The “State run power company” in India is having a little problem. Most of Northern India is in the dark…
Normalcy would take a few more hours, officials said. More than 8,000MW capacity of the country’s largest electricity producer NTPC, spread across six power plants, was hit.
Shinde said, “The fault is not known as yet … somewhere near Agra, a failure has happened. We will inquire (into) that”. However, Delhi power minister Haroon Yusuf blamed neighbouring states for over drawing electricity from the grid.
Services of about 300 trains, including Rajdhani Express, Shatbadi Express and Duronto, were severely affected.
Shinde announced a three-member panel to look into the power failure, the worst since 2002.
The grid failure not only impacted more than one fourth of the country’s population but also several industrial areas and the information technology services in Gurgaon and Noida in the NC
Their stock market has gone up today, so this is more “business as usual” than “catastrophe”.
I first saw this on CNBC where they had film of the streets and a presentation about how loads of folks have their own generators. (They showed an iconic Honda Generator like mine ;-) It would seem that some of the businesses even have banded together to provide their own power via pooling resources and buying larger Diesel generators.
Why mention this?
Couple of reasons.
First off, we have an example of what folks do when the electric grid becomes unstable. They adapt. So as we embrace “the green dream” and the grid goes unstable, expect lots more generator sales and more folks going DIY on power production. ( I’ve already ‘lived that dream’ under Governor Gray (out) Davis; so I already own a Honda generator…)
Second, as “why” is unknown, there is the interesting question of “Surges and solar things? Or just a screw-up?”.
Then there is “600,000,000 people without power? What happens?”. Per that Times of India link, they have about 60% restored at the time of the article; but CNBC was not as positive. So which is it? At any rate, there are a lot of folks pushing the “poor” of India away from kerosene lamps and toward electric lights. Those folks are already prepared for failure and instability in the “advanced” part of the infrastructure. As the computing centers are hit, too, it will be interesting to see how all the “outsourced to India” things handle it. (One presumes they have backup Diesels… but…). For example, many folks use IBM professional services. At a client site I was often interacting with folks in India who did the real work (and with the guy in the USA who put an American face on it). So we get to find out how much backup generator fuel they have ;-)
So that’s where we’re at. Indian Rupee has already taken a steep dive on other economic factors over the last months. (If you recall, I bailed on Indian holdings some time back when they announced some central government controls on investments and repatriation.) Now the power grid has destabilized. (One hopes it was just from a mechanical failure of some sort, but: “Hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”) We get to see how India handles this as it has modernized a bit since the last major outage (but is still more prepared for outages than most western nations). And we get to see how to be prepared for our own “Green Future” as our grid increasingly destabilizes.
Sidebar: Destabilization is not a pejorative or hypothetical. It is an essential consequence of the massive shutdown of coal fired power plants in the USA (and Nuclear in UK) mixed with ever more wind and solar sources that are inherently unreliable / dispatchable. When everyone comes home to turn on the TV, put dinner on the stove early, and watch the Olympics on a Giant Projection TV set, you simply must have power you can ‘dispatch’ on command. That can’t be done with solar or wind. So we are removing our dispatchable power, adding inherently unreliable and non-dispatchable power, and hoping at the problem. The ratio of ‘hot standby’ or dispatchable power to sporadic or unreliable power matters. The less excess dispatchable over sporadic you have, the more likely just such a “glitch” will bring down the whole grid. Add in that these “Green Power” sources are distributed all over the grid, putting in random surges and sags as the wind or clouds shift, and it will eventually hit a crossover point where on some sag the demand exceeds supply and large producers ( nuke, coal, whatever) have to drop their grid connect to avoid damage. Then we get to find out how unstable the REST of the grid has become as that dropout can cascade to other plants groaning under the surprise load. Basically, it is an inherent mathematical property of the grid and dispatch vs non-dispatch power sources. Just an Engineering fact, not a political or emotional thing. Not an imagined thing, a fundamental property of grid connected power generation.
While not a particularly important event, especially in a “Third World” country. But still time for us to pay attention to our own needs. I, for one, will not become dependent for my transportation on an increasingly expensive and unreliable power source.
Al Jazeera is reporting that now, in day two of the outage, much of the area has had power restored, but many States are still having “issues”… One of the interesting bits: They have a story on the drought in N. India causing more demand for power to run pumps as part of the problem. Also of interest, they are asking “Can the Government fix this?” Given that the Government runs the power grid, that’s a big question…
So I’d suggest folks who are ‘without backup’ electric supply consider some kind of Preparedness Plan for that. It can be as simple as a 200 Watt inverter that plugs into your car cigarette lighter outlet, or it can be a stand alone backup generator, or it can be a box of candles and an outdoor BBQ ( Your car IS a backup generator. Just a self mobile one with a large tank. ;-).
As our governments have started down a path to electricity instability, it is very important to adapt to that.
FWIW, the Amazon search on 200 Watt inverters shows them as being about $22 to $40 or so. So pretty darned cheap. In a power outage it is enough to keep your laptop, cellphone, radio, etc. charged; or to run a small TV set and a CFL or LED light. My version of minimal emergency power lives in my backpack when traveling.
I expect we will be seeing more of these grid collapse events over time, and in more geographies, until folks eventually learn (again…) that political decisions are typically very bad Engineering decisions (and also pretty bad Economic decisions).