India’s electric power is back up and running today following a massive power outage that left 600 million people (more than the entire population of North America) in the dark and sweating in 90 degree (Fahrenheit) heat. Officials blame high demand and a fragile infrastructure, but are still investigating the causes. Monsoon rains, that are prevalent in the summer and critical to agriculture and irrigation, hydroelectric power, and climate cooling (think nature’s AC), are down by more than a fifth this year, possibly creating excess demand.
Tuesday businesses closed, traffic piled up due to signal outages and stalled trains , and people had to find ways to deal with the heat other than AC. Fortunately, hospitals and airports were able to run on generators.
The government is working to upgrade the grid, adding 16% already this year, but demand seems to be outpacing the growth.
Power outages are frequent throughout India, although not usually on this scale. Business owners of late have been forced to cut production and layoff workers due to the reoccurring grid outages.
“Economic growth is constrained by inadequate infrastructure, among other factors,” the U.S. State Department’s country report on India says.
“Foreign investment is particularly sought after in power generation,” it adds, “as well as areas including telecommunications, roads and mining.”
With global temperatures rising and many parts of the world dealing with drought, we must find ways to meet growing demands without over-taxing our resources.