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Electrical and Computer Engineer Can Talk About Power Grid Collapse in India

Released: 1-Aug-2012 10:35 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Kansas State University
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MANHATTAN, KAN. -- With India's power grid collapse affecting hundreds of millions of people, a Kansas State University expert who studies power systems engineering can provide insight into the infrastructure issues behind the collapse.

Anil Pahwa, professor of electrical and computer engineering, is originally from India and has worked with power systems for more than 30 years. He researches intelligent power distribution systems, including ways to improve these systems and make them more stable and efficient.

With the collapse in India, Pahwa said the initial indication is that some states were overdrawing power beyond the allotment, which caused the collapse. Whenever the power lines are beyond capacity, there is a danger of collapse.

Additionally, it is the monsoon season in India, but a lack of rain has kept the temperatures high. High humidity that is common during this season puts additional strain on the system. There is also some speculation that the farmers have been pumping more water because of the shortage of rain.

India does not have enough power generation to meet the demand, Pahwa said, and rolling blackouts are commonly practiced to maintain balance between generation and load. In this case, enough load was not shed in time to prevent the collapse. There is no foolproof solution, Pahwa said, but real-time monitoring and analysis of the grid help gain more awareness and can help prevent such collapses.

Some of Pahwa's current research projects are helping utility companies better identify where problems and power outages occur in electrical distribution systems connected to homes. Pahwa has served in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, Power and Energy Society for several years and is currently the chair of the Power and Energy Education Committee. He can be reached at 785-532-4654 or pahwa@k-state.edu.

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