In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, PM Modi addressed the nation for the third time and asked citizens to shut the lights at their homes for 9 minutes, at 9 pm, on Sunday, April 5. He asked them to instead light diyas or candles, and illuminate their surroundings.
A video messsage to my fellow Indians. https://t.co/rcS97tTFrH— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 3, 2020
However, PM Modi's announcement has brought with itself an unprecedented challenge for the power industry. Because when 130 crore Indians together switch off the lights in their households, the power industry is left with a supply surge problem.
A power outage or blackout happens when either the supply or the demand is too high. While Indian households usually face a problem of excess demand, in this case, supply surge may pose a problem.
If all lights are switched off at once it might lead to failure of grid. All our emergency services will fail&it might take a week's time to restore power.I would appeal to the public to light candles&lamps without switching off lights:Nitin Raut,Maharashtra Energy Minister (3.4) pic.twitter.com/2j2gtOoJKi— ANI (@ANI) April 4, 2020
As per reports, industry experts stated that they are adopting measures that would help them manage the supply surge. However, wind and thermal plants can not be shut down, and solar plants don't operate at night.
Thus, the focus would be to stop the hydel and gas power plants, because unlike thermal power plants that take over an hour to restart, it's not difficult to restart hydel and power plants. Additionally, because of the impact of Covid-19, these plants are already running at a lower capacity.
Industry experts are also counting on the fact that not all electricity will be shut down because street lights will remain lit and there are also chances of people forgetting to switch off the lights.
While the industry experts are hoping to manage the supply surge, another possible problem could occur when everyone switches on the lights at the 10th minute. Because at that time, the limited supply may not be able to meet the sudden demand spurt.
For now, industry experts are only looking at the issue of supply surge. Guess only time will tell if it will be a 'lit' Sunday night or not.