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Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/23/2008 8:06 AM

In any commodity market, production capacity is directly linked to consumer demand. When there has always been great demand for electricity, lack addition electricity generation capacity in countries like India points to the failure of Electrical engineers as good managers.Does it not suggest that our engineering education should also train for developing a good managerial temperament in our electrical Engineers?

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Guru
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#1

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/23/2008 8:53 AM

It might also indicate a failure of investment requirements to keep up with demand.

The skills needed of a manager, as opposed to an engineer, are different. While some can make the transition, others can't. While management can be learned organically, electrical engineering is more difficult and fraught with hazards for the unaware. It is best taught.

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/23/2008 10:18 AM

As any professional engineer climbs in hierarchy his the managerial content of his job increases. The technical content falls more in the realm of R&D consulting specialized field.
As a manager one starts looking at the financial viability, sourcing of funds cash flow tariffs consumer interests also.

Any business manager entrepreneur will be failing his job, if he can not arrange for the expansion of his business in growing market and arrange for infrastructure for growth.

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#9
In reply to #1

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/24/2008 12:14 AM

There are many angles to the situation in India:

1. In India, till date the situation is due to bad politicians. Electricity generation was monopoly of Government. Engineers can not do anything, irrespective of their manegerial capabilities, unless the project is formalised and funds are allocated.

Politicians have no vision for development of country. Thus, for last so many years very few projects come up.

Projects like Enron was killed between political ambitions of various political parties.

Even if power is produced privately, power producer needs to pay government (State electricity boards) for producing power. This is because of official monopoly of government. This is discouragement for private electicity generation.

2. Big amount of electricity generated is stollen. The honest customers are lavied additional charges for this stollen power. The people stealing power are safe without any threat.

3. There is no awareness in public for saving the power. No activity like "International Dark sky association" has come up in India. On one side, huge power cuts are there and on other side, big neon signs are always glowing on the city roads. No government restiction is there on this waste of power. The festivals, wasting huge power are going on. First target of power cuts is Industry, which should be last, as it generates wealth.

Sight of waste of power on street lights even during daytime is not rare phenomenon. This power waste is by those who generate power.

4. Huge subsidies are given for power to farmers. Thus the economy of agriculture is not real one. Subsidy is there on domestic customers. Thus, power generation is no lucarative business.

Now recently private players are allowed to generate power, and this power will be bought by government only. Again, most probably, it will be sold to customers at lower price than the price it will be purchased.

If stringent activities are planned on all these fronts, then only situation in India will improve or else.....

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#12
In reply to #9

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/24/2008 9:02 AM

gsuhas hit the nail on the head here, very nice write-up gsuhas. It is my understanding that this is a political problem. The politicians I can assure you are not in the dark but are when it comes to developing plans to assure that the citizens of India have electricity. There is some movement on this front but I am sure it is not fast enough for the population as a whole.

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#18
In reply to #9

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

05/20/2010 2:16 AM

good

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Guru

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#2

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/23/2008 9:58 AM

I believe your premise is somewhat flawed. IMHO, it is more correct to say that in a limited commodity market (oil, gas, electricity, etc), production quantity is also linked to price.

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#4

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/23/2008 1:03 PM

Hi Surmil := I really don't know much about the situation in India but I suspect the following:-

Electricity in India is most probably generated and distributed by Government controlled concerns. If this is true EE and managers in the sector may have a slight excuse, he man that is carrying the purse always has the biggest say. (old global saying)

The problem with politicians and electricity is that pinching a few $ from development or maintenance cannot be noticed straight away and the voters like less expenditure. and when it is finally noticed it is already 10 minutes to midnight.

You should not be to hard on yourselves but additional managerial skills should also be attained.

Best of luck in your dark hours.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/23/2008 1:20 PM

How can government influence the availability of electricity?

By placing emphasis on industrial development and even subsidising it without making adequate funds available for power generation.

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#13
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Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/24/2008 2:26 PM

Hendrik should know. In less than two decades politics in South Africa took it from a first world country with lots of spare electricity generation capacity to a point where it is now closer to a third world country with lots of black-outs and little chance of improvement unless the government change their policies and start to fix and maintain the generation plants. The problems in India is very similar, politics.

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#7
In reply to #4

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/23/2008 8:40 PM

Yes sir,

Govt in India had a monopoly of electricity generation. But for nearly 20 years now, private players have been permitted. We in India had a tradition from British times when all planning was done in England . What more is required for developing infrastructure to facilitate commerce with England was the objective. Any benefits that accrued to Indian masses were not grudged upon. Role of Indian Engineers was restricted to only maintain not to plan or fore cast community / market demands.

Indian engineers continue to have the same mind set. In British days we had planners who were sitting in London and were planning with an eye for the benefits that any infrastructure development would bring to England.Those planners have only been replaced with our illiterate politicians- who being small minded have been able to think only of personal benefits which any infrastructure project will bring. But then future forecasting of all infrastructure needs is the job of technical experts. This has to be done by Engineers.

As top CEO it is also one's job to decide on break even strategies , alternative routes and find bankers and IPOs that will finance the project and of course ensure that all his efforts are sustainable to say the least and profitable. How can Engineer when he reaches the top shirk his responsibilty?

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#6

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/23/2008 6:53 PM

I do not think that the engineers control the purse strings of their corporate managers. Who answer to stock holders or owners that seek only profits. The corporate managers only look at how increasing the supply would effect the profits. If the cost of building additional facilities to increase supply is only marginally going to make a return on the profits spent. Then its not going to happen. So you can give your Engineers managerial skills still not going to solve the problem.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/23/2008 11:12 PM

I am interested to know has any body in India estimated how much power is stolen &how many unauthorised connections are existing in any one state and losses due to thumb rule designs,& inefficient Motor designs.if only we can save this lost power we would be much better off.

crm

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#15
In reply to #8

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/25/2008 3:53 AM

Government Body report says

Financial Loss of all national Electricity boards together for year 2004-05 was about $5500 million.

Dues in 2006-07 were $ 750 million.

This is the effect of all the reasons together, I stated in my earlier thread.

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Guru

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#17
In reply to #8

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/26/2008 11:08 AM

Apart from free distribution of power to farmers , Inefficient equipments waste lot of power.There is a sector called un organized sector which makes Induction motors with class E insulation designs with low eff.&PF.The submersible pumps used are again Highly inefficient.Use of Stabilizers makes the generating stations in efficient.One can go on and on .However awareness is being created on energy conservation.Energy Audits by certified auditors is becoming mandatory for all industries and energy consumption and measures initiated for conservation need to be documented as a part of the board report.Things will definitely improve in the coming years

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#10

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/24/2008 5:15 AM

Although it is obvious from any visit to an Indian city that large numbers of illegal connections are used to steal power, India is ahead of the west in low energy lighting. Due to the cost and limited amount of power available, the majority of lighting in homes and businesses is by conventional fluorescent lamps rather than incandescent bulbs. Unfortunately hardly any of them have power factor correction capacitors so this worsens the problems with the distribution system.

I have had lighting installed in Indian studios and it has always difficult to find lamps with power correction capacitors, often the capacitors have to be bought separately and retrofitted. The quality of the ballasts tends to be poorer than in the UK so more energy is wasted in heat. Despite these problems there domestic lighting in India is far more efficient than in the average western home. The cheap construction of the light fittings is understandable given the very low incomes of the majority of the population.

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#11

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/24/2008 7:25 AM

Well here, Government is not capable of running a power company. Graft and greed get in the way. Most of the power here is stolen and when they come to cut it there are people right behind the trucks with ladders willing to reconnect you for a few pesos. In the getto type areas they threaten the line men with machetes!

No power company can survive under these conditions.

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#14

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/25/2008 3:02 AM

In response to Pure Boer's comments - the problem in South Africa is not lack of maintenance. The country's utility has an excellent record of maintenance, and in fact, is more conscientious in it's maintenance programmes than the majority of countries with privatised industries (eg in USA, UK, parts of Europe, Australia, etc).

The problem is lack of forward planning. The utility informed the government in 1997 (and there was in addition a White Paper on the subject confirming this) that at current growth rates, excess capacity would run out by 2007. Pretty accurate, as it turned out! The government, for whatever reasons, did nothing about this. So now we sit with very little reserve capacity.

At present, around 20% of available generating capacity is down on scheduled maintenance, and with all the unusual rainfall, wet coal has resulted in decreased loading on other units. This problem is temporary, and in a few weeks things should improve considerably. This is not to say we will not have further problems - we will. Nor is it to absolve the government of responsibility.

But South Africa is not the first country to have electricity supply problems, nor will it be the last. The majority of countries around the world are waking up to the fact that they are running short on capacity, and there is a desperate race to try and catch up. When tenders went out for the new 4800MW station being built in South Africa, a well-known German company didn't tender, and said their order books were full until after 2012 with new plant for Europe.

South Africa is currently spending hundreds of billions of rands on new plant - the utility plans to double its capacity in the next 15 years (it is currently the 7th largest utility in the world, incidentally). But there is a lead time for new plant, so we will have a lean period in the meantime. Industry cutting back on wasted energy expenditure will help, and they are starting to use their own generating capacity more often. Private consumers can also help, as we are used to being spoiled by loads of cheap electricity (second cheapest in the world up to now). We tend to be energy wasteful (geysers on all day, lights on unneccessarily, air conditioners and heaters on in offices when we're not there, pool pumps on all day, etc). We need to change our mindsets. Maybe the same applies in India?

I seem to have written an essay - my apologies, it started out as a quick defense of the utility (which I consult to as a technical specialist, hence my defensiveness!).

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#16

Re: Why Electricity Scarcity in India

01/26/2008 4:20 AM

everyone Knows the reason.It is not the engineers .Its the politicians and Bureaucrats who are to be blamed.Privatization may induce some change hopefully.many power surplus states have become power starved.There are many many reasons but the cause of it is not the Engineers or technical Managers.Some good Organizations like NTPC where Interference is minimum have proved a Point where technocrats have shown results.

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