Europe Reminded Of Its Power Grid Vulnerability As Brussels Blacks Out!

Much has been written about growing power grid instability in Europe as more and more volatile wind and solar energy have come online over the years.

Earlier today European news outlets reported how Brussels, a major centre of the European Union, plunged into darkness late yesterday evening.

So far it’s not known what’s behind the outage. The New York Post writes that the cause  is a “mystery”, but according to the BBC here that “a spokesperson for Brussels’ power supplier, Sibelga, later told The Sun that the blackout was the result of an electric network distribution problem”.

City gripped by fear

It’s one thing if some rural area blacks out, but quite another when a center of political power like Brussels gets paralyzed and is left totally vulnerable. The UK Mirror wrote of a “security alert” after a “massive blackout” plunged the “entire centre of EU capital into darkness“, adding:

The loss of electricity across the Belgian capital has sparked terror attack fears, although the cause of the outage has not been confirmed.”

Brussels has been the target of terror attacks and is still considered a hotbed of potential terrorists. The Mirror writes that the blackout had Belgian security forces scrambling to boost their manpower at main sites around Brussels.

Volatile wind and sun wreak havoc on grid stability

Although it may turn out that the Brussels blackout problem had little to do with the haphazard supply from wind and solar energies, the outage once again highlights the European power grid’s growing instability the since greater amounts of the volatile energy have been getting fed in.

The following chart, for example, shows just how irregular the supply from wind and sun can be in Belgium’s neighbor, Germany:

German wind and solar power supply compared to German total demand over the past 15 days. Source: Agora.

The upper curve depicts Germany’s total consumption. Keeping the grid stable is becoming an increasingly formidable challenge, and the likelihood of overloads is ever higher. Blackouts like the one in Brussels, and the disruptions they cause, will likely become a part of Europe’s future.

There’s one positive aspect about the blackouts: they could serve to help a bit to alleviate one big problem in Europe. The OE24 here writes:  “In the social media networks, jokes were made about a possible boost in the birthrate in 9 months.”

Strangely, Germany’s mainstream media is totally absent with the news of the blackout.


23 responses to “Europe Reminded Of Its Power Grid Vulnerability As Brussels Blacks Out!”

  1. Hilary Barnes

    May I draw your attention to an article by Rémy Prud’homme at
    which, while remarking that France managed to avoid black-outs in the cold spell in January when imports from its European neighbours covered a shortfall on the crucial dates, argues that France’s energy transition policy will lead to what it described as « planned blackouts » in 2023. The following is a Google translation (it is accurate) of an extract from the article :

    « This date is the horizon of the very official PPI (Multiannual Investment Program) energy programme. The plan calls for an increase of 190% in the photovoltaic and 130% in power from wind farms. The Energy Transition Act has also decreed a 33% reduction in the number of nuclear power plants by 2025, a decrease of 25% by 2023. The question is whether, in 2023, renewable electricity will compensate for the reduction in nuclear electricity required. In terms of peak demand, the answer is very clear: no.

    “Consider the peak on Thursday 19 January, from 19 to 20 hours. The demand was 93 GWh. Nuclear production was 56 GWh, production of renewables 3 GWh, and other production (hydro and thermal) of 31 GWh, totaling 90 GWh. This left 3 Gwh missing, which were provided by imports.

    “What happens to these figures for a comparable point in January 2023? The demand remains 93 GWh. Nuclear power generation is reduced by 25% to 41 GWh. That of renewables is increased by 130%, to 6 GWh. That of the other sectors remains constant. In total, production is 79 GWh. (That means that 14 GWh is missing, which certainly can not be imported: this is the big breakdown. The 14 GWh of nuclear power has absolutely not been replaced by the additional 3 or 4 GWh of renewable electricity.”

  2. SebastianH

    And this, gentlemen, is how fearmongering works. Or in other words “media freaks out about blackout in parts of a city”. Apocalyptic bullshit headlines without gathering further information … could be anything … fear … security alert.

    And P Gosselin is falling for it, because it is another reason to bring up Germanys electric supply situation. Hey Pierre, look at January 2016. Gas power plants had to run at far greater output levels! Look at this graph of the last 5 years of frequency variations of the grid:

    Nothing describes a destabilizing power grid better than a repeating pattern, right?

    Strangely, Germany’s mainstream media is totally absent with the news of the blackout.

    Because it is not newsworthy. It’s a small blackout in some parts of a city. Shit happens. Almost nobody tweeted about it and only some British Tabloids are screaming “Apocalypse”.

    1. AndyG55

      “And this, gentlemen, is how fearmongering works.”

      Its what the AGW scammers have been doing all along..

      No wonder you recognise it.

    2. AndyG55

      “It’s a small blackout in some parts of a city.”

      We can only hope it is YOU next time, hey, slimo !!

    3. Stephen Richards

      So Sebby. You know what the cause was? Cities lose power all the time, don’t they?

      London, New York, Tokyo ?

  3. pete

    The reason for the black out was an “electric network distribution problem”. Thanks for the explain it so clearly.

    Sarc off: This statement makes Big Brother and his Ministry of Truth so proud.

  4. sod

    yes, this blackout looks insignificant and it the source seems to be an old fashion technical grid problem. Belgium has some real problems with old nuclear reactors though!

    “high voltage substation”…..

    There has been an interesting blackout in australia:

    But the reason is not renewable power, but greedy fossil powers and a stupid organisation running the grid, while being asleep on the wheel:

    “AEMO media and corporate affairs group manager Stuart Allott said the decision not to fire up Pelican Point was made by senior staff within the control rooms of the operator and generator.

    “AEMO proactively called Pelican Point to understand what their ramp-up time was and it was determined that it would not meet market demand. It’s not as simple as just flicking on a switch,” he said.”

    they decided to call pelican plant 1 hour before the blackout and they do not know ramp up times on their plants. Total failure. (they also did not know that wind plants where switched to turn off after 3 frequency problems during the last blackout. Good new idea: change that number…)

    “AEMO notified the market on Wednesday at midday that it was forecasting supply to be extremely tight, giving notice to generators that were switched off that they may want to turn on. As the day went on and it became clearer there could be a shortage of supply, AEMO contacted the operators of Pelican Point — and all other generators in the state — to investigate whether it could turn on its second unit to cover a possible shortage. ”

    fossil fuel companies are not switching on plants to benefit from high prices at the time when the only real market force (renewables) deliver little electricity. They are trying to game the system.

    1. AndyG55

      So the owner should go to great expense to bring back a semi-mothballed power plant, just because wind isn’t delivering anything.

      NO. It is not economically viable for gas power to do that.

      The one gaming the system are the wind power operators, through subsidies, and RET rules that are designed specifically to force gas and coal out of business.

      1. sod

        “So the owner should go to great expense to bring back a semi-mothballed power plant, just because wind isn’t delivering anything.”

        so you are really trying to make an economic argument during a blackout? So it made sense not to switch it on (which they did on the next day)? So you think they should not bid even under extreme circumstances?

        So Engie was doing the best to its customers by leaving the plant idle? I wonder what those think!

        Your eceonomic argument is also garbage. Peaker plants running more often (so that they make “economic sense” on their own) obviously means that customers are paying high prices for base load just to keep the gas peaker even. That does not make any sense!

        1. Graeme No.3

          You are so gullible. The plant had been mothballed even before the Northern coal fired plant shut down. It has run twice in the last few months “at the request of the State Treasurer”. They had minimal lead time, a gas price peaking and weren’t going to run the plant to lose money, so they didn’t bid to supply. Startup time to full capacity is 4 hours or more, and AEMO is well aware of that.
          The immediate cause seems to be that the high temperature reduced the capacity of the Heywood interconnector from Victoria (brown coal fired) and with the wind farms being useless AEMO took the only action open to them. It is not as if they are in full control, they are handicapped by rules set by the various governments so it is a bit much for you to blame them.
          And AEMO warned the State Treasurer about this 12 months ago. He says he didn’t read the letter.

        2. Bon

          Wrong again Sod.  It's actually a matter of massive compulsory subsidies to wind, currently around $90/MWh, forcing SA's synchronous generators off the grid and out of business.  What we now have in SA is a state grid with only limited access to gas generation and an interconnector from interstate that can supply up to 600MW.  Hence when wind generation goes AWOL as it so often does then the lights go out.

    2. Stephen Richards

      Ask yourself the simple question. Would there have been a lose of power had there been no windmills and solar power?

      Just to help you along a bit, difficult question I know for a green nutjob, but the answer is NO NO NO

  5. AndyG55
  6. tom0mason

    “The loss of electricity across the Belgian capital has sparked terror attack fears, although the cause of the outage has not been confirmed.”

    But it was a terror attack.
    EU government are consciously inflicting terror by chasing the mirage of renewable (unreliable) electricity. Unreliable electricity is a real act of terror, inflicting as it does real angst, stress and terror into peoples’ lives.
    Yes EU governments are terrorizing their citizens!

    1. SebastianH

      It wasn’t caused by renewables …

      And renewables do not cause unreliability issues. At least not currently and not in the foreseeable future.

      Not one outage in this list was caused by renewables:

      1. DirkH

        “And renewables do not cause unreliability issues. ”

        They’re unreliable. They’re the definition of unreliability. The only thing that keeps the grid from blacking out at least twice a day is the entire old infrastructure that needs to be kept up 100% and even reinforced.

        Saying “they don’t cause unreliability issues. ” is like saying, Muslim terrorists don’t commit terrorist acts.

        You are hallucinating and worse, you want to convince other people that your hallucinations are reality. What’s wrong with your brain?

        1. SebastianH

          Again, I read your blog, if someone is hallucinating then it’s not me 😉

          1. AndyG55

            Poor seb, you are so spaced out, you don’t even know you are hallucinating.

            Its almost as if the only part of your brain that is working is your substance enhanced imagination.

      2. AndyG55

        “And renewables do not cause unreliability issues.”


        Now you really have reached an ULTRA-DELUSIONAL empty-minded stage.

        OMG !!!!! did you seriously write that !!!

        1. SebastianH

          Unreliability issues [in the power grid].

        2. AndyG55

          If you actually knew anything about how power grids operate, then you would know that unreliable supplies are always an issue for grid stability.

          Why do you constantly keep parading your utter and complete IGNORANCE, seb???

  7. Vern Cornell

    When will we recognize that CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial.?
    Since it has gone from 300 to 400ppm, in seventy years, crops are
    now growing ten-twenty percent faster. This is real progress.

    1. AndyG55

      Many of us who have actually done the research, without paid blinkers, know that increasing atmospheric CO2 has zero warming effect in a convective atmosphere,

      and is absolutely and totally BENEFICIAL to all life on Earth at any possible global atmospheric concentration.

      There is absolutely ZERO drawback to increasing atmospheric CO2, only massive benefits.

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