Published: 24th May 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: Is the world headed for a massive power outage?
In what was supposed to be a year of recovery after the pandemic, global warming and climate change seem to be leading the world towards an energy crisis
The thankless heatwave this year in India and other parts of South Asia has claimed more than 90 lives, according to World Weather Attribution (WWA). The rising temperatures, not just in South Asia, but also in other parts of the world have driven up the demand for power. However, this demand was not met with adequate supply. We dig deeper into a possible world power shortage crisis that seems to be on the horizon.
How high is the demand for power right now?
India hit its highest-ever mark for demand for power in April this year at 207 GW. Globally, 2021 saw the largest increase in power demand over the year at 1500 Terawatt-hours.
What is driving the increase in demand?
While the increase in industrial and commercial activity after the pandemic has contributed to the sudden surge in demand for power, experts suggest that the main reason behind this increase is the soaring temperatures across the world due to climate change.
Is the world able to meet this increase in demand?
This summer, India and other nations in SouthEast Asia saw power outages for hours during this summer. According to numbers from the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), India fell short by 192 million units of power on April 29, which was the day when the country hit the 207 GW mark for power demand. In the state of Texas in the United States, six power plants broke down due to the demand just at the start of summer. In South Africa, as well, long power cuts have become frequent.
What are the reasons behind the shortage?
The war in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions imposed on Russia are contributing to a problem that is largely driven by the harsh weather conditions brought on by climate change. Heatwaves in India, the nature of which we saw this year, were supposed to be an anomaly that occurred only once in about 3,000 years. However, with Earth's temperature increasing by 1.2 degrees Celsius due to global warming, this event is now poised to happen every five years.
What impact have the power outages had?
Long power outages put lives at risk in conditions of a severe heatwave. It also contributes to inflation. Power shortage in 2014 robbed India of five per cent of its GDP. The numbers this year could be as huge as $100 billion, according to a report by Bloomberg. It also impacts school hours and the functioning of industries that are trying to rebound after two dismal pandemic years.