Explained: Causes of Three Recent Major Blackouts and What Is Being Done in Response

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


While the power grid is designed to have an adequate supply of electricity generating capacity under hot and cold conditions well above or below average, weather in recent years has approached the bounds of anticipated conditions, in both magnitude and duration. Extreme weather can result in unanticipated levels of electricity demand and correlated power plant outages driven by extreme temperatures. How power system planners account for the changing role of wind and solar also plays an important role in the power grid's ability to supply enough electricity during extreme weather. In response to recent significant outages, power system planners have been focusing on ensuring methods to evaluate reliability during periods of "net peak demand" consider availability of renewable resources and capture the impact of extreme weather on power plants of all types. In particular, there is significant emphasis on the ability of natural gas-fueled power plants to operate during periods of extreme cold temperatures. The impact of extreme weather on the need to change planning processes is demonstrated in this fact sheet that discusses three significant outages that occurred in recent years.
Original languageAmerican English
PublisherNational Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-6A40-87308


  • power grid
  • reliability
  • renewable energy
  • resource adequacy


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