We have trawled the Web to trace the 10 biggest power outages recorded in history. Here is what we found out…
1. July 2012, India
In what could be the biggest power outage in the world, the blackout in India in July 2012 left an estimated 620 million people without electricity. The outage was ascribed to the tripping of a circuit breaker, owing to a spike in electricity consumption during one of the hottest seasons ever recorded.
2. January 2001, India
In January 2001, almost 230 million people lost power due to a fault in the transmission system in one state, which caused a cascading failure throughout the other states in India’s northern region.
3. November 2014, Bangladesh
A failure of a power transmission line from India to Bangladesh caused a power outage that left more than 150 million people without electricity.
4. January 2015, Pakistan
Eighty per cent of the country, or 140 million people, was left without electricity after an explosion at a power plant caused a backward surge of electricity to the facility. This caused the tripping of power lines, leading to a cascading effect throughout the country’s grid.
5. August 2015, Indonesia
Caused by a major transmission line failure, and the consequent disengaging of several power plants, the power outage of August 2015 in the Indonesian islands of Bali and Java left more than 100 million people without electricity.
6. March 1999, Brazil
Ascribed to a lightning strike that caused cascading failure throughout Southern Brazil’s power infrastructure, the largest power outage in the history of Brazil left 97 million people without electricity.
7. November 2009, Brazil and Paraguay
When transmission lines from the power station at Itaipu were tripped by a major thunderstorm, 87 million people from Brazil’s most populous states and the entire country of Paraguay were left without electricity.
8. August 2003, US and Canada
Known as one of the “Northeast Blackouts” of the past century, the power outage of 2003 affected 55 million people. The outage was blamed to a technical error that caused the control room alarm system to fail to alert controllers about overloaded transmission lines, leading to widespread grid distress.
9. September 2003, Italy
With the exception of the island of Sardinia, the entire country of Italy lost electricity, leaving 55 million people in the dark. The investigation revealed that the outage was caused by a system overload following a storm damage to a power line coming in from Switzerland. This consequently tripped power lines running in from France.
10. March 1978, Thailand
A generator failure in a single power plant caused a nationwide grid shutdown for an entire day, causing inconvenience to more than 40 million people.
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The effects of power outages to people, businesses, industries and social services can be devastating. Without electricity many of the most important needs of the modern society will go unmet. Because electricity plays such a vital role in our daily lives, its reliable and continuous supply is of utmost importance.
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