Nov 15 2013 | Power Zone

Sustained growth of the Power Sector is the key....

Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Ltd (GETCO) was set up in May 1999 and is registered under the Companies Act, 1956. The Company was promoted by erstwhile Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) as its wholly owned subsidiary in the context of liberalization and as a part of efforts towards restructuring of the Power Sector.

Surinder Kumar Negi, Managing Director, Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Ltd (GETCO) shares his views with Sandeep Sharma about the challenges faced by the power sector in India and recommends solutions to solve the power shortage situation in India. Edited Excerpts....

What are the challenges before the power sector in India?
Sustained growth of the Power Sector is the key parameter to drive the country’s economic development. Today, Indian Power Sector is witnessing a tough phase and last year’s blackouts that hit the country have marked a dark patch in the history of the Indian power sector (although this has happened for the first time in this decade). Prolonged power cut in different states across the country is a routine phenomenon. Today, it is partially in the
sleeping mode, because investments are suspended due to poor financial health of DISCOMs and partially in the paralyzed mode because of the fuel and environmental issues.

In generation sector, we had good success in 11th FYP and similar capacity is planned for 12th FYP. However, this could be reality only when we expeditiously provide environmental clearances and fuel linkages. Financial institutions are hesitant to take risk without the bankable PPAs and fuel linkages. In the power plant operation, CEA data is showing reduction in the PLF due to shut down of gas projects. We have to find out the ways to deal with this peculiar issue of fuel cost for these gas based projects. It is a setback that not many orders are getting materialized and manufacturing capacity put up in recent times is going unutilized in our Country. In the transmission sector, Grid collapse on 30th and 31st July 2012 provides us opportunity to focus on network development and grid operation technologies. Our challenge is to have grid operation technologies and support the operator in load dispatch centre with State of Art pre-warning and monitoring systems like PMUs and WAMS. An automated IT based transmission grid control would be a better choice than mentally and manually control system.

Renewable Energy has a paramount influence on grid operation due to its inherent characteristic of variability, uncertainty and intermittency. Renewable Energy ownership belongs to different states and when it comes to circumventing the challenges of such inherent characteristics of Renewable Energy, the conventional generation of the state are the first casualties. It is difficult for them to back down and ramp up generation, when the Renewable Energy is given “must run status”. Central generating stations are not given such affect. We have to bring parity here to back-down generation uniformly. This issue assumes larger prospective, when RE will go up to 20% by 2020. We need to put Renewable Energy Control Station with forecasting and scheduling solutions and tools. Other challenges for transmission section are inadequate Inter-regional corridor, short term Open Access, Transmission network for Renewable Energy (RE), Modernization of Load Dispatch Centres and adoption of Smart Grid Technologies. Further, Right of Way issue and forest clearances are the major bottlenecks for the timely completion of transmission projects.

It may be necessary to think innovative solutions like use of existing line with high ampacity conductor to save corridors, monopole design, narrow base towers and compact switchgear technology for up-gradation in existing and new substation. In the Distribution sector, high AT&C loss in the range of 28% to 30% is a major concern and challenge to curtain. Solution to this chronicle problem will change the fate of electricity sector in India. Technology intervention and minimum human interface in energy accounting are the two key elements to check and cutdown commercial losses.

Lack of IT based information system is also a major bottleneck for the distribution utilities as the data credibility is questionable for a timely decision making. Implementation of smart metering looks like a never ending project in absence of knowledge, skills and IT infrastructure.

What are your recommendations to solve power shortage in India?
As per CEA report, energy shortfall and peak deficit of 8.5% and 9% for FY 2012-13 compares to the last year’s figures of 10.2% and 11.1% respectively, shows a marginal improvement in power supply position. It may be prudent to solve power shortages in India through improvement within the existing inventory and status known to us. We must resolve fuel linkages issues and environmental clearances for the ongoing projects, wherein substantial investment have been made. Policy framework and strict administrative measures are needed to deal with huge commercial losses of DISCOMs. It is recommended to deploy smart metering infrastructure to have foolproof energy accounting and it may be worthwhile to have exclusive investment plan for all major towns and cities. The curtailment of AT&C loss itself will solve the problem of power shortage in many states. In many parts of the states, it is not easy to access villages and a long transmission and distribution line does not provide them reliability and quality power supply. The interruptions and breakdowns are very common. They are in fact the first casualty under the power shortage condition. The RE power from wind and solar would be a viable solution to supply power locally.

We have to adopt the simple principle of “Energy Saved” is “Energy generated”. It is also called as Negawatt. We nearly waste 15 to 20% energy in our day to day life. A very comprehensive and thoughtful planning and strategy is required to implement energy saving measures whole heartedly. While, we may deal with lighting, electrical appliances and air condition load at individual level, the major contribution of saving shall come from industrial, commercial and infrastructure power consumption.

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