More than a million people across Spain and Portugal were left without electricity after disruption to supplies from a high voltage interconnector in France.
The incident occurred between 4:30 pm and 5 pm local time on Saturday 24 July. Red Eléctrica de España, which operates the electricity network in Spain, blamed a seaplane damaging the 40,000-volt interconnector in France.
Un incidente con un hidroavión ha generado un problema en la red francesa de muy alta tensión provocando la desconexión temporal de la península del resto de europa. El problema ya está resuelto quedando repuesta la interconexión y el suministro eléctrico afectado en nuestro país— Red Eléctrica (@RedElectricaREE) July 24, 2021
According to RTE, France’s electricity transmission network operator, the seaplane was helping hundreds of firefighters tackle a blaze that burned more than 2,000 acres of land in the southwest of the country.
The accident led to a technical problem with the high voltage line between Perpignan and Narbonne, cutting 2,350 MW of electricity supply in Spain and around 1,000 MW of power in Portugal.
Portuguese electricity transmission grid operator Redes Energéticas Nacionais said that emergency plans including load shedding kicked into action to avoid a complete shutdown of the Iberian Peninsula power grid.
“As a result of this incident, the Iberian electricity system was separated from the rest of the European grid in a situation of heavy imports.
“This separation caused a significant reduction in the Iberian frequency, and the defense plans for the Spanish and Portuguese electrical systems were automatically activated.”
– Statement from Redes Energéticas Nacionais
The outage lasted for around an hour and impacted people across the peninsula.
In Spain, large parts of Catalonia, Madrid, Andalucía, Extremadura, Aragon, the Basque Country, Navarra, and Murcia were without electricity. While several cities across Portugal reported similar disruption.