9 pm 9 minutes: Power demand down by 32 Gw, grid remains unscathed

People at a housing society light Diyas in support of PM Modi's call. Photo: Sanjay K Sharma
As Indians switched off lights for nine minutes at 9 pm on Sunday to show solidarity amid lockdown, power demand went down by close to 32 gigawatt (Gw). Official estimates indicated that power demand during the nine minutes was down to 85.3 Gw from 117 Gw earlier. Post the event, power demand restored to 110 Gw.

The power grid at national and at regional level did not face any glitch, as was being feared. The grid frequency remained normal at 49-50 gigahertz, indicating no major fluctuation in the grid.

On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged people to switch off lights for 9 minutes at 9 pm on Sunday and light candles, torches, or mobile flashlights outside their house to show solidarity for each other during the Covid-19 lockdown.
According to the data sourced from Grid Connect portal run by REConnect Energy, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh witnessed a dip of close to 3 Gw each, in the nine minutes.

In a statement, R K Singh, Union minster of state for power and new and renewable energy, said: “This was handled very well by engineers across all levels.”

The statement by the power ministry stated Singh oversaw the whole exercise from the control room stationed in the ministry. “He congratulated all the engineers. He said ramp-up was also done very smoothly,” said the statement.

Senior power ministry officials said the Power System Operator Corporation (POSOCO) issued instructions of Reserve Regulation Ancillary Service, which entailed power generation being kept on lower side to control frequency of grid.

“This was done so that no load shedding (power cut) is being done anywhere,” he said.

Estimates by power generation industry suggested that hydropower to the tune of 18 Gw was utilised for ramping up and down the demand during the 9-minute event.

POSOCO had earlier estimated that demand fall would be in the range of 12-15 Gw, however, with double the fall, sector experts said, this indicated that consumers switched off other appliances as well, not just lights.

The ministry in its advisory for the public had asked to just switch off the lights and not all electronic appliances.

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