—Rathin Basu, Managing Director, Alstom T&D
Grid recently became part of the GE Group globally. In this exclusive exchange,
we have Rathin Basu sharing his views on how this major development can help
Alstom and GE together create a diverse portfolio of products and solutions for
the Indian energy sector. Basu also points out the various challenges that the
Indian power grid faces. He feels that the most important technical challenge
is the integration of power generation from renewable energy sources.
the new offerings from the business, now that you are a GE Group company?
Globally, Alstom Grid is now GE Grid Solutions
and is an important part of GE’s Energy Connections business. With the
acquisition of Alstom Grid, we have the most diverse energy portfolio in the
industry. We now have a complete range of turnkey products and solutions from
high and extra-high voltages to low and medium voltage for our customers. We
also have strong references in the industry like steel, aluminium, cement,
processing, automation, marine, etc. Particularly in the renewable side, we
have products that include solar inverters and wind turbine converters. The
enhanced portfolio can now completely address the electrical balance of plant
for renewable projects, which is a significant add-on.
How do you
visualize the combined picture, especially with respect to the entire power
T&D value chain?
In 765kV infrastructure, we have a huge presence
in India’s T&D grid. Around 70 per cent of the electricity in the country
flows with our technology through the national and regional load dispatch
centres (RLDC), etc. Similarly in the substation automation field, we have done
a lot of work. With the enhanced portfolio, we now have specialized products in
the low and medium voltage that can address a much wider market. This will
ensure that we offer the best solution and technology to customers. We are also
a strong solutions company giving the best customized design, engineering,
project management and site installation.
We also look forward to leverage the “Digital
Industrial” concept of GE. We have an operating system called “Predix.” What we are doing is that we are educating
our customers so that they can modernize and improve productivity of their
plants by using our predictive analytical software, which will allow them to
get an advance alert for a potential wearing down of their machines or
equipment. This will help customers take preventive action even before the
your view on India’s growing power T&D losses?
India has Rs.80,000-Rs.90,000 crore of T&D
losses. Our overall losses are 27 per cent. India should aim to reduce its T&D
losses to the range of 15 per cent. There are only 8 to 10 states which have
high T&D losses. The challenge is how to convert these 8-10 discoms, which
are perpetually losing money, into efficient and profitable ones. UDAY (Ujwal
Discom Assurance Yojana) is a good initiative from the Central government.
Execution at the state level, therefore, will be the key factor to determine
How do you
rate India’s success in privatisation of distribution circles either through
the licensee model or the distribution franchise model?
Privatisation of distribution has been largely
successful but is not the only way to make discoms profitable. It is not easy
to do privatization in discoms. Hence we need to ensure that the states take
the lead to make them so. They will bring 24x7 quality power and help states
become more industrial and drive their economic growth.
your general reading of India’s national grid network?
installed power capacity in India today is 290 GW. But the usage is only 50 per
cent of the installed capacity. One of the reasons for this is that the
electricity flow between different regions of India is not fluid. The
interregional power transfer capacity is 25,000 mw which is extremely low. It
can be addressed through bulk power transfer between regions.
Connectivity to the southern grid was done only
in December 2013. Before that connectivity was only through HVDC connections.
Even today, the theoretical connection is around 4,000 mw but the need is
15,000 mw. It will be another 2-3 years before south and rest of India is
well-connected. The current national target is to achieve 68,000 mw of
interregional capacity by 2017. The plan for 2022 is to take this further to
1,28,000 mw. By that time, we expect the aggregate national power generation
capacity to be around 400 GW.
Until 2022, to make the bulk power transmission
from one region to the other will be dependent on the 765kV AC backbone.
Furthermore, the 1,200kV line cannot be applied commercially because it is a huge
“highway” and you cannot have such a corridor without proper power flow.
problems do you see, from a technical standpoint, in feeding power from
renewable energy sources like solar and wind, given that it is intermittent in
This is a huge challenge! The amount of
renewable energy that we are planning to put into the grid today requires
massive investment in managing power flow and the stability of the grid.
Renewable power is also geographical. There are only certain 5-7 states where
you have more renewables than the rest. Others are demand centres. What you do
is that you collect power from each local substation to a nearby/regional
pooling substation. Typically voltages associated with renewable energy power
plants are lower—in the 66/132kV range. So, at the pooling station, voltage is
stepped up to either 220kV or the 400V level, depending on the concentration of
renewable power, and a corridor is created. The state and national planners
need to accelerate the development of renewable grid corridors. In the T&D
network, first at the state level and then at the Central level, you need huge
investment to handle renewable power.
solutions will help in seamless integration of renewables to the national grid?
GE is helping utilities address the
ever-increasing complexities with its versatile and robust solutions like HVDC,
SVC, STATCOMS etc. GE’s EBoP solutions are scalable to support a large range of
projects from heavy duty turbine generation to renewable wind and solar
applications. Offering solutions for wind and solar renewable generation
applications, the system is comprised of relays, meters, communication
hardware, HMI to SCADA integration, and a prepackaged control building
connected to the switchyard. The implemented solution reduces testing,
commissioning and maintenance for customers.