PM Modi's bid for a blackout could trip power grids — Here's what happened the last two times India had a massive power outage
- India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for the country’s 1.3 billion citizens to switch off their lights on Sunday, April 5.
- State load power centres are concerned that the sudden drop in demand could trip the system.
- The last time India’s power grids failed, it left over 600 million people without electricity for more than 10 hours.
Unlike past blackouts in the country, this would be the first time that a blackout has been a result of surplus power supply rather than excess demand. State load dispatch centres (SLDCs) and transmission utilities are gearing up to deal with the sudden fluctuation in power supply.
The concern is that the peak power demand was already 25% lower on April 2 as compared to the a year ago at 125.81 Gigawatts. According to the Power System Operation Corporation Limited, the agency responsible for managing the country's electricity grid, power demand will only fall by around 10 to 12 Gigawatts and will have no breaking on the stability of the national grid.
"This sharp reduction in load and recovery, which is unprecedented, will need to be handled through hydro and gas resources," the company explained in a statement.
This isn’t the first time that the country is going through a voluntary blackout, officials told PTI. Such exercises have also been conducted in the during initiatives like ‘Earth Hour’.
However, this is the first time that all 1.3 billion people will be acting collectively, albeit voluntarily. The last time there was a blackout in India, most people were left without electricity for nearly 10 hours while others had to go over 24 hours without any power.
The two biggest blackouts of the 21st century
India’s two blackouts of 2012 are remembered as the the biggest blackouts of the decade. On power blackouts, which occurred on 30 and 31 July 2012, left over 600 million people — 9% of the world’s population — in the dark. Some parts of country faced outages that lasted as long as 10 hours, the other half was left with no electricity at all.
It started when one of the circuit breakers on the Bina-Gwalior line tripped on 29 July 2012. This line was linked to Agra-Bareilly transmission section — where the circults also tripped. From there on, it cascaded into power failures across the country’s power grids. In the affected states, all major power stations had to be shut down.
It took nearly 15 hours to restore 80% of the service.
The system failed again on 31 July due to a relay problem near the Taj Mahal. For a second consecutive day, power stations across the 22 affected stated were pulled offline to resolve the issue.
The blackout of 2001
While the blackouts of 2012 were two of the biggest that India has had to face, they’re not the only notable examples. In January 2001, another blackouts — primarily affecting north Indian states — left 230 million people without power.
The blackout was triggered when a substation in Uttar Pradesh failed. Power failures were subsequently reported in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Delhi — all the way to Jammu and Kashmir.
AdvertisementIt took the authorities over 16 hours to restore power. Meanwhile, more than 80 trains were stranded midway and businesses came to a standstill. The blackout reportedly resulted in a loss of $5 billion, according to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Considering that the the upcoming blackout will a voluntary choice, it’s unlikely that it will trigger any power grid failures. Nonetheless, in some states — like Maharashtra — the energy minister has urged citizens to reconsider Modi’s call to switch all the lights off.
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