670 Million People In India Without Power As Electric Grid Fails

Tyler Durden's picture

Two weeks ago we touched upon the possibility that the US climatic deep fried black swan could soon stretch to India where the Monsoon season was 22% below normal conditions for this time of year. Today India is the locus of another flightless bird sighting following an epic powergrid meltdown which left half of its 1.2 billion people without power on Tuesday "as the grids covering a dozen states broke down, the second major blackout in as many days and an embarrassment for the government as it struggles to revive economic growth... More than a dozen states with a total population of 670 million people were without power, with the lights out even at major hospitals in Kolkata." Indicatively this is the same as every man, woman and child in America having no electricity. Twice over."Stretching from Assam, near China, to the Himalayas and the deserts of Rajasthan, the power cut was the worst to hit India in more than a decade. Trains were stranded in Kolkata and Delhi and thousands of people poured out of the sweltering capital's modern metro system when it ground to a halt at lunchtime. Office buildings switched to diesel generators and traffic jammed the roads." Hopefully, two events in a row don't confirm a trend. Although if indeed systemic, and if suddenly the Indian power infrastructure is unable to handle the local drought-related conditions, thus serving as a natural cap on economic expansion, all bets may be off as to the unlimited upside potential capacity of the BRICs.

More from Reuters:

"We'll have to wait for an hour or hour and a half, but till then we're trying to restore metro, railway and other essential services," Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters.


Shinde blamed the system collapse on some states drawing more than their share of electricity from the overstretched grid. Asia's third-largest economy suffers a peak-hour power deficit of about 10 percent, dragging on economic growth.


"This is the second day that something like this has happened. I've given instructions that whoever overdraws power will be punished."


The country's southern and western grids were supplying power to help restore services, officials said.

The immediate reason for this freak occurence? Precisely what we alone noted as a potential black swan two weeks ago:

The problem has been made worse by weak a monsoon in agricultural states such as wheat-belt Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in the Ganges plains, which has a larger population than Brazil. With less rain to irrigate crops, more farmers resort to electric pumps to draw water from wells.

Surely record blackouts qualify as an "unexpected consequence" arising from an "unexpected event." And it will only get worse before it gets better.

Power shortages and a creaky road and rail network have weighed heavily on the country's efforts to industrialize. Grappling with the slowest economic growth in nine years, Delhi recently scaled back a target to pump $1 trillion into infrastructure over the next five years.


Major industries have dedicated power plants or large diesel generators and are shielded from outages -- but the inconsistent supply hits investment and disrupts small businesses.


High consumption of heavily subsidized diesel by farmers and businesses has fuelled a gaping fiscal deficit that the government has vowed to tackle to restore confidence in the economy. But the poor monsoon means a subsidy cut is politically difficult.

Finally, the RBI apparently is unclear that one can solve every problem and created endless wealth and prosperity by printing.

On Tuesday, the central bank cut its economic growth outlook for the fiscal year that ends in March to 6.5 percent, from the 7.3 percent assumption made in April, putting its outlook closer to that of many private economists.

And yes, India does have its own currency which it can print with reckless abandon. It also happens to have a population that is just chomping at the bit to regain its status as the biggest demand driver for gold prices in the world from China.

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CPL's picture

No...the reason India is lights out is they cannot obtain Diesel or Coal for any price.  Same thing has been happening the world over.


670 million in India are without power, however in a country of nearly 1.5 billion, 400 million live without power everyday.  That's 1 billion people.  However this is where it gets really weird.


All the North American government services like court processing, information management, development , legal research, accounting, engineering, munitions manufacturing (90% of the world's supply at last glance two years ago), clothing making, furniture textiles...


India has a lot to offer.


Now what if I told you that what is happening in India will be happening in North America this year?




#PeakCoal (seriously, we've been using it for 220 years, it eventually runs out, we're at the point we are digging up shale).


Cease the magical thinking and we can all start to plan around the fact of declining energy quality and quantity.  I'm not talking wind or solar power or recycling...reduction in use is the only way right now.  I'm talking about the obvious decision to cull the human race to a managable size to live in the boundries of our current renewable energy, 10% of total output while the mess gets sorted out.


It's either that or everyone has to start learning some new tricks involving hard physical labour.

FEDbuster's picture

Peak BS?

I am not sure about India's supplies, but the US has enough coal, new multi-trillion barrels of oil in the Balken and huge oil reserves in Alaska. 

What India (and the US) is suffering from is legacy grid technology.   Most countries need to spend money to upgrade grid technology and retire equipment that dates back over 80 years that underlies the electric infrastructure.  It wasn't designed to endure the loads that are placed upon it.

YuropeanImbecille's picture

In Europe the requirement for oil has gone down about 8-10% since 2010, they claim it is because of more fuel efficient cars.. but maybe, just MAYBE it is because one fugging gallon costs around $8?? 87% of that being the slave tax.


So stop this BS about peak oil, it is ridicilous and makes no sense!


Check this out from the "peak oil" blog http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9371


GetZeeGold's picture



A couple solar panels will totally fix it.


francis_sawyer's picture

It was JONNY (from 'Airplane')... But he was just kidding...

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

gov is very good at wasting capital, so just like obuma's shovel ready crap..you get big talk and finger pointing while the money is stolen by the crony capitalists and the pols, energy is plentiful it's just mostly illegal.

gov across the globe is set up to enrich a few, while restricting all others..that is why the world economies are near collapse.

Short Memories's picture

I gotta hand it to ZH, when I saw this warning a few weeks ago I thought "another doom and gloom story".

Tylers' are going to have quit their finance jobs soon as they are all insiders :) (except that there are no chinese walls anymore :P )



AnAnonymous's picture

gov is very good at wasting capital

US citizens are very good at wasting capital. Their government has to reflect them.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Chinese citizenism citizens are very good at wasting their heads on the sweet smoke of the Peoples Liberation Opium Parlours.

jerry_theking_lawler's picture

Ah ha......now we know why China built all of those 'empty' towns.....for mass imigration from India.

Jason T's picture

Peak conventional oil.. the easy to get stuff.. has in fact peaked in 2006.


francis_sawyer's picture

Oops there goes a 1,000 kilowatt dam...


But they still have HIGH HOPES!

CPL's picture

North America would need some water in the east coast rivers to actually produce power with a dam.


Things do not look good for the Northern Hemisphere.  South America spring time is coming up and that will determine the size of the human race.  With a near 95% crop failure through NA already, South America will more than likely get it between the eyes just like us

boogerbently's picture

Nuclear power.

If it works, more electricity.

If it fails, less electricity users.

CPL's picture


Flakmeister's picture

Hey FedBuster,,,

Are you ignorant of the real numbers or do you just make shit up?

There are no multi-trillion barrel deposits of oil in the Bakken or anywhere else for that matter...

You likely have been duped by some shill conflating kerogen with oil....

crkennedymd's picture

Hard to invest in our grid when the money (i.e. debt) is being poured into the MIC and nation building overseas. We deserve a nationwide grid failure

ian807's picture

FEDBuster. I'm sorry about your difficulties with arithmetic. For a numerate analysis of the energy problems with the answers already worked out for you, start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_mile_of_oil

The short answer is "It's not just about the quantity of hydrocarbons, it's about how much energy you can get from those hydrocarbons at a price you can afford."

There are hydrocarbons on the moons of Jupiter too. They're too expensive to get, and would yield negative energy, much like most of the oil on Earth in the hydrocarbon horizon. There's no technology that will ever makef a teacup of oil, a lump of coal, or a whiff of natural gas in a cubic yard of impermeable rock 5 miles down either energetically or economically profitable.

New_Meat's picture

Trav7777777 ought to be reporting in at any time now. - Ned

GetZeeGold's picture



Just as soon as power is restored I'm guessing.


Matt's picture

he was banned and all of his posts purged from Zerohedge, except the posts on the archives server, about 6 months ago.

Pay Day Today's picture

Coal and diesel is cheaper and more plentiful than a year ago. Peak oil can and will occur alongside cheaper energy prices because absolute income declines outpace absolute energy price decline.

CPL's picture



I agree, the ancient electrical infrastructure the world over is online and ready with some imaginary set of guidelines to make North America's life easier.


What type of diesel is plentiful?  Ethanol based Diesel?  Made from Corn and soy?  All that corn from last year?  Wait a second there wasn't a bumper crop...that was the promise for this summer.


Coal...LOLOLOLOLOL  really?  It's a energy supply that "was" cheap and plentiful.  Pricing and shipment indicate otherwise. 

Here are some recent news articles from all over the world in the past week.  Week, not year.


Pakistan's been in the dark for a year.  You can read about how much fun they are having daily here.





Shale isn't coming anytime soon



South Africa has been in the dark for about a year.



This is the math on how all of you are being lied to on energy production using population numbers from the early 70's.



Delicious corn.  What a fucking mess.



Southeast Asia is fucked.



Saudi Farmers can't get diesel for love or money.  Guess where diesel comes from dumbass?  The producers can't supply themselves.  Is that a good or a bad sign?



Reality settling in the shale BreX scams going around.



Why would the price drop with the wells running empty?



South Korea can't keep it's shit together either.



Why you won't be getting cheap clothing or services anymore - India



Looks like NG was overstated and the math was lies.



Zimbabwe is in the dark.  Has been for a year



Appearently everyone hates Ethanol now...because there is no corn growing.



Pay Day Today's picture

Pricing for thermal coal is fine. Currently half the price of the 2008 spike, and comparable to pricing from several years ago.


"Saudi Farmers can't get diesel for love or money.  Guess where diesel comes from dumbass?  The producers can't supply themselves.  Is that a good or a bad sign?"

Well, its a bad sign you think that diesel comes from countries like Saudi Arabia which are rich in crude. Tip: countries with high levels of crude oil well production aren't necessarily countries with high levels of crude oil refining capacity.

CPL's picture

Refineries have all been closed over the last two years.


Not because of profit centers...because an industry doesn't close 97% of their refinery capacity because of cost centers.  They close because of a lack of supply.


I notice that nobody has brought up the use of Helium in the conversation when discussing Diesel.  well we are out of helium, the lovely non combustible gas that makes large scale diesel production possible.  I understand the industry is looking pretty hard for a substitute that isn't coming anytime quickly.


So pretending the refineries are still operating like they did in the 90's is demented.  That game is over now, the new game is called systemic entropy and who can close the loop of bleeding out running north america on minimal levels of energy usage.


Believe me, people are using less energy individually than 10 years ago, we've had no choice, but when you've got 7 billion people it doesn't matter much how miserly we are as a spieces.  This is about human volume.  American's can't get it in their head all the peak scenarios were calculated with a 1970's US population and energy consumption model.  All numbers are based on a population under 4 billion.


crkennedymd's picture

Based on David Korowicz's Trade Off, when the eighteen wheelers stop rolling, we have about one week until complete socioeconomic breakdown. Peak diesel=Peak human existence as we know it

AnAnonymous's picture

Believe me, people are using less energy individually than 10 years ago, we've had no choice, but when you've got 7 billion people it doesn't matter much how miserly we are as a spieces. This is about human volume. American's can't get it in their head all the peak scenarios were calculated with a 1970's US population and energy consumption model. All numbers are based on a population under 4 billion.


Who are those people? US citizens? If them, how? US citizens have been piling on new appliances that keep consuming more and more energy, either aggregately or individually.

The 7 billion number is classical US citizen offuscation. At least 3 billion people are out of the consumption of modern energy sources.

It is US citizen mathematics to keep supporting the view that non consumers are the thorn to remove in an overconsumption problem.

YuropeanImbecille's picture

Do you think that diesel comes up from the ground?? it needs to be refined. so just becaus the terrorists did not build enough refineries does not mean there is no more oil

rwe2late's picture

 Putting aside questions about the LONG-TERM availability of petroleum, and the environmental effects of its use,

the biggest cause of CURRENT limits on petroleum availability is regularly ignored,

that is to say US foreign policy, namely the US devastation of Iraq, and the embargo/blockade of Iran.

(how much US policies are related to enforcing the petrodollar tribute, and how much oil prices are increased by diversion to supply the world's biggest single user of petroleum products, the global Pentagon/NATO enterprise ... are other questions to be considered.)

Taint Boil's picture



Put a gallon of gas in your car then drive it until it runs out. Then get out and push it back to where you started. This is the amount of work that one gallon represents – mind boggling to say the least. Apply the same reasoning to farming – scary.


You don’t have to run out of oil just stop the flow and I’m guessing millions / billions will die. Just hope the “bad guys” don’t figure this out. I’m sure the elite masters already know this …… and is part of their "plan".

Jason T's picture

I heard i barrell of oil is equivilent to 25,000 man hours of work.  

We'll be out of finished motor gasoline in about 2 years .. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=WGFSTUS1&f=W

Bicycle Repairman's picture

"We'll be out of finished motor gasoline in about 2 years"

ROTFLMAO.  I guess I'd better pay off my car sooner.

francis_sawyer's picture

How about if I start at the bottom of Pikes Peak and drive upwards?... (But your point is 'noted')...

YuropeanImbecille's picture

haha thanks for that one =) made me laugh out at the office

DaveyJones's picture

you mean the bad guys that defy physics or the other bad guys?

mjk0259's picture

India royally screwed over foreign companies that tried to build power plants there including Enron - not that Enron didn't deserve it.

The Indian government, in most areas, won't let a power plant charge enough to be economical for a private company.

No harder to move a ship full of coal from Aus to India then from Aus to China.





CPL's picture

Oh I've got Australia in my sights as well.  Aussie government has been lying through it's teeth on production to avoid getting in to trouble with it's masters in China.  Might as well be honest here, Australia is a nice Chinese colony now.


How would you ship all that coal without diesel for the trains to the power plants?

How would you get diesel to the trucks without trains.


I'm afraid hard physical labour, carts and oxen are the only way right now.  When a society thinking in terms of energy "being back in the morning".  What happens when the power stays off like Pakistan?


Means you don't run anything anymore and costs refocus to reflect the true cost of somethign being done.  one poster noted the "pushing car scenario".  All fuels require a monsteriously complex distribution and micro managed system to deliver the supplies.  Electricity is only a single item in the list of energy offerings.


All however are require to be delivered before you run out.  This isn't a question of floating hte supply over in a boat (which does need to happen), it has to do with the poor timing and management.  The same people that helped setup India's electrical infrastructure are teh exact same companies and engineers that run it all in your respective countries.  Don't forget that.




TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

How would you ship all that coal without diesel for the trains to the power plants?


I would use electric trains for that.

Matt's picture

^ har har har. Funny guy. But seriously, coal-powered trains.

CPL's picture





This was yesterday.  There is one to two outages and infrastructure shutdowns per day coming out of Australia.  China is riding the country hard.

bankruptcylawyer's picture

cull the human race? you are out of your mind . 


how about a more productive, hypothetical  yet absurdly unlikely suggestion, rolling out a smartgrid that allows the electrical utilities to cap your electricity consumption without your permission prior to the arrival of a blackout created by excessive consumption. 


zilverreiger's picture

green grid energy is empowering, big government centralized electric power, and ESPECIALLY nuclear power, is not.

Watauga's picture

Would you please explain your remark?  I read it to suggest that you believe that solar, wind, and fungi-based energy "empowers" something (I don't know what, exactly, you refer to in this case).  Can you please also explain HOW these "green grid" energy sources do so?  Assuming you are like most people and prefer that we enjoy at least as high a standard of living as we currently enjoy, would you please explain exactly how your "green" energy sources will enable (empower?) us to do that?

francis_sawyer's picture

Where is Nikola Tesla when you need him?... Unfortunately ~ I believe his work is stored in some government warehouse depository right next the the Ark of the Covenant that Indiana Jones found...

DaveyJones's picture

maybe we can get the bankers to look in the ark

jerry_theking_lawler's picture

nope, its stored in Alaska....in the HAARP project.

In Vino Veritas's picture

I'm not sure what he means by a "green grid".  However, having local/personal/independent power generating capability is certainly empowering for the individual.  As it stands currently, we are (nearly) all beholden to central authority when it comes to our power supply.  We can do nothing but suffer it when there are power outages, rolling blackouts and/or price increases.

The downside to personal generating capability is the cost of installation (which is declining) and the maintenance requirements (batteries, wind and water generators require scheduled attention).

ian807's picture

I think he's promoting the deployment of decentralized electrical systems. While this has no hope at all of replacing the 160 exajoules per year provided by oil alone, what's happening in India now is a fairly good example of why this is a good idea. Moreover, small localized power generation will likely survive powerdown as oil, natural gas and coal become prohibitively expensive over the next 30 years. Heck, it might even slow the process down a bit.

CPL's picture

Government or private sector....does not matter.


Like complaining the glass ran out of water without or with government regulation.