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Where Did My Power Go?

"And God said, 'let there be light' and there was light, but the electricity board said He would have to wait until Thursday to get connected.” - Spike Milligan, Irish Actor

About 4 decades ago, in the American animated series, we heard He-Man saying “I HAVE THE POWER” every now and then. But unfortunately, after 40 years, when the world has advanced so much, we hear people saying “I DON’T HAVE POWER”.

Anil Sardana, Managing Director at Tata Power says “Uninterrupted power supply is the backbone of an economy”. This is undoubtedly true and this needs no justification. Today, we can’t imagine life without power. The world would be left helpless and useless without power. The growing population and the raise in industrial requirement is seeking greater demand than supply. Requirement of power is very much essential and any outage could result in the state and even the whole country to go dark thereby resulting in serious problems for essential services such as hospitals, banks, fire stations and security systems.

Meeting power supply needs, from source of generation to home or workplaces involves many more steps and critical activities. During any of these steps and activities, there can be an issue causing an outage. The steps involved in power supply are majorly:

  1. Requirement of resources such as coal, gas, oil and land - both for renewable and non-renewable (shortage leads to lack of generation)

  2. Setting Power Plants to generate electricity meeting environmental and statutory norms (nuclear mostly, and leakage can lead to critical environmental issues and can be life threatening)

  3. High or medium Voltage transmission lines transferring power from generating stations (earth faults and natural disasters result in line outage)

  4. Distribution of power to customers through distribution lines, where power is metered and distributed to paying customers (transformer failure, earth faults, natural disasters can lead to no power to end customers)

Major power failures can be categorized into:

  1. Distribution failures: Distribution failures are the most common type of power outage, but they usually affect a relatively small area. The root cause for these failures are varied. From stormy weather to pesky pests. Outages on the distribution system usually have a limited impact, affecting just a few streets or a neighborhood. But rarely these outages affect entire cities, and sometimes for a long period. One of the biggest challenges that modern power distribution networks face is minimizing power losses. Energy savings start straight after power generation and stretch all the way to distribution networks. Lengthy distribution lines, inadequate size of conductors of distribution lines, installation of distribution transformers away from Load Centers are some of the technical problems in distribution of power.

  2. Transmission failures: Transmission failures are rarer than distribution failures, but they do happen. And when they do, they can have huge consequences. Since transmission systems are usually connected across many different states, transmission system failures can result in widespread power outages. Long transmission distances, fast changing of higher loads, higher interconnection of local area network impose higher challenges and result in outage due to voltage fluctuations, load changes, power oscillations, grid instability and unequal load sharing. Outage of transmission system result in state darkness for increased periods. The technical losses are due to energy dissipated in the conductors, equipment used for transmission lines, transformers, sub-transmission lines, distribution lines and magnetic losses in transformers.

  3. Supply shortages: These are the rarest type of outage. These outages happen when there is simply not enough electricity to meet the demand. Shutdown of power plants also result in power outage.

Well, there is a 4th type of Power Outage as well. This is when Power Outages are done intentionally. Yes, you read it right - Intentionally! The outage may also be caused due to cyber-attacks and terrorist attacks. There are other reasons related to either generation, transmission or distribution outages and the following are the reasons:

  1. Planned maintenance

  2. Public safety power shut off (flooding, rioting, etc..)

Here are more to read regarding some of the recent repeated power outages.

  • Houston! We got a problem! Well, this news is from earth. Read here.

  • Five power outages because of trees falling. Read here.

  • Deadly test for the power grids this summer. Read here.

In short, there is large gap in the demand and supply of power. The reasons may be various from lack of resources to even political, but it is important to understand and prepared on how are we supposed to be ‘Business As Usual’ (BAU) during power crisis? What do we need to do and how much power do we actually need?

  • Have your businesses factored future power supply challenges and failures in the business impact assessments and risk assessments?

  • Does your company have an effective Business Continuity Plan taking into account an extended and more frequent power failures?

  • If you are a power generation, distribution and transmission company, then have you identified the risks of your business disruptions and the plan to ensure business continuity?

We can help you!

At Gorisco, our motto is 'Embedding Resilience' and we are committed to make the organizations and their workforce resilient. Reach out to us if you have any queries, clarifications or need any support on your initiatives.

To read our other blogs, click here. More importantly, let us know if you liked them or not through your comments.

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