With states gearing up to modernise power distribution, the transmission infrastructure is set to undergo an overhaul. At least five major states with highest power consumption in the country are working with private companies to strengthen their transmission and distribution involving smart technology.
Conductors and energy meters have registered a tremendous growth in their turnover with 44.9 per cent and 28.2 per cent, respectively, over the past year, according to the annual report by the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers' Association (IEEMA). The growth of communication cables, largely used in smart grids, has seen a 35.9 per cent growth. IEEMA is the representative body for the Indian power equipment sector.
Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat and West Bengal have started addressing the constraints in their grid, entailing technology improvement in the infrastructure.
For instance, India's largest private power transmission company, Sterlite Technologies, is operating in at least five major power consuming states at sub-transmission level. In the past three years, revenue has grown 10 times to Rs 500-600 crore annually. According to the company's executives, it will double every year.
"There is a lot of system improvement taking place to prevent grid failures and tripping. Also, cities are becoming high consumption centres. So, utilities are spending more in making sub-transmission smarter and to upgrade their distribution," said Anand Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer of Sterlite Technolgies.
"There is positive momentum in sub-transmission and distribution of 66 kilovolt products and below. The growth in turnover of MCB (miniature circuit breaker), energy metres and cables is a good sign, as it indicates a vivid pace of development taking place in power and infrastructure sectors of the country," said Vishnu Agarwal, president, IEEMA.
Foreign majors such as ABB, Alstom and Wartsila are now actively working in this space with increased demand from states suffering from huge aggregate technical and commercial (T&C) losses.
"The focus is on grid stability, so most of state electricity boards are inviting a high level of investment in modern technology. This is the next stage of reforms in this sector," said Subir Pal, country marketing head of ABB India.
Average AT&C losses in India are 25 per cent, going up to 35 per cent in tier-II and III cities. While power generation at 295,000 megawatt is enough to meet per capita demand, generators complain of inadequate transmission infrastructure.
"Transmission would go through a transition process. Earlier, we would create bulk power generation and create a mega highway of transmission but tomorrow's issues are different. We'll have flexible lines which give more power, a robust grid with simultaneous communication infra and new-age electronic meters," said Agarwal.
Smart grid as a concept in India is under development, with micro solutions scattered across regions.
Fourteen pilot smart grid projects are under various stages of being bid or awarded.
"For tomorrow's smart cities, some elements are already taking shape. Once state level grids become smart, it leads to a trickle-around effect for strengthening the national grid," said Agarwal. He said the Power Grid was already working on putting optical ground fibres along the national grid.
"As we keep moving through, central grid would become smarter in phases in coming seven-to-eight years," said Agarwal.
- Smart grid is a modern power grid with demand-supply monitoring and control
- UP, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat and West Bengal strengthening their transmission and distribution
- Grid stability, smart solutions, reduction of AT&C losses to dive growth
- Demand for communication & monitoring equipment surging
- Business of smart grid to double annually