Houses at dawn

09 August 2019 – one year on

ESO Executive Director Fintan Slye highlights the actions taken and lessons learned a year on from the 09 August power cut.

As the Electricity System Operator for Great Britain it’s our job to ensure the delivery of electricity every minute of every day. It’s a huge responsibility and not something we take lightly - that’s why the events of Friday 09 August 2019 and the knock-on disruption caused were hard for us to take.

As we reflect one year on we are pleased the reports from Energy Emergencies Executive Committee (E3C) and Ofgem into the incident are now closed and that they confirmed there was no link between our actions and the power cuts. We were particularly pleased the reports praised the actions of teams on the day itself, quickly returning the electricity system to normal and limiting the impacts on the public.

Over the last year we’ve invested significant time and resource into understanding what happened and I’m proud of all the efforts of our teams to address the key operability challenges highlighted, and embed the lessons learned  into our operations and practices.

We’ve worked in partnership with stakeholders across the industry, including our colleagues at Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to review settings and processes in terms of how demand is disconnected at a local level, the processes and requirements for generators when connecting to the grid and assessing the right amount of back up response required to manage any potential similar situations.

As we reflect one year on we are pleased the reports from Energy Emergencies Executive Committee (E3C) and Ofgem into the incident are now closed and that they confirmed there was no link between our actions and the power cuts.

The Accelerated Loss of Mains Change programme, begun before last August and run in conjunction with the Energy Networks Association has also continued to gather momentum. The programme is working with owners of embedded generation on changing settings to help to avoid unnecessary tripping on the system. Nearly 10GW of embedded generation has signed up to change their protection settings before March 2021 and we are continuing to get even more embedded generators to make the necessary changes.

Alongside this direct response we’ve continued to see great progress on the overall transition of the electricity system, getting closer to our ambition of being able to operate a zero carbon grid by 2025.

Our ‘pathfinder’ projects, looking at new sources of inertia and other stabilising capabilities that can be provided to the electricity system, have continued to gather momentum with new world-leading approaches being adopted.

We are also continuing to develop new frequency response services that will facilitate greater market competition and provide the fast-acting capabilities that are needed in low inertia conditions. This is in parallel with new commercial frameworks, widening access to the electricity market and making it easier for smaller, renewable sources of power to play a role.

Through all these programmes, working in partnership is critical; therefore, to better engage with industry a regular drumbeat of communications has been established, allowing customers and stakeholders access the information they want and need. This includes working closely with Ofgem and BEIS and a weekly webinar for all stakeholders hosted by our Control Room teams. 

A year on from 09 August, we are again facing new and unprecedented challenges - the current and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered how energy is used across Great Britain.  This has been a test of the resilience of our planning and our systems and I am proud that our people have risen to the challenge to make sure Great Britain can continue to rely on reliable, safe and secure electricity.

For more information on the 9 August power outage, and to read our final technical report, please click here.