It Took 260km/h Winds To Kill South Australia’s Power Grid

It took “one of the most significant severe thunderstorm outbreaks in recent decades”, with seven tornadoes and a storm producing phenomenally damaging wind speeds, to bring down South Australia’s power grid and cause a blackout in late September. Although the national electricity market operator and conservative commentators were quick to blame renewable energy, it’s now clear that the entire network was at risk — and the blackout could have been lessened had precautionary steps been taken.

RenewEconomy reports on the Bureau of Meteorology’s investigation into the 28 September thunderstorms, saying that a series of travelling localised tornadoes destroyed transmission lines and crumpled towers near Wilmington and Blyth in central South Australia — not any issue related to renewable energy. The wind speeds recorded are similar to those measured when Cyclone Tracy effectively leveled Darwin on Christmas Day in 1974.

A total of 22 towers being destroyed between Adelaide and northern South Australia caused a cascading power overload that caused the statewide blackout, starting at 3:48PM and lasting for several hours through the night. Despite the warnings of impending damaging storms from the BOM, Australia’s AEMO continued to run the energy-transferring interconnector between South Australia and Victoria.

AEMO will submit a response to the Bureau of Meteorology’s statements in its December report into the blackout. The energy market operator continued to run the inter-state interconnector at “near full capacity” until the blackout occurred, according to RenewEconomy, and then shifted blame onto South Australia’s installed renewables — the state is the largest producer of wind energy in Australia.

[RenewEconomy / Bureau of Meteorology]

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.