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‘Perfect Storm’ Knocks Out Power Grid in Melbourne

 
theresident
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01/18/2007 11:56 AM
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‘Perfect Storm’ Knocks Out Power Grid in Melbourne
Posted by Dan Denning on Jan 17th, 2007

You could view yesterday’s blackouts in Melbourne, Australia as a “perfect storm” of sorts. Soaring temperatures led to a spike in demand in the afternoon hours. Then, a critical transmission between New South Wales and Victoria failed, cutting off twenty five percent of the state’s power. At the Australian Open, Maria Sharapova nearly overheated and was forced to take an ice bath.

But is this blackout (which is still affecting quite a few people as we write) a one-off confluence of high-temperatures and a freak break-down in the transmission grid? Is it just a minor inconvenience which forces us to remember what we did with our free time before the Internet? Maybe.

But it also indicates the key structural vulnerability of the grid itself: the fragility of the connections. Any network without sufficient nodes is subject to breakdown. The fewer the connections, the more likely that the loss of one puts stress on those that remain, degrading the performance and the efficiency of the whole system. It’s a little like having only one bridge to get across a river. No bridge, you either swim, or you stay stranded.

More nodes and more connections means greater redundancy, which doesn’t mean quite the same thing in this context as it does in the boot-making business. More on that in a moment. But back to the grid.

Centrally generated and distributed power is the way our world is built, and when it works, you hardly ever give it a second thought. The most thought we’ve given to it is how strange it is that the plane trees on Fitzroy Street are trimmed just so in order to make room for the power lines traveling above them. Why not bury the lines and let the trees grow to the sky? Then, at least falling branches don’t plunge the city into darkness.

But we are concerned with more than just esthetics. We are concerned with whether the grid works. The network is only as good as the reliability of the transmission system, the grid. Generally, the grid holds up. It’s a spike in energy demand that strains the grid, or growth for which the grid wasn’t designed.

In twenty years, when Melbourne has added another million people and Australia itself has a larger population with energy-intensive industrial companies, will the nation’s existing grid be enough? Oh wait, there is no existing national grid, now way to ship power safely and reliably from one state to the next. At least not yet. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some back up to a system not designed for the worst-case scenario?

We are leading the witness a bit, to be honest. There isn’t a locally generated, safe, power system to replace the centrally-generated grid power we (most of us) enjoy today. But there are back-up systems commercially available that give individual households and businesses another source of power should the electricity grid fail. They are becoming more popular in Europe, where dependency on ageing power grid is even more acute.

[link to www.dailyreckoning.com.au]
Wasayo

User ID: 183824
United States
01/18/2007 12:33 PM
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Re: ‘Perfect Storm’ Knocks Out Power Grid in Melbourne
Watch this one. Thanks.

bump
"Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him." Prov. 30:5
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 183832
Australia
01/18/2007 12:44 PM
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Re: ‘Perfect Storm’ Knocks Out Power Grid in Melbourne
Posted by Dan Denning on Jan 17th, 2007

You could view yesterday’s blackouts in Melbourne, Australia as a “perfect storm” of sorts. Soaring temperatures led to a spike in demand in the afternoon hours. Then, a critical transmission between New South Wales and Victoria failed, cutting off twenty five percent of the state’s power. At the Australian Open, Maria Sharapova nearly overheated and was forced to take an ice bath.

But is this blackout (which is still affecting quite a few people as we write) a one-off confluence of high-temperatures and a freak break-down in the transmission grid? Is it just a minor inconvenience which forces us to remember what we did with our free time before the Internet? Maybe.

But it also indicates the key structural vulnerability of the grid itself: the fragility of the connections. Any network without sufficient nodes is subject to breakdown. The fewer the connections, the more likely that the loss of one puts stress on those that remain, degrading the performance and the efficiency of the whole system. It’s a little like having only one bridge to get across a river. No bridge, you either swim, or you stay stranded.

More nodes and more connections means greater redundancy, which doesn’t mean quite the same thing in this context as it does in the boot-making business. More on that in a moment. But back to the grid.

Centrally generated and distributed power is the way our world is built, and when it works, you hardly ever give it a second thought. The most thought we’ve given to it is how strange it is that the plane trees on Fitzroy Street are trimmed just so in order to make room for the power lines traveling above them. Why not bury the lines and let the trees grow to the sky? Then, at least falling branches don’t plunge the city into darkness.

But we are concerned with more than just esthetics. We are concerned with whether the grid works. The network is only as good as the reliability of the transmission system, the grid. Generally, the grid holds up. It’s a spike in energy demand that strains the grid, or growth for which the grid wasn’t designed.

In twenty years, when Melbourne has added another million people and Australia itself has a larger population with energy-intensive industrial companies, will the nation’s existing grid be enough? Oh wait, there is no existing national grid, now way to ship power safely and reliably from one state to the next. At least not yet. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some back up to a system not designed for the worst-case scenario?

We are leading the witness a bit, to be honest. There isn’t a locally generated, safe, power system to replace the centrally-generated grid power we (most of us) enjoy today. But there are back-up systems commercially available that give individual households and businesses another source of power should the electricity grid fail. They are becoming more popular in Europe, where dependency on ageing power grid is even more acute.

[link to www.dailyreckoning.com.au]
 Quoting: theresident


NO NO NO

No more centralisation of power in Australia. It serves Jews and their collectivist interests. Victoria has the resources to meet it's own power supply needs. It just has it's priorities wrong concerning it's state government's spending.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 183881
Australia
01/18/2007 02:59 PM
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Re: ‘Perfect Storm’ Knocks Out Power Grid in Melbourne
"But is this blackout (which is still affecting quite a few people as we write) a one-off confluence of high-temperatures and a freak break-down in the transmission grid?"

Was caused by a bush fire.....

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has assured residents that the state's power supply can cope over the summer without any need to resort to restrictions.

Mr Bracks gave the assurance after cutting short his annual holiday when bushfires cut interstate transmission lines on Tuesday, taking out one fifth of the power supply and plunging more than 200,000 Victorian homes into darkness and causing road and public transport chaos.

Power supplies were cut to Melbourne, Geelong and a large swathe of northern and eastern Victoria when the Tatong bushfire, near Benalla, tripped twin 330 kilovolt powerlines about 4pm (AEDT) Tuesday.

[link to news.ninemsn.com.au]
Anonymous Coward
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Australia
01/18/2007 04:48 PM
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Re: ‘Perfect Storm’ Knocks Out Power Grid in Melbourne
What 183881 said, power was cut by a BUSHFIRE!!!!!!
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 8358
Australia
01/18/2007 05:28 PM
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Re: ‘Perfect Storm’ Knocks Out Power Grid in Melbourne
The OP was also incorrect about no national power grid. The reason for blackout was the power feed was cut from NSW due to bushfires. They ramped up the feed from Tasmania and South Australia to compensate. All the eastern states are inter connected. Tasmania provides power through the cable across Bass Strait. Why do people open their mouths with the express reason of demonstrating their ignorance. Shit, I forgot this is GLP, so ignore the last statement. Ignorance, bigotry and uninformed opinion rules.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 184001
Australia
01/18/2007 09:21 PM
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Re: ‘Perfect Storm’ Knocks Out Power Grid in Melbourne
or....Bracks is a twat.

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