The lights have gone out. Complete darkness everywhere, all over the city.
Fear and panic set in as people begin to wonder what has happened. Supermarket trolleys have to be abandoned. Shops close early for the night. Cars come to a grinding halt as the traffic lights stop working in the city and congestion causes the unimaginable, the unthinkable.
Homes lose power, televisions go out, washing machines stop and running water becomes a trickle. Hospitals, sanitation plants and offices stop functioning. Airports and factories have to rely on backup generators, often fuelled by truckloads of diesel.
What has happened ?
It’s what’s known as “the blackout”!
For aspiring economic superpowers, there can be few more challenging events than electricity cuts as massive as those that have struck northern and eastern India over recent months. An area (including the capital, Delhi) in which more than 600 million people live faced blackouts over a period of two days.
It’s hard to imagine this kind of thing happening. But believe it or not this is something that is becoming much more common and frequent in different countries around the world. Our world is changing rapidly and the on-going global demands for food, oil, gas and water, are resources that are being consumed beyond what our world is able to replenish naturally to meet the demand.
The blackout and the risk of the lose of electricity supply to nations of the world and securing energy for the future is a hot topic. Have you ever thought about the future of your economy or the future of our worlds resources and where all of this is heading ?
The impact of this blackout on India’s economy seems to go far beyond lost output. The blackout has had a devastating effect of damaging the country’s reputation, and highlights even more the weakened infrastructure that is hindering its efforts to catch up with China
The cause of the blackout seems a little murky—but all of this has put pressure on the power industry, that needs to double its output roughly every decade if India is to grow fast.
At one end, there is simply not enough cheap coal being dug up and gas-fields are sputtering. However at the other end of the spectrum, the national transmission grid appears to need investment. Meanwhile distribution companies, largely state-owned, that buy power and deliver it to homes and firms, have become financial zombies. Much of their power seems to get pinched or given away for free. Local politicians seem to put pressure on them to keep tariffs low, which leads to huge losses. Squeezed between a shortage of fuel and end-customers who are nearly bust, those private generating firms seem to be cutting back on vital long-term investment in new plants. It’s becoming a vicious cycle.
Hearing the story of what has happened in India recently with the blackout and the global scale of nations struggling with recession, the challenges for future security of energy supplies is a problem that is not going to disappear.
How has our world has arrived at this place today, were we face the threat of blackouts, rising food and fuel costs, shortages of food, oil and gas supplies ?
Has our greed for “more” taken us past the point of no return ?