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BEIS to launch formal power cut investigation

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

The government is to launch a formal investigation into last week’s power cut which left nearly 1 million customers without power.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has confirmed that an investigation will be held to establish the cause of the event, and the Energy Emergencies Executive Committee will also be commissioned to “consider the incident”.

Both BEIS and energy secretary Andrea Leadsom took to Twitter over the weekend to confirm the action.

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The Energy Emergencies Executive Committee is a forum of sector stakeholders, facilitated by both BEIS and National Grid, tasked with identifying any particular processes or actions needed to handle emergencies relating to consumer energy supply in the country.

Ofgem, the industry regulator, meanwhile has requested an “urgent detailed report” from National Grid to determine what went wrong and to help educate any further steps that need to be taken.

More pertinently for the electricity system operator, this could include enforcement action.

Having struck around 5pm last Friday evening (9 August 2019), additional details surrounding the cause of and response to the power cut was forthcoming over the weekend.

Just shy of 2GW of generation capacity, supplied by a 727MW gas-fired facility operated by RWE and Orsted’s 1.2GW Hornsea 1 offshore wind farm, disconnected from the system almost simultaneously, causing a stress event which sent the UK grid’s frequency to 48.9Hz.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre dismissed initial speculation that a cyber attack was to blame, stating that there was no evidence of such a threat.

National Grid ESO’s job will now be to establish what caused two sizeable generators to disconnect within minutes of each other, and assess its response to the event.

The incident also happened to coincide with a new record for wind production in the UK. The technology is expected to have generated more than half of the country’s power supply on Friday morning, according to trade body RenewableUK.

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