UK energy firm says it is confident power cut was not caused by cyberattack

The power cut knocked out traffic lights and railway signals and brought electric trains to a standstill. (Reuters)
Updated 11 August 2019

UK energy firm says it is confident power cut was not caused by cyberattack

  • The last time the UK national grid suffered an outage of more than one power station at the same time was 2008

LONDON: A power cut that affected a million people and caused travel chaos was not the result of a cyberattack, operators of Britain’s electricity network said on Saturday.

National Grid operations director Duncan Burt said Friday’s blackout was caused when two power stations failed almost simultaneously, leading the system to cut off power to some parts of the country in order to preserve the rest. He said the company was “very confident that there was no malicious intent or cyberattack involved.”

Burt said the loss of two power plants at once was a “very, very rare event” and something similar last happened in 2008.

Tim Green, of the Energy Futures Laboratory at Imperial College London, said failures were at a gas-fired power plant in southern England and a wind farm in the North Sea. He said it was unclear whether the two near-simultaneous outages were connected or it was a coincidence.

Britain’s energy watchdog, Ofgem, said it has asked for “an urgent detailed report from National Grid so we can understand what went wrong and decide what further steps need to be taken. This could include enforcement action.”

The cut hit a large swath of England and Wales, knocking out traffic lights and railway signals and bringing electric-powered trains to a standstill. Electricity was restored within 90 minutes but many travelers were stuck for hours on trains.

Delays and cancelations continued into Saturday at London’s King’s Cross, one of the country’s busiest train stations.

Andrew Adonis, a former chairman of Britain’s National Infrastructure Commission, said National Grid had “some big questions to answer” about how a relatively brief power cut had caused nationwide mayhem on the railways.

“Why ... did their systems allow the national transport system to collapse in the way it did? Because that absolutely shouldn’t happen,” he said.


Saudi energy giant to invest $3bn in Bangladesh’s power sector

Updated 22 October 2019

Saudi energy giant to invest $3bn in Bangladesh’s power sector

  • Experts say deal will usher in more economic and development opportunities for the country

DHAKA: Saudi Arabia’s energy giant, ACWA power, will set up an LNG-based 3,600 MW plant in Bangladesh after an agreement was signed in Dhaka on Thursday.

The MoU was signed by ACWA Chairman Mohammed Abunayyan and officials from the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), officials told Arab News on Monday.

According to the agreement, ACWA will invest $3 billion in Bangladesh’s energy development sector, of which $2.5 billion will be used to build the power plant while the rest will be spent on an LNG terminal to facilitate fuel supply to the plant. Under the deal, ACWA will also set up a 2 MW solar power plant.

In recent months, both countries have engaged in a series of discussions for investment opportunities in Bangladesh’s industry and energy sectors. 

During the Saudi-Bangladesh investment cooperation meeting in March this year, Dhaka proposed a $35 billion investment plan to a high-powered Saudi delegation led by Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, the Saudi commerce and investment minister, and Mohammed bin Mezyed Al-Tuwaijri, the Saudi economy and planning minister.

However, officials in Dhaka said that this was the first investment deal to be signed between the two countries.

“We have just inked the MoU for building the LNG-based power plant. Now, ACWA will conduct a feasibility study regarding the location of the plant, which is expected to be completed in the next six months,” Khaled Mahmood, chairman of BPDB, told Arab News.

He added that there are several locations in Moheshkhali, Chottogram and the Mongla port area for the proposed power plant.

“We need to find a suitable location where the drift of the river will be suitable for establishing the LNG plant and we need to also consider the suitability of establishing the transmission lines,” Mahmood said.

“It will be either a JV (Joint Venture) or an IPP (Independent Power Producer) mode of investment, which is yet to be determined. But, we are expecting that in next year the investment will start coming here,” Mahmood said.

BPDB expects to complete the set-up process of the power plant within 36 to 42 months.

“We are in close contact with ACWA and focusing on the successful completion of the project within the shortest possible time,” he said.

Abunayyan said that he was optimistic about the new investment deal.

“Bangladesh has been a model for the Muslim world in economic progress. This is our beginning, and our journey and our relationship will last for a long time,” Abunayyan told a gathering after the MoU signing ceremony.

Economists and experts in Bangladesh also welcomed the ACWA investment in the energy development sector.

“This sort of huge and long-term capital investment will create a lot of employment opportunities. On the other hand, it will facilitate other trade negotiations with the Middle Eastern countries, too,” Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), told Arab News.

She added that Bangladesh needs to weigh the pros and cons before finalizing such contracts so that the country can earn the “maximum benefits” from the investment.

“It will also expedite other big investments in Bangladesh from different countries,” she said.

Another energy economist, Dr. Asadujjaman, said that Bangladesh needs to exercise caution while conducting the feasibility study for such a huge investment.

“We need to address the environmental aspects, opportunity costs and other economic perspectives while working with this type of big investment. Considering the present situation, the country also needs to focus on producing more solar energy,” Dr. Asadujjaman told Arab News.