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January 8, 2021 … the day Europe almost fell into darkness

On January 8, 2021, at 2:45 pm, two circuit breakers broke out at the Ernstenovo station in eastern Croatia, and within a few seconds, the entire European power grid split into two, and the continent came close to drowning in Total darkness.

In a report published in the French newspaper “Le Figaro”, writer Guillaume Guichard says that Europe’s interconnection with its integrated unit from Lisbon in the west to Anatolia in the east, and from the Greek Peloponnese peninsula in the south to Denmark in the north, gives it a great deal of security and flexibility in supplies and services. At the same time, it exposes it to major problems in its weakest links, such as the electricity grid.

The writer confirms that as a result of the outage that occurred at the Ernstenovo station on the eighth of last month, European electricity grid officials faced a serious crisis that the continent had not seen before for nearly 15 years.

On November 4, 2006, an electric power line passing over the river “Ems” in northwestern Germany was disconnected in order to facilitate the safe passage of a cruise ship. This ill-considered step caused a blackout for 15 million people in Europe.

As for the breakdown of circuit breakers that occurred last month at the Ernstenovo station, after rain in the region, it led to a series of successive blackouts in Europe, before officials intervened to contain the situation.

23 seconds after the accident, the circuit breaker in Serbia stopped automatically to counteract the electrical flow that became very strong. And it did not take 3 seconds for the same thing to happen 500 kilometers to the east, specifically in Romania.

In a short time, 7 high-voltage lines and one transformer were separated, from the Adriatic coast to the Roman-Hungarian border. At 2:55 pm, Europe was split in two on the northeast and southwest axes, and all main power lines in these two parts of Europe were disrupted.

Because of these interruptions in the western part of the network, 6 thousand megawatts, equivalent to 6 nuclear reactors, were lost. As a result, the electrical grid frequency, which should be maintained at 50 Hz, has decreased across Europe.

All power plants and electrical appliances are designed to operate on this frequency, so any malfunction will cause the grid to break down, and the electrical centers will automatically stop to protect themselves.

After the interruption that occurred at the Ernstenovo station, the map of Europe, which appeared on a large screen in front of the engineers at the French electricity transmission station in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, began to take different colors; The countries of South-Eastern Europe, which usually appear green, turned to orange, then to red. In less than 5 seconds, the emergency system started automatically.

The sudden drop in frequency has led to the closure of major French industrial sites that depend on the French electricity transmission network, such as steel plants.

To save the situation, the French engineers immediately received a message from their Swiss colleagues that the situation was dangerous and required an immediate conference call with all European network operators. Quickly, a number of operators have provided measures that can be taken to deal with the emergency and restore electricity.

Although 3 weeks have passed since the accident, the investigations of the European Energy Network Agency have not yet been completed, and experts have not yet reached the factors that led to the stopping of the circuit breakers at the Ernstenovo plant.




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