Warnings of 'catastrophic' electricity blackout in event of major storm or cyberattack

A report from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities said a cyberattack on IT systems connected to the electricity grid could have 'disastrous' consequences
Warnings of 'catastrophic' electricity blackout in event of major storm or cyberattack

Experts have warned that a major storm, shortage of fossil fuels, or a cyberattack on IT systems connected to Ireland's power grid could cause a catastrophic electricity blackout.

A new report from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities found that although a cyberattack on grid-connected IT systems is "unlikely", such an event could prove disastrous, potentially causing a wide-scale power outage which could last days.

As reported by the Irish Examiner, the report assessed 26 scenarios to identify potential risks facing electricity supply, suggesting strategies by which these situations could be avoided.

Among the scenarios examined were extreme weather, natural disaster, primary energy shortage, infrastructure delivery deficit and malicious attack.

The report warned a storm, cold spell or heatwave could have a critical impact on the grid, with global warming making such events more common.

Major storms, such as Storm Darwin in 2014, could seriously impact the national grid, leaving the country without electricity for three days, the commission said.

Ongoing issues with fossil fuel supply could also have "disastrous effects" on energy supply, the report noted, adding that the impact such a shortage would have on power supplies would be "heavily influenced" by the availability of wind power at that time.

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