NEW DELHI :
India on Sunday heeded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for switching off lights for 9 minutes at 9pm, with the national power grid managing the unprecedented ramp down and build up of electricity load in a short time successfully.
This was the second appeal by Modi that leveraged his popularity among Indians to enlist them in the battle against the covid-19 pandemic.
The strategy resonated with people, with Indians across the country standing at their doors and balconies and lighting candles, diyas, torches, and mobile flashlights for 9 minutes in a symbolic act against “the darkness spread by the corona crisis". This was accompanied by the bursting of crackers, the blowing of conch shells, and chants of ‘go corona go’.
“It seemed liked Deepawali came early, with many houses lighting nine diyas," said Shalinee Priya, a resident of Dwarka, New Delhi.
Modi’s earlier call for Indians to clap, blow conch shells, or ring bells for five minutes on 22 March to commend the efforts of those fighting the pandemic had also drawn a massive response.
The switching off of lights resulted in an electricity load reduction of around 32 gigawatts (GW) on India’s power grid. The country’s power load during the lockdown is estimated at around 117 GW.
The grid frequency was maintained between 49.7 Hz to 50.26 Hz. The fall in electricity demand at 9pm on Sunday resulted in a price crash for the particular time slot on the power exchange market.
The country successfully managed the operation of its national grid, which is capable of transferring 99 GW from any part of the country. It was able to pull this load reduction and recovery in a span of 2-4 minutes each.
“Demand in the grid came down by 32000 MW within a few minutes but the frequency and voltage was mantained within the normal range. The drop in national demand by 32000 megawatts shows a huge response of the nation to the call of the Prime Minister," said power minister Raj Kumar Singh in a tweet.
Mint had reported on Saturday that state-run Power System Operation Corp. Ltd (Posoco), which oversees India’s electricity load management functions, had called for the all-India grid frequency to be kept at 49.90 Hz from 8.30pm on Sunday in view of the anticipated frequency rise because of demand reduction at 9pm.
India has been in a lockdown since 25 March. Only essential services are allowed to function, because of which businesses have shut down and the economy has almost ground to a halt.
This has also resulted in power demand coming down and led to a price of 69 paise per unit for electricity traded for the 9pm to 9.15pm time slot for 5 April, Sunday, delivery, according to data collated by Indian Energy Exchange (IEX). In comparison, the price per unit of electricity for the same time period for Saturday, 4 April, was ₹2.90. A day has a total of 96 trading blocks of 15 minutes each.
The all-time low and high for electricity recorded in the spot market was 50 paise per unit and ₹18.2 per unit, respectively. The average price for electricity traded on the exchange between 1 March and 21 March was ₹2.60 per unit. This has come down to ₹2.13 per unit for the 25 March to 31 March period, during the nationwide lockdown. The average price for electricity traded in the exchange for March was ₹2.46 per unit.
The lockdown has resulted in peak electricity demand coming down, with commercial and industrial power demand taking a hit after many factories shut down.