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Another day, another blackout — Lightning is too much for Australian grid now

Last Saturday at 1pm both Queensland and South Australia were cut off from the national grid. In Sydney 45,000 homes lost power for a couple of hours. Shops had to close. Trains were stopped. Passengers were stranded. Traffic signals were not working on major roads. Chaos. Industrial users shut down in a mass of 725MW of load shedding.

Apparently this was due to lightning.

Once upon a time, Australian states were self sufficient, now interconnectors allow us to share problems:

Two states “Islanded” simultaneously

Two vital interstate power interconnectors blew without warning at the weekend, causing blackouts and critical industrial incidents and isolating two states from the national electricity grid, in a dramatic reminder to Scott Morrison just days into his prime ministership of the nation’s energy policy paralysis.

Queensland and South Australia were exporting power across the interconnectors when they were simultaneously tripped on Saturday, forcing power to be cut to big industrial users and retail customers in NSW and Victoria.

The nation’s biggest single-site power user, the Tomago aluminium smelter in the NSW Hunter Valley, lost power without warning, halting two pot lines for up to an hour. Alcoa’s Portland smelter in Victoria was also affected, losing power for about 50 minutes.

It would have been worse on a weekday.

Ausgrid working to restore power to thousands after mass Sydney blackout

TRAFFIC is at a standstill, trains are delayed and almost 40,000 homes were left without power thanks to a huge power outage.  — news.com.

“Consistent” with a lightning strike:

A spokesman for NSW transmission line operator TransGrid said the interconnector appeared to have tripped during a storm passing through northern NSW and Queensland. “The way the system alarmed was consistent with a lightning strike,” a spokesman for TransGrid said.

Before the advent of interconnectors, a lightning strike could not have blacked out customers in three states simultaneously.

Predictably renewables fans are calling for more interconnectors. Other people just want each state to have reliable baseload generation like we used to have.

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