Storms cause power outages and bushfires across Victoria

Loy Yang power station in Victoria (grid)
Victoria’s Loy Yang Power Station (Image: Shutterstock)

More than 500,000 homes and businesses across Victoria lost power on Tuesday afternoon when AGL‘s Loy Yang A power station generators tripped after storms knocked out parts of the state’s transmission network.

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Loy Yang A, responsible for about a third of Victoria’s power, was forced to shut down after several towers along a major section of the state’s transmission network collapsed during storms.

Monash Energy Institute director A/Prof Roger Dargaville said, “On Tuesday afternoon, a severe storm belt with wind gusts over 100km/h, extreme lightning and torrential rain caused havoc across Melbourne. Amongst lots of localised power outages due to low voltage power lines being damaged was the destruction of several towers supporting the parallel 500kV lines between Melbourne and Geelong. The effect of losing that vital infrastructure was to ‘trip off’ the Loy Yang A power station.

“As in the case of South Australia in 2016, we have seen instances where an entire state’s grid was impacted leaving everyone statewide without power. The fact that the Victorian grid did not completely fail is a testament to the resilience in the system and the safety mechanisms in place to protect vital infrastructure.

“Distributed renewable energy systems offer both more vulnerability due to more infrastructure spread over wider areas, but also additional resilience as losses of individual power lines don’t have the same impact of losing large centralised power stations.

“As a result of climate change we are bound to have more wild weather conditions in the future and our energy systems must learn to adapt and grapple with such situations more often. Additional system security measures such as redundancy i.e., extra energy generation beyond just what is forecast to be required, and fast response storage technologies will help make the system more robust.”

Reuters reports some 220,000 customers across the state remained without power on Wednesday after wild weather knocked down transmission lines and sparked bushfires that injured five firefighters.

The outage is reportedly one of the largest in Victoria’s history.

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AGL said two units at the power station had returned to service while the remaining two could be back up over the next 24 hours. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said it could take weeks to restore power to all customers.

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