Indian grid system is designed to operate at a frequency of 50 Hz (or cycles per second). A sharp drop below this level or a sharp rise above this level will hamper the grid stability. If the fall or rise is too sharp, it can set off a series of tripping of transmission lines resulting in outage of generating stations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested Indians to turn off their lights at 9 PM on April 5, and light a candle or a lamp to dispel the darkness spread by coronavirus and show a collective resolve to defeat the disease. While the symbolic action to ward off Covid-19’s darkness is laudable, there are concerns about the national grid potentially collapsing.
Since the nationwide lockdown, electricity demand has already come down by 30% from its peak.
The safeguard duty imposed in July 2018 was pegged at 25% for the first year, 20% for the next six months, and 15% for the last six months ending in July this year. The idea was to somewhat level the playing field for Indian manufacturers.
The letter also said that the National Load Dispatch Centre has worked out the procedures for grid balancing during the period which they will be communicating to the Regional and State Load Dispatch Centres separately.
“Prime Minister has appealed to the people to voluntarily switch off their lights between 9 pm to 9:09 pm on the April 5. Some apprehensions have been expressed that this may cause instability in the grid and fluctuation in voltage which may harm the electrical appliances. These apprehensions are misplaced,” an official statement said.
The state has estimated demand in WBSEDCL’s command area at around 9PM to be 5250MW under stable weather condition, while at around 9 PM on Sunday the expected load crash predicted is to the tune of 800 to 1000MW due to switch off light program.
The ‘unprecedented’ event will be handled through reduction in generation of hydro & gas resources.
State load dispatch centres and transmission utilities are gearing up to deal with the possibility of any adverse impact on the electricity grid on Sunday following the Prime Minister's blackout appeal.
India’s captive generation capacity is about 50 GW, mainly in industries such base metals, chemicals, textiles, cement and paper. Shutdowns have forced captive plants to reduce or stop generation, leading to a drastic and sudden fall in coal demand.
Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut has expressed fear that switching off the lights simultaneously for nine minutes could lead to a multi-state grid collapse and result in blackout in the entire country.
The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) in the Friday order decreased late payment surcharge (LPS) payable by discoms to generation and transmission companies to 1% per month from the previous 1.5% per month from April 24 till June 30.
Ministry officials and grid management authorities in Centre and states swung into action immediately after Modi's address on Friday morning, urging people to switch of lights at 9 PM on Sunday night and express solidarity in times of lockdown by lighting earthen lamps or torch lights.
In March the electricity market settled trades of 4,291 million units of which 3,971 million units were traded in the day-ahead market witnessing an 18% YoY growth while the term ahead market traded 320 million units thus recording a 30% YoY growth. The southern distribution utilities continued preference for term ahead market contracts.
In actual terms, the demand fell around 43 GW on Thursday compared to the same day a year ago. However, the data showed that peak power demand met has stabilised around 120 GW after March 22. The government has imposed 3-week lockdown to fight the pandemic from March 24.
For power purchase agreements signed on tariff-based competitive bidding, the relief on the Late Payment Surcharge for payment which becomes delayed beyond 45 days during the lockdown period will be claimed in terms of the force majeure provisions of the contracts.
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