North of Scotland Power Cuts – 16.04.14


On 20.30hrs on the 16.04.14, there was a total blackout to some 205,000 homes over the North of Scotland from Elgin in the East to Skye and the western Isles and up to the Orkneys. Although power was restored fairly quickly to Inverness some areas didn’t get their power restored until 00.30hrs. This effected close to one million people and is the worst outage to the region for many years, if not without precedent. So what caused the problem. After 24 hours we don’t know although the Scottish Government with all their Political wisdom and technical know-how tell us it was a “Transient Event”. SSE have blamed it on lightning strike(?) or birds hitting overhead cables. Well it is the wrong season for the wild geese and it was hardly the conditions for lightning. They have now settled on something striking the 275KV line. Like a tree? Well it could be but no evidence has been found and we are used to bird strikes up here which may knock out the local area but never before pan Scotland.

To add a little spice the BBC quoted an engineer, Andrew MacKay, who suggested that the situation was a perfect storm with wind conditions optimised for wind energy which the grid became unable to cope with. What we do know is that during most of the 16th we had a steady blow of some 25mph which at 20.25hrs died totally. At 20.30hrs the Grid blacks out? We also know that the drop in wind was not forecast. I think we may question whether the intermittency created that perfect storm where the grid was unable to maintain frequency (50mhz) and the system tripped. This has happened previously in both Spain and Portugal and Germany nearly crashed the euro grid a while back. In those cases the finger has been pointed at the variable load factors of wind. Spain took nearly six days to get all supplies reconnected. Adding a little piquancy, the former Chairman of Scottish Power, Sir Donald Miller, has now added his opinion which suggests that the power outage was due to the reliance on renewable supplies.

To add a bit of fun we must look over the pond to where Ontario has ongoing issues with their Liberal Party government and their green agenda.


Ontario is now the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation.

And then …….

TORONTO – A large swath of the city’s west end was left in the dark for a few hours Tuesday night as a blackout hit the area. The outage began around 9 p.m. and ended about 11:30.

So had the Scottish Government’s aspiration for a 100% renewables, greatly reliant on wind, left us with a problem that means generator’s are the best buy of the year?

The Spokesperson for the Scottish Government tells us the First Minister had a SGoRR (his Cobra equivalent) meeting and everything is alright as he is in control: and anyway it was a “transient fault”. All who now feel relieved that the Scottish Minsiters have everything under control say “Aye” I thought so: The “Nos” have it.


About Dougal Quixote

Slightly mad. Always believes a cup is half full so continues to tilt at Wind Turbines and the politicians that seem to believe it is their god given right to ruin Scotland for a pot of fool's gold.
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8 Responses to North of Scotland Power Cuts – 16.04.14

  1. Lyndsey says:

    Ha ha – very good post! I am stocking up on candles, blankets, woolly hats, flasks and a sense of humour for the long dark days and nights that will lead us into the referendum. Thanks Alex – when you said you were going to save us money on our energy bills I didn’t realise it was because there would be no energy to buy!

  2. A ‘transient fault’? What kind of answer is that to something which blacked out such a widespread area? We know it was transient – the lights are back on! Fault? We know it was that as well. The people of Scotland are waiting for a response which is not absurd.

    • What they mean is what caused the power cut was transient; like a branch blowing by. What rubbish!On a 275KV line. That might happen in a hurricane but it wasn’t that windy.

  3. Alan Danson says:

    Worryingly the mobile phone system went down as the masts had no power. For those who have ditched their landlines there must be a worry that the emergency services could not be contacted as the mobiles could not connect. I always thought that like the landline sytem they would have aux power. Luckily no lives lost as far as we know -this time!

  4. Pingback: Scotland shares our Pain! | Mothers Against Wind Turbines

  5. Alan Danson posts something I have been pointing out ever since mobile phones became popular. They are NOT the best way to communicate and never will be. I still have a landline and will not give be giving it up. With regard to the blackout one could say we saw it coming. That and the many others to follow. It forever puzzles me that people are so taken in by this hype. Most especially accademics. Perhaps not owning a Propaganda Box (TV) may have something to do with it. That and a most un-common sense.

  6. Iain More. says:

    I remember the three day week under a Brit Tory Govt run by the lamentable Heath. Keep a stock of candles in the house and always make sure I have good supply of fuel for my camping stove if push comes to shove. I thought the National Grid was responsible for power lines anyway so from that point of view the article is misleading and I am being polite about that.

    • You have a good point about the National Grid although in the Highlands operational control is with SHETL, part of SSE, and in the Central Belt of Scotland is under control of Scottish Power. This harks back to the days of Scottish Hydro. National Grid do still have a great deal of control which isn’t always understood as they say what, when and how substations, or equipment within substations, are taken out of service for maintenance. This is control of capacity, not operational control which is all done from SSE Perth. Operational control though is demand lead by National Grid. To make matters even more confusing are the various companies now within SSE, such as SSE Renewable Holdings Ltd which is now run from Ireland. That contains all the wind and hydro generation.

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