A dispute between two countries slowed clocks down across Europe by six minutes

Is it really 7AM, or is it 6:54?

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When nations fight things can get ugly, but did you know it can also slow down time? That’s what happened across several European countries, allegedly due to poor relations between Serbia and Kosovo — two Balkan nations with a long history of conflict. 

On Tuesday ENTSO-E, the organisation representing electricity transmission operators across 25 European countries, released a press statement saying that deviations in electrical grid were causing electrical clocks across Europe to run about six minutes slow.

But how? And why? And also… just how?

Electrical clocks keep time by relying on the frequency of the power system, unlike regular clocks which use a quartz crystal.

So when the frequency of the grid deviates from the mean value of 50Hz (meaning that when the frequency dips below that figure) the clocks adjust.

The clocks affected were mostly radio clocks, oven clocks, and clocks for programming heating systems. Clocks on mobile phones were unaffected.

So what caused the drop in the frequency?

The power deviations were originating in Serbia and Kosovo, and ENTSO-E claimed that political factors were causing them.

“The political disagreements opposing the Serbian and Kosovar authorities have led to the observed electricity impact,” they stated. “If no solution can be found at political level, a deviation risk could remain.”

The BBC reported that Kosovo did not meet the demand for energy, and that in such instances Serbia is legally obliged to step in to help top up. 

Serbia and Kosovo have a long and violent history of conflict, and Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. They were apparently in disagreement about energy supply, which caused missing energy amounts 113 GWh.

A follow-up statement from ENTSO-E on Thursday revealed the issue had been resolved, so clocks across Europe are back in sync.

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