“One Nation One Grid”-A New Dawn for the Indian Power Sector
Author: K.Yaswanth, MBA (Power), B.E. (EE)
The Indian power system for planning and implementation is divided into five regional grids. Establishment of one unified grid through integration of regional grids was conceived by Central Transmission Utility in nineties. The work of integration took place in a sequential manner.
On October 1991, North-Eastern (NER) and Eastern (ER) grids were integrated. On March 2003, Western (WR) grid and NER-ER were interconnected. Next on August 2006, Northern (NR) and Eastern (ER) grids were interlinked, thereby forming a NEW grid i.e. Central grid. By the formation of this grid, it helped the 4 regions to meet their demand-supply mismatch.
Since there was a lack of integration of NEW grid with Southern (SR) grid, the Southern region remained as power deficit region in the country. As per Load Generation Balance Report for 2013-14 released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Southern region had a power deficit of 26.1% in the year 2012-13. Though HVDC link exists between the NEW grid and SR grid, vast amount of power can’t be transferred, due to the fact that the HVDC link has a limited transmission capacity.
On 31st December 2013, Southern grid was connected to Central grid through the newly commissioned 765 KV Raichur-Sholapur transmission line thereby forming ‘One Nation-One Grid-One frequency’ system. By this, the Indian power system has entered into a new era and became one of the largest operating synchronous grid in the world with an installed capacity of 233 GW. With the formation of ‘One Nation-One grid’ system, the Indian power sector is going to flourish as there are several opportunities awaiting ahead.
The immediate benefit will be for the power trading. Due to power scarcity in the southern region, they are buying power from other regions. So, there is increase in tariff in the southern states. This integration will make easier availability of power to power starved southern region. This may lead to lower tariff in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamilnadu. This will also aid power traders as well as power exchanges by increasing trading volume.
Congestion is an issue of great magnitude for a transmission sector especially in the southern region. In summer, trading prices in southern region are high, which is nearly thrice the price that exists in other regions. Due to this move there will be relief from congestion being experienced in few transmission corridors.
Power Ministry is likely to bring carriage and content operations as separate entities. It means, the distribution network would be owned by one licensee while the suppliers could be more than one. This plan is framed in such a way, that it brings perfect competition in the power industry and the establishment of National grid will pave way for the smoother implementation of this program.
The July 2012 India blackout was the largest power outage in the world, occurring as two separate events on 30th and 31st July 2012. The outage affected over 620 million people i.e., about 9% of the world population, or half of India’s population, spread across 22 states in Northern, Eastern, and North-Eastern India. The main reason for this blackout was due to demand-supply mismatch. Since southern grid was not synchronized with central grid, it was not affected. This sort of a black out can be countered by the unified grid, if proper grid standards are maintained.
Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), is the minimum percentage of total power that electricity distribution companies, open access consumers and captive plants need to purchase from renewable energy sources. Most of the states have failed to achieve RPO targets prescribed by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). India’s progress in the renewable energy has been extraordinary in the last few years. So, the effective execution of the RPO framework is crucial. As per Central Electricity Authority (CEA) December 2013 report, southern region produces 13127 MW of power from Renewable Energy Sources (RES) which is nearly 45% of the electricity generation from renewable energy sources in whole of India. The formation of National grid will help to achieve RPO targets in other states which suffers due to deficit in renewable power.
The linking up of southern grid with the rest of the grids will be a huge benefit for the wind power sector. Most of the wind farms are located in the southern region. Tamilnadu accounts for about 40% of the installed wind power capacity in India. Due to insufficient transmission lines for evacuating power, the wind farms are asked to ‘back down’ and a sizeable amount of power that could be generated is lost. Because of the new grid, during the wind-swept months of May to September, the excessive power generated in the south can be exported to the north. Rest of the months, the power generated through hydro plant in the north will be more than their demand, which can be supplied to the south.
The creation of an integrated national grid will also help towards interlinking countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) that groups India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan and Srilanka. India already has power grid links with Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and power transmission links with Myanmar and Sri Lanka are under way. The vision of the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) on establishing Indian power market towards SAARC-based power market may happen sooner. This establishment could increase the potential for power transfers among SAARC regions and reduces power shortages. This has a huge potential for bettering the economy of our country.
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