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India witnessed 2 major back to back blackouts in the electric grid on 30th July and 31st July. The 1st blackout affected 14 out of 28 states in India and left over 300 million people without electricity for over 7 hours. The 2nd blackout was even bigger, that affected 22 states in the Northern, Eastern and North Eastern grid, and left over 700 million people without electricity for 7-12 hours.
Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has ordered a detailed investigation into the events, and early analysis suggests that the events were caused by a combination of factors creating a perfect storm. These problems were compounded by some of the structural challenges faced by the Indian grid. Indian grid operators have a difficult task at hand of keeping the lights on in a situation where most of the country faces over 12 % of power deficit. Also the existing generation mix is too much dependant on the base load generation and suffers from lack of sufficient availability of flexible generation capable of quickly ramping for meeting sudden imbalances in supply and demand. Also with a push for renewable energy sources, India has an install base of over 18GW wind and over 1 GW of Solar PV generation as part of a 200 GW install base (i.e. almost 10%). As a result, the grid frequency in India does vary from 48.8 Hz to 50.5 Hz on some of the days.
Regulators and policy makers have been working on finding solutions for these challenges and there is a proposal for introducing ancillary services in India. Some of the utilities such as Tata Power has already introduced a Demand Response program in Mumbai through Customized Energy Solutions. There is also tremendous interest in exploring energy storage technologies for renewable integration, ancillary services as well as micro grid applications. There are also regulations on card, which will require wind farms over 10 MW to start scheduling wind power based on day ahead forecast, for providing some help to the grid operators.
This presentation will provide background on the ground realities of Indian grid and opportunities presented by the massive scale of challenges faced by India.