What is Blackout Crisis in India ? Explained

Why Blackout Crisis in News 

An energy crisis is approaching in some regions, notably Delhi and Punjab, as a result of a combination of circumstances such as excessive rainfall affecting coal movement and imported coal-based power plants producing less than half their capacity due to record-high rates.

Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi chief minister, recently stated on Saturday that if the Centre does not resolve the coal shortfall at power plants swiftly, the Capital may face power disruptions. After reports that over half of India's 135 coal-fired utilities, which supply more than half of the country's electricity, have fuel inventories that will last just under three days, Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

What is Blackout 

  • A power failure is referred to as a blackout. This indicates that electricity is not being supplied to a portion of a power system. A blackout occurs when all power in a certain service region is lost.
  • These occur without warning, endure for a set period of time, and are usually triggered by equipment failure or a combination of factors. 
  • Human error could potentially cause a blackout. A blackout causes a slew of issues, including significant economic losses, damage to power system equipment, and a broad impact on livelihood.

Data  on  Coal Crisis

  • According to data from the Central Electricity Authority of India, the country is experiencing an unprecedented scarcity of coal supplies in thermal plants, potentially resulting in a power outage.
  • On October 5, 106, or roughly 80%, of the 135 thermal plants that use coal for power generation were in the critical or supercritical stage, meaning they only had supplies for the next 6-7 days. 

Why does India have a coal shortage?
  • An unprecedented increase in demand for electricity as a result of the economy's recovery.
  • Heavy rains in coal mine areas during September 2021, negatively affecting coal production and despatch from mines.
  • Increase in imported coal prices to an unprecedented high level, resulting in a significant reduction in power generation from imported coal-based power plants, leading to increased reliance on domestic coal; failure to build adequate coal stocks before the onset of the Monsoon," the ministry said in a statement.

Power Consumption status 
  • Power usage in August-September has risen steadily from 106.6 BU per month in 2019 (a regular non-covid year) to 124.2 BU per month in 2021. 
  • The share of coal-fired electricity has also risen throughout this time, from 61.91 percent in 2019 to 66.35 percent in 2021. As a result, total coal consumption in August-September 2021 climbed by 18% over the same period in 2019.
  • The daily use of energy has surpassed 4 billion units per day, with coal-fired power generation meeting 65 to 70 percent of the demand, reflecting a growing reliance on coal.
Blackout History in The World?

  • The region of central Canada in the year 2003. More than 100 million people in Europe and the United States were affected by a catastrophic blackout.
  • On September 28, 57 million people in Italy were affected, and it took four hours to restore power.
  • On August 14, a 62GW power outage hit the northeastern United States and central Canada, affecting 50 million people and taking several days to restore. This occurred when a high-voltage power line in northern Ohio was severed by overgrown trees.
  • A 12-hour power outage caused by the failure of an Uttar Pradesh substation on January 2, 2001, led India's northern grid to collapse. This impacted the country's 226 million citizens.
  • On July 30th, 2012, there was another blackout. It was the greatest electricity outage in history, affecting 670 million people, or almost 9% of the world's population. The western interconnected electricity grid failed in many regions, affecting 22 states. Overloading and human mistake were to blame.
What steps is the government taking to address the crisis?
  • On August 27, the power minister formed a Core Management Team (CMT) to monitor the coal stock and ensure its equal distribution. MOP, CEA, POSOCO, Indian Railways, and Coal India Limited (CIL) representatives have been tasked with daily surveillance. 
  • On a daily basis, the CMT is actively monitoring and managing coal stocks, ensuring that follow-up activities with CIL and Indian Railways are taken to increase coal supply to power plants.
  •  The status was reviewed by the CMT at its meeting on October 9.

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