—Manish Agarwal, VP, Business Head, Power Products & Solution, Sterlite Technologies Ltd
Sterlite is the world’s largest power conductor manufacturer. Take us through the capabilities of your cables and conductor business, with reference to the power sector.
We have been manufacturing and supplying conductors to the power sector for more than two decades. Sterlite Technologies’ experience is represented in hundreds of thousands of conductor supply and promoters of high performance conductors to major clients worldwide, developer and owner of power infrastructure in India. With capacity of approximately 160,000 tonnes per year annually across three manufacturing facilities, Sterlite has supplied more than a million km of conductor to National Grid of India, thus far.
Our cable manufacturing capacity is around 2,000 km per year. We have supplied cables of rating up to 132kV with manufacturing capacity of up to 220kV. We are the first manufacturers in the world for 3-core 66kV ground application power cables.
Sterlite has been moving up the value chain by providing system integration for transmission and sub-transmission levels. Sterlite Technologies has been leading the bandwagon in promoting the uptake of high performance conductors. We have gained consistent experience in design, supply, installation and commissioning of high performance conductors. We have built close relationship with clients to understand their unique requirement and offered strategic solutions through systems design, application engineering, complete engineering-procurement-construction-project management, commissioning and lifecycle services to ensure improved business performance.
We have supplied several hundreds of km of specialized core including composite core. It is worth mentioning that we are the first Indian company to have supplied INVAR (STACIR) type of HTLS in India. Furthermore, other types of HTLS solutions have been supplied by us to major clients worldwide. As a developer and owner of power infrastructure in India, Sterlite has delivered projects from concept-to-commissioning stage of transmission lines capable of power and data/voice transfer.
You had planned capacity expansion of your conductor business to 2 lakh tpa. What is the current status?
There is an increased demand of High Performance Conductor (HPC) or HTLS in the domestic market and we would like to be a part of the growth and be a significant player in this segment. Hence, we plan to significantly increase our current capacity of HPC.
Currently, transmission line additions with HPC is merely 1 per cent of the total circuit km (ckm) installed in the country (around 20,000 ckm per year).
At the central and state transmission and sub-transmission levels, there is increased consciousness about corridor intensity (which is mw transfer/meter). HPC will find their application in re-conductoring as well as new line offering increase in corridor intensity, relieving congestion and future proofing. We estimate that HPC will increase to anywhere between 15-20 per cent of total ckm installations in the country in the foreseeable future.
Tell us about HTLS conductor technology and your perception of its demand from India.
High Performance Conductors is an attractive method of increasing transmission line thermal rating. These conductors are capable of operation at temperatures as high as 250°C, with less thermal elongation. Ideally, these special HTLS conductors can be installed and operated without the need for extensive modification. HPC conductors are broadly classified in two categories — HTLS (High Temperature Low SAG Conductors), where conductors are capable of carrying Double or more Power in existing T&D Corridor by maintaining the same SAG; and, special conductors capable of carrying 25-30 per cent more power with low T&D losses and is suitable for replacing ACSR/AAAC conventional conductors in new line, making transmission system more robust and future-ready to meet additional power requirements in same corridor.
In HTLS categories, mainly thermal conductors with INVAR core, carbon composite core, ACSS & GAP type conductors are available, whereas, in HTC category TACSR and AL-59 type conductors are available. The entire HTLS and HTC category is being used worldwide for different power solutions.
As an industry leader, we are committed to research and innovation. To stay on the cutting edge of innovation, Sterlite invests revenue and resources to develop conductor technologies for smart line solutions.
How is your partnership with CTC Global for ACCC conductors progressing? Tell us about some recent ACCC installations in India.
In pursuit of providing its customer with proven technologies, Sterlite entered into a committed partnership with CTC in December 2010. Ever since, Sterlite has maintained a relentless focus on changing the customer buying behaviour from least-cost component to best value solution. We have six public power utilities (including consultancy project of PGCIL) and two private entities that have been using ACCC conductors. Sterlite has offered ACCC solution at distribution voltage ~33kV, which is the first of its kind across the globe. Furthermore, we have supplied ACCC conductor in Europe and LATAM.
Sterlite recently won a major contract for its Al59 conductors for a 500kV line in Sweden. How do you generally see prospects in the global market?
Sterlite is strongly footed in Sweden. We have completed supply of over 10,000 km of overhead T&D conductor to Sweden in a span of last 7 years, which is the largest by any manufacturer in Sweden. Our conductors have been deployed on majorly 220-500kV transmission line of over 16 transmission & distribution utilities, enhancing their efficiency.
Although each main market has very different dynamics, global transmission growth outlook is robust in general. Drivers of growth vary i.e. transmission growth in Asia is witnessed on account of the changing regulatory environment, unbundling of power utilities and implementation of tariff reforms resulting in increasing participation of private companies. Africa is another region to take center stage for investment in T&D. African countries are investing to build their intra-regional network and cross-border projects. Cross border electricity connection has been planned in Europe, CIS and Latin American countries. Rapid economic activities warranted policy liberalization in energy sector and growth in transmission. NERC reliability compliance, Renewable interconnects etc are some of the factors for investment in transmission in North America.
With power transmission getting significant attention at both the interregional and intrastate level, how do you see the road ahead for the cables and conductor business of Sterilte?
The cable & conductor demand is linked to transmission and distribution infrastructure growth, which in turn is tightly knitted to the government’s response to energy challenges. In the last one year, the government’s response has been to address macro drivers with an ultimate view to provide reliable, quality and round the clock power to all.
Generation capacity additions, debottlenecking fuel supply through coal block auction, boosting renewable energy, penetration in rural India, improvement in quality of power in urban and industrial area, speedy project clearances etc shows the size, scale and sentiment of government’s initiatives.
With government's ambitious plan to provide 24x7 power to households by 2019, it will have to provide an electricity connection to roughly 80 million households (as per 2011 Census) that are still not connected to the grid.
Reaching the bottom of the pyramid requires upgrades and additions in T&D networks in order to improve the quality of power delivery to existing customers by replacing and refurbishing T&D assets, to connect new power plants and to accommodate the increasing contribution of variable renewable sources. The domestic demand is expected to significantly improve in the near future under the stable and predictable policy framework.