Ready for Romeo

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cruise ship behind Euro power outage

When the lights go out in Europe as the result of a simple safety precaution, it should serve up a warning about how fragile some major systems are. When a power line over a river was turned off to allow a cruise ship to pass under it safely, the result was that millions of people lost electric power - all as reported here:
A FAULT in the German power grid plunged millions of people into darkness across Western Europe and provided a reminder of the fragility of the Continent’s energy supply as it heads into winter.

The power cut is believed to have been caused by technical problems with German power lines, which led to a chain reaction of energy shortfalls across Europe. ***
A 380,000-volt line was turned off to let the Norwegian Pearl, a newly built cruise ship, pass on its way from the Meyer shipyard in Papenburg to the North Sea. The loss of power may have overstretched other power lines.

“Such switch-offs have been undertaken repeatedly in the past without any problems,” E.On said in a statement. “It is still unclear where and how the acute fault occurred half an hour after the switch-off. E.On is working flat out to obtain a detailed analysis.”

Sigmar Gabriel, the Environment Minister for Germany, said that the blackout showed that power companies urgently needed to expand their network capacity and replace old lines. “They need to invest their profits in the electricity network,” Herr Gabriel said.

“We need effective networks in the European power market.”
***
The power cut swept through large parts of western Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands and Croatia. About 100 trains in Germany were brought to a standstill, causing nationwide delays to the rail network.

In France, five million people were affected in the country’s biggest blackout in 30 years, according to a spokesman for the CGT trade union. Regions in the north of the country were affected, as were districts of Paris and Lyon.

Firefighters in Paris responded to nearly 40 calls from people stuck in lifts. More than 100,000 people were affected in Italy, mainly in and around Turin.
Of course, the logical European response is more centralization.

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