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Alstom’s India team to play global role in grid business

According to reports, France-headquartered Alstom expects India to remain the single largest market for its electricity transmission business. India is upgrading nearly 1,700 critical electricity transmission stations and is installing high-voltage lines to transmit power over long distances.

Alstom Executive Vice-President and Alstom Grid Sector President Grégoire Poux-Guillaume, says all the business indicators in India are positive. Excerpts from an interview:

How bullish is Alstom on the Indian market?

India continues to be our number one market. Of our total sales revenue, India contributes 15 per cent, Middle East, 15 per cent, Europe, 30 per cent, and the Americas, 20 per cent. The remaining 20 per cent comes from other Asian countries.

The industrial and execution base that we have built in India is not only for the country’s domestic market, but also for the worldwide market.

As we progress, our Indian team will take on a bigger role in our world business. Out of the 19,000 employees globally, 4,000 are based in India. We are building our control systems for high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) in India. We are also building additional capabilities in India, which will be deployed across the world.

The power sector in India faces several issues. What opportunities do you see?

India has started installing HVDC projects and more such projects are being planned. The country is also revamping its control systems. Last year’s blackout caused by a grid failure has given the country additional impetus to make sure that the best technology is available. In terms of implementation, India is second to none.

India is a market that is growing fast, and is pushing all available fuel sources. We have done a lot of hydro projects, steel plants and renewables, particularly wind. We are looking at all available resources.

But no power producer is taking up greenfield projects. Does this narrow down your opportunities?

Clearly, coal shortage and the poor financial health of electricity distribution utilities (discoms) have slowed down the sector. There has been financial shortage for key projects, resulting in less investment. As these issues are getting resolved now, I think companies will be free to invest in power generation. Recently, there has been indexation of coal prices and reforms steps have been announced to make discoms financially viable.

Do you think more HVDC projects will be commissioned in India?

The Indian market for HVDC is mostly internal. It is not about inter-region connections or connecting offshore projects to land. It is about re-balancing the network by connecting from where electricity is produced to where it is consumed.

These super grid-connected highways are being set up to carry electricity as economically as possible and bring stability to the grid.

This is what HVDC provides. As the population and economy grows, India is exploiting energy sources that are not central to the consumption centres.

The prospects are very clear in India. There is more electrification touching a wider population. So, all the indicators are positive in India.

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