Thailand: 8 million left in the dark

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power blackoutThe largest power blackout ever in Thailand’s history left 8 million people in 14 southern provinces without energy supply, including the popular tourist spots of Phuket and Koh Samui.

The entire region was left in the dark for up to two hours on the evening of May 21, when a high-voltage power cable apparently got disconnected  from the power grid at the 500-kilowatt power transmission station in Bang Saphan district. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, responsible for rural power supply, said this could have been caused by a lightning strike but it had still to determine what happened. However, the authority ruled out a possible terrorist attack feared by anxious residents. However, as a precautionary measure, army patrols took to the streets.

The outage, which caused an estimated 10 billion baht ($340 million) of economic damage to businesses and industries in the region, has left the Thai government furious. Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on May 22 has immediately ordered an investigation into the causes of the massive blackout and the preparation of contingency plans “to ensure it does not happen again.”

She alleged that supplementary power cables are generally used to maintain electricity supply to the south, so the blackout in fact may have been caused by careless maintenance work or overloading of the grid. In the short term, all cables must be checked, the prime minister said.

Thanit Sorat, secretary-general of Federation of Thai Industries, said the damage was so high because it caused the shutdown of machinery in industries such as seafood processing, pineapple canning, cold storage and rubber processing

Energy Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal has called a meeting with senior officials of all related agencies on May 22 morning to investigate the failure.

Frequent brownouts are not uncommon in Thailand, mostly caused by a sloppily laid out power grid that is prone to damage through storms and rainfall and poorly designed power load balancing. Even in Bangkok’s business district, during the rainy season, it is not uncommon to hear transformers on power poles imploding with a loud bang when they get hit by rainwater, leaving entire streets without power and subsequently causing internet connections and freshwater pumps in houses and hotel to stop working. In Bangkok’s industrial suburbs with its tens of thousands of low-cost housing communities, brownouts are almost part of daily life.

“I am wondering what they will do when they eventually operate a high-speed train network,”  an expat engineer working with Siemens Thailand told Inside Investor. “Imagine a train running at 300 km/h during a widespread power outage.”

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The largest power blackout ever in Thailand’s history left 8 million people in 14 southern provinces without energy supply, including the popular tourist spots of Phuket and Koh Samui.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

power blackoutThe largest power blackout ever in Thailand’s history left 8 million people in 14 southern provinces without energy supply, including the popular tourist spots of Phuket and Koh Samui.

The entire region was left in the dark for up to two hours on the evening of May 21, when a high-voltage power cable apparently got disconnected  from the power grid at the 500-kilowatt power transmission station in Bang Saphan district. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, responsible for rural power supply, said this could have been caused by a lightning strike but it had still to determine what happened. However, the authority ruled out a possible terrorist attack feared by anxious residents. However, as a precautionary measure, army patrols took to the streets.

The outage, which caused an estimated 10 billion baht ($340 million) of economic damage to businesses and industries in the region, has left the Thai government furious. Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on May 22 has immediately ordered an investigation into the causes of the massive blackout and the preparation of contingency plans “to ensure it does not happen again.”

She alleged that supplementary power cables are generally used to maintain electricity supply to the south, so the blackout in fact may have been caused by careless maintenance work or overloading of the grid. In the short term, all cables must be checked, the prime minister said.

Thanit Sorat, secretary-general of Federation of Thai Industries, said the damage was so high because it caused the shutdown of machinery in industries such as seafood processing, pineapple canning, cold storage and rubber processing

Energy Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal has called a meeting with senior officials of all related agencies on May 22 morning to investigate the failure.

Frequent brownouts are not uncommon in Thailand, mostly caused by a sloppily laid out power grid that is prone to damage through storms and rainfall and poorly designed power load balancing. Even in Bangkok’s business district, during the rainy season, it is not uncommon to hear transformers on power poles imploding with a loud bang when they get hit by rainwater, leaving entire streets without power and subsequently causing internet connections and freshwater pumps in houses and hotel to stop working. In Bangkok’s industrial suburbs with its tens of thousands of low-cost housing communities, brownouts are almost part of daily life.

“I am wondering what they will do when they eventually operate a high-speed train network,”  an expat engineer working with Siemens Thailand told Inside Investor. “Imagine a train running at 300 km/h during a widespread power outage.”

 

 

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