2nd Day of Power Failures Cripples Wide Swath of India

(…..) India’s power sector has long been considered a hindrance to the country’s economic prospects. Part of the problem is access; more than 300 million people in India still have no electricity. But India’s power generation capacity has not kept pace with growth. Demand outpaced supply by 10.2 percent in March, government statistics show. In recent years, India’s government has set ambitious goals for expanding power generation capacity, while new plants have come online, more have faced delays, because of bureaucratic entanglements, environmental concerns or other problems. India depends on coal for more than half of its power generation, but production has barely increased, with some power plants idled for lack of coal. Many analysts have long predicted that India’s populist politics were creating an untenable situation in the power sector because government is selling electricity at prices lower than the cost of generating it. India’s public distribution utilities are now in deep debt, which makes it harder to encourage investment in the power sector. Tuesday’s blackout struck some analysts as evidence of a system in distress. “It’s like a day of reckoning coming nearer,” said Rajiv Kumar, secretary general of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. India’s major business centers of Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad were not affected by the blackout, since they are in southern and central parts of country that proved to be immune from failure. Phillip F. Schewe, a specialist in electricity and author of the book “The Grid: A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World,” said the demand pressures on India’s system could set off the sort of breakdown that occurred on Tuesday. In cases when demand outstrips the power supply, the system of circuit breakers must be activated, often manually, to reduce some of the load in what are known as rolling blackouts. But if workers cannot trip those breakers fast enough, Schewe said, a failure could cascade into a much larger blackout. Some experts attributed excessive demand in part to the lower levels of monsoon rains falling on India this year, which have reduced capacity of hydroelectric power and forced many farmers to turn to electric pumps to draw water from underground. It was unclear how long it would take to restore power fully in areas still lacking it or if the problem would recur this week. In Lucknow, capital of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Sachendra Raj said his private hospital was using two large rented generators to power air-conditioners and dialysis machines. “It’s a very common problem,” he said of power failures. “It’s part and parcel of our daily life.” Meanwhile, about 200 coal miners in the state of West Bengal were stranded for several hours in underground mines when the electricity to the elevators was shut off, according to reports in the Indian news media. “We are waiting for the restoration of power to bring them up through the lifts, but there is no threat to their lives or any reason to panic,” said Nildari Roy, an official at Eastern Coalfields Ltd., mine’s operator. Most of the miners had been rescued by late evening, news agencies said. Ramachandra Guha, an Indian historian, said the blackout was only latest evidence of government dysfunction. On Monday, he noted, 32 people died in a train fire in Tamil Nadu State, a reminder that the nation’s railway system, like the electrical system, is underfinanced and in dire need of upgrading. “India needs to stop strutting on the world stage like it’s a great power,” Mr. Guha said, “and focus on its deep problems within.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/world/asia/power-outages-hit-600-million-in-india.html  

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Consultor Internacional

4 Responses to 2nd Day of Power Failures Cripples Wide Swath of India

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: I always thought that Brazil resembles India. Continent size countries, largely poor-uneducated population and closed markets. Both countries seek to modernize their economies and compete in the global economy. Brazil’s approach is being done via economic integration with its neighboring countries in South America. Today, Venezuela became the fifth full member of MERCOSUR, the integration and trade bloc led by Brazil. It remains to be seen whether Brazil’s economic integration approach works or not. India, on the other hand, is developing a special relations with the US while increasing trade and economic links with neighboring countries, particularly China. As far as the bilateral relation US-India, there is one question that bothers India’s leadership: Can a special relation with the US helps India to become a developed economy faster? after all, Israel is the only country that became developed and prosperous under the aegis of special relation with the US.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/world/asia/power-outages-hit-600-million-in-india.html

  2. India opened its medal tally at the London Olympics 2012 with Gagan Narang winning the bronze on Monday in the 10-meter air rifle shooting event. The win has been accompanied by several setbacks, though, since the Olympics opened on Friday. The men’s doubles tennis team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna faced a crushing straight sets defeat Tuesday, which also saw the ouster of the badminton mixed doubles team of Jwala Gutta and V. Diju from the competition. The men’s field hockey team lost to the Netherlands (3-2) on Monday and will be playing New Zealand in a preliminary round match Wednesday. Here’s an update on the rest of India’s Olympic medal hopefuls: (…..)

    http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/indias-troubled-olympic-odyssey/

  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: India –the subcontinent – is the most populous and dysfunctional country in the world. The Asian nation faces a major challenge to become a developed country. Namely, reform the political system and transform an inept and corrupt bureaucracy into an efficient one. So far, political attempts to achieve that have failed miserably. The US diplomacy — that loves to tackle missions impossible — is doing a Houdini type of diplomatic act. That is, to market India as a show case of DEMOCRACY to counter China’s successful economic model. Of course, India is not helping Foggy Bottom. It is like foreign teams attempting to win against the US-NBA basketball team in the London Olympic Games 2012.

    http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/indias-troubled-olympic-odyssey/

  4. (…..) To realize the full potential of electrification, Northeast Asian economies must develop a comprehensive integrated energy infrastructure, which would help mitigate supply chain disruptions, improve the reliability of energy supply, and lower production costs. Meanwhile, the complementary development of a transnational energy policy will enhance regional economic cooperation and strengthen energy security (…..) The planned Russian-South Korean pipeline through North Korea offers a similar opportunity to ease political conflict in the region. Additionally, although oil pipelines between Russia and China have already been opened, new gas pipelines would be beneficial. These and other potential trade deals would solidify economic cooperation in Northeast Asia and build a foundation for further integration. Over time, an Asian super grid connecting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with India, China, Taiwan, Mongolia, South Korea, Japan, and Russia might become feasible. A concept originally pioneered in 2011 by Masayoshi Son, the founder of SoftBank Mobile, a super grid is a huge energy platform that can utilize a diversified basket of renewable and traditional energy sources. It would allow countries to maximize efficiencies by trading in electrical capacity and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar across national borders. To develop a super grid and other projects, substantive discussions must begin immediately. Private-sector companies should play a central role, because they are key actors in developing partnerships and transnational energy cooperation. At the recent Japanese-Russian Far East Forum, which took place in Vladivostok in early May, parties discussed gas pipelines and grid connections. Several Russian academics even proposed creating a Northeast Asian energy security forum. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit of 2012, which will be held in Vladivostok this September, provides an ideal forum to discuss these issues further and begin involving other nations and private-sector entities with an interest in the region. At the 2011 APEC summit, Russian officials recommended energy as a primary initiative for discussion at next year’s meeting. Pursuing this agenda can begin the cooperation needed to ensure Asia has access to the energy it needs to drive economic growth and stability far into the future.

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137806/nobuo-tanaka/asias-tangled-power-lines

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