On July 30 over half of India’s 1.2 billion inhabitants lost electrical power for 2 days in the worst recorded blackout in history. This amounts to about 1/10th of the world’s population of almost 7 billion souls. Of course not all in the world have electricity however this is still mammoth.
The nightmarish picture in the featured image from India is similar to what I saw from my hotel window in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic while on vacation there several years ago. Just looking at this picture can give one the idea of what a huge task it is to power the Indian subcontinent.
The United States has the largest coal reserves in the world, followed by Russia, China and then either India or Australia, depending on which agency is the most accurate.
India’s primary source of electricity is coal but the problem is they can’t or won’t based on many factors, produce enough of it to power the country. There are many players in this country: mandarins, politicians, regulators, tycoons, environmentalist, bandits and crooks. Couple that with a fragile and poor electrical grid and when one area fails, the rest cascade down like dominoes. And from the New York Times Global:
A complex system of subsidies and price controls has limited investment, particularly in resources like coal and natural gas. It has also created anomalies, like retail electricity prices that are lower than the cost of producing power, which lead to big losses at state-owned utilities. An unsettled debate about how much of its forests India should turn over to mining has also limited coal production.
Despite India’s abundant coal reserves, much of it is imported due to its low quality and high ash content which doesn’t work well in state-of-the-art reactors.
Most of us remember the August of 2003 blackout when over 50 million people lost power in the northeast United States and Canada. Yes, this author was a part of that blackout and remembers it well. This too, had a cascading effect which resulted from a system or errors and poor maintenance:
- Inadequate understanding of the system
- Inadequate level of situation awareness
- Inadequate level of vegetation management (tree trimming)
- An inadequate level of support from the Reliability Coordinator (RC)
Over 1,000 coal plants in the United States will be closing and many companies are just giving up and calling it quits. Ohio American Energy, a subsidiary of Murray Energy, announced last week it will be closing operations in Jefferson County, Ohio. Their presser cites “the actions of the Obama Administration.”
And Murray’s CEO lit into CNN’s Soledad O’Brien in an interview telling her, and all of us that “America better wake up.” You can watch the video or read the transcript here. Below is one salient quote from Mr. Murray:
Barack Obama and followers are destroying the entire — of america. The whole country better wake up to what’s going to happen to power costs. In east ohio, it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a Democrat orRrepublican. Everybody there wants jobs and he’s destroying them.
The power is back on in India, at least for now. What remains to be seen is how long the power will be on in America.
Crossposted at Conservative Outlooks