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By Jared Anderson
Even on a good day, millions of people in India are without access to electricity or deal with power outages on a fairly regular basis. However, the massive power failures that hit the country during the last days of July were striking in how widespread they were.
AOL Energy asked George Currie, Asia Pacific Managing Director for Black & Veatch's management consulting business, what could have been done to prevent or mitigate the grid failures.
Currie: Considering the rapid increase in India's power demand, the fast-track addition of generation capacity, reduction of transmission and distribution losses, and improved financing of the power sector by more timely collection of dues by electric utilities could have had a significant impact in avoiding or mitigating this problem. To address these challenges quickly and efficiently will require the implementation of global expertise and best practices.
India's economic growth creates challenges for the grid that can be addressed via a better regulated, financed and enforced wholesale supply market. A more efficient market would encourage states or utilities to manage issues before the situation arrives at a critical juncture like this one, where the whole grid goes offline. For example, effective, active pricing of a wholesale supply market could promote better overall grid management because the states or utilities could be priced into introducing smaller, and planned, supply interruptions.
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In his coverage of the India blackout last week, SGN News Editor Doug Peeples asked if smart grids could have helped. The question generated a considerable amount of Talk Back from readers. You can read it all here and add your own comments.
The concept of power exchanges is not new in India and lately states requiring more power can purchase it at merchant power rates, though at significantly higher rates. Unfortunately, the issue is that the penalty mechanism for withdrawing too much power under the current system is not strictly enforced and often states find it cheaper to pay the penalty of drawing more power rather than buying merchant power. In addition, transmission wheeling bottlenecks do not always guarantee that a state will be able to actually receive the merchant power even if they are willing to pay for it.
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