Uganda experiences fifth nationwide blackout in a matter of months.
In a statement, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), a state-owned energy company that buys and transmits power across the country, revealed the Nalubaale and Kiira power stations suffered a total failure at approximately 11:15am on Tuesday 13 August.
In total, this took 122.5 MW of power from the grid. The incident occurred during switching operations in a substation. It involved a bus bar isolator which flashed over after a circuit breaker opened unexpectedly.
All units that tripped were restored to action in just over an hour and were generating 133.1 MW to meet demand.
Incident report for yesterday’s power blackout pic.twitter.com/dObq3PuZ60— UETCL (@uetcl) August 14, 2020
History Repeating… Again
The blackout follows four similar incidents in the landlocked East African nation in recent months.
In April, 12 acres of floating weeds affected the Nalubaale hydroelectric plant. On 9 May, another nationwide outage occurred, with UETCL unable to identify the cause.
While in June, a fault on high voltage from Kiira power station resulted in another country-wide cut.
Only last month, a bucket came into contact with a live conductor during routine maintenance at Nalubaale, leading to another temporary shutdown.
Traditionally, Uganda has relied on imported energy. But the country does have significant hydroelectric potential – currently around 1,000 MW of the nation’s installed 1,250 MW capacity – and also has large reserves of petroleum.
Separately to UETCL, the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) is a state-run company whose primary purpose is to generate power for use in Uganda and for export to neighbouring countries.
Less than a third of the country’s 44 million population have access to electricity, the vast majority in urban areas. Peak national demand is only 800 MW.
Energy experts question why a country which generates more power than it consumes should experience such frequent nationwide blackouts.