28 Oct 2014

Blackout Britain – will it happen here this winter?

The energy secretary says there will be no UK blackouts this winter. As Ofgem presents its analysis of our energy needs this winter, we look at some of the biggest power outages of the last 50 years.

Looking ahead to demand for energy in the UK over the winter, Energy Secretary Ed Davey pledged over the weekend: “There will be no blackouts. Period.”

In case there was any doubt, the Department of Energy and Climage Change told Channel 4 News that he meant that the UK is not going to run out of energy this winter.

Mr Davey’s reassurance comes days after a warning by Professor John Loughhead, of the Royal Academy of Engineering, about the “catastrophic” consequences of a two-day power outage to somewhere like the City of London.

So what happens to a country a major power outage occurs? Here are six of the best known.

New York 1965

New York 1965

Faulty maintenance in Ontario caused disruption of the electricity supply in the New York region and led to the “northeast blackout” of 9 November 1965.

New York blackout 1977 (Getty)

New York 1977

The 1977 blackout was caused by lightning strikes on a substation on the Hudson river. It resulted in city-wide looting and arson. The picture is an aerial view of a building burning in Brooklyn on 14 July.

Rome blackout 2003 (Reuters)

Rome 2003

A power cut hit a large part of Italy in the early hours of Sunday 28 September. The national grid authority said the blackout was caused by a malfunction of incoming electricity lines from abroad.

Moscow blackout 2005 (Getty)

Moscow 2005

On 25 May Moscow’s power supply went down, resulting in an outage lasting several hours in Moscow and several other provinces. Some 20,000 people were stranded in the capital city’s underground tunnels.

Brazil blackout 2009 (Getty)

Brasil 2009

The picture shows residential buildings in Sao Paulo during a massive blackout on 11 November 2009. Tens of millions of people were plunged into darkness, and police were mobilised amid fears of a crime wave.

India blackout 2012 (Getty)

India 2012

The biggest-ever power blackout happened in India on 30-31 July 2012. On day two, more than 620 million people – 9 per cent of the world’s population – were affected. Hospitals, transport, and water treatment plants were among the services affected. The picture shows Indian passengers waiting on a train in New Delhi.