On November 1, the Bangladesh power grid suffered a massive, countrywide blackout that took well over a day to restore. Only the most critical or prepared institutions and government agencies that had adequate diesel generation backup power had electricity, while the rest of the 160 million people in the country were totally in the dark. The power outage brought much of normal life to a standstill, forced hospitals to rely on backup generators, and even plunged the prime minister’s official residence into darkness. Meanwhile, the garment industry and other manufacturers that represent 80% of Bangladesh’s exports were idled.
Initial reports suggested that the outage occurred when protective relays tripped at the interconnect substations between the India transmission grid and the Bangladesh transmission grid, where much of Bangladesh’s power is supplied. While Power Grid of India, the India transmission grid operator, reported that its high-voltage transmission grid was operating normally, the Bangladesh Power Grid on the other side of the substation was down. This sounds remarkably like the 2003 situation in United States, where much of the Eastern grid suffered an outage.
In the Dark
In my recent research, I have been looking into next-generation technologies and wide-area situational and visualization tools that transmission grid network operators are beginning to deploy to better anticipate and detect critical disturbances of the sort that likely led to this massive outage. The Bangladesh outage was likely the largest on the subcontinent since the India blackout in 2012, where two severe power outages affected most of northern and eastern India. The July 31, 2012 India blackout was the largest power outage in world history, reportedly affecting over 620 million people – about 9% of the world’s population. More than 32 GW of generating capacity went offline during this outage.
In the wake of that failure, the latest 10-year transmission plans in India call for the installation of over 1,300 synchrophasor phasor measurement units (PMUs) and associated analytics installed on India’s high-voltage transmission grid to manage sub-second disturbances.
The scope of the Bangladesh outage is yet to be determined, and it will require extensive transmission grid and generation forensic analysis, using available monitored information from the hours and minutes prior to the outage. One can only wonder whether these next-generation PMU and synchrophasor analytics technologies, implemented on the Bangladesh side of the interconnected transmission network, could have prevented this crisis.
Tags: Policy & Regulation, Smart Utilities Program, Transmission & Distribution, Utility Innovations
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