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AdvertisementsThis story is part of Climate Desks series on the future of energy and climate change. Its a rainy morning on the outskirts of Delhi, but the air is humid, and the air conditioner is on. But these days Delhis electricity grid isnt as reliable as it used to be. Theres more than enough power to power most homes, but not all of them. Over the last few decades, as India has built a new, more powerful grid, the city has relied more heavily on diesel-fired generators than ever before. But the new system is running under heavy loads. So even though the electricity grid is running on standby a crucial feature in the Indian grid system when all you have to do is shut down one generator and another one will keep the lights on the whole city is still trying to run on diesel. A new study by a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota shows that, at least for a moment, diesel generators in Delhi are not as reliable as they were. The new generation of diesel generators that we rely on to be able to run the grid now need to be able to run longer, says James D. Roper, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota. The study was published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science. Diesel power has proven to be one of the most cost-effective solutions for Indias power crisis. But Delhis current generation of diesel generators used in the citys electricity grid is very old: The generators are more than 30 years old. That means they require much more energy to run, and its what the researchers believe is leading to the grids instability. Jadhav, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Minnesota. Theres all this energy generation thats not really getting used and instead its just going to sit at a certain place and then when the power goes down, it needs to go back there and start producing energy. Its a problem that was especially evident in 2014, when heavy rains in Northern India caused a blackout that lasted for more than seven hours. When power went out in Delhi, residents were forced to go to schools and businesses that were shut down. The power problems affected people living in Delhis dense suburbs. According to the authors of the new study, theres plenty of room for improvement in the diesel generators efficiency, and the Indian government should.

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