Power Shutdown – A Major Issue for Crucial Situation in Tamil Nadu

In the recent days, electricity was the major talk of the Chennai City. Everywhere people were blabbering about Power Shutdown. Can you guess why it happened? Yes, it is all because of the terrible Cyclone ‘Vardah’. This historic cyclonic storm created unforgettable footsteps of itself which gave Chennai nothing but only the dark nights. Vardah shattered the green nature with its strong winds and rains. The whole city of Chennai was flooded with hundreds of dead tree here and there. As most of the streets of Chennai are covered with the electrical posts, transformers, and wires, the trees automatically fell its way on those causing severe damage. Due to this massive disaster, almost the whole city went into darkness on Monday (December 12, 2016) and Tuesday (December 13, 2016).

The Tamil Nadu Government took serious and impulsive steps to clear the uprooted trees. Thereby, hundreds of corporation workers were separated into teams and worked hard in clearing the damage. In one-third of the city, the electricity problem was solved on Wednesday itself. Although there was no continuous power supply, the electricity exists for few hours. ‘Only if you lose something, you’ll feel for it’ – this is an old saying which tells us that if something is constantly there with us, we don’t recognize its value. So what has happened in Chennai? Power shutdown in Chennai was the most awkward for all the residents there. In some areas like Velachery, Guindy and also in some outer areas of Chennai, the power cut lasted for a week putting people into a sad situation. Electricity shutdown plays a vital role in degrading one’s income, household functions. Power Cut is a common factor and the key factor which is always a big talk of Tamil Nadu. Let us now discuss the electricity and shutdowns in Tamil Nadu.

Electricity and its Issues in Tamil Nadu

Electricity is the most important deciding factor for a nation’s progress. Power differentiates a nation as either developing or developed. The connection between the availability of electric power to the human development has been in the discussion for decades. It is a fact that the sufficient quantity and the quality of electricity are measured in accordance with per capita consumption by Human. And this decides the economy of the nation and is associated Human Development Index (HDI). When we take the ‘Vision Tamil Nadu 2023’, it is already the forefront of urbanization and industrialization in the country. This actually proposes to be a global Center of manufacturing. This mighty vision of Tamil Nadu should be continued successfully by the government since as years grow the electricity demand rises along with population.

As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, total electricity capacity was 23,105 MW along with coal power was at about 10,100 MW in 2015. Also, the gas-based power was at about 1,000 MW. Other powers like Nuclear and hydro were 1000MW & 2,100 MW respectively. Tamil Nadu is the spearhead of controlling the renewable energy sources with the available capacity of about 8,400 MW. When compared to the other states power supply in Tamil Nadu is much better. The sector of Renewable energy accounts for 38 percent of the total electricity capacity installed. On an average about 55-60 percent of the power need of the state is bought from either the central grid or from the Central Share of power plant generated electricity.

Despite the deficit in generated electricity, Tamil Nadu has been continuously maintaining a good balance between installed generation and the increasing demand. But, as the demand is reaching its peak, the deficit situation is the only result. The connection load is about 15,000 plus MW for the industrial sector. Comparatively, agriculture also consumes more power. As on 2012, the electricity consumed was about 7,500 MW by over 2 million pump sets. It has been recorded that between 2000 and 2014, the complete installed capacity has risen up by 58%. The state’s purchase of power has also gone up by 3 times higher. Similarly, Per capita power consumption was more than 100% increase in that particular four years.  The above are the information officially announced by the TNEB officials of Tamil Nadu Government.

Tamil Nadu Electricity and The Geographical Climate Features

Let us now discuss the environmental factors affecting the electricity of Tamil Nadu. Basically, the infrastructure of Tamil Nadu Electricity board, its physical and geographical features, depends hugely on deployment and usage of renewable energy sources. Tamil Nadu with a population of about 555 people per square Kilometers stands to be the seventh most densely populated and the most urbanized state in India. This is a survey as of 2011. Coming to the geographical characteristics, the state consists of a vast coastal line of about 1,000 km between India’s east coast and the Western Ghats. The climatic conditions of many districts of Tamil Nadu are hence influenced by the coast proximity. To be precise, the climate is generally hot and dry leading to extreme demand of electricity for cooling purposes. Especially, during summers, the sun will suck all the energy from us and thus leading to excess demand. Thus, to maintain stability and power consumption at a good rate, Government planned for power cuts on regular basis during summer months. It will be scheduled and informed a day prior to the fellow residents of Tamil Nadu. In this way, TN is balancing the demand and supply.

If we take Agriculture, the major food crops are paddy, millets, and pulses. The commercial crops include sugarcane, sunflower, cotton, coconut, chillies, cashew, and groundnut; and finally plantation crops are tea, coffee, rubber, and Cardamom. Tamil Nadu is really a wealthy state in terms of Agriculture. But, being one of the leading industrialized states in India suffers a big electricity demand always. In most of the Industries as of today, they are fully having power based equipment. Main and the majority industries are of cotton, railway coaches, heavy commercial automobile vehicles, leather tanning, auto components,  electrical accessories, etc.  In the recent years of the Indian economy, Information Technology and Telecommunication stand to be powerful contributors. Tamil Nadu State Action Plan on Climate Change (TNSAPCC) has highlighted a serious issue to the state economy. It is said that the share of Agriculture has dropped from 13 to 8 percent in the recent years. It also reveals that one percent growth will reduce the poverty by two to three times more.

Save Power for the Near Future

Tamil Nadu is a developing state with a lot of Renewable energy resources. Tamil Nadu strengths and constraints are always associated with geographical characteristics. Tamil Nadu is on the developmental pathway to a sustainable growth with equitable opportunities while preserving as well as enhancing its natural resources. Future power scenario of Tamil Nadu not only lies on societal efforts but also the usage of natural resources for electricity. It is really important to construct natural sources of power like solar & wind power systems, hybrid solar-natural gas plants, bio-energy, advanced battery-based grid energy storage systems and solar thermal storage. Investment in these technologies will be very helpful in building a strong power along with huge employment. Especially, the rural areas will get tremendously developed with this plan. Implementation is a little costly but its effect is comparatively large.

Designed micro or smart grids have the capability to generation and usage of power. It is a low-cost one with increased reliability. Such micro grids will be the most appropriate way to accelerate rural electrification. The state and the Central government along with the Professionals of power sector have a duty to take care of every implementation in a positive manner. Only if they pursue this, it can produce best results for the welfare of the people without affecting the flora and fauna. Apart from all these, as citizens of India, we need to think clear and work accordingly. We should take power in our hands to save power for future. Work for it to achieve it.