An incident at a power plant in southern Taiwan on Thursday prompted the authorities to institute an emergency rolling blackout across the island, leaving millions without electricity in the middle of the workday.
Some days before, the state-owned energy supplier Taipower has already warned, that drought and a heat wave were creating a surge in energy usage.
Taipower said that the outage was caused by a grid failure at the Hsinta Power Plant in the southern city of Kaohsiung. Shortly after, at around 3 p.m., residents around the island received a government alert on their mobile phones warning of the coming blackouts. Then, several cities, including Tainan, Taoyuan, and the capital city of Taipei, saw electricity cut almost instantly.
Taipower’s Hsinta Power Plant — a coal- and gas-fired facility at Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan — tripped after an equipment failure at a substation, the Taipower company said. Starting 3 p.m. local time, the supply of electricity on the island of 24 million people was restricted to 2 million households, with rolling blackouts, as repairs began.
The rolling blackout was in this case a large scale load-shedding. The utility managed to distribute the remaining generated power from other plants in a rotating cycle to the different regions. Also, customer information by mobile phone seemed to work.
What was the cause?
As usual, it’s hard to find out. After three days, the Taipower officials said on a press conference: “The blackout was caused by structural problems and human error involving the replacement of equipment …”
Few days later Taipower said engineers had been carrying out tests at a substation as part of a future expansion project for a power plant in the southern port city of Kaohsiung.
However, they pressed the wrong switch, causing a sudden drop in voltage, and the problem then cascaded leading to the blackout.
Human error is becoming a popular excuse for large scale malfunctions. The same thing happened in the Uttar Pradesh shoot down. I tend more to believe in the first Taipower statement, structural problems.
The minister of economics affairs Chih-Kung Lee resigned over the incident.