Enthusiasts might be looking forward to Thursday’s solar eclipse, but officials in the electricity sector have spent the last few weeks preparing to tune the power grids to adjust to the surge and drop in solar power generation during the astronomical event.
Over the last two months, Power System Operation Corporation Limited (PSOCL) officials have held several meetings with transmission corporations and others to discuss the challenges posed by the eclipse.
In a report, officials had noted that between 8.06 am and 11.11 am, solar power generation will be reduced by a total of 16,242 MW in India, especially in the south where the moon will block the sun’s radiation (“obscuration”) by nearly 95% for a major part of three hours.
“Solar eclipse poses a challenge for a power system with a high percentage of solar power integration to the grid as it can cause the solar power in the affected region to decrease and later increase quickly,” the report noted.
Such variation may have a serious effect on the nation’s electricity network. “Earlier, grids were separate. But now the power infrastructure is getting increasingly interconnected,” said an official.
“Officials have been advised to come up with state-specific contingency so that system operators maintain demand and generation balance during the eclipse period.”
Karnataka leads other states in the adoption of solar power, which contributes 22% to the total installed capacity of 29,143.62 MW.
Officials at the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) said they are well-prepared to face the challenge posed by the eclipse.
“The average peak-load for Karnataka is about 11,000 MW. Since it is the holiday season and winter, we expect a dip in demand. But we are not taking any chances as we have put the thermal plants on standby so that they will be ready to supply additional power if there is a sudden drop in power,” KPTCL Managing Direct Dr N Manjula told DH.
Officials in the Southern Region Load Despatch Centre (SRLDC) said they have alerted Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on the issue.
“Unlike Karnataka, they do not have a sound back up of hydel power and are dependent on thermal units. We have alerted that they have to prepare for the additional load when the solar generation drops,” a senior official said.