Coronavirus | Modi’s blackout call puts power grid managers on high alert

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a nine-minute blackout at 9 p.m. on April 5 has raised concerns for power grid managers as they are gearing up for ensuring grid stability during the period.

State-run Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), which is responsible for integrated operation of the grid, is working towards ensuring there is no pressure on the grid due to the possible grid collapse and resultant blackout throughout the country. The Central Electricity Regulatory Authority (CERA) necessitates permissible range of the frequency band of 49.95-50.05 Hz for normal running of grid and if there is any discrepancy in the same with sudden increase or decrease in power flow, it might result into grid collapse.

Power sector under stress

“The entire power sector is currently under stress. The demand has already fallen significantly due to the ongoing lockdown. There could be some stress due to this blackout of few minutes, but since we know the time, we can plan for it well in advance,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.

According to Power Ministry data, power demand slipped over 25% to 125.81 GW on April 2 as compared to 168.32 GW on April 2, 2019 amid the lockdown to contain COVID-19 outbreak. According to the official, POSOCO has already informed all the five regional load despatch centres and national load despatch centre to ensure grid frequency is maintained even if demand drops suddenly during the blackout.

The ministry has also maintained that there will be no impact on the operation of the grid. An industry expert said that since it is a planned blackout, there will be enough time to manage the grids.

Exact timing

“This is unlike the blackout of 2012 which resulted in failure of the grid. Since they know the exact timing, it will be easy to manage the grid. Moreover, only households will switch off the lights. However, other establishments and street lights will continue to draw electricity during that time,” the expert added.

In July 2012, India had witnessed severe power outages due to collapse of northern and eastern electricity transmission grid.

An official from the Power Grid Corporation said though there would be some pressure, but it would not be too serious and the grid operators are well prepared to handle the sudden drop in power demand.

Mr. Modi has appealed to 130 crore citizens to light a lamp, candle or shine a mobile flashlight to dispel the darkness spread by coronavirus.

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