How did volcanoes cause power outages?

Volcanic ash does not have the same properties as ash from fires. ... Due to its interesting properties, volcanic ash can also cause thunderstorms and fires, and small deposits on power transmission equipment can short out transformers and power lines, resulting in power outages.
Volcanic eruptions are powerful natural events that have a strong impact on society. As populations grow and expand into volcanically active areas, their exposure and vulnerability to volcanic hazards also increases. Of all volcanic hazards, volcanic ash is most likely to affect lifelines because the affected area is large. Widespread dispersal of volcanic ash could lead to large-scale disruptions to vital infrastructure services, aviation and primary production. Electricity supply is arguably the most critical of modern infrastructure systems, especially given the reliance of other sectors on electricity to maintain functionality.
Power systems are vulnerable to many impacts during and after a volcanic ash fall, but the damage caused by ash-induced flashovers of insulators (accidental destructive discharges) is the most common. This paper investigates the vulnerability of power systems to volcanic ash by examining the impact on different sectors of the modern power system and exploring appropriate mitigation strategies. Simulated laboratory experiments using pseudo (synthetic) ash to verify the environmental, volcanic, and electrical parameters that have the greatest impact on conductivity, and thus the flashover mechanism in these experiments. While dry ash is highly resistant to the flow of electrical current, increasing moisture content, soluble salt loading, and compaction (bulk density) reduces this resistance, and,
Volcanic ash is an acute form of air pollution in areas downwind of active volcanoes. Laboratory experimental results in this paper show that insulator contamination (pozzolana) performance (dielectric strength) is primarily dependent on (1) the electrical conductivity of the pozzolan, and (2) the insulator material, profile (shape) and size. The composite polymer insulators tested here effectively minimize sinusoidal leakage current and partial discharge activity, and also exhibit higher fouling performance compared to their ceramic equivalents. However, regardless of the insulator material, once the bottom surface of the suspended insulator catchment area is contaminated with wet ash, the possibility of flashover increases significantly.

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