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Mass Power Cuts in the UK

Mass Power Cuts UK

National Grid to be Reviewed Following Mass Blackout

Following the mass power cut that affected around 1.1 million people on the 9th of August 2019, National Grid has reported that the amount of backup power they store must be reviewed in order to avoid such an event occurring again.

All this is despite the energy operator stating that the systems worked ‘in line with their design’ by cutting off some people’s power supply automatically in order to protect the network and save the grid from full collapse.

They also said that they must review which facilities are connected to the automatic disconnection systems, in order to ensure no critical services or infrastructure are under threat by the possibility of a power cut.

National Grid said a lightning strike on a transmission circuit, paired with ‘almost simultaneous unexpected power losses’ at 2 separate plants were the cause of the failure, which was the largest scale outage in a decade. Regulations state there is a certain level of backup power that needs to be stored to cover outages. However, this level was not met and as a result 5% of customers were disconnected in order to protect the remaining 95% of the grid.

Over 1 million households were left without power for as long as 45 minutes due to the mass blackout, which also affected some critical facilities including Newcastle Airport (which was left in darkness), rail lines and Ipswich Hospital. People were left stuck on trains for up to 9 hours and roads were gridlocked due to traffic lights being unoperational.

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Cause of the Mass Power Cuts


  • A transmission circuit is struck by lightning, causing a loss of 150 megawatts. However, the systems in place all operate as expected and normality is restored in roughly 20 seconds.

  • Both the Little Barford & Hornsea plants trip immediately after, resulting in the grid losing another 981 megawatts of power.

  • The frequency of the entire grid drops rapidly due to the lack of supply triggers. In turn, another 350 megawatts disconnects as a protection mechanism to prevent a full-scale collapse.

  • The 1,000 megawatts of available backup electricity simply isn’t enough to keep up with the added pressure.

  • The Little Barford plant trips yet again, raising the total power generation loss to 1,691 megawatts.

  • 5% of demand is cut off automatically by the defense system.

  • Another failure at Little Barford brings the total loss to 1,878 megawatts.

  • Around 1.1 million people are now in blackout for as long as 45 minutes, following the system disconnecting 1,000 megawatts of demand.


  • Systems return to normal.


  • Power is restored to all users.

Blog published by Advanced Diesel Engineering on September 11, 2019