What is probably the worst power outage India’s history had has taken out electricity for fully half the country; This is apparently the “second outage” in two days. I’m not entirely sure how they count outages, however. I’m thinking it is more like a big giant outage that then got much smaller then got much (much much) bigger.

There have been all kinds of secondary effects; minors trapped in mines, people succumbing to fire in trains.

The reason for the outage is said to be incorrect levels of draw down from the grid by certain provinces. The ancient and out of date electric grids used in countries like India and the United States require a near perfect balance between production and demand, or this kind of thing can happen. (Go read this book to learn about that.)

In addition, irrigation with ground water reserves has been required due to climate change induced drought in some regions. This uses a great deal of electricity to run pumps.

Comments

  1. #1 Ian Kemmish
    July 31, 2012

    The BBC reports that on Monday the northern grid failed, but engineers restored power by the evening. The second failure affected the northern, north-eastern and eastern grids at lunchtime on Tuesday.

    I think most operators, and most countries’ presses, would regard that as two separate incidents.

  2. #2 Zippy the Pinhead
    July 31, 2012

    “minors” trapped in mines. Did you mean “miners” or do you mean there are under-aged workers or maybe the little tykes are visiting their parents at work in the mines?

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    July 31, 2012

    You people are nit-picking while the GLOBAL INFRASTRUCTURE IS COLLAPSING!!!

  4. #4 lyle
    July 31, 2012

    Any electric grid requires a real time balance between supply and demand. There is no way to store energy on the grid in large scale use for short term issues (long term pumped storage works) It is reported that India has been underinvesting in its electric grid since independence, and that 30 to 50% of the electricity goes unmetered. Also Indian coal mines are a mess.

  5. #5 Alan
    August 2, 2012

    AGW is a real problem and heat waves have been known to knock out power grids. However I think your drawing a long bow linking AGW to this incident.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    August 2, 2012

    Alan, you are overreaching. AGW is responsible for increased drought world wide, and regions of India have been thus affected. The people reporting on this tell us that one of the extra draws is the demand from electric pumps for irrigation to compensate for the drought. Therefore, the connection is reasonable.

    This does not obviate other connections at all, nor does am I saying that it is the most important connection, but it is one.

    Cooling and heating demands generally are the biggest draw on power though I’m not sure of the ratio in India. But I have a feeling there are one or two air conditioners there.

    AGW causes India black out may have been a long bow. (Hadn’t heard the expression before, BTW). What I saw, though was a global drought and a global heatwave and then this event in India being discussed pretty much in isolation of AGW. So I made the link. Not only did I call it a link, not a primary casuse, but I did not emphasize it in the post, I put it at the end of the post, and I put it in parenthesis.

    I’m pretty sure I drew just the right bow on this.

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