The Need For Power: India Rocked By Outages

Posted on July 31, 2012

Underscoring the forecasts about the need for both dependable utility power and widely available standby power in many world markets, India has been rocked by a pair of power outages this week. According to Reuters and other news outlets, grids supplying electricity to half of India's 1.2 billion people collapsed on Tuesday, the second outage in as many days.

Reuters is reporting that the outage stretches from Assam, near China, to the Himalayas and the northwestern deserts of Rajasthan, the outage was the worst to hit India in more than a decade. Reuters added that the outage has embarrassed the Indian government, which has failed to build up enough power capacity to meet soaring demand. Thus an expected surge in power plant and electric power generation capability can be expected to follow.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has vowed to fast-track stalled power and infrastructure projects as well as introduce free market reforms aimed at reviving India's flagging economy, Reuters said. Only about 40 percent of power was back up by mid-day Tuesday and electricity had not been restored to all of the sweltering capital of New Delhi. India reportedly suffers a peak-hour power deficit of about 10 percent.

The problem has been made worse by a weak monsoon in agricultural states such as wheat-belt Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in the Ganges plain. With less rain to irrigate crops, more farmers resort to electric pumps to draw water from wells, Reuters said.

India's electricity distribution and transmission is mostly state run, with private companies operating in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Less than a quarter of generation is private nationwide. More than half the country's electricity is generated by coal, with hydro power and nuclear also contributing.