Mumbai: The power sector, which is struggling to cope with the rapidly diminishing demand due to the economic downturn and the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, faces a major challenge to maintain grid safety in the wake of Prime Minister’s call to switch off lights for 9 minutes on April 5.
About 20,000 mw of power demand is expected to vanish in one time block of 15 minutes. The demand will start diminishing from 8.50 pm and complete demand will be restored latest by 9.20 pm.
Since most of power will be from thermal generators, the rampdown and ramp-up is a difficult task. Power Minister RK Singh held a marathon meeting to discuss various measures to ensure grid discipline, while the State-run Power System Operation Corporation held a series of meetings through video conferencing with the regional load dispatch centre to discuss the action plan.
Furthermore, the state load dispatch centres worked out their respective strategies to handle the situation. The Maharashtra State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC) has estimated that there will be a dip in power demand by 1,500 mw while the Uttar Pradesh State Load Dispatch Centre predicted a fall of 3,000 mw.
They have said that the reduction in load may cause a high voltage surge and therefore suggested that all generating stations must be ready to generate power in such a manner that the reactive power is absorbed to the limiting value of their capability curve.
They have also said that all generating units must remain in free governor mode operations. SLDC has a critical role. It has to ensure that the frequency of power that runs in the power grid lines should be between 48.5 and 51.5 hertz.
The grid stability is maintained by keeping power frequency within a range specified by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. However, deviation from the CERC specified frequency is managed by increasing or decreasing power flow in the grid. Sudden drop or rise in frequency may cause grid collapse.
Energy experts observed that there is also a danger of supply surging and disrupting the frequency when Indians switch off lights all at once at 9 pm. This could trip the line, and lead to a blackout.
A Power Ministry officer told the FPJ, ‘‘The ministry discussed at length with the states, the Power System Operation Corporation and the regional load dispatch centres multiple options to tackle the situation to avoid cascading effect on April 5. On the Janata Curfew day, the demand had dipped to 135GW from 161 GW but the grid operations remained stable. So, the ministry is optimistic that the grid will function normally on April 5, too.’’
As per the power ministry compilation on April 2, 2020, the maximum power demand in the country stood at 1,25,817 mw, whi - ch was almost 20% lower than the April 2, 2019, demand of 1,68,326 mw. PowerGrid Corporation’s retired executive MG Raoot said it would be worthwhile to consider both supply and demand side managemen