9 July 2014:
Do we have Sufficient Black Start Capabilities?

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine had some very interesting articles on restoration after blackout in the January/February issue this year. In a letter to the editor in the July/August issue Andrew L. Jones presents some disturbing observations on restoration times.

Three large blackouts have struck New York:

Mr. Jones points out that in spite of all the precautions, which have been implemented after each event this is a clear trend in the wrong direction.

In his response the editor emphasizes the fundamental differences between the three events. Nevertheless, there might be a reason for a control area to consider if the restoration procedures have been given the necessary attention.

In 2003 the Southern Sweden and East Denmark suffered a total blackout. The Danish black start facilities failed and the capital area in Denmark had to wait several hours for support from Sweden. Since then very little has been published about Danish black start capabilities and there is no evidence of significant improvements.

There could be two reasons for the silence about this matter:
- It is unpleasant to imagine and describe the worst case scenario when so much is done to prevent it from ever happening.
- New black start facilities would require large investments. It can be hard to justify investments in facilities which may never be utilised for their purpose.

During these years many power systems are in a fundamental transition with an increasing share of fluctuating and non-dispatchable generation. This will change the risk of disturbances and the system properties during a restoration process will be different. Hopefully, the restoration procedures and the black start procedures are being regularly reconsidered and tested. Public information on the results would be welcome.

Opdateret d. 9.7.2014