International electricity simulation spearheaded by Red Eléctrica
Spain, Portugal and France conduct a joint response drill to a general blackout

Spain, Portugal and France have today jointly carried out a drill to restore the electricity service following a general blackout simulation on the Iberian Peninsula and in part of southern France. In order to validate the service restoration plans for the peninsular electricity system, as well as those of joint support of the Spanish system with the Portuguese and French systems, and to provide hands-on training of the teams involved in extraordinarily exceptional situations, the operators of the three countries have carried out an international restoration drill in the continental European system.

In addition to Red Eléctrica de España (REE), Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN), from Portugal, and Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE), from France, fifteen generation and distribution companies took part, as well as the National Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CNPIC), the Permanent Center for Information and Coordination of the State Department for Security (CEPIC), and the security forces and bodies (Civil Guard, National Police and the police from the Catalan and Basque autonomous regions).

Starting off from a serious incident which occurs at 9:00am, which causes a mock widespread zero voltage condition that affects the entire peninsular electricity system and with a potential impact on the southwest of France. As of that moment, Red Eléctrica de España, with the collaboration of REN and RTE, activates the general process for the restoration of the electricity supply based on “electrical islands” created around those generating units with black start capability.

In particular, the simulation consists of the task of restoring power in the following zones: Aragon-Catalonia, Galicia-León, Asturias-Cantabria, the Duero-France axis as well as the northern zone of the Portuguese system and the southern part of the French system. In addition, the communication protocol with the security forces and bodies, both State and those of the autonomous regions, is activated. This protocol is signed by the State Department for Security with the large national electricity operators.

After the initial creation of these “islands” and with the coordinated support of international interconnections, including the new direct current link between Santa Llogaia (Spain) and Baixas (France), the supply to nuclear power stations is secured and the ancillary services of the first combined-cycle generating units are activated. At 1:00pm the drill is considered finalised after having brought the system back online in a safe operating state, with all the implicated zones synchronized and reaching a high level of supply of consumption. 

The robustness and reliability of the Spanish electricity system, in which few incidents occur, limit the possibilities of operators gaining experience in handling especially complicated situations. For this reason, Red Eléctrica performs simulations, in order to improve the processes, the coordination of all the entities involved at both national and international level, and to reduce, as far as possible, the time necessary to restore the system.


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