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The 2003 North American Grid Failure


On August 14, 2003, large portions of the Midwest and Northeast United States and Ontario, Canada, experienced an electric power blackout. The outage affected an area with an estimated 50 million people and 61,800 MW of electric load in the states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and the Canadian province of Ontario.

The incident started in Northeast Ohio and cascaded to its full extent in At 13:31 EDT, FE’s Eastlake 5 generation unit tripped and shut down automatically. Shortly after 14:14 EDT, the alarm and logging system in FE’s control room failed and was not restored until after the blackout. After 15:05 EDT, some of FE’s 345 kV transmission lines began tripping out because the lines were contacting overgrown trees within the lines’ right of way areas.

A series of line outages in Northeast Ohio starting at 15:05 EDT caused heavy loadings on parallel circuits, leading to the trip and lock-out of FE’s Sammis-Star 345 kV line at 16:05:57 EDT.

The blackout began a few minutes after 16:00 EDT, and power was not restored for four days in some parts of the United States. Parts of Ontario suffered rolling blackouts for more than a week before full power was restored.

Estimates of total costs in the United States range between US$4 billion and US$10 billion. In Canada, gross domestic product was down 0.7% in August, there was a net loss of 18.9 million work hours, and manufacturing shipments in Ontario were down C$2.3 billion.

Between 16:10:36 EDT and 16:13 EDT, thousands of events occurred on the grid, driven by physics and automatic equipment operations. When it was over, much of the Northeastern United States and the province of Ontario were in the dark.

By 16:13 EDT, more than 508 generating units at 265 power plants had been lost, and tens of millions of people in the United States and Canada were without electric power.

The Russian Electrical Supply Industry


Since the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, the Russian electricity system, the largest in the world, was dominated by the Unified Electrical Power System of Russia (RAO-ESS Rossii) or UES. UES was formed in 1992 to privatise the Russian power system. The Russian electricity grid stretches from Siberia to the Gulf of Finland and links 69 regional power systems (Energos), out of the 93 which existed in the former union. This was previously the Unified Power System, which linked nine of the eleven power systems. The system is linked to the systems of ten countries around its borders. UES operated the largest power stations and the dispatch system. There were also 72 energos, which distributed power on a regional basis in addition to generating power. UES owned the following stakes in the Russian power industry:

1 Thermal plants over 1,000 MW

2 Hydro plant over 300 MW

3 R&D

4 Transmission and dispatch

5 Distribution and supply (energos)


The energos were largely controlled by regional administrations rather than UES, particularly because the electricity tariffs levied on end users are set by Regional Energy Commissions (RECs). Apart from its energo stakes, UES owns the central dispatch administration (TsDU), the high voltage transmission company Federal Grid Cmpany (FGC), 36 power plants (including nine under construction), R&D institutes and stakes in more than 70 construction, maintenance and service companies. Altogether, UES and its daughter energos control 96% of Russia’s high- and low-voltage grid, as well as 72% of installed generating capacity.

The History of the Electricity Generation Sector


The electrical generating sector came into being in the last two decades of the 19th century in the industrial countries, with the first small installations of public capacity in the 1890s in the USA, UK and Japan, mainly for street lighting. In those early years and in years before manufactured town gas was a more important energy source in the cities. Electric power grew slowly during the first half of the 20th century, supplied by a myriad of small local companies mostly operating in towns. The Second World War was to change this and with the explosion of industrial activity that it unleashed, electricity became a major national priority. Many countries nationalised their electricity industries or grouped them into large consolidated utilities. Until then electricity had been generated and distributed locally but now transmission entered the picture. Transmission lines were constructed to transport bulk power at high voltages over long distances from large centralised generating facilities to industrial and population load centres where it was distributed at low voltage.

Global generating capacity rose from approximately 134 GW in 1938, to 213 GW in 1950 after the Second World War, and then to 5,082 GW in 2010. Although the figures were small compared with today, the years of WW 2 and the following period, from 1938 to 1950 were a time of enormous change in the electrical sector in which the seeds of today’s industry were sown. There was heavy destruction to the industry in Europe and Japan in the first half of the 1940s, while in the USA capacity grew from 37.6 GW in 1938 to 50.1 GW in 1945. In the years after the war reconstruction commenced, with global capacity growing to 217 GW by 1950.

Hydropower Impacts


An environmental disaster occurred with the Idukki hydroelectric project in the Western Ghats of the Indian Peninsula at an altitude of 695 metres above sea level. The reservoir is formed by three dams, an arch dam across the Periyar River, a concrete dam across the Cheruthony River and a masonry dam at Kulamavu, upstream of Idukki. The reservoir covers nearly 60 sq km and has a catchment of 649 square km. Water from the reservoir is channelled down to the underground power house at Moolamattom through an underground tunnel, yielding an average gross head of 2,182 feet (665 metres). The project has an installed capacity of 780 MW with firm power potential of 230 MW at 100% load factor.

The project involved diversion of the waters of the upper part of the Periyar River into the Muvattupuzha River. This caused severe drought in areas down stream of the river in summer and reduced fresh water availability for industries located near the mouth of the river. The fresh water regime of Periyar River was in dynamic equilibrium with the estuarine tidal cycle. The impoundment of the dam and diversion of water upset this equilibrium and this led to saline water intrusion into areas where fresh water was available previously.

After impoundment of the dam, hundreds of tremors had been recorded in the Idukki area and most of them are classified as reservoir induced. So far, these tremors have not caused any serious damage. Valley slumpings and slope failures became more common in the area following construction of the dam. A major reason for this was the destruction of the forests during and after the construction. The project opened up the inner forests of Idukki district. This accelerated migration to the area, with the work force of around 6,000 itself acting as the nucleus.

The project submerged about 6,475 hectares of evergreen and deciduous tropical forests and the construction of roads, felling of trees and other encroachments led to loss of about 2,700 hectares of forest and hastened degradation of the remaining forests. Much of the degradation of forests that has happened over the years is irreversible. Owing to loss of habitat, some reptilian species like the rare terrapin have become extinct or sparse.

Indicies for measuring changes in energy efficiency



Market basket approach

The market basket approach estimates energy consumption trends for a controlled set of energy services (the market basket) with individual categories of energy services controlled relative to their share in the index. This method of indexing is a type of ‘bottom up’ approach. Limitations: lack of efficiency measures for some services and nature of measures may not be derived in actual use conditions, updated regularly and so on, and consumers may substitute comparable products if prices change’.

Comprehensive approach

The comprehensive approach attempts to take all energy use into account. It starts the measurement process with the broadest available measures of energy use and demand indicators. Over time, changes in these measures reflect changes in behaviour, structure, energy efficiency and so on. The effects, unrelated to changes in energy efficiency, are then removed. This approach can be thought of as a ‘top down’ approach. It is like peeling away all the effects until energy efficiency is all that remains. Energy consumption is measured as primary energy (the amount of energy delivered to an end user adjusted to account for the energy that is lost in generation, transmission or distribution) or site energy (the amount of energy that is delivered to an end user and not adjusted for primary energy). The demand indicator is a measure of the number of energy consuming units for which energy inputs are required. The main limitations of this approach are that it is difficult to decide which energy services should be included and challenging to separate weather, structure and behavioural changes.

Divisia Index Approach

The Divisia index approach may be used to decompose time trends into different factors such as structural and intensity. The results may measure energy savings over time and uses time trend data.

Historical Wind Energy Developments in India


2009 Developments

In September 2009 a broad feed-in tariff calculation formula was introduced by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), which varies by technology, resource intensity and return on equity. The tariff incorporates small projects and projects that can‘t benefit from the government’s accelerated depreciation programme. Developers can apply for this incentive up to the end of March 2012.

In December 2009, the Ministry of Power also approved a Generation Based Incentive (GBI) subsidy of INR 0.5 per unit of electricity fed into the grid with a cap of USD 33,000 per MW per year for a minimum of four years and a maximum of 10 years.

Eligible projects include those commissioned after 17 December 2009. The scheme is limited to the first 4,000 MW of eligible capacity that is grid connected by March 2012. As of January 2011, only 394 MW of wind capacity was registered with the GBI from independent power producers, with thermal power projects keen to use wind power to meet their mandates for carbon emission reductions. Thus, a review of the GBI is anticipated.

A total of INR 3.8 billion (USD 84.4 million) was earmarked for the scheme in December 2009.

Wind power projects selling to third parties or merchant power plants are excluded under the scheme.

2010 developments

In January 2010, India’s Central Electricity Regulatory Commission announced rules for trading with renewable energy certificates (RECs). These certificates can be bought by companies to meet their renewable energy requirements according to state renewable portfolio standards. There are plans for a national agency to administer the certificates trading. Eligible projects have a minimum capacity of 250 kW and are commissioned after March 2010. They are not allowed to receive feed-in tariffs. Non-solar RECs must trade within the price band of INR 1.5 to 3.9 per kWh (USD 0.033 to 0.087 per kWh). Thus, there is more of an incentive for developers to opt for the feed-in tariff in Haryana state if the projects are eligible, as the feed-in tariff is above INR 3.9 per kWh.

The government introduced an INR 50 tax on every tonne of coal produced or imported into India, with money raised being used for a new Clean Energy Fund.

Also in 2010, the MNRE announced an intention to leverage INR 25 billion (USD 500 million) from the Clean Energy Fund to establish a Green Bank, working with IREDA.

Historical Data Series: Indian Water resources



India has 20 river basins, both major and minor. The largest of these, in terms of area, is that of India’s largest and longest river, the Ganges (known in India as the Ganga) and its major tributary the Yamuna. The Ganges flows southeast along the foothills of the Himalaya mountain range until it enters Bangladesh and then turns southward to empty into the Bay of Bengal.

Other major Indian rivers include the Narmada (India’s largest westward-flowing river), which flows through central India into the Arabian Sea, and three eastward-flowing rivers, the Godavari, the Krishna, and the Cauvery, which flow through southern India into the Bay of Bengal. Besides these, there are two other major rivers which pass through India: The Indus, which rises in Tibet and flows northwest through the Northern state of Jammu and Kashmir before entering Pakistan, and the Brahmaputra, which also rises in Tibet and flows southwest through the eastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam before entering Bangladesh and joining the Ganges.

There are many players in India’s hydroelectric sub-sector. Twenty-two different ownership entities are involved in the hydroelectric facilities that are of at least 100 MW in capacity. The most important hydroelectric generator, though currently not the largest in terms of generating capacity, is the National Hydroelectric Power Corp. (NHPC), which was created in 1975 with the mandate to develop India’s hydropower potential. NHPC presently owns and operates nine hydropower facilities, ranging from the 1,000 MW Indira Sagar Project to the 5 MW Kalpong Power Plant in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Its total generating capacity is 5,295 MW from 14 hydro plants, with 3,145 MW coming online since 1996 due to the commissioning of the 1,000 MW Indira Sagar and 520 MW Omkareshwar plants. In August 2009 the NHPC successfully launched an initial public offering and became a listed company one month later.

The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) is currently one of India’s largest hydropower generators. It was created in 1966 to manage the supply of water, in Himachal Pradesh state, from the Sutlej and Ravi-Beas rivers whose waters flow into Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Delhi. BBMB presently operates five hydroelectric facilities, with a total generating capacity of 2,866 MW, including the two power plants at Bhakra Dam whose combined capacity is 1,325 MW.