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Why do electricity blackouts happen?

  • Oct 14, 2021
RTE News

Our electricity grid is facing serious challenges, with growing warnings around energy shortages and possible blackouts. According to the Government, we can be "reasonably confident" that the lights will stay on this winter, but we "cannot rule out" the possibility of electricity blackouts in Ireland over the next few years. But what exactly is a blackout, and why do they occur? What can we ...

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Oct 14, 2021

"However, there is no magic bullet, no single technology or policy that can solve our electrical energy problems. Our energy system is vast and complex."

There is indeed a single policy that can solve Ireland's electricity problems: disconnect all wind turbines. Though it's frightfully simple, it's also frightfully unacceptable to those who refuse to believe renewable energy is making their country's grid less reliable. It is less reliable because its energy system is vast and complex.

Ask an engineer: increasing complexity in any system always, always, results in a decrease in reliability. The goal in engineering any system is to make the simplest one that will get the job done. Forcing the question: is it more important to a) have a reliable grid, one that can be counted on to deliver electricity to millions of Irish homes and businesses when it's needed, or b) to integrate renewables?

Don't ask General Electric, Vestas, Siemens or any of the companies seeking to make a quick buck on the renewables fad. Ask an electrical engineer - she saw this coming a mile away.

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