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States need to focus on power distribution reforms says S.K. Agrawal, Power Grid Corporation of India

According to reports, state governments should focus more on reforming power distribution systems and curtail wastage, rather than just increasing power tariff, says S.K. Agrawal, Executive Director (Technology and Development), Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd.

Distribution losses are much higher than transmission losses. According to him, distribution losses (both commercial and technical) are still in the range of 25 to 50 per cent in different States, while transmission losses are hovering around eight per cent.

He said by using 6.6 kV or 11 kV lines instead of 1 or 3 kV lines for distribution and installing efficient metering systems at the consumer end, State electricity boards can cut down distribution losses significantly.

By using smart meters at the consumer end, consumers can be billed according to their power consumption during peak and off-peak hours.

Agrawal, who is also an expert committee member of the Central Power Research Institute, said, “As a country, we need to achieve in the next three to four years what we did in the last 30 years in terms of power transmission and distribution infrastructure.”

His team at Power Grid Corporation is currently involved in creating an ultra high voltage transmission system. Power Grid is setting up a 1200 kV transmission test station at Bina in Madhya Pradesh through a public-private partnership model.

It has signed pacts with over 35 manufacturers across the country to develop and manufacture equipment for the system indigenously. Power Grid will provide the test bed for field trials and testing of these equipment.

Recently, the Chennai-based Hivelm Industries developed a patented 1200 kV isolator and shipped it to Power Grid to be installed at its Bina test station.

Once successful, the 1200-kV transmission line can replace three 400kV lines. Considering the country’s long-term power transfer requirement, the ultra high voltage system will come in handy to overcome hurdles such as availability of land (for right of way for overhead lines), he said.

“And, more importantly, this will bring down the transmission losses to around one per cent from the current eight per cent.”

Agrawal also pointed out that India’s experience is rich in 11 kV to 420 kV systems but limited in 800 kV systems.

Although many countries, including the US, Japan, Ukraine, Italy and Russia, have made great progress in research and development of 1200 kV alternating current transmission system, only China has recently established a commercial 1100 kV system successfully.

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