Case Study: Power Grid Failure
For two consecutive days millions of people in India suffered from a crippling power crisis after power grids failed in many parts of the country.
It was one the biggest power outages in the last decade that even brought essential services like the railways and the metro trains to a grinding halt.
Why are the grids failing time and again? Here’s a look at the system and its weak points.
The power generating stations are hooked onto an interconnected network of transmission lines and substations. These generating stations supply electricity through these transmission lines. The companies responsible for distribution take the power coming ...view middle of the document...
5 Hz to 50.2 Hz is the permissible band for grid operations in India. It is supposed that a bigger grid is more stable than smaller ones.
Reasons of a Grid Collapse
Grids collapse due to two basic reasons. One is the failure of the equipment, like it happened a decade ago in 2002 when the northern grid collapsed, due to fog/pollution. The second trigger is power suppliers drawing excessive power from the grid. Which results in the balance of power generation and supply goes haywire with a cascading effect. This is probably the reason why the grid failed this time.
There are various reasons why an excessive withdrawal of power happens. Weather phenomenon and change in sudden climate is one reason. Most of them cannot be controlled physically but can be minimized by keeping a close check.
There is a penalty clause: ‘Unscheduled Interchange’ rate - whenever the discoms draws more than necessary power, the UI rate goes up as a penalty.
Northern states of India, like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Jammu Kashmir, have been found to be habitual violators. The UI penalty has – as is evident - not been able to deter the violators. Presence of heavy industries and fast growing cities has necessitated the need for more power. But the production has not been able to cope up with the required distribution.
Power Grids in India
India has five electricity grids - Northern, Eastern, North Eastern, Southern and Western. All of them are inter-connected, except the Southern grid.