“It seemed liked Deepawali came early"
On Sunday, April 5, 2020, India launched a symbolic fight against COVID-19 by lighting up.
Citizens listened to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for switching off lights at 9 pm for nine minutes, with the national power grid managing the unprecedented ramp down and build-up of electricity load in a short time successfully.
This was PM Modi’s second appeal that increased his popularity among Indians to enlist them in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
Citizens related to the symbolic fight by standing at their doors and balconies and lighting candles, torches and mobile flashlights for nine minutes to show their solidarity against “the darkness spread by the Corona crisis”.
This was accompanied by the bursting of fireworks, the blowing of conch shells and chants of “go Corona go”.
Shalinee Priya is a resident of Dwarka, New Delhi. She said:
“It seemed liked Deepawali came early, with many houses lighting nine diyas.”
The response to the symbolic fight was so significant, it could be seen from space.
Modi had previously called for Indians to clap, blow conch shells or ring bells for five minutes on March 22 to commend those fighting the pandemic. It had drawn a massive response.
The lights being switched off resulted in an electricity load reduction of around 32 Gigawatts (GW) on India’s power grid.
It is estimated that the country’s power load during the lockdown is around 117 GW.
The grid frequency was maintained between 49.7 Hz to 50.26 Hz.
The decrease in electricity demand at 9 pm resulted in a price crash on the power exchange market.
The country successfully managed the operation of its national grid, which is capable of transferring 99 GW from any part of the country.
It was able to pull this load reduction and recovery in a span of two to four minutes each.
Power Minister Raj Kumar said:
“Demand in the grid came down by 32,000 MW within a few minutes but the frequency and voltage was maintained within the normal range.
“The drop in national demand by 32,000 Megawatts shows a huge response of the nation to the call of the Prime Minister.”
The state-run Power System Operation Corp. Ltd, which oversees India’s electricity load management functions, had called for the all-India grid frequency to be kept at 49.90 Hz from 8:30 pm on Sunday in view of the anticipated frequency rise because of demand reduction at 9 pm.
Since March 24, India has been under lockdown. Many businesses have been closed and the economy has almost come to a stop because only essential services are allowed to function.
This has also resulted in power demand decreasing and led to a price of Rs. 0.69 (£0.0074) per unit for electricity traded for the 9 pm to 9:15 pm time slot for April 5.
In comparison, the price per unit of electricity for the same time period on April 4 was Rs. 2.90 (£0.031).
The all-time low and high for electricity recorded in the spot market was Rs. 0.50 (£0.0053) per unit and Rs. 18.2 (£0.19) per unit, respectively.
The average price for electricity traded on the exchange between March 1 and March 21 was Rs. 2.60 (£0.028) per unit.
This has decreased to Rs. 2.13 (£0.023) per unit for the March 25 to March 31 period, during the nationwide lockdown. The average price for electricity traded in the exchange for March was Rs. 2.46 (£0.026) per unit.
The lockdown has resulted in peak electricity demand coming down, with commercial and industrial power demand taking a hit after many factories shut down.