Monday, July 30, 2012

Blackout or Blacked out? Another Electricity crisis in India

Today India won one bronze in 10m air rifle through Narang. Olympics is going on in UK, so I just went to see the Guardian site. Interestingly, one of the important news items which decorated their front page even in the middle of Olympics was one from India.

"India power outage hits 350m people". Which is many times more than Guardian's own country’s - UK - population. One of the worst - as of now!!! - blackout to hit India in more than a decade affected 8 North Indian states – including national capital - for more than eight hours. Somebody assumed that all the people in these states have access to electricity!!! Even though a blackout is a not a normal thing we can forgive the administration for a blackout once in a while, after all, machines too will fail.

According to International Energy Agency's report around 25% of population doesn’t have any access to electricity in 2009 (electricity consumption average was 96kWh in rural and 288 kWh in urban areas according to the report). Their projections says that the share of Indian population without access to electricity in 2030 will be 10% (In Africa it will be 42%, China 0%, Latin America 2%, Middle East 2% and other developing countries 16%)  - World Energy Outlook - 2011

Well, forget about numbers; who knows what will happen in 2030. But there are some interesting facts mentioned in the Guardian Report,

"Punjab has just banned air conditioning units in all government offices and from 1 August will cut office hours to 8am to 2pm with no lunch."

"There was outrage in June when the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, decreed that all malls were to shut at 7pm in a bid to save power."

The best one for the last,

"On Saturday, a cat leapt into a Delhi grid station and was electrocuted, causing a fire that left parts of east Delhi without power for 24 hours."

The problem is not limited to eight states in the northern grid or a cat electro ducting the grid. Electricity crisis is a country wide phenomenon and it’s affecting manufacturing, services and other industries severely. It’s a known fact that, our distribution companies are already running with debts as high as Himalayas. Supply seldom meets the demand. As of now through load shedding and reducing the amount of power to rural areas and through other non-innovative means we are trying to meet the demand. Asking industries to shut down their production in order to reduce the power demand is suicidal but we are doing that also. But how long we can sustain ourselves in this way?

If the government can't generate enough power and reduce the wastage there will be much more black-outs and each time papers will say the worst power crisis in a decade or the worst power crisis after independence.

Update on August 01, 2012

Electricity grids - Northern, Eastern, North-Eastern - collapsed again, this time it affected more than 600mn people and blacked out majority of India states.

Train services disrupted, traffic signals turned off leading to traffic jams, in NE India more than 200 miners were trapped underground because the lift were not working, and the list is endless.

For more information read my articles on power sector
1. Discom crisis and Indian power sector
2. Jaitapur Nuclear power plant, good for India?
3. Nuclear energy - still the way to go forward, even after Fukushima


1. The Guardian: India power outage hits 350m people
2. World Energy Outlook - 2011
3. Power crisis holds up irrigation projects
4. Centre blames State for power shortage

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