India is currently experiencing an economic upturn, with projected growth rates hitting pre-financial-crisis levels at more than 6%. There is, however, an escalating power supply shortage that may potentially hamper India’s continuous economic growth.
Energy experts reveal that, to date, an estimated 300 million people in India have no access to electricity – which may seem an irony, in light of the fact that recorded data in recent years show that the demand for power in India has constantly outstripped the supply, both in terms of base load energy and peak availability. Owing to this imbalance, the country is said to register an 8.5% deficit in base load requirement and a 9.8% short-fall in peak load requirement.
This prevailing energy challenge is manifesting. Who could forget the massive blackout of 2012 that left 700 million people in India without electricity? In what is touted to be one of the worst blackouts in history, twenty of India’s 28 states suffered the effects of the power interruption that almost incited social instability and protests for fears that the country was no longer in the position to support its booming local energy demand. The repercussion was widespread and was nothing short of catastrophic: traffic jams all over the affected cities, babies wailing of heat, bodies half-burnt at crematoriums, patients gasping for every breath of life, miners trapped underground in complete darkness, passengers stranded in the middle of miles of track.
While other regions in the country are predicted to be severely affected by the energy shortage, India’s Central Electricity Authority forecasts that Northern India can expect a power surplus during the monsoon months, as most of its power generation capacity is predominantly dependent on hydropower.
This fact bodes well for region and for the other areas where it exports its surplus power, but it may not be permanently dependable. As it is largely conditioned by the amount of rainfall, one of the drawbacks of hydropower generation is that the capacity may gradually recede during seasons of less precipitation or of drought.
In recognition of these shortcomings, the government is currently taking steps to mitigate the effects of power insufficiency and has then launched ambitious rural electrification programs. The caveat, however, is that the rate of building or refurbishing permanent infrastructure still lags behind the pace of the increase in energy demand. As a result, ground research shows that approximately 400 million Indians still lose power during blackouts and that 35.5% of Indian households still has limited access to electricity. As India’s demand for electricity is not showing signs of slowing down, the country’s energy supply just cannot keep in step.
The much needed power boost
In times when permanent power plants are still in progress and when the customary sources of energy cannot keep up with the electricity requirements, the Government and the utility industry stakeholders may opt to hire temporary power plants. Temporary power generation companies, like Altaaqa Global CAT Rental Power, have the products that can support the existing power generation infrastructure, with the end of bridging the gap in electricity supply as, where and when the necessity be.
Hiring power plants has tested and recognized merits, particularly in cases of emergencies, natural calamities and abrupt seasonal changes. Signing an agreement with interim power providers can also prove beneficial when electricity distribution facilities are not available in certain areas, like in dispersed communities; when permanent power stations are still being constructed or commissioned or when energy generation facilities are being expanded or refurbished.
India’s initiative to harness alternative sources of energy, like hydroelectric, solar, wind, geothermal and tidal has proven to be effective, but seasonal changes may alter the operations of the aforementioned facilities. For instance, some parts of the country where hydroelectric power stations operate may experience droughts or prolonged absence of rain, which in turn can drastically reduce the power generation capacity of the said plants. Solar or photovoltaic farms thrive during summer months but may experience shortage in production in months when days are predominantly cloudy or rainy. In these cases, rental power plants may support the power generation capacity of the current facilities if only to bridge the gap during the crucial months of seasonal change.
Power need not run dry
Tapping the potential of alternative sources of energy definitely has its merits, particularly in the context of natural gas conservation and of sustainability. Yet, one salient disadvantage of these alternative power technologies is their perceived dependence on nature, say on the amount of sunshine, wind or water. With the help of temporary power plants, these alternative energy infrastructure can continue to work at the optimum level, even in times of seasonal change. As a result, the areas where these facilities supply power to will not have to suffer from energy deficiency and constant load shedding. With the aid of interim generators, power need not set as the sun sets, drop as the wind drops and dry up as water dries up.
*The foregoing article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of Power Watch magazine, India.*
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