Europe’s Near Electricity Black Friday Was Triggered In France Due To “Polar Cold Wave”

A further analysis of last Friday’s European near power blackout shows that the problem had begun already one day earlier in France, due to cold weather, says a German expert.

At wind energy protest group Vernunftkraft Bayern, Jörn Künzle provides background on what was behind Europe’s near blackout last Friday, January 8, 2021.

We recently reported on this here.

Disturbance began in France

Quoting energy expert Dr. Michael Schneeberger, “The disturbance in the European grid was triggered inFrance. Already on January 7, France’s RTE (Le Réseau de Transport de l’Électricité) was forced to take essential parts of the electricity-intensive industry off the power grid. The RED alert level was ordered for the entire network of France.”

Polar wave

The following reasons were decisive, according to Michael Schneeberger’s research:

1) The polar cold wave occurred earlier than meteorologically expected, with low temperatures for France.

2) Due to delays for new rules by the corona management, 13 nuclear power plants are currently not on the grid.

3) Despite fierce EDF warnings, the Macron government (German influence, Merkel/Greens) shut down the 2 Fessenheim units (both fully operational, i.e. almost 2 GW thus additionally missing).

4) CONSEQUENCE:  Therefore, beginning Thursday, power had to be imported massively at very high prices,
a) with continental high pressure situation, there is no wind (and this in whole Europe),
b) with an installed capacity of 57 GW wind energy, the available capacity was less than 1000 MW (as is well known, there is little sun even in January / ignored by politics).

5) So on January 8, the RTE called on the French population to switch off electrical devices, heaters and charging units, but that, however, was not continuously adhered to.

6) Therefore the only remaining possibility was to intervene using area-wide shutdowns or by lowering the mains voltage by approx. 5% (there has been no comparable situation in France in 60 years).

7) Germany was unable to offer any assistance, that was the trigger for a separation of the European grids by ENTSO for stability reasons.

8) It then took a good hour to stabilize the frequency again.

9) Southern Germany. Bavaria and Austria could be kept stable, thanks to the Czech Republic grid (the Temelin and Dukovany nuclear power plants were in full operation).

1) February 2021 is still to come, with even lower temperatures.
2) Also interesting is that Poland has requested Germany to restart the nuclear power plants immediately , otherwise electricity power supply would be massively at risk.

A similar incident occurred in November, 2006 when ten million households in Western Europe had to be disconnected from the power grid.


NTZ Note:

On Saturday we posted on how wind and solar energies have been mostly AWOL over the past weeks in Germany. For the period from January 6 to 9, we see that Germany’s massive 110 GW of installed wind and solar capacity were delivering near nothing, thus straining the grid in these times of cold weather.


11 responses to “Europe’s Near Electricity Black Friday Was Triggered In France Due To “Polar Cold Wave””

  1. Stephen Richards

    It’s cold here in france but nothing close to being as cold as at least one other winter in the past 20 years. If they are struggling now oh boy are we going to have problems later this month and into February.

    Coldest year here was ’56, then 63. Nuclear kept us going

  2. Stephen Richards

    The coldest time for us on average is 20 Jan to 20 Fev

  3. Stephen Richards

    My first post is missing

  4. It doesn't add up...

    Not sure that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Try looking here:|CET|DAY&border.values=CTY|10YCA-BULGARIA-R!BZN_BZN|10YCA-BULGARIA-R_BZN_BZN|10YRO-TEL——P&dateTime.timezone=CET_CEST&dateTime.timezone_input=CET+(UTC+1)+/+CEST+(UTC+2)

    You will see there is a reversal in flow of about 1GW with imports from Bulgaria to Romania suddenly being replaced by much more sizeable exports in the other direction for the duration of the power cut in Romania. Other surges include Austria to Hungary, Hungary to Romania, reduction in Austria to Slovenia, Austria to Switzerland flow reversed, Bosnia to Croatia and Montenegro flow halted/reversed, Turkey to Bulgaria flow reversed, Croatia to Slovenia flow reversed, Czech to Germany 2GW change in flow reversed, 1.5GW increase Czech to Slovakia, Belgium to France reduced 1GW, Germany to France reduced 1.5GW, Italy to France reversed, France to Spain reduced 1.3GW, France to Switzerland reduced 1.3GW, Germany to Poland reduced.

    There was certainly a complete realignment of international transmission. I leave it as an exercise to select the generation tab and explore whether there are particular plants that might have tripped to cause the problems. It might equally have been due to loss of a transmission line or major substation transformer.

  5. John F Hultquist

    Not to put too fine of a point on this, but NTZ has warned about this for a few years now.

    _ _ _ _ _
    Meanwhile, where we live – – central Washington State —
    temperature has been a bit on the warm side, with lots of
    clouds, rain, and snow in the higher elevations (1,500 m.).
    Snow dusting this morning; now gone.
    Little change for the coming week.

  6. posa

    Europe needs a good stiff does of “freeze in the dark therapy”.. so winter blackouts-brownouts are all positive teaching moments.

  7. Pat Swords
  8. pochas94

    Amazing the damage idiot managers can do.

  9. Modelle einig: Polarwirbel bringt Schneechaos im Januar 2021 – wobleibtdieglobaleerwaermung

    […] Zum Vergrössern anklicken. „Europäischer FAST-BLACKOUT AM FREITAG, 8. JANUAR 2021 – DIE HINTERGRÜNDE: Von einem, der sich auskennt, Prof. Dr. Peter Dierkes! Vielen Dank für diese Informationen! „Ich habe gerade ein langes Gespräch mit einem guten Freund (Dr. Michael Schneeberger) geführt, der mir wertvolle Details zu dem Fast-BO vom Freitag dieser Woche übermittelte. Ich zitiere: „ausgelöst wurde die Störung im Europäischen Netz durch Frankreich. Schon am 7.1. musste Frankreich (RTE, Le Réseau de Transport de l‘Électricité) wesentliche Teile der stromintensiven Industrie vom Netz nehmen. Die Alarmstufe ROT wurde für das gesamte Netz Frankreichs verfügt“. Wichtig: folgende Gründe waren nach der Recherche von Michael ausschlaggebend: 1) die polare Kältewelle ist früher eingetreten als meteorologisch erwartet, mit für Frankreich tiefen Temperaturen, 2) bedingt durch Revisions-Verzögerungen durch das Corona-Management (s. eine Revision und BE-Wechsel ist extrem personalintensiv) sind derzeit 13 KKW (Kernkraftwerke) nicht am Netz, 3) trotz heftiger EDF-Warnungen hat die Macron-Regierung (s. deutscher Einfluss, Merkel/Grüne) die 2 Blöcke Fessenheim (beide voll funktionsfähig) abgeschaltet (d.h. es fehlen damit zusätzlich fast 2GW), 4) FOLGE: es musste deshalb ab Donnerstag massiv zu sehr hohen Preisen importiert werden, a) bei kontinentalen Hochdrucklagen gibt es keinen Wind (und zwar in ganz Europa), b) bei einer installierten Leistung von 57 GW-WE war die verfügbare Leistung kleiner als 1000 MW (bekanntlich gibt es auch im Jänner wenig Sonne / ignoriert durch die Politik), 5) so wurde am 8.1.2021 seitens der RTE die französische Bevölkerung aufgerufen (!), elektrische Geräte + Heizungen abzuschalten + auch keine EA mehr aufzuladen / das wurde jedoch nicht durchgehend eingehalten, 6) deshalb blieb nur mehr die Möglichkeit, über flächendeckende Abschaltungen bzw. über Absenkung der Netzspannung um rd. 5% einzugreifen (seit 60 Jahren gab es in Frankreich keine vergleichbare Situation), 7) DIE BRD KONNTE AUCH KEINE HILFESTELLUNG ANBIETEN, DAS WAR DER AUSLÖSER, EINE TRENNUNG DER EUROPÄISCHEN NETZE AUS SICHERHEITSGRÜNDEN DURCH ENTSO VORZUNEHMEN (S. BEGLEITET MIT GESAMTEUROPÄISCHEN PROBLEMEN UND KRITISCHEN FREQUENZEINBRÜCHEN VON RD. 260 mHZ), 😎 es hat dann gut eine Stunde gedauert, die Frequenz wieder zu stabilisieren, 9) SÜD-DEUTSCHLAND, BAYERN UND ÖSTERREICH KONNTEN DURCH DAS STABILEN NETZ TSCHECHIENS (!) GEHALTEN WERDEN (S. TEMELIN UND DUKOVANY IM VOLLBETRIEB).“ Quelle: Beinahe-Blackout Europa und Europe’s Near Electricity Black Friday Was Triggered In France Due To “Polar Cold Wave” […]

  10. It doesn't add up...

    ENTSO-E have a press release with an update:

    It shows the border between the two grid islands, and details some of the actions taken to remedy the situation – the largest of which was cancelling some 1.7GW of supply to customers on interruptible contracts in France and Italy. The border cuts off NW Romania which suffered power cuts, and runs roughly along the Southern Hungarian border before bisecting Croatia down to the Adriatic coast. To the east, frequency rose rapidly to 50.6Hz, indicating that the area had been supplying power Westwards: its power stations were eventually dialed back to drop the frequency back to resynchronisation. To the west, frequency fell to 49.74Hz, reflecting the loss of supply, but out of a much larger demand and inertia total.

    There is still no proper explanation of the disconnect and islanding, but it does look like transmission or transformer faults somewhere close to the line of separation.


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