Addressing the blackouts in India: one company's perspective

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By Jared Anderson

AOL Energy

 

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.

In your view, what will this mean for the country going forward? Will we see a rush to build additional coal plants?

Currie: India is already in the process of expanding its coal generation capacity but many of these projects are delayed due to a number of complex issues. These include coal and gas fuel supply bottlenecks, delays in permitting to add new generation capacity, project construction delays, difficulties in bankability of power purchase agreement (PPA) structures, and credit issues for state-owned electric utilities as off-takers. As these issues are resolved, it will require strong project management and execution skills to successfully design, build and integrate large coal and gas-fired power plants.

Might we see a spike in diesel consumption to power generators?

Currie: A lot of businesses already rely on backup power generation through diesel generators due to the unreliability of grid supplied power. Until the quantity and quality of utility-supplied power improves, continued growth in power demand is likely to result in increasing diesel consumption by the private sector.

 

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