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Power Hardware News

Half of India Without Electricity As Power Grid Crisis Deepens 413

Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that a massive power breakdown has hit India for a second day running, leaving more than half the country without power as the northern and eastern grids have both collapsed. The breakdown has hit a large swathe of the country including Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan states in the north, and West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand in the east. Power cuts are a common occurrence in Indian cities because of a fundamental shortage of power and an aging grid. The chaos caused by such cuts has led to protests and unrest on the streets but the collapse of an entire grid is rare — the last time the northern grid failed was in 2001. India's demand for electricity has soared in recent years as its economy has grown but its power infrastructure has been unable to meet the growing needs. In the weeks leading up to the failure, extreme heat had caused power use to reach record levels in New Delhi and on July 30 a line feeding into the Agra-Bareilly transmission section, the 400-kV Bina-Gwalior line, tripped, triggering the collapse. The second grid collapse occurred on 31 July as the Northern, Eastern and North-Eastern power grids of India tripped/failed causing power blackout in 19 states across India. The crisis was allegedly triggered after four states — Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and UP — drew much more than their assigned share of power."
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Half of India Without Electricity As Power Grid Crisis Deepens

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  • by jkflying ( 2190798 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @08:55AM (#40827381)

    It's not all or nothing. If a lot of people had some form of distributed power it would mean less has to be produced at a central location and then transmitted for long distances, thus easing the burden on the ageing infrastructure.

  • by Rooked_One ( 591287 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @08:57AM (#40827403) Journal
    your chances of getting an english speaking representative who's name isn't either Jay or Mike.

    I know that the people making the big bucks will just take the hit in customer satisfaction over this blackout, but maybe it will make them realize you can't offshore everything.
  • by madhatter256 ( 443326 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:02AM (#40827447)

    It goes to show how "developed" India is, when it actually has a sewage crisis, water crisis and now this.

    Kolkata's sewage system is literally collapsing in on itself.

    The modern India we see on TV is held up by the rickety old infrastructure dating back to colonial times.

    India needs to stop funneling their money from into their pockets and back into the streets.

    They can be light years ahead of neighboring countries if they concentrate their efforts into massive public works projects.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:05AM (#40827477)

    So your reactor no one has built and used is ok for important stuff but well developed and currently in use wind power is too much of a gamble for important uses?

    I think we can all feel free to ignore your opinions on this topic based on that kind of nonsense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:05AM (#40827483)
    As someone who can't tell WHO IS from WHOSE, you're in no position to make fun of other people's english.
  • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:06AM (#40827493) Journal

    Doctor Matt seems to have created his account very recently. He also seems to have found and be very excited by an awful lot of things that Microsoft Research have been saying. One or two of these things are even relevant to this thread.

    Not that I wish to suggest anything but... perhaps Doctor Matt might wish to consider whether he has any particular relationships with Microsoft that might usefully be disclosed? :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:10AM (#40827543)

    Sounds alot like the USA.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:12AM (#40827571)

    The reason most people would not move to these areas is due to the poverty not because the people there are black.

  • by Bysshe ( 1330263 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:14AM (#40827589)
    This argument also counts for developed countries in a lot of cases as well:

    Power is a commodity. This makes the cheapest provider of it the winner. Current technologies are such that coal is still (often by far) the cheapest source of power. In addition it is one of the few base-load options out there (others being biofuel, nuclear, hydoelectric). With these two features of coal, wind is often times too expensive an option for a country such as India and with an aging grid, the power fluctuations from other sources like wind and solar will often overwhelm the infrastructure.

    Technology adoption is rarely the only barrier to a solution. Cost plays a major role and when you're subsistence-living you don't give a shit about whether coal will pollute your environment because you're more worried about where your next meal will come from.

    Some will also argue that local power like wind requires less infrastructure. This isn't entirely true. You still need to run the wires from the local power station to the residences. You can save on long-distance transmission lines but considering you need those anyways for the base-load... that's a bit of a non argument.

    In general, solar, wind etc are first world solutions where we have the option of paying a bit more to make up for the difference in costs involved in producing the cleaner and more local power and even then... these projects have a pretty high fail rate (Solar fields in Spain, Wind farms in Hawai'i).
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:20AM (#40827659) Journal

    It will actually be interesting to hear if any call centers that claimed Serious Redundancy And Stuff were a tad... optimistic... and will find customers going elsewhere in the near future.

    It's not like backup power is total rocket surgery; but things that cost money all the time and only prove useful occasionally have a nasty habit of being neglected...

  • by Stirling Newberry ( 848268 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:21AM (#40827671) Homepage Journal
    Excluding externalized costs, yet, including them, no. Economics always sides with dumping the problem on someone else, that is, until that some one else gets angry enough to do something very uneconomical about it.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:24AM (#40827721) Journal

    I had a personal experience involving a company that had to give their workers special "bonuses" during every crunch time or they would just basically lay down on the job.

    Sounds fair to me. Why should they work extra hard to reach your deadline if they're not going to get any extra benefit from meeting the deadline? Not everyone sells their soul to their employer like we have to in America, nor should they. If you don't like it, plan better so that there is no crunch time.

  • by MysteriousPreacher ( 702266 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:43AM (#40827959) Journal

    Probably off being just as dumb as those people who think the private sector to be the magic bullet that fixes everything.

  • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:49AM (#40828043) Homepage Journal

    I had a personal experience involving a company that had to give their workers special "bonuses" during every crunch time

    You mean getting paid for overtime? Oh my god, what kind of savages were you dealing with??!?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:00AM (#40828197)

    Oh my... of course living in the West is nowhere like living in a third world country.

    But this cannot be an excuse for the state of things in our nations. There has to be a better way. There has to be less corruption and greed.

    Additionally, I do not believe that the current energy management is the pinnacle of what mankind is able to achieve in terms of planning skills. It's a mess if you think about it. Nothing has fundamentally changed over the last 50 years.

  • No kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:10AM (#40828321)

    The US's infrastructure is not all latest, greatest, state of the art, but then nowhere is (since it is stuff you put in to last) but it is way ahead of India. The problem I think is people hear stories about US infrastructure problems, because there are, and because we want to look out and identify problems before they become a crisis. However that doesn't equate to the same kind of problems that India has.

    As a good example: India has daily blackouts in much of the nation (seriously, you can see another post in this thread on it and it isn't hard to find more info). This isn't something new, or something that happens only occasionally, this is part of regular life.

    I really think that the people who live in the US and like to hate on how bad it is need to do some traveling. Not to tourist hotspots, but to regular cities and villages in foreign countries. See how people live the world over. It can give you more appreciation for just how good we have it. Things are not perfect in the US, far from it, but that doesn't mean that everything is shit, as many people seem to believe.

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:30AM (#40828521)

    Taking that a step further, there are a lot of appliances in a house that don't take that much wattage. A 400-500 watt solar panel system, a MPPT controller [1], a bank of deep-cycle AGM batteries, and a decent inverter could keep low wattage appliances going, such as electric shavers, smartphone chargers, laptop chargers, perhaps a TV or audio system.

    There are a lot of RV boondockers who can run their whole rig, everything but the air conditioner, microwave, and engine with a similar setup.

    Of course, the higher current appliances will still need grid access, such as the washer and dryer, dishwasher, electric stove, HVAC system, but it will help deal with the low draw items.

    Since most chargers use small amounts of current even when nothing is plugged in or the device is fully charged, it wouldn't hurt to have them on their own circuit that is off a battery bank and not on the grid. As a bonus, with a good PSW inverter, even if there are surges and spikes from the power grid, those items wouldn't be affected.

    [1]: Yes, a MPPT controller is more expensive than a PWM controller, but you can use higher voltage solar panels which helps with electricity loss over the wires. It also helps ensure the best charging voltage for the battery bank.

  • Re:Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:41AM (#40828673) Journal

    Hey, I quite like Microsoft. They're not perfect, but Win7 is good enough that it's the only OS on my PC. I own all three video game consoles and, of the three, the 360 gets the most use. If you're looking for a rabid anti-MSer, then it's not me.

    But an amusingly blatant shill is an amusingly blatant shill.

  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:41AM (#40828677)

    Wind power does not work for base line power. It is inherently unstable and unreliable. The speed of wind changes all the time, turbines are easily damaged by storms, and large calm periods are not infrequent. A nuclear powered heat engine IS fundamentally stable, reliable, and impervious to all but the worst man made or natural disasters. I am not suggesting there is no place for wind power. I am suggesting that there is no place for wind power in establishing a base line level of power. Wind is fine as a supplement, and very useful for use in stored energy applications where reliability is aggregated over time. For base line power production, nuclear and solar are the cleanest, safest, most reliable, most stable power plants available.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @12:42PM (#40830211) Homepage Journal

    Yeah. Americans need to take a good look. This is the United States in a few years if the power companies have their way. Want to know why they're so heavily behind forced conservation measures? It's because our power grid is aging, and is not growing at a rate that keeps up with the growth of demand. Worse, instead of improving it as a nonprofit or government-owned utility would, they're giving excess profits to their stockholders while pressuring everyone to do stupid hacks like adding emergency cutoffs on air conditioning so they can let your house hit a hundred degrees to save power, forcing everyone to use those crappy CFL bulbs, paying people to replace their old refrigerators, and other temporary bandaids that merely delay the inevitable, but don't really solve the problem.

    What this proves is that for-profit corporations simply cannot be trusted to maintain such a critical resource. Their natural tendency is to operate on razor-thin margins to turn maximum profit. When they screw up, the government ends up declaring a state of emergency and paying for the losses, so having that infrastructure in private hands is basically nothing more than government subsidizing a bunch of wealthy fat cats on Wall Street. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of paying Wall Street billionaires, the government instead spent that money to actually improve the power grid?

    We need to convince the U.S. government that this is an important problem to solve now, before we have more widespread blackouts that take out a huge swath of the U.S. like the one last September in southern California, Arizona, and parts of Mexico. The only way that's going to happen is if our government steps up to the plate and builds a government-owned and government-managed power infrastructure. What we need is the nationwide equivalent of TVA, but with a network of modern, superconducting power lines crisscrossing the country.

  • by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @12:55PM (#40830413)

    And I DARE a pussy like you to come and confront me.... 45cal to the chest will change your mind. "I was scared for my life! he came after me into my yard!"

    My god, what trash. Only trash talks big like that.

  • by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:43PM (#40831159)

    Firstly, I hope you are not equating wind and solar with small-scale. Very large wind and solar projects are possible with today's technology. See European offshore wind development. See various Sahara solar project plans.

    Secondly, the potential for large, grid scale storage has not even begun to be tapped. e.g. Underwater airbags, molten salt storage, etc etc etc not to mention the flexibility of small-scale Lithium-chemistry batteries or sodium-chemistry batteries added to the local electricity distribution system.

    Thirdly, low-loss high-voltage DC transmission, and probably in the near future long-distance superconducting transmission lines, have the potential to completely change the use cases for non-dispatchable intermittent renewable generation, allowing power to be switched around an entire continent from where the generation is high to where the load is high.

    Fourthly, we have not started to take advantage of "negawatt" generators; large scale pooled demand response technology.

    All these things together, with bi-directional power flow the norm, and energy hubs instead of conventional substations, will lead to a much higher potential use for distributed and intermittent renewable energy sources. The technology building blocks are either here already, or within a decade of production usability, so it would be best to start right now changing the plans and assumptions, and, with carbon taxes, the economic incentives, to accommodate these new green and more stochastically reliable power technologies.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."