Glenn Reynolds and David Kaspar are making much of the European blackout from last weekend.
Too much, really. Yes, 10 million people were affected, but depending on the specific area power came back on in 30 minutes to a couple of hours. If I hadn’t learned about it from TV, I would never have known that there was an outage at all. It was a different story when I was in Italy in 2003 and half the country lost power for quite some time. It was hard to miss that.
There is an investigation on the causes of this latest blackout, so far nobody is sure what did it. It looks as if those areas that did have large power stations of their own were spared, while a lot of those that only have power lines running through them had blackouts. Maybe we need to decentralize power generation to help avoid outages in the future.
Either way, more nuclear power won’t do the trick alone. This July was even hotter than the extremly hot July of 2003, some large rivers carried so little water that a number of nuclear power plants almost had to be shut down, due to a lack of cooling water. So decentralisation looks like the way to go, especially since there have been some reports that Islamists are thinking about hitting European and American power lines. Easy targets, and a lot of damage with relatively little effort.