Wind power not to blame for major UK blackout, says Scots professor

10th August 2019 | Commercial Energy

The major blackout that struck Britain was not due to the use of wind generation on the power network scientists have said. Experts believe the disconnection of a gas-fired power plant and wind farm triggered the power cut that brought wide-spread disruption to the country on Friday.

Professor Keith Bell, expert in electronic and electrical engineering at the University of Strathclyde, said the country’s power systems should be regularly reviewed as the UK sought to cut its carbon emissions. He said, “The nature of the system continues to change with quite rightly in view of our emissions reduction commitments, more low carbon sources of power being used. This means that the normal operating procedures and the codes and standards that govern the system also need to be kept under regular review, especially in light of our increasing dependency on electricity.”

Wind power

Professor Bell said that although Friday’s incident was “massively disruptive”, it was “relatively small” when compared against recent power cuts in other parts of the world where whole countries can suffer blackouts. He said, “A worst-case outcome of any disturbance for an electricity system operator is that the whole system goes down. Recovery is then massively challenging, not just for users of electricity such as the railway companies but also the power system operators.

Professor Tim Green, Co-director of the Energy Futures Laboratory, Imperial College London, said he believed it was a gas fired plant and wind farm that had disconnected from the grid. He said, “The first generator to disconnect was a gas fired plant at Little Barford at 16.58. Two minutes later Hornsea Offshore wind farm seems to have disconnected. This would seem to be a technical failure or error. It might be linked to disturbance caused by first generator failing – might not. Will need to wait for National Grid’s full technical investigation to get to bottom of that.”

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