Will less electricity consumption for 9 minutes on April 5 result in power grid failure? Here's the truth

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's message to the citizens on Friday asking them to switch off the lights in the house and burn candle or flashlight for 9 minutes at 9 pm on April 5, there has been a speculation that as the electricity consumption will be substantially lower the operations at the power grid may come to a standstill.

Will less electricity consumption for 9 minutes on April 5 result in power grid failure? Here's the truth

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's message to the citizens on Friday asking them to switch off the lights in the house and burn candle or flashlight for 9 minutes at 9 pm on April 5, there has been a speculation that as the electricity consumption will be substantially lower the operations at the power grid may come to a standstill.

Questions were raised on the social media about less electricity consumed and if there might be adverse affects to the power grid due to sudden decrease in demand.

Speaking on the matter, the officials of the Ministry of Power clarified that the grid will not be affected by the shutdown of house lights for 9 minutes, nor will the power plants be closed. "It is being spread by some that the grid will be closed which is wrong," one of the officials said.

Data from the Ministry of Power show that the peak power demand for electricity is currently around 1,25,817 MW across the country (according to data from April 2, 2020). Due to the lockdown, the peak hour demand across the country is 43 thousand MW less than the previous year, at the same time last year it was about 1,68,500 MW.

Grid experts say that when the lights will be switched off for nine minutes on April 5, then this demand can come down to 90 thousand MW from 1 lakh MW. That is, the consumption of 25 to 35 thousand MW less at that time.

One of the experts said, "If there is a sudden increase or decrease in load then it is rarely a matter of concern. It becomes a matter of concern when we do not know, but often we know how much load will be consumed the nine minute thing is also known here. 

In such a situation the grid lines will be ready for low load. And this is the same common load which is usually at four in the evening i.e. around 90 thousand MW. So what happens at 4 o'clock will also happen at 9 o'clock on April 5, that means that the power generating plants or grids will not come to a standstill. Hence the rumor should be ignored."

The experts also said that apart from the lights of the house, a lot of appliances in the house will remain inoperational for those nine minutes. The grid will adjust the demand of electricity according to its own, in the same way that when people turn off the light while sleeping at night, that low consumption demand is adjusted.

The appeal from PM Modi comes in the backdrop of the lockdown induced as a measure to control the spread of coronavirus.