All of us are familiar with and have experienced “Blackouts” in the past but have you ever heard of a “Brown-Out”?
Well, if not, this is the technology that our union minister of state (Independent Charge) for power, coal, renewable energy and mines, Piyush Goyal is currently experimenting with in order to free India from any situation that leads to a grid failure or a blackout.
The Wikipedia defines a “brown-out” as follows:
“A brownout is an intentional or unintentional drop in voltage in an electrical power supply system. The term brownout comes from the dimming experienced by lighting when the voltage sags. A voltage reduction may be an effect of disruption of an electrical grid, or may occasionally be imposed in an effort to reduce load and prevent a power outage, known as a blackout.”
So it is clear from the above definition that brownouts are sometimes caused on purpose by the utility companies. Putting a power grid into a brownout for some can prevent overloads, stopping a potential blackout.
Goyal said on Thursday that his ministry is experimenting with this brown-out technology that can provide some power backup to households in the event of a grid failure leading to blackouts.
“The suggestion of brown-out was given to me by my friend and IIT Chennai Director Ashok Jhunjhunwala. In this, houses are provided with a lower power DC line along with the AC line that can prove an alternate source of electricity in case the grid fails and there is a blackout,” the minister said.
The minister added that he has discussed the technique with the officials in the Power Ministry and have started two pilot projects in Rajasthan and Bihar to test it.
“Jhunjhunwala conducted a test on 100 houses in Chennai, but we wanted to test it on a larger scale. So, we started two pilot projects, one in Rajasthan’s Falaudi and the other in Bihar’s Sasaram. The technology looks a bit expensive, but it can help in providing an alternate source of power,” he said.
So while the minister comes up with a permanent fix for “Blackouts”, let us all be clear that while a blackout is a complete power failure that affects electricity users across cities and states as the entire area goes black;, a brownout is a controlled power reduction that can be used by a utility to reduce line voltage to deliver more power and meet increased demand and also avert grid failures.
Currently, Writing a Book for Penguin India Titled Greased Pole:How Politics and Lobbying Stifled India’s Energy Dreams. The author can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org (9810661825)