Aug 15, 2019

National Grid feels the heat after power cuts

The power cuts hit rail services alongside almost 1m homes and businesses, and are now the subject of a government investigation that is raising far reaching questions about National Grid's ability to manage Britain's electricity system. Crucially, the investigation will ask whether National Grid has a sufficient buffer of rapid-response back-up power supplies to prevent similar outages in the future, particularly as the UK increases its reliance on renewable energy such as wind and solar. National Grid spends £170m a year contracting owners of technology such as batteries to be ready in the event of a sudden drop in frequency - a measure of power intensity on the company's network - to quickly help stabilise the electricity system. UK Power Networks, the operator covering the south-east of England and whose customers were among those affected, said that from its perspective the loss of power was down to National Grid. When a wind or solar farm fails, the frequency of the electricity system can drop very quickly away from the 50 hertz level at which National Grid tries to stabilise it in order to avoid damage to equipment or, in the worst cases, power cuts.

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