• 2 days Iraq Begins To Rebuild Largest Refinery
  • 2 days Canadian Producers Struggle To Find Transport Oil Cargo
  • 2 days Venezuela’s PDVSA Makes $539M Interest Payments On Bonds
  • 2 days China's CNPC Considers Taking Over South Pars Gas Field
  • 2 days BP To Invest $200 Million In Solar
  • 2 days Tesla Opens New Showroom In NYC
  • 2 days Petrobras CEO Hints At New Partner In Oil-Rich Campos Basin
  • 2 days Venezuela Sells Oil Refinery Stake To Cuba
  • 2 days Tesla Is “Headed For A Brick Wall”
  • 3 days Norwegian Pension Fund Set to Divest From Oil Sands and Coal Ventures
  • 3 days IEA: “2018 Might Not Be Quite So Happy For OPEC Producers”
  • 3 days Goldman Bullish On Oil Markets
  • 3 days OPEC Member Nigeria To Issue Africa’s First Sovereign Green Bond
  • 3 days Nigeria To Spend $1B Of Oil Money Fighting Boko Haram
  • 3 days Syria Aims To Begin Offshore Gas Exploration In 2019
  • 3 days Australian Watchdog Blocks BP Fuel Station Acquisition
  • 3 days Colombia Boosts Oil & Gas Investment
  • 4 days Environmentalists Rev Up Anti-Keystone XL Angst Amongst Landowners
  • 4 days Venezuelan Default Swap Bonds At 19.25 Cents On The Dollar
  • 4 days Aramco On The Hunt For IPO Global Coordinators
  • 4 days ADNOC Distribution Jumps 16% At Market Debut In UAE
  • 4 days India Feels the Pinch As Oil Prices Rise
  • 4 days Aramco Announces $40 Billion Investment Program
  • 4 days Top Insurer Axa To Exit Oil Sands
  • 5 days API Reports Huge Crude Draw
  • 5 days Venezuela “Can’t Even Write A Check For $21.5M Dollars.”
  • 5 days EIA Lowers 2018 Oil Demand Growth Estimates By 40,000 Bpd
  • 5 days Trump Set To Open Atlantic Coast To Oil, Gas Drilling
  • 5 days Norway’s Oil And Gas Investment To Drop For Fourth Consecutive Year
  • 5 days Saudis Plan To Hike Gasoline Prices By 80% In January
  • 5 days Exxon To Start Reporting On Climate Change Effect
  • 6 days US Geological Survey To Reevaluate Bakken Oil Reserves
  • 6 days Brazil Cuts Local Content Requirements to Attract Oil Investors
  • 6 days Forties Pipeline Could Remain Shuttered For Weeks
  • 6 days Desjardins Ends Energy Loan Moratorium
  • 6 days ADNOC Distribution IPO Valuation Could Be Lesson For Aramco
  • 6 days Russia May Turn To Cryptocurrencies For Oil Trade
  • 6 days Iraq-Iran Oil Swap Deal To Run For 1 Year
  • 9 days Venezuelan Crude Exports To U.S. Fall To 15-year Lows
  • 9 days Mexico Blames Brazil For Failing Auction

Breaking News:

Iraq Begins To Rebuild Largest Refinery

Alt Text

The Secret To Replacing Fossil Fuels

Renewable skeptics cite low efficiency,…

Alt Text

The Stunning Energy Cost Of Tesla’s Semi-Truck

Tesla’s electric trucks could require…

Alt Text

China Launches World’s First All-Electric Cargo Ship

A Chinese shipbuilder has just…

Microgrids and Solar Power, the Answer to India's Power Crisis

Microgrids and Solar Power, the Answer to India's Power Crisis

As India experienced its worst power failure ever last week, leaving 600 million people without electricity, disrupting the operation of hospitals and public services and shutting down transportation in key regions vital to the country’s economy, New Delhi will have to face up to some critical power realities.

On one level, increasing demand for electricity as a result of increasing demand for consumer electronics, particularly air conditioners, caused the crash. On another level, the entire power grid collapsed as a result of one or more states overdrawing power to meet excess demand.

There are two main problems here that represent a mixture of policy and technology: First of all, India, already the sixth-largest electricity consumer in the world, depends almost entirely on hydro-electricity, which is not sufficient to supply its growing demand. Secondly, the grid is outdated, under-managed, abused and dangerously centralized. 

Let’s start with the grid. As Carl Pope points out in a commentary for the Huffington Post, “the fundamental social contract surrounding electricity has broken down in India”.  According to Pope, in the event of summer power shortages, system operators begin arbitrarily cutting off power to certain neighborhoods but in reality have no idea how much power these cuts are saving. This ad-hoc system is negatively compounded by the fact that there is a high incidence of illegal connections and unmetered users as well as business users who wastefully convert grid power to battery power during shortages when the quality of power is compromised and threatens to short out electronic equipment.  The bottom line, Pope writes, is that electricity has been “radically individualized” and “every user is acting in their own short-term self interest, because the power system forces them to.”

MIT’s Technology Review recommends microgrids, reasoning that disruptions would be less frequent and less damaging with a decentralized system of local networks and smaller suppliers. These local networks would be linked together by microgrids, which Technology Review describes as “an intermediate step between individual generators and a fully national grid,” with the ability to connect and disconnect to the national grid depending on how it is functioning.  Beyond that, microgrids can operate in part with renewable energy, from diesel power to solar and battery power.

And India is already working on some USAID-funded microgrid projects in around 50 villages, according to the Guardian.

But microgrids are a concrete solution to India’s electricity management problems, but the overall focus on hydro-power schemes in India is another serious problem. Renewable energy is urgent for India, while conventional power generation should be viewed as a back-up plan only. Certainly solar power generation would be extremely viable in sunny India where the sun has the potential to generate over 12 trillion watt-hours of energy per square mile every year.

Last week, India reached a solar milestone, 1,000MW of installation, a paltry volume in a country that gets 300 days of sun a year in most areas. (By comparison, Germany installed 4,300MW of solar in the first half of this year alone). Last year’s budget earmarked $180 million for solar energy projects, but it’s not nearly enough. India’s goal is to install 20,000 MW of grid-connected solar power by 2022, but it is far from reaching this objective at the current pace.

Even amid the worst power crisis in history, no one is really talking about solar power. Everyone seems to think that India can continue to rely on hydro-electric power. The problem is that India cannot really afford to keep building enough dams and expanding its hydro-schemes to meet its growing electricity demand. It will run out of forests, and water, and in the end this strategy will only lead to more frequent power outages.

As Pope opines, India’s grid “cannot meet the needs of its remote populations, regardless of how many tons of coal India burns; both wind and distributed solar are cheaper by far than remote coal as a power source; eliminating the enormous energy waste both on the grid and among end users could provide the nation with a huge increase in usable electricity for a tiny cost.”

One would think that solar would be in every headline since the power crisis, but it’s not. It’s still a futuristic idea, even in India, where its power could be relatively easily harnessed.

By. Jen Alic of Oilprice.com

Jen Alic is a geopolitical analyst, co-founder of ISA Intel in Sarajevo and Tel Aviv, and the former editor-in-chief of ISN Security Watch in Zurich.




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • suhas on August 14 2012 said:
    Pl getyour facts right. India's mainstay is coal based power generation and going further coal based generation is still going to to be the nmajor contributor and not Hydro.

    You may like to to check CEA website for looking at the statistics
  • tom baxter on September 03 2012 said:
    The power grids of most developed nations saw their major expansions post WWII these expansions are all rapidly approaching the end of their design lives. To recreate them as autonomous micro grids, energized by solar panels which have 25 year lives is a ludicrous concept. The nations can barely afford to pay the interest on their current debt so only a fool would believe them capable of such a feat. Our grids were built, as all things modern are, with vast amounts of cheap oil to mine and refine the metals involved and power the machines that built them. Oil was exceedingly cheap in the 50's and 60's.

    Australian, one of the richest nations on earth can't even afford to replace its ageing infrastructure. What hope does a nation like India have? What we have here is a nice green news story but the only people to benefit will be the friends of the Indian government officials who are appointed the research grants. And perhaps a few enclaves of elite citizens where the test cases are constructed.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News