people were affected by the outage at about 5pm and while it only lasted around an hour, the knock-on effects were felt well into the night.
According to reports in the Guardian, the unexpected shutdown of two power generators – a gas-fired power plant in Bedfordshire and the Hornsea windfarm in the North Sea – led to the blackout.
Both units tripped offline within about two minutes of each other, causing automatic systems to kick and cut electricity supplies to parts of the country, which actually averted a wider shutdown, and problems that could have gone on for days.
The National Grid was quick to label this an “incredibly rare” set of circumstances but management will face an investigation into the handling of the energy system.
There are fears that the first big blackout since 2003, with the two failing generators causing a severe slump in the grid’s frequency (a measure of energy intensity), may be a symptom of significant challenges presented by the move from fossil-fuel to cleaner, renewable generation.
The outage left almost a million homes without power and forced trains to a standstill around the UK with calls from the Labour Party to end the Grid’s private monopoly and bring it back into public ownership.
Mark Sait, CEO of SaveMoneyCutCarbon said:
“The shocking blackout on Friday caused serious disruption to businesses and homes, and it’s a warning of what might be an increasingly common event if nothing is done to address the issues.
“At the same time, we can’t be certain that in a fast-changing world our power supplies will be as reliable as in the past. It’s definitely time for businesses to switch to renewable tariffs that also help with energy efficiency measures.”
The National Grid is already under investigation by the energy watchdog and, according to the Guardian, industry sources claim that it has been aware of the increasing risk of a big blackout “for years”, and has suffered a spate of near-misses recently.
The Grid frequency usually is around 50Hz but sources say that this has slipped below 49.6Hz three times in the past few months, the deepest falls since 2015. The blackout on Friday was triggered when the frequency dropped to 48.88Hz.
The National Grid said these events were “independent” with “no trend or prediction of more frequency excursions”.
Steve Shine, chairman of Anesco, a battery company, said:
“It would be easy for National Grid to write this incident off as a fluke event, but they have actually been aware of this potential issue for many years.”
With the National Grid under strain, it makes sense for businesses to get ahead and move to the Save tariff that not only provides renewable energy but also free energy-saving products.
To help reduce the strain on the National Grid, SaveMoneyCutCarbon have partnered with Greenstar Energy and Hudson Energy to provide renewable energy tariffs to homes and businesses as well as help them reduce their energy usage.